They say that no one knows the exact number of islands in the Bahamas. Some say that there are around 2,400 of them, scattered about a stun- ning 590-mile-long archipelago, with its closest area being, for many boats, just one day’s trip from Florida. Fewer than 50 of these islands have a village or town. Most are tiny islets with rocky shorelines and white beaches hinting of pink. Each is a gem of mangrove, casuarinas, palmetto,
sea grape, and coconut palms hiding curly tail lizards, hermit
crabs, and birds. But it’s the wonderland of the ocean that is
the Bahamas’ most spectacular feature, with its warm turquoise
waters over much of the shallow Bahama Banks.
On a good day, cruising on the banks, you can look into
those clear waters and see fish, sharks, and rays darting away
from your hull’s shadow as it sweeps across the bottom. Below
you, grass and fan coral sway with the current. Brain coral hides
exotic fish, lobster, and moray eel. Dramatic troughs leading
from the shallows out to sea – such as the Tongue of the Ocean
and the Northwest Providence Channel – divide the banks, the
changing water colors from light turquoise to deep blue leaving
even seasoned world travelers in awe.
The islands of the Bahamas lie mostly along the edges of
BoatU.S. Magazine | 45
Left: An aerial view
of the Exumas.
Right: Old Bahama
Bay Marina at the
of Grand Bahama
offers shelter to
boats caught by
weather, as well
as many amenities
for boaters. Below
Nassau is known
for its colorful
never comes easy.
This veteran of the
Bahamas liveaboard life
shows how it’s done
BY TOM NEALE