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WELCOME BAHAMAS - GRAND BAHAMA - 2003

Bahamas by Water

Dont be a land lubber

WELCOME BAHAMAS - GRAND BAHAMA - 2003

Thirty- five years ago, in 1967, South African hotelier Sol Kerzner visited The Bahamas for the first time and instantly fell in love with the water.

"I'd never seen water with that clarity before, with that colour," he said in an interview. "The only reason I went back (to build the now famous $890 million Atlantis resort on Paradise Island) is because I remember from those days how beautiful it was."

In fact, Bahamian waters have been intriguing visitors for centuries. The ocean ranges from absolutely clear and colourless to pale turquoise and all imaginable shades of blue — from ultramarine, azure and cerulean to royal blue — with occasional patches of aquamarine, sea green and even purple — colours that change with the depth of the water, the type of bottom, the presence of a reef and the angle of the sun.

There are many, many ways to enjoy Bahamian water but, surely, getting out on it in a boat is one of the most pleasurable, whether it's paddling a kayak or zipping over the sea in a powerful speedboat.

In fact, there are so many ways to get out on the sea from Paradise Island and New Providence that you'll be hard pressed to choose which one to take first.


Sail and snorkel

An obvious choice is Seahorse Sailing Adventures, which operates half- and full-day excursions from the Atlantis resort, out to the incredibly clear waters off Paradise Island.

Once aboard one of Seahorse's state-of-the-art catamarans, with the wind filling the sails and the water slipping by, you'll be as enamoured by the water as Kerzner was.

Seahorse offers daily sailing and snorkelling trips, with equipment and instruction offered in the price of the tour. These 3 1/2-hour excursions depart at 9am and 1pm every day, weather permitting. The trips include your choice of a free rum punch, soft drink or bottled water. Bring a bathing suit and towel.

You can also enjoy the spectacular sight of the sun going down on the horizon on an intimate evening Sunset Cruise, leaving at 5pm (6:30pm spring and summer).

These excursions are $50 (winter rate) and $30 for children 12 and under. Private charters are also available and are priced according to group size, destination and length of charter.

For more information, call 363-5510, US toll-free at 1-800-821-4505, or visit www.seahorsesailingadventures.com.


Blue Lagoon Island

If you're still undecided, you can't go wrong taking an excursion from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal to Blue Lagoon Island, a short but gorgeous cruise across the shallow waters east and north of Nassau Harbour.

With an all-inclusive Day Pass, visitors get not only the ferry ride but unlimited use of non-motorized water sports equipment on the island, two drinks and a traditional Bahamian lunch

Once there, you'll find several novel ways to get out on the sparkling water, from kayaks and paddleboats to boogie boards and aqua bikes. You can swim on an isolated beach, laze in double hammocks set up under the palm trees or go on a history and nature walk.

For an additional cost, Blue Lagoon guests can visit Dolphin Encounters and Stingray City Marine Park.

At Dolphin Encounters you can learn about these graceful creatures of the sea from professional marine mammal trainers. A 30-minute swim with these lovely animals could be the highlight of your entire trip to The Bahamas.

At Stingray City, a 3 1/2-acre marine park at the west end of the island, you can snorkel with and feed gentle Southern Atlantic Stingrays.

Ferries to Blue Lagoon Island leave the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal at 10 and 11:30am, returning at 2 and 4pm, $25 for adults, $15 for children. For reservations, call 363-3333.

This is just one of many excursions leaving from the Ferry Terminal, near the bridge to Paradise Island.

Most tours include free transfers to and from your hotel, free snorkelling gear and professional instruction for those who need it, free water, sodas and punch, along with tropical drinks from the shipboard cash bar.


Sailing catamaran

Still thinking about your first foray onto the water? Consider a day trip aboard the Flying Cloud, a swift catamaran that will whisk you away from Paradise Island at surprising speed. Once under way, all you'll hear are the sounds of the water rushing past, the wind passing through the mainsail stays and perhaps the tinkle of ice against the side of your glass.

The Flying Cloud is remarkably stable in all sea conditions so you'll have no trouble holding on to the free sodas and rum punches offered by Capt Craig's attentive crew.

Your destination is a deserted beach on nearby Rose Island. There, you can play volleyball, take a dip in the cool blue ocean, snorkel out to a nearby shallow reef, or simply walk along the powder-white beach.

Flying Cloud offers 3 1/2-hour cruises twice a day, at 9:30am and 2pm, for an all-in price of $45. For the same price, you can go on a romantic 2 1/2-hour evening cruise, offered three times a week (Mon, Wed and Fri), departing at 6 pm. On Sunday, take an exciting five-hour cruise for $60, which includes a delicious barbecued lunch, leaving at 10am. Dinner cruises are available by charter.

For more information call Flying Cloud at 363-4430, or visit www.bahamasnet.com/flyingcloud.


Bounty of the sea

What better way to enjoy The Bahamas' bountiful sea than to go deep sea fishing? There are many charter boats for hire with experienced skippers in Nassau and Paradise Island.

Most fishing boats are available for half-day, full-day, weekly and monthly charters. Expert guides have intimate knowledge of Bahamian fishing grounds. Choose from big game fishing, shark fishing, island picnicking, cocktail parties and snorkelling trips.

A half-day charter is usually somewhere between $400 and $700, depending on the charter company and the number of people. A full day varies between $500 and $1,400. For reservations and information, ask your hotel's social director or the front desk staff.


Fast, fast, fast

If you want to escape the ordinary, call Island World Adventures Ltd. This company has two, high-speed powerboats that will take you and your breath away on a trip to the northern Exumas, widely known as one of the prettiest boating venues in all the world.

After an exhilarating high-speed ride, the motors are cut and you glide over crystal clear water into a secluded spot on Saddleback Cay, where the phrase "tropical paradise," is truly apropos.

You can unwind on one of the island's seven deserted beaches or take a jaunt out to a sandbar, just offshore. This is a perfect spot for strolling, gathering seashells and soaking up the sunshine. Don't forget your camera because you will find lots of great photo opportunities.

Below the water, you enter another world. You can snorkel on nearby shallow coral reefs that teem with colourful fish. You may see gentle stingrays and large groupers or even encounter migrating turtles and dolphins.

A Bahamian lunch is served on shaded dining decks overlooking, what else, the glorious water. You'll have an opportunity to feed sharks, barracudas, stingrays and other fish.

Too soon, it's time to board the sleek powerboats and head back to New Providence. But there's one more stop, at Leaf Cay — home to a population of friendly Bahamian iguanas.

Island World's eight-hour tour departs from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal at 9am (weather permitting) and returns about 5pm. The $160 excursion ($100 for children 11 and under) includes the boat ride, lunch, soft drinks, rum punch, snorkelling gear, guided tours and transfers to and from your hotel. The company also offers made-to-order group charters including food, beverages, activities and ground transportation. Call them at 363-3333, evenings at 357-7782, or visit www.islandworldadventures.com.

Bahamians and visitors alike love the Bo Hengy, a $5.2-million, 177-passenger powered catamaran that cruises across the Bahamian sea at 35 knots (about 40 mph).

Bahamas Fast Ferries' Bo Hengy has revolutionized inter-island transportation in The Bahamas. The price is affordable and the ride is comfortable with a fully enclosed air-conditioned passenger compartment.

For the technically minded, the boat is powered by two 2330 hp diesel engines, and propelled by Kamewa water jets. It's operated by Hornblower Marine Services Ltd, a professional ship management company.

Bahamas Fast Ferries offers a Harbour Island Dayaway, featuring a trip to an island that many would choose as the most beautiful of all the Out Islands.

The package includes hotel transfers, a Bahamian lunch, a walking tour past Harbour Island's historical sites and time to enjoy a pink sand beach. You'll also enjoy full use of a private beach cabana, changing rooms, beach towels, lounge chairs, and beach umbrellas, among other things.

The cost is $149 ($89 for children under 12) for the whole package, $100 for transportation only. The Bo Hengy departs Potter's Cay at 8am and returns about 3:55pm. For more information, call Bahamas Fast Ferries at 323-2166 or visit www.bahamasferries.com.


IAC sailing
If you are a sailing enthusiast, or even if you are not, you may have wondered what it's like to thunder around an ocean race course in a real America's Cup yacht.

Well, in The Bahamas, you can. IAC Challenge Ltd has brought two International America's Cup (IAC) class yachts to Nassau. Once part of Team New Zealand's 1992 America's Cup campaign, the 23.2m boats are now sailed in an exciting yacht racing excursion in Nassau.

Says IAC Challenge: "The excursion offers the public a chance to learn some new skills or hone existing ones and really experience the thrill of America's Cup racing," which, they add, combines "the brawn of the Super Bowl with the finesse and psychological intensity of an international chess match."

The nice thing about this adventure is that you can take an active role, comparable to your energy level, and be part of the crew or you can simply sit back and observe others doing the work. It's up to you.

In either case it's a thrilling experience to feel the huge (300m2) mainsail heel your racer over, or the billowing spinnaker draw you down a downwind leg.

After the sail, you return to the IAC Challenge headquarters where you can enjoy a free rum punch and see photographs and a video of the race.

Located right next door to the IAC Challenge Boutique is Crocodile's Waterfront Bar & Grill, a popular watering hole for visitors and locals alike. Located on the waterfront, this is a great place to relax and watch the harbour activity.

IAC offers 3 1/2 hours of sailing for $89 per person. Both boats can also be chartered for a real-life race, for $5,000.

For more information contact the IACC office at 323-1143, your hotel's activities coordinator, or visit www.iacchallenge.com.


Clear waters, fast boats
"Cast aside your preconceptions… we are here to blow your mind," says Powerboat Adventures, an excursion company that emphasizes The Bahamas' ecology in its day trips and tours.

The company operates three 1,000 hp offshore powerboats that can get you to the pristine Exuma Cays, 38 nautical miles away, in just under an hour.

We'll leave it to you to imagine the wind in your hair and the rush of adrenaline as these streamlined boats slice through the water at 40 mph and more.

Powerboat Adventures makes its first landfall on Allan's Cay, a secluded isle where you'll see, and have an opportunity to feed grapes to, a group of protected Rock Iguanas.

From Allan's Cay it is a short trip to the company's private island, Ship Channel Cay. Here you can explore warm, clear waters, snorkel over a hidden reef or collect shells along the shore while your hosts prepare a delicious lunch.

Powerboat Adventures specializes in weddings and private charters, as well as day tours. They'll transport an entire wedding party and guests to their private island where the bride and groom can exchange vows on the beach or on the island's highest point of land, overlooking the sea.

Whether you want a small romantic ceremony or an "adventure wedding," they will arrange all the details: decorations, the wedding feast, beverages, even a marriage officer or minister.

Powerboat Adventures is also experienced in handling incentive packages, whether it's a "thank you" reward for hardworking employees or a "seal the deal" outing with clients.

The regular Adventure Day to the Exuma Cays is $175 for adults and $99 for children 12 and under. These trips leave at 9am and return at about 5pm. Charters start at $1,500 for a half day and $3,500 for a full day. For more information, call Powerboat Adventures at 393-7116 or visit www.powerboatadventures.com.


Historic Nassau Harbour

If history is your thing, you should really check out a cruise offered by Sea Island Adventures aboard their commodious catamaran, Fiesta II. This 13Ž4-hour tour takes you around the harbour while a guide points out important spots in Bahamian history. As you listen to this narration, you'll be transported back in time to the late 1600s when bloodthirsty pirates ruled these beautiful waters.

Sea Island Adventures also offers a day trip to scenic Rose Island, a 3 1/2-hour snorkelling trip and a romantic evening cocktail cruise "for lovers and those who want to be."

The Rose Island trip takes you to Sea Island's private beach where there is a myriad of activities to keep you busy. If you want to get out on the water, you'll find snorkelling gear, kayaks, paddleboats and floats at your disposal. Or you can stay ashore and play table tennis, basketball, volleyball or join in beach games that invariably get started. Of course, you can always just take a dip and laze about on the white powdery sand.

Lunchtime is a treat. Enjoy ribs, chicken, salad, peas 'n rice and a selection of native fruits. Your complimentary meal comes with a glass of white wine or fruit punch.

This trip leaves at 10am and returns at 4pm and costs $55, including lunch ($30 for children 11 and under). For more information, call 325-3910 or visit www.bahamasnet.com/seaisland.

This by no means exhausts the many ways there are to get out on the water but we are nearly out of space.

Many resorts have jet skis available, or you can rent them from local entrepreneurs on public beaches.

Talk to the friendly people at the activities desk in your hotel and they will point you toward companies that offer kayaking eco-tours where you can observe marine life and seabirds up close.

Whether you take to sea in a kayak, a high-powered speedboat, a ferry, or a sailing catamaran, it will be the Bahamas' multicoloured, pristine water that will linger on in your memory.Once aboard one of Seahorse's state-of-the-art catamarans, with the wind filling the sails and the water slipping by, you'll be as enamoured by the water as Kerzner was.

Seahorse offers daily sailing and snorkelling trips, with equipment and instruction offered in the price of the tour. These 3 1/2-hour excursions depart at 9am and 1pm every day, weather permitting. The trips include your choice of a free rum punch, soft drink or bottled water. Bring a bathing suit and towel.

You can also enjoy the spectacular sight of the sun going down on the horizon on an intimate evening Sunset Cruise, leaving at 5pm (6:30pm spring and summer).

These excursions are $50 (winter rate) and $30 for children 12 and under. Private charters are also available and are priced according to group size, destination and length of charter.

For more information, call 363-5510, US toll-free at 1-800-821-4505, or visit www.seahorsesailingadventures.com .

 
 
 

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