If you dream of postcard-perfect beaches lined with coconut palm trees and gin-clear waters, the Bahamas is the destination of your dreams. Days of lounging by the pool, exploring deserted islands, sipping amazing rum punches and even spending time with the world-famous swimming pigs await.

Nassau and New Providence
I was able to enjoy my trip to the Bahamas on the company’s dime through an amazing employee incentive program. I stayed at a beautiful four-star resort on Paradise Island, just across the harbor from New Providence Island, home to the nation’s capital city of Nassau. While the Bahamas is a mere 45-minute flight east of Florida, don’t be fooled. A trip to the Bahamas is about as far from Stateside vacationing as you could ask. Nassau is the hub for all things shopping and entertainment related. I strolled the streets and was amazed by not only the variety of straw art but the skill and patience that goes into these creations! I experienced island style haggling and had to check an extra bag for all the gifts I scored!

After a crazy night enjoying restaurants, clubs, and nightlife I opted for a day strolling through Versailles Gardens, climbing the 65 steps of the Queen’s staircase, and watching flamingos and parrots at Ardastra Zoo. I just can’t believe how much there is to do on Paradise and New Providence Islands; they both really live up to the name “paradise.”

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The Exuma Cays Swimming Pig Photo: larsen9236 / Pixabay

The Exuma Cays
But to experience the true Bahamas, one really has to get out on the water and away from the city. I was lucky enough to score a seat on a speedboat tour of the Exuma Cays, flying south from New Providence Island at breakneck speed. We made several stops in the utterly amazing Land and Sea Park, where only sun, sand, and surf await the lucky visitor looking to get away from it all.

I was delighted to meet the iguanas of Allens Cay, who ran up and down the beach looking for handouts. These prehistoric creatures have figured out how to live: in the sunshine, on a beach, in the Bahamas! But the pinnacle of the trip had to be our stop at Staniel Cay, where we were met by the amazing swimming pigs. These guys are web superstars, with their photos all over Instagram and the Internet in general.

Right after swimming with the pigs the group stopped for another amazing adventure: swimming Thunderball Grotto…the enclosed underwater cave that is open from above and that was made famous by Sean Connery’s James Bond. Conch fritters and rum punches at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club didn’t disappoint and were the perfect way to wrap up the tour.

Diving and Snorkeling
The Bahamas are the place to go for amazing waterborne adventures. On my last day, I decided to throw caution to the wind and went on a shark dive. As I entered the water, I had second thoughts. Surely, diving with sharks is a bad idea! My dive instructor talked me through all the safety precautions and reminded me that sharks don’t actually want to eat people. I was so glad that I didn’t turn back as this turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Seeing these beautiful top predators up close totally wowed me and took away my fear of sharks.

My Bahamian vacation was the best trip of my life! I can’t wait to go back next year and bring the whole family. I know they will love it just as much as I did.

Author: Carol Evenson