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10 reasons to make a Bahamian getaway.

Friendly faces, a smorgasbord of activities, posh casinos and designer shops, and tropical waters seduce visitors again and again to vacation in the Bahama Islands. But, if you need a reason to visit paradise, here are 10.

1. SHOPPING. Shopping is better than ever in the Bahamas. In 1992, the duty tax was lifted on luxury items such as perfumes and leather. Look for an average 25% savings over U.S. prices. In Nassau, the best shopping is on the main thoroughfare of Bay Street and its adjacent side streets. Don't forget to make a trip to the new Straw Market on Bay Street. On Grand Bahama Island, visitors to Freeport/Lucaya can head to the International Bazaar and the Port Lucaya Marketplace.

2. ROMANCE. If the wedding bug bites while you're on the island, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism's Wedding Program can arrange your dream day in tropical splendor. Couples must be in the Bahamas at least three days to apply for a marriage license.

3. SPORTS. The Bahamas are known as a sportsman's (or woman's) paradise. If you like water sports, dive in. Sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, windsurfing and water skiing are easy to find in Nassau and on Paradise Island. Big game fishers should head for the Family Islands of Andros, Bimini and Walkers Cay in Abacos. Equestrian services are offered at The Riding Stable off Nassau and Pine Tree Stables in Freeport. Goifers have their choice of courses from the Cotton Bay Club in Eleuthera, Treasure Cay in Abacos, Lucayan Park Golf and Country Club in Freeport, the Ruby and Emerald courses at the Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino and The Cable Beach Golf Club also in Nassau. Tennis, racquetball and squash courts are also available in the Bahamas.

4. NIGHT LIFE. Most Bahamian night life is found on Nassau, Paradise Island and Freeport. Carnival's Crystal Palace Resort & Casino boasts 750 slot machines, 61 blackjack tables, 11 craps tables and 11 roulette wheels for those inclined to make a few wagers in the evenings. Less risky are the extravagant Las Vegas-style cabaret shows held nightly at Crystal Palace and Merv Griffin's Paradise Island Resort & Casino. Discos, cabarets and club lounges can be found at most major hotels and resorts. For "native" night life, try Peanuts Taylor Drumbeat Club on West Bay Street.

5. HISTORY, ATTRACTIONS AND EVENTS. History buffs should visit the Roselawn Museum, which houses memorabilia from colonial Nassau and the Family Islands. Or, take a taxi or bus to the settlements, where free blacks set up homesteads after slavery was abolished in the Bahamas in 1834. View contemporary local art at the new Bahamian Art Gallery in Nassau. Nassau and Paradise Island also play host to many regattas, tournaments, holidays and festivals. Two of the most celebrated are the Goombay-Summer Festival--from June through August--and the Mardi Gras-style Junkanoo Festival held on Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

6. BEACHES. They don't come any finer than the sands in the Bahamas. Nassau's Cable Beach is one of the most beautiful and busiest strips, but Delaporte Beach, at the western end, is hardly ever crowded and just as beautiful. Goodman's Bay on Cable Beach is popular with Bahamians. Paradise Island is fringed with beaches. If you want quaint and beautiful beaches, head for the pink sands of Harbor Island off Eleuthera.

7. KIDS' PROGRAMS. If you're looking for resorts with children, there's "Camp Paradise" for kids ages 5 to 12 at Paradise Island Resort & Casino, and The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Towers on Paradise Island. Those kids and adults going to Grand Bahama will love swimming with dolphins at the Dolphin Experience at UNEXSO (Underwater Explorers Society) in Lucaya.

8. ACCOMMODATIONS. Tourists to the Bahamas have a range of accommodations, from posh resort hotels to private cove inns; from fishing lodges to diver retreats; from six-room bed-and-breakfastlike cottages to 1,000-room hotels.

9. FOOD, FABULOUS FOOD! Conch could be considered the Bahamian national dish. In all its variations, from salad to fritters, it's a local favorite that can be found everywhere. Bahamian lobster (a.k.a. rock lobster), pigeon peas and rice, johnny cake, guava and papaya will whet your appetite.

10. PROXIMITY. One of the best reasons to take off to the Bahamas is that it's a bit of paradise that's close to home, which makes it accessible and affordable.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Caribbean Travel Guide
Author:Giles, Dari
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:725
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