There is a staggering amount of cayes and islands in the Bahamas - over 2500 in total. With over 5 million visitors a year, this idyllic archipelago is one of the Caribbean's long-time tourism hotspots. The ideal way to to travel the Bahamas is by sailboat as there is literally so much to explore. Otherwise there's good value package holidays and all inclusive resorts on the major islands such as Grand Bahama, Paradise Island and New Providence Island (where the capital Nassau is found). The Out Islands are slightly harder to get to, but offer more upmarket, luxury hotels and less people - options include Abacos, Berry Islands, Exumas and Long Island to name a handful.
Where to Stay?
There is a huge variety of accommodation options ranging from villa rentals to large luxury all inclusive resorts to small guesthouse and boutique hotels. Self catering is an increasingly popular option, especially for price conscious families and larger groups of friends. The range of hotels and resorts is staggering, though some are distinctly hit and miss so do some research on Tripadviser.
The Out islands (those further from Nassau) generally cater towards the luxury market and those arriving by boat. In contrast, Nassau, Freeport, Paradise Island and Cable Beach have a distinctly package holiday feel to them. Those booking an all inclusive resort should pay attention to whether alcohol is included in the rate (sometimes it is, sometimes not). There's a host of all inclusive resorts in the Bahamas, the most famous being the Sandals, Club Med and Superclubs Breezes.
Island Hopping in the Bahamas
The archipelago is huge, and there are many islands to choose from. Note that island hopping between islands is not always particularly easy, unless you have your own yacht of course. To travel between islands you invariably will have to go fly Nassau, the capital. From there, little aircraft fly all over the archipelago, though many flights are charter flights. The most extensive set of internal flights in the Bahamas are offered by Bahamas Air, who fly to about 20 different airports. Note that BahamasAir does offer an airpass for flights within the archipelago. For those travelling as a group or large family, booking charter flights is often a cost effective way of inter island travel. For couples expect it to be pricey though. There's about 20 domestic airlines offering inter island flights in the Bahamas in total.
When to Visit
As with much of the Caribbean, the high season runs from December to April. This is in part due to the weather in the Bahamas, but just as much to do with the weather in the Northern hemisphere - after all the Bahamas is a perfect winter sun destination as it sees fine weather all year round. Having said that, it's a little rainier from June to November, which co-incides with the hurricane season. The very cheapest time to visit is in October and November - this is also when the Bahamas are at their least busy.
Flights, Getting There & Onwards Travel
The Bahamas are well connected with direct flights to USA, Canada and UK. There are flights from multiple cities in each of these countries. It's also not a long flight time, especially from North America. There's also plenty of mooring spots for private yachts dotted all over the archipelago. The cheapest means of getting to the islands is to book a package holiday with a travel agent - prices almost always work out cheaper compared to booking individual sections yourself.
Travelling onwards, it's not hard to pick up a flight to a different Caribbean island: Air Jamaica offers flights from Nassau to Montego Bay; Bahamas Air offers flights to the Turks and Caicos Islands; British Airways offer flights from Nassau to Grand Cayman as well as the Turks & Caicos; and Cubana flies to Havana in Cuba.