In San Salvador a white cross marks the spot in the Bahamas where Christopher Columbus supposedly first landed in the New World. He didn't stay long, however, being intent on finding riches elsewhere.
These days, travelers are quite satisfied with the treasures they find in the Bahamas: brilliant turquoise water, gorgeous sandy beaches, excellent fishing and diving, and surroundings that range from quaint colonial villages to lovely secluded coves.
It's an ecological oasis, and while the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian earlier this year was well documented, most of the Bahamas were left untouched. Abacos and Grand Bahama Islands were walloped; 14 other islands remain open for business.
“Travelers can do something for the Bahamas by doing nothing on one of our beaches," said Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism. "Plan a trip to Nassau, Paradise Island and the Out Islands. Our beautiful island nation is ready to welcome you."
So plan to kick back on the beach with an umbrella drink, and feel good doing it. Many resorts and hotels, like Atlantis, Paradise Island and Baha Mar, have already supported relief efforts in major ways, and hoteliers will be offering incentives and voluntourism opportunities soon. Check out Bahamas.com for updates regularly.
Travelers looking for the laid-back experience of the Out Islands, such as Abaco, still have many choices. Exuma may be famous for its swimming pigs, but it also has world-class boating and sailing, enough surrounding cays to island hop for a year and direct airline service from U.S. gateways. Harbour Island and Eleuthera, also with daily air service or a fast ferry from Nassau, have a coastal vibe that lures repeat visitors generation-after-generation. Further south Mayaguana and Inagua offer truly off-the-beaten-path options.
In short, The Bahamas is still delivering the sandy break from everyday life that has long made it a top vacation choice.
About the Author: Sue Shimkus of Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise consulted the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation for this story. For more information visit LZTravel.com or call 847.438.5551.