Lo más de las islas Bahamas

En estas páginas pretendo acercaros las islas más intrigantes del Caribe. Piratas, leyendas, oscurantismo...tesoros, playas. Y por supuesto acercaros a los bahemenses.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Land & sea park


Nature rules in this pristine Exuma retreat

Originally published WELCOME BAHAMAS - NASSAU, CABLE BEACH & PARADISE ISLAND - 2003 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd

Even the most prolific writer scrambles for words to describe the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

"Astonishing" and "stunning," even "spectacular" and "breath-taking" are trotted out, but overblown adjectives cannot evoke the natural splendour of this place. Even photograph fall short.

The Yachtsman's Guide to The Bahamas agrees. Of the Exuma Cays as a whole, it says: "Almost all (the cays) have beautiful beaches and snug anchorages. The water is crystal clear and the vivid colours, on a normal bright day with a moderate trade wind ruffling the surface, cannot be adequately described. You will have to see for yourself."

As for the park itself, Stephen J Pavlidis, who wrote a cruising guide to the Exumas, said it was, "without doubt the most pristine and possibly the most beautiful area in the Exumas."

Still another seasoned observer, a world traveller who would know, said the Exumas were unquestionably, "one of the outstanding creations of nature."

This was Col Ilia Tolstoy, grandson of Count Lyoff Nikolayevitch Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. The younger Tolstoy first visited the Exumas in 1931, when he was developing an underwater camera. He raved about the plants and animals to be found here and especially, "the clearest water I have ever seen."

A sad decline
When he returned to The Bahamas after the Second World War, Tolstoy was shocked. The indestructible water still sparkled in the warm Bahamian sun but the wildlife had been decimated.

He found dead iguanas with bullet holes in them; reduced reefs where corals and fish were under pressure from recreational and commercial fishing. Conch, once large and plentiful, were small and few, and thriving bird populations had been thinned out by a year-round hunting season with no bag limits.

Looking at the devastation, "I saw the ghosts of Passenger Pigeons in the air," wrote Tolstoy in an article for Nassau's The Tribune in 1979.

In the early fifties, he and others began talking about creating a park to reverse the declines and urging the Bahamian government to set aside some islands and their adjacent waters as a buffer area, where land and sea life could regenerate in safety.

Some of those involved in that early lobbying were Arthur Vernay, Suydam Cutting and Col F A Wanklyn, all members of the Society for the Protection of the Flamingo in The Bahamas. Others were Richard H Pough, Chairman of the Department of Conservation and General Ecology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Dr F G Walton Smith, who was Director of the Marine Laboratory of the University of Miami.

Birth of an idea
Tolstoy and his colleagues were not the only ones recommending marine conservation. Ray Carleton, a zoologist with Columbia University, had spent months photographing and conducting research in the Exumas. Without knowing that Tolstoy was advocating the same thing, Carleton approached the Bahamian government with the then-novel idea of creating an underwater park. In fact, it's believed that a book written by Carleton and Elgin T Ciampi, The Underwater Guide to Marine Life, contained the first published plea for undersea parks.

In response, the British Crown agreed to open up an area in the middle of the Exumas for a year of scientific study.

When they met in the mid fifties, Carleton and Tolstoy decided to combine their efforts. They turned to Dr Fairfield Osborn of the New York Zoological Society to finance this study under Carleton's leadership.

An important member of the original survey group was the Hon Herbert McKinney of Nassau, widely recognized as an authority on everything Bahamian. McKinney, said Tolstoy, had "an inexhaustible amount of knowledge " on the islands' wildlife. Another key member of the original group was Oris S Russell, then Director of the Department of Agriculture and Marine Products.

Driving the survey was the certain knowledge that the living resources of the land and the sea would sooner or later be destroyed if things went on as they were. As McKinney said at the time, there was an urgent need to "make people aware of the pressing need for conservation. The attitude of the people seems to be that the good Lord will always send more."

It was a rigorous study. Volunteers cut narrow paths on the larger cays to points of historical interest, enabling scientists to study the area's plants and animals, some of which were endangered: iguana, hutia - the only indigenous land mammal in The Bahamas - the curly tailed lizard and the white crowned pigeon.

Building on existing work, scientists catalogued the living resources of the shallow sea around the Exumas including corals, fishes, turtles, crustaceans and molluscs.

Thrust of the group's report was that the government should "ensure the perpetuity of those things that people come to see in The Bahamas, as well as to assure a lasting supply of those natural resources that are so necessary for the livelihood of Bahamians themselves." The government took the report to heart and quickly passed legislation in 1958 to set up the world's first land and sea park.

Bahamas National Trust
Creation of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park led to the formation of The Bahamas National Trust (BNT), which was another innovation.The BNT is a non-governmental organization but it has a parliamentary mandate to build and manage the country's national park system, now comprising 22 parks and protected areas. This means it can draw up regulations with the force of law, enforceable by all uniformed officers of The Bahamas as well as by park wardens.

The park system is run by 21-member board comprising six representatives from the Bahamian government, six from international scientific institutions (see box), and nine who are elected by members of the BNT.

With a paid staff of only 23, the BNT relies heavily upon hundreds of volunteers, who give their time each year to help run the parks.

Head office is located at The Retreat, an 11-acre woodland area in New Providence that features a collection of rare palm trees. Funds are generated through memberships, special functions, entrance fees and shop sales but more than half comes from the Heritage Endowment Fund, created in 1983.

Among other things, the BNT oversees the world's largest breeding flock of West Indian flamingos, now 50,000 strong, one of the world's largest underwater cave systems and several research facilities, but the Land and Sea Park in the Exumas remains "the jewel in the crown" of the national park system.

Nearly pristine beauty
Only five per cent (about nine sq miles) of The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park's 176 square miles (about twice the size of New Providence) is actually land. The rest is seabed covered by the warm Exuma Sound.

It is located in the northern Exumas, a little north of dead centre in the Bahamian archipelago, extending from Conch Cut in the south to Wax Cay Cut in the north, a stretch of 22 miles. The park is eight miles wide, claiming the shallow waters of the Great Bahama Bank to the west, and extending to the edge of the Exuma Sound to the east.

Aside from some of the finest cruising waters in the world, there are exciting diving opportunities everywhere in the park, on the productive inter-island coral reefs, and on the wall, where the bank shelves and then drops steeply into the blue depths of Exuma Sound.

There are nine large cays, 50 smaller ones and innumerable islets and rocks in the tract. Three of the four largest cays - Shroud, Hawksbill and Warderick Wells (site of the park office) - are leased to the BNT and six others are privately owned: Cistern Cay, Soldier Cay, O'Brien's Cay, Bell Island, Little Bell Island. and controversial Hall's Pond Cay.

A cay is saved
Hall's Pond Cay was purchased in the 1990s, for a reputed $1.5 million by notorious Czech financier Viktor Kozeny, who lived in exclusive Lyford Cay in New Providence. Kozeny created a furor when he put construction machinery on the island and began to build roads there.

So vociferous was the outcry that the Bahamian government ordered Kozeny to stop construction and restore the island to its original state. Then, on December 14, 1999, the government issued a "notice of possession" under the Acquisition of Land Act, signed personally by then-Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, reclaiming Hall's Pond for the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. At last word, the government was still negotiating a price for the expropriation and the cay was slowly regenerating itself.

At first, park wardens tried to enforce a limited take of fish, conch and lobster within the park. Then in 1987, over the protests of local fishermen, the BNT designated the entire park a "no-take" area, another first in the entire Caribbean area.

Protect the reefs!
In time, fishermen in the area came to endorse the idea and are now staunch supporters of the park and the no-take regulations.

Conservationists note that national parks like the Land and Sea Park, which set aside and protect entire ecosystems, are especially important in The Bahamas where the undersea world is as fragile as it is complex and beautiful.

Few realize, for example, how essential are coral reefs, not only to the countries such as The Bahamas that possess them but to the world at large; comparable in importance to rainforests, say scientists.

"They are the reason these islands exist," said marine biologist Thomas McGrath from Corning Community College in New York, who spoke with the Bahamas Handbook in 2001. "They are the only reason these islands exist."

As McGrath explained, the Bahama islands are made entirely of calcium carbonate, of which up to 95 per cent is produced in one way or another by the reefs. The reefs are also the centre of marine life, including conch, grouper and crawfish, which are seafood staples in The Bahamas.

Commercial fishing, which employs about 9,500 Bahamians, contributes some $200 million or more to the national economy. And reef-based tourism, including diving and snorkelling, contributes even more.

As Lynn Holowesko, former Bahamas Ambassador for the Environment, and also a former president of the Bahamas National Trust, put it: "It is the environment that brings visitors and investors to our shores. It is the mother hen that lays the golden egg of tourism."

Well aware of this, the Bahamian government in 1998 put in place a wide range of measures to protect marine resources over the years, including closed seasons, bag limits and "no take" areas like the Land and Sea Park. It also created a special court to hear cases involving environmental issues.

Tolstoy would be pleased.

Marine Conservation

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Grand Bahama's dive sites depend on it

Originally published WELCOME BAHAMAS - GRAND BAHAMA - 2005 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd

Intricate coral reefs, colourful marine life and the clearest warm turquoise waters continue to attract diving enthusiasts from around the world to The Bahamas. However, without the efforts of marine conservation, visitors expecting to encounter an enchanting, healthy, underwater world may find something entirely different.

What lies beneath

According to BREEF (The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation), reefs cover 0.2 per cent of the world's oceans, but they house approximately a third of all marine fish species and thousands of other ocean-dwelling species.

The third largest barrier reef in the world is located in The Bahamas, at Andros, and plays a major role in the overall ecosystem of the Bahama islands. Coral reefs accommodate species such as snapper and grouper, two staples of the Bahamian diet. Reefs are also key in protecting the islands from hurricane damage as they break the wave energy from storms.

BREEF, a private, not-for-profit, Bahamian company, was registered in 1994 to promote marine conservation in The Bahamas through research, education and management. While the foundation is at the forefront of the battle to keep the marine ecosystem healthy, it is not alone.

Look, but don't touch

As diving and boating are two of the most popular activities in The Bahamas, dive operators in Grand Bahama recognize that they have an important responsibility when it comes to marine conservation.

Ian (Woody) Woodcock, diving instructor/guide with Xanadu Undersea Adventures, explains that educating divers on proper diving techniques is essential in preventing unnecessary damage to the reefs and disturbance to marine life.

"Every diver and snorkeller gets a full briefing," he says. "Essentially they're told 'don't touch anything underwater.'"

Woodcock notes that briefings are held not only to make divers aware of the marine environment but to protect themselves as well.

Coral is sharp and can sting, says Woodcock, and divers can get injured if they are not cautious.

There are also laws governing underwater behaviour. According to The Bahamas Department of Fisheries, extracting corals and the use of scuba gear in the capture of any marine product or resource is prohibited.

In addition to educating divers on the dos and don'ts of diving, Woodcock notes that boaters, as well, should be mindful of the reefs.

"We use permanent moorings so we don't have to use anchors at the dive sites," he says. "There is an enormous problem with boats anchoring on reefs."

Don Churchill, chief operating officer at UNEXSO, agrees that moorings play a major role in marine conservation.

"Our biggest thing right now is the mooring programme," he says. "We've been maintaining moorings for the past 20 years. We don't want people putting anchors on reefs? a little piece of coral can take hundreds of years to grow back."

What's at stake

Although there's a lot to think about before taking the plunge, diving doesn't have to be a daunting experience. Novice and experienced divers alike marvel at the beauty of the reef, wreck and speciality dives surrounding Grand Bahama.

Both Xanadu and UNEXSO offer tours of Ben's Cavern at Lucayan National Park, which Woodcock says is especially awe-inspiring.

"(Ben's Cavern) is a huge cave system under the island," he explains, but only certified cave divers may explore it.

Although the caves are not teeming with reef fish and other marine life, divers are greeted by a spectacular cathedral-like display of stalactites and stalagmites.

Divers must be extra careful when cave diving, due to the delicate environment, explains Woodcock.

"Divers have to maintain buoyancy control; it's very important," he says. "There are (formations) that have been there for about 30,000 years. If one diver makes a mistake and breaks a stalactite, that's it."

Churchill explains that divers have to have an understanding of how important it is to be respectful of the environment, especially when venturing into sites like Ben's Cavern.

"Something like bubbles from a diver can be enough to disturb the silt," he says. "You don't want to be touching anything."

Picturesque sites

For those who would rather experience colourful reefs, turtles, sharks and a multitude of different fish species, there are plenty of other dive sites to explore.

Woodcock says that among the most popular sites are Theo's Wreck, a 228-ft cement hauler that was sunk in 1982; the Sea Star II, a 180-ft freighter that sits in about 90 ft of water and is home to many species of fish and plant life; and Shark Alley, where divers can watch instructors hand feed Caribbean reef sharks. This site is also home to angelfish, grouper, jacks, hogfish and a large green moray eel.

Vacation Education


It's fun to learn

Originally published WHAT-TO-DO - FREEPORT/LUCAYA & GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND - JAN 2004 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd
In the words of noted lawyer and educator Derek Bok, former law professor and president of Harvard University, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Turn your vacation into a learning experience.

It doesn't have to be an Ivy League-type educational experience, just a chance to learn something new, a lasting souvenir from your vacation in paradise.

If you're the sedentary indoor type, you might like to learn the intricacies (and the excitement) of playing craps, blackjack or roulette at one of the island's two top-notch casinos - the recently opened Isle of Capri Casino at Our Lucaya and the venerable, newly renovated 28,000-sq-ft Royal Oasis Casino.

Free instruction

Most casinos offer free courses, including demonstrations and brochures that describe baccarat, Caribbean stud poker, big six wheel, as well as craps, roulette and blackjack.

Bahamian casinos pay back between 92 and 95 per cent of the handle (the total amount of money bet), considered high by industry standards. The Royal Oasis Casino runs free hour-long gaming classes Monday and Wednesday at 4 pm. "We let the players name the game they want to learn about," says Tony Lee, VP of casino operations at Royal Oasis.

A gaming class schedule for the Isle of Capri Casino was not set up at press time (late fall 2003).

Wreck and reef dives

Paradise Watersports has operations at Island Seas Resort and Xanadu Beach, offering reef and wreck trips. They include free use of equipment - mask, fins, snorkel and life jacket - and instruction. Reef Tours at Port Lucaya Marketplace offers similar excursions with at least three daily snorkel dives on brilliant shallow reefs and interesting wrecks. The trips are aboard the firm's 72-ft Island Princess, the 60-ft Lucayan Princess or 32-ft Reef Runner, depending on the size of the group. Children five and under ride free. Reef Tours also offers deep-sea fishing on well-equipped sport fishing boats.

Ocean Motion Watersports at the beach at Our Lucaya offers snorkelling lessons and a host of other water activities that are fun and easy to learn - kayaking, Hobie Cat sailing, jet-skiing, banana boat riding, water skiing and parasailing, among others.

At Paradise Cove, about a half-hour west of Freeport, you can enjoy a whole day of unlimited snorkelling and other water-based activities. Deadman's Reef is accessible from the beach and is home to a vast array of sea creatures, including spotted eagle rays, angelfish, brilliant parrot fish and brain, staghorn and elkhorn coral stands.

Take snorkelling a step further and learn how to scuba dive. Xanadu Undersea Adventures and UNEXSO both offer introductory courses, in which you learn the basics of diving in shallow water and go out on a supervised open water reef dive. Xanadu also conducts certification courses for those who want to delve deeper into the underwater world.

Dolphins and horses

You can also learn about interacting with dolphins, the highly intelligent acrobats of the ocean. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is reputed to be one of the most intelligent mammals of the ocean. They are not only brainy, but very friendly.

In Bahamian waters they grow to nine ft and weigh up to 500 lbs. Their average lifespan in the wild is about 30 years, according to the experts.

UNEXSO has the experts, as well as friendly dolphins. The Dolphin Experience was the first programme in the world to offer the general public the opportunity to dive with trained dolphins in the open ocean on a scheduled basis.

The programmes enable people of all ages to experience dolphins in unique ways. Participants can choose the level of interaction they wish, including the Dolphin Close Encounter, Swim With The Dolphins and the Ultimate Dolphin Experience.

Horseback riding along pristine beaches and through forest trails is a relaxing but exciting learning experience that can be enjoyed by veteran horsemen or novices. Trikk Pony Adventures offers beach and trail rides in a variety of packages.

Enjoy a beach ride and lunch at a waterfront restaurant, or a sunset beach ride and dinner and bonfire (Saturday only), or take an eco-ride through the pine tree forest trails of Grand Bahama and onto a pristine beach. During the rides you'll also learn about the history and geography of the area.

Savour the wilds on an eco-safari with East End Adventures and learn how to identify birds by their plumage and by their sounds. The Out Island cultural safari begins with a 4x4 jeep ride through pine forests and along lonely beaches, about 55 miles from Lucaya, to the east end of the island.

The jaunt includes a hike to an inland blue hole where you'll learn about the vast fresh water cavern system that permeates the island. You'll also learn how the experts crack, clean and cut up conch for a delicious conch salad.

The trip also involves a fast boat ride to an off-lying island and a stop to drift snorkel over an underwater blue hole on the way. Enjoy a grilled lunch with wine on an empty beach fringing a deserted island. Comb the beach and shoreline for shells.

Learn about birds

Birdwatching is taken seriously in The Bahamas and the Ministry of Tourism has a unit dedicated to promoting the activity. The Bahamas National Trust's Rand Nature Centre is a birdwatcher's Eden. It's a 100-acre park of natural beauty with a resident population of fairly tame pink flamingos, the national bird of The Bahamas. The Rand Nature Centre, one of 22 national parks maintained by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), is also home to a variety of indigenous birds, including a noisy Bahamian parrot, and a seasonal home to many migratory species.

Another nature learning centre is the well-preened Garden of the Groves, a 12-acre botanical garden with 10,000 types of tropical trees and plants from around the world. The setting is enhanced with waterfalls and ponds, a miniature rain forest and hilltop chapel, which is becoming increasingly popular for weddings.

Garden of the Groves, with its exotic birds and petting zoo that includes Vietnamese potbellied pigs, African pygmy goats, and (strictly non-pettable) alligators, is particularly educational for youngsters

The garden is open 9am-4pm every day. Admission is $9.95 for adults and $6.95 for children 3-10 years old. There is no charge for toddlers. Guided tours are available by reservation.

Do it yourself

Fragrance of The Bahamas, founded in 1969, conducts tours of its Perfume Factory in a replica of a venerable Bahamian mansion at the rear of the International Bazaar. The free tour takes you behind the scenes of a working fragrance factory, where you can mix your own fragrance, bottle it, name it and have it registered.

The first step in mixing your distinctive perfume is to figure out the kind of fragrance you want - you usually blend two or three oils together for your unique scent. A special mixing apparatus allows you to blend your oils with alcohol to dilute the intensity of the fragrance. It is then decanted into your choice of attractive atomizer or splash bottle and labeled with a name of your choice.

You will be awarded a special mixology certificate, proclaiming you an official "nose" and entering you into the ranks of the Order of Discerning Fragrance Users.

One of the finest learning institutions in The Bahamas is the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Our Lucaya. Whether you're a rank amateur, a scratch golfer or a budding pro, this state-of-the-art golf studio can take your game to a new level. The instruction is based on understanding your own unique swing and developing it to its full potential. (See Freeport golf mature at 40, pg 74).

Opportunities abound

There are dozens of other things to learn during a Grand Bahama vacation.

Play tennis on four different court surfaces and learn the difference between playing on real grass, artificial grass, hard court and clay, all at one resort.

Learn about timeshares from a half-dozen interval ownership developers. Learn the secrets of bonefishing or deep-sea fishing.

Explore true Bahamian culture and hospitality through the People-to-People programme organized by the Ministry of Tourism. Check out the

See & do section beginning on pg 51 for details. Make your vacation an education, and take home a lasting souvenir.

Gems, jewels or baubles

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Ask the pros

Originally published WHAT-TO-DO - FREEPORT/LUCAYA & GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND - JAN 2004 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd
Freeport and Lucaya are blessed with a host of outlets for quality gems, jewels and jewellery. They also have a tax, pricing structure and distribution system that makes buying them in Grand Bahama financially rewarding.

But how do you tell the gems from the baubles?

"The average person can't tell a diamond from a cubic zirconia," says Wayne Chee-A-Tow, CEO of Hillside Investments, which owns and operates The Colombian stores at the International Bazaar and Port Lucaya Marketplace.

"The layman has to depend on the reputation of the jewellery store and you can tell that by the brands that it carries."

The four "Cs"

The quality of gems and jewels - the terms are interchangeable - is based on their "cut, colour, clarity and carat (weight)." Their value is based on a combination of rarity, clarity and weight.

Subtle variations in any of the factors can make a considerable difference in the beauty and value of a gem.

Precious stones - diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires - are weighed in carats. A carat is a fifth of a gram (200mg) or about 1?142 of an ounce. A carat is divided into 100 points, so a ruby that weighs 78 points is called a 78 pointer. Size and carat weight are not identical. A shallow cut stone that weighs one carat will seem much bigger than a deep cut stone of the same weight.

Specific gravity

Stones of a different specific gravity are different in size. A one-ct emerald, for instance, with a specific gravity of 2.7 will be larger than a one-ct sapphire with a specific gravity of four.

Specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of a substance to water. A ruby, for instance, has a specific gravity of four. This means it is four times heavier than the same volume of water.

The demand for jewellery changes with fashion, according to Chee-A-Tow. "Emeralds go up and down in popularity. Ten years ago emeralds were the number one seller. At the moment diamonds are strongest, with the semi-precious tanzanite second and emeralds third."

The number one rule in buying jewellery is know who you're buying from, and trusting their judgement, say the experts.

You should also know what recourse you have and the store's policy on repairs and returns. All reputable jewellery stores stand behind everything they sell.

Vivien Johnson, gemologist and manager for Colombian Emeralds International, says "the branded image" and dealing with stores with more than one location and a long reputation are a shopper's best guarantee of quality merchandise.

An organization's recognition and affiliation with the Gemological Institute of America is further assurance of quality jewellery, gems and service.

Colombian Emeralds International operates two stores at the International Bazaar and two at Port Lucaya Marketplace.

Never out of style

Chris Payne, who owns Paradise Jewels in the International Bazaar, says all quality stores offer a certified appraisal of precious gems they sell, and an exchange policy in the event of "purchaser remorse."

"Americans are pretty savvy consumers, and they look at products and compare them with what they might get back home. The key is they can shop around and compare and they reach a comfort level. There is such a huge selection here, and all the good stores guarantee the quality of their merchandise.

"Hottest thing now, throughout the islands and the whole Caribbean is tanzanite and some inlay jewellery with tanzanite and Australian opals," says Payne.

"Of course diamonds, like love, are never out of style."

Goldylocks Jewelery owner and president, Frances Gee, says buyers "have to know and have confidence in the people they're dealing with. And we, as dealers, have to know and trust our suppliers."

Goldylocks, with outlets at the International Bazaar and Port Lucaya Marketplace, relies heavily on the local residential market. "We're really not into gems, other than birthstones," says Gee. "The local people buy those and silver."

Hot item

Johnson says tanzanite is now among the hottest selling gems.

Displaying vibrant shades of blue and purple, the rarity of tanzanite has made it one of the most sought after categories of fine jewellery. Its rarity is attributed to its limited source. Tanzania, on the west coast of Africa, is the only country where it is mined.

Tanzanite is a variety of zoisite. Some stones appear more violet, and most will display both colours depending on whether it's seen in natural or artificial light.

Tanzanite is not a particularly durable stone and must be protected from knocks that could cause chipping.

All that glitters

All gold items sold at the quality shops are stamped. Pure gold is 24kt. The usual jewellery grades of 18kt and 14kt represent alloys containing 750 and 5831?3 thousandths of fine gold, respectively. The word is also spelled "carat," but is not to be confused with the carat used as a unit of weight for a gemstone (200mg).

Rings are stamped on the inside, and the marking 18kt or 750/14kt or 5831?3 should be readily visible. Other gold items, like charms, have similar stamps. In Grand Bahama shops

14kt is a common weight sold at good stores, while 18kt is standard for high-end jewellery stores. Bargains are plentiful.

Drumbeat of The Bahamas

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Music from beef kegs and lard barrels

Originally published WELCOME BAHAMAS - NASSAU, CABLE BEACH & PARADISE ISLAND - 2005 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd

The drumbeat is the essence and the soul of Bahamian culture. And the drum sets the heartbeat for all Bahamian music, including rake 'n scrape, Junkanoo and goombay.

Edmund Moxey, musician, historian, teacher, son of the late legend George "God Bless" Moxey, explains:

"The fundamental root of music is the drum. And the original goombay music, which dates back more than 120 years, was actually a marriage of African instruments and the accordion from Europe. The African instruments included the drum, with an animal skin stretched over a hollowed log.

We improvised

"In The Bahamas we didn't have the big tree trunks so we improvised. We used beef and pork and lard barrels or kegs to develop the drums. The beef kegs gave off a deep bass sound. The pork kegs were the baritone drums and the lard kegs were the tenors.

"What did develop was a rich, vigorous rhythm that is heard nowhere else in the world. And we can't trace it back to any one African tribe or group."

John "Chippie" Chipman and his group, Chippie and the Boys, welcome cruise ship passengers at Festival Place on Prince George Dock with their brand of traditional Bahamian music. Chipman has been making and playing drums for 55 of his 75 years. He still prefers the venerable wooden conga or goombay drum although, over the past 15 to 20 years, most drummers in The Bahamas have switched to metal drums.

Can't find the boards

"You just can't find the boards now," he laments, referring to the wooden salt beef kegs drummers used to use.

"So we had to find new ideas and we tried the skins on tin barrels, small paint tins and the like. The paint cans were for the kids, and as they grew bigger we made bigger drums for them.

"These drums have taken me around the world, and I just enjoy playing, whether it's for the visitors, for charity work or schools."

Chipman is a musical recycling plant. His drums are made from containers from the cruise ships originally used for detergents or cleaning fluids. The maracas are fashioned from plastic orange juice bottles with pigeon peas inside. "We don't have to go to the music shops," says Chipman.

"All the skins come from Long Island. I get 40 or 50 at a time. One large skin will cover three big drums, with enough small pieces left over for a few small paint cans.

"I get some from Jamaica, and the other day I got a donkey skin from Inagua."

The cow skin gives you the bass and goat and sheep skins give the high notes, he explains.

"Wet weather flattens the skin. Sun and cold bring it up taut. In between, that's when we put the fire to it," he says.

Bahamian musicians soak the skins in lime water for one or two days to get the hair off, explains Chipman, but every country has its own method. In Jamaica they rub hot sand on the skin and scrape the hair off with a board or stick. In other countries they shave it off with a piece of broken bottle or a razor, he says.

"I provide drums for the whole island - the schools, Junkanoo groups, all the bands. I make drums every day, year-round. We have goombay drums in all the schools now. I can make seven or eight drums a day. From October to January I can't make them fast enough."

Peanut the Wonder Boy

The Bahamas has spawned and nurtured a wide range of drummers.

Possibly the best known is Berkley "Peanuts" Taylor, whose name is synonymous with Bahamian music. His dynamic and hypnotic beat has been entertaining listeners in Nassau and around the world for more than six decades.

The oft-repeated legend is that as a four-year-old he passed the over-the-hill nightclub of internationally acclaimed dancer Paul Meeres.

"I can sing and dance better than you," bragged the youngster.

"You're nothing but a peanut," said Meeres and the little boy went into his act on the spot. Meeres hired him and he shared a stage with 300 pounds of joy, "Princess" Augusta Lewis. They were billed as "Big Bina and Peanut the Wonder Boy." By age 18 he was touring Asia and Europe with a 25-member entourage.

Taylor had a series of nightclubs over 30 years. He has performed around the world - including Havana's Tropicana in the buoyant 1950s - as a musical ambassador for The Bahamas.

In 1993 his efforts earned him an MBE - membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Taylor took a group of 22 musicians to Cuba in 2000 to demonstrate Bahamian Junkanoo music and culture. The next year he performed at Percussion 2001 in Cuba with musicians from Europe and Africa. He was the first non-Cuban to receive Cuba's cultural medal of honour and was made a professor of percussion at Havana's Superior Institute of Art.

Water taxi driver Basil Rolle, whose uncle, Ernest Stubbs, formed the original rake 'n scrape band, Lacido and the Boys, joined the group as a teenaged singer and drummer in 1980.

"We used to use the traditional goatskin drums," he says, "but we use traps now because it often took half an hour to heat up the goatskins to get them tight enough to play.

"We used Sterno and sometimes had a little Sterno can built right into the drum. We used to burn our hands heating up the drums, and then my uncle brought new drums from Indiana."

Local boy makes it big

Born in Nassau in 1941, King Errisson Pallman Johnson dreamed of being an entertainer and actor. From age 13 to 18 Johnson was a professional jockey at Hobby Horse Hall, a race track at Cable Beach, and at the same time moonlighted at local clubs, jamming with the hired bands.

His early years as a drummer with legendary limbo dancer Sweet Richard and, later, Percy "The Deacon" Whylly, were followed by a stint with his calypso group in the James Bond film Thunderball.

He moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s and established himself as a top session conga player on the disco and R&B scene. He has worked and recorded with many artists, including Barbra Streisand, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations and The Carpenters.

Johnson became an active studio musician, going on to work with many jazz greats, including Quincy Jones. He recorded eight albums with jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. He joined the Neil Diamond band in 1976. Today he divides his time between his Las Vegas home and his bonefishing resort, Pestell Beach Resort, on Acklins island in The Bahamas.

Golfing around The Bahamas

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Sun and sea vistas are a golf-lover's dream

Originally published WELCOME BAHAMAS - GRAND BAHAMA - 2005 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd

Golf and The Bahamas have been sporadic bedmates since near the end of the 18th century. Sometimes the relationship has been dynamic; sometimes restrained.

If you count all the existing, planned and potential public, private and resort golf clubs the list stretches to 22, but there are about 12 that you can play today.

Grand Bahama has five public or resort courses and two under development. The Out Islands have a few including one mature 18-hole layout, another half completed and a third on the way.

New Providence and Paradise Island boast four courses, but one is private and another is available only to members and guests at Atlantis and One&Only Ocean Club.

Lucayan course

On Grand Bahama the Lucayan Golf Club, which triggered the island's golfing era four decades ago, is matriarch of the island's golfing family. It retains much of the Dick Wilson imprint, with tight dog-legs and elevated greens protected by craftily placed sand traps.

The grand dame of the island's courses has been altered over the past few years with several new ladies' tees making a par-72 layout, the same as from the men's tees. The Lucayan, with a completely new watering system, remains one of the classiest courses in the Caribbean area.

The Reef

The Reef is maturing verdantly following a complete makeover under the direction of Robert Trent Jones Jr and Ty Butler. Lakes and hills have been incorporated into the formerly flat layout. The Reef today is a challenging 6,930-yard playing field with lakes or water on a dozen holes and nearly 120 bunkers.

Over at the Crowne Plaza, the Ruby and Emerald courses have been rebuilt by Jim Fazio and his design team. Imaginatively placed sand traps and new watering systems have been added to the layouts originally designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee.

Ruby and Emerald

The Ruby has been opened up and, from the front tees, the course is straightforward and relatively easy to play, according to golf director Scott Coetzee.

"It's grown in now and the ball runs a little better than on the Emerald, which has deeper soil." There are 87 bunkers on The Ruby.

Fazio completely overhauled The Emerald course without detracting from the original Dick Wilson design. He added new greens and tees, making it "much tougher than The Ruby," says Coetzee.

"Although it's about the same yardage, it seems to play longer. It has more topsoil than The Ruby. The greens also are smaller and the fairways tighter. The tree line defines the fairways much more than the other course.

"We keep the fairways and roughs cut tournament-style," he adds.

Fortune Hills

Fortune Hills Golf and Country Club, also designed by Wilson and Lee around the same time they were putting the Lucayan together, is a nine-hole layout. Owner Walter Kitchen has been operating it as a membership club for about 30 years. Wilson and Lee incorporated their trademark large, well-trapped elevated greens and raised tees. It has matured into a busy club with an active local and transient membership of about 350.

Fortune Hills has enough land for another nine holes, but Kitchen has no immediate plans to expand.

Abaco courses

Abaco boasts a mature and well-maintained course at Treasure Cay, north of Marsh Harbour, and another fledgling layout to the south at Cherokee Sound. Treasure Cay is an 18-hole, par-72, 6,985-yard, Dick Wilson layout, the first course on Abaco. With 66 strategically placed sand bunkers, the Treasure Cay course presents a formidable challenge with ocean winds, tight fairways and a layout that makes you ponder every club selection.

The front nine runs parallel to the ocean at the north end of Treasure Cay Resort, and is relatively straightforward with two par fives of 555 and 500 yards from the white tees. The back nine is tighter, requiring more precision and thought with slightly more water in play. A couple of ponds (with interesting wildlife) represent minor hazards, particularly on number 11, a 515-yard par 5. Despite its length, Treasure Cay can be played in less than three hours.

Cherokee Sound

Just off the drawing boards and scheduled to be playable by Thanksgiving 2004 is a unique 18-hole championship Scottish-style tropical links golf course. The course is the centrepiece of a $160-million sporting estate now under development at Winding Bay, Abaco, by British entrepreneur, Peter de Savary.

Situated on a peninsula of more than 500 acres, surrounded by 2.5 miles of pink sand beach and highlighted by bluffs, the course has been designed by Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie, pre-eminent Scottish links-style architects.

The 7,183-yard, par-72 links opens with a challenging 547-yard par 5 - third longest hole - as the course plays for seven holes out along the beach. Shots will be assisted by prevailing winds for most of the winter.

The 8th marks the start of the return towards home. This is the classic out-and-back configuration of the great seaside courses of Britain and Ireland, with 14 of the holes traversing dunes alongside the beach and the waters of Winding Bay.

The final four holes are a change of scene. The 15th is high above the first 14 holes with spectacular views along the length of the bay.

On the 17th tee, a panoramic view opens up of the picturesque short 17th and down the length of the 553-yard 18th hole. There are few finishing holes where both the tee and green are right on the ocean's edge, according to Steel.

Emerald Bay

Nestled among the lush native vegetation of Great Exuma is Four Seasons Golf Club Great Exuma at Emerald Bay, where the fairways of six straight holes lie along the ocean. The 7,001-yard, par-72, 18-hole course was designed by Australian pro Greg Norman.

The course winds through a mix of seaside dunes and mangrove preserves, finishing on a rocky peninsula with majestic ocean views. Sea grapes, silver buttonwoods and cabbage palms are some of the trees and bushes that line the fairways.

Emerald Bay also features a driving range, pro shop, private lessons and twice-weekly clinics.

Take a swing on our courses

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Bahamian golf offers glorious layouts

Originally published WELCOME BAHAMAS - GRAND BAHAMA - 2003 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd

If you're looking for a golfing holiday, or a holiday with golf in it, you've come to the right place.

The Bahamas doesn't have an abundance of courses, but it does offer quality: layouts designed or refurbished by such greats as Dick Wilson, Joe Lee, Robert Trent Jones Jr, Fred Settle and the Fazio family.

Several courses are being contemplated, or are under way. They include a new Greg Norman course already under construction at the Emerald Bay resort in Exuma; a new course at a proposed $140-million resort at Winding Bay, near Cherokee Sound, Abaco; and a course the Bahamian Golf Federation wants to build on New Providence.

Golfers wanting to play more than one course can choose between New Providence and Grand Bahama. The only other island with a full course today is Abaco, although at least

10 more are planned or actually under construction. Treasure Cay Resort in Abaco has its own 18-hole, 72-par golf course. The Dick Wilson-designed championship course was judged to be "best in The Bahamas" by Golf Digest in 1999. With 66 strategically placed sand bunkers, the Treasure Cay course presents a formidable challenge, with ocean winds, tight fairways and a layout that makes you ponder every club selection.

Golf New Providence
Two courses offer public play in New Providence: the Radisson Cable Beach layout and the South Ocean Golf and Beach Resort course, at the south-west shore of the island. (For the exact locations of golf courses, pick up a copy of Bahamas Trailblazer Maps, offered free in hotels and shops.)

The venerable Cable Beach course was recently rebuilt from the first tee to the 18th green by international golf designer Fred Settle. It was the first major renovation of the old Emmet Devereaux course in 70 years.

With the former nines reversed, the new Cable Beach layout is a superb challenge whether you play from the blues (6,453 yds), whites (6,001 yds) or golds (5,412 yds). There's water on eleven holes.

South Ocean Golf Club was opened nearly three decades ago by Canadian financier and developer of Lyford Cay, E P Taylor. Designed by Joe Lee, this 6,707-yd course features ponds, two blue holes and ruins off the 11th hole, believed to be slave quarters from the days before full emancipation was legislated in 1834.

There are two other courses here: the Lyford Cay Club in the posh gated community of the same name on the western tip of New Providence, and the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island, which is exclusive to property owners in Ocean Club Estates and guests at the Atlantis complex, including the upscale Ocean Club hotel.

This course was originally designed by Dick Wilson back in 1958 but it has recently been redone by former PGA tour star Tom Weiskopf, now a designer and sometimes player on the senior tour.

You can see the ocean from just about anywhere on this 7,123-yd par-72 gem. Weiskopf incorporated the island's cross winds and rolling terrain into the challenge. It's hard to keep your eye on the ball with so much natural beauty on all sides.

Ocean Club hosts several golfing events that garner lots of media attention every year, including a televised celebrity tournament hosted by basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Grand Bahama's five
There are five courses to play on Grand Bahama: the Reef and the Lucayan courses, operated by the Our Lucaya resort; the Ruby and the Emerald, owned by Royal Oasis Golf Resort and the Fortune Hills Golf and Country Club - a superb nine-hole layout designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee.

The Ruby and the Emerald, on either side of West Sunrise Hwy, were recently renovated by the Fazio Design Team and are in excellent playing condition, says acting director of golf Scott Goetzee, a South African who is part of the golf management team.

"The two courses are completely different experiences," says Goetzee. The Emerald plays "a bit tougher than the Ruby," partly because the tree-lined fairways are tighter and there is more topsoil on the course, reducing the roll on drives.

The Lucayan, off Midshipman Rd, is home to the Butch Harmon School of Golf, which offers high-tech instruction to wannabe-better golfers. Harmon is widely known as one of the most knowledgeable and successful golf coaches in the world.

The Lucayan is a great place to try out a newly remodeled swing: a 6,824-yd par-72 course designed in 1962 by Dick Wilson. Characterized by tree-lined fairways and challenging doglegs, the Lucayan has been rated for many years as one of the best courses in The Bahamas and in the entire Caribbean region.

The nearby Reef, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, was reopened in 2000 and has quickly gained a reputation among visiting golfers.

At 6,930 yds, the Reef features wide fairways, rolling greens and water on 13 of the 18 holes. Greens on both courses are seeded with Tifton, a fine variety of Bermuda grass, and they can be "very quick," warns pro Max Russell of the Lucayan.

Bahamian woodworkers

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Craftsmen have distinct advantage

Originally published WELCOME BAHAMAS - NASSAU, CABLE BEACH & PARADISE ISLAND - 2003 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd

Bahamian woodworkers have a distinct advantage over their counterparts in much of the rest of the world. Available to these craftsmen is a range of woods unsurpassed in terms of weight, density, colour, workability, grain, texture and flexibility.

Profiting from this advantage are sculptors, wood turners, carvers, whittlers, cabinet makers and boat builders. Here's a look at a few of these skilled craftsmen.

Roddie Pinder, 62, is possibly The Bahamas' best-known wood turner.

A native of Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, where he still resides and works, his early career was in the civil service with the Ministry of Health and later as an Out Island commissioner.

He got seriously into wood working following the death of an old friend, whose family gave Roddie the friend's lathe. He studied briefly with Rude Osolnik, a world-renowned wood turner.

Of the native woods, Pinder prefers to work with Madeira - which he describes as "the very best" - cork, horseflesh and lignum vitae when he can get it.

Lignum vitae is the national tree of The Bahamas and is protected by law. "So the only way I can get it is after a hurricane. Hurricanes Floyd and Andrew produced a lot of wood for me," said Pinder. "Cork is also nice to work with. They used to use cork wood for framing ocean vessels. It's strong, light and flexible and there are millions of [trees] along the shoreline."

He also uses local tamarind and imported woods including ebony from Burma, cocobolo (a Central American rosewood) and padauk, considered to be one of the most beautiful African rosewoods.

Urn of Guanahani
In 1991 Pinder was commissioned by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce to turn an urn of native hardwood for each landfall of Christopher Columbus. In 1992 he turned the urn of Guanahani, which was filled with sand from San Salvador and now rests in Columbus' tomb in Santo Domingo. Pinder's work can be seen in an extensive collection at Nassau Glass on Mackey St and at Island Tings on Bay St.

Cabinet maker Rudy McSweeney, Sr, has been at his trade since just after the Second World War when he started as a machine helper with George Mosko Furniture. At six ft four, he earned the nickname "Slim" and soon graduated to making chairs. "Mr Mosko asked me to make six chairs, and I made them and then another 36 and then 72."

He left the Mosko firm in 1953 to do a major refinishing job with Barclays Bank.

"I've been in construction ever since. I didn't mind construction but I loved the shop better and opened my first shop in Chippingham. Then we moved here to Crawford St in 1968 and decided to call it Chippingdale as a combination of Chippingham and Chippendale."

McSweeney was commissioned in 1979 to make a "crozier" (staff) for the visit of Pope John Paul II. Lignum vitae was chosen as the local wood because it was the national tree and because some believe that the cross on which Christ was crucified was made of lignum vitae.

A team effort
He found a dead tree on the grounds of Princess Margaret Hospital and chose it because the wood was already cured and he would not need the government permission necessary to cut a live tree.

McSweeney and a young schoolboy, Brian Wilson, who did the carving, produced the crozier in a week and a half. Wilson carved the crucified figure of Jesus out of mahogany. During the presentation they were introduced to the Pope personally. "It was one of the high points in my life," said the 16-year-old Wilson at the time. McSweeney also made a mahogany case, lined with red velvet, for transporting the crozier when it went back to Rome.

Ceremonial maces
Gilbert Elliston, 50, a native of Jamaica and a teacher since 1970, came to The Bahamas in 1987 to start a woodworking programme at the Hopedale Centre for young people with learning disabilities. Hopedale was established in 1973. The woodwork shop at Hopedale on Petersfield Rd builds 17th and 18th century reproductions to contemporary designs.

Elliston also designs and builds ceremonial maces, the most recent one for Sojourner-Douglass College. The shop also produces the stands that hold the duho - a replica of a Lucayan ceremonial chair - for the Ministry of Tourism's annual Cacique Awards.

"We specialize in challenged students," says Elliston. "The youngsters here learn by hands-on experience. They see and they do. They learn by osmosis. We only take 10 students at a time, and the ones who show promise and progress help with the younger and slower ones.

"People from the community also come here to upgrade their skills in woodworking. We help them with things like finishing, lathe turning, furniture construction, cabinet work. And to see some of them develop into legitimate craftsmen is my greatest reward."

James Rolle, a Nassau native, has been carving fish and figures out of Bahamian hardwoods for more than 30 years. And he's only 42. He is one of the senior talented wood carvers who ply their trade at Nassau's colourful straw market.

Wielding a rubber mallet and a chisel he chops away at a piece of wild tamarind. "It's easy," he says. "You just take a piece of wood and carve away everything that doesn't look like a fish."


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John Price está preparándose para unas vacaciones de ensueño: empacó un maletín con dos camisetas polo, dos shorts de caqui, un par de sandalias y un libro de John Grisham. Según dice, esto es lo único que le hace falta para el viaje. Ya tiene alojamiento reservado en lo que, en sus propias palabras, “es el mejor hotel del mundo”: 15 metros cuadrados de agua prístina con una espectacular vista de los cayos del Caribe.

Price, un ávido entusiasta de la navegación, pasará los próximos 15 días en un crucero en su embarcación de 31 pies de eslora, realizando un viaje de Fort Lauderdale a las Bahamas, donde anclará en una de las más de 200 marinas que están disponibles para los amantes del mar, como él.
Price no está solo en su pasión marítima, ya que forma parte de una legión cada vez mayor de navegantes que escogen el Caribe como su destino favorito para expediciones de pesca y vacaciones familiares, aprovechando la cercanía a Estados Unidos y las sofisticadas y a la vez pintorescas marinas que llenan las costas de toda la región.
“Son las vacaciones ideales”, dice Price, vecino de Boca Raton, Florida. “No hay problemas, no hay que llevar pesadas maletas, ni esperar en línea en los aeropuertos, y además todo el tiempo uno se encuentra con gente simpática y amistosa”.

El año pasado, más de 70 millones de norteamericanos participaron en navegación recreacional “como una forma de reducir el estrés de sus vidas”, señala Thom Dammrich, presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes de Marinas (NMMA, por sus siglas en inglés).

De acuerdo con los amantes del mar, las aguas del Caribe contribuyen grandemente a lograr este objetivo, debido a su mezcla sinigual de infrastructura marina y ambiente natural que ofrecen una amplia variedad de opciones de recreación.
“La navegación permite ir a lugares a los que otras personas no pueden ir, y el Caribe es uno de esos maravillosos sitios”, dice Price.

“Aquí se pueden encontrar marinas para todos los bolsillos e intereses”, agrega. Desde instalaciones de lujo como Crown Bay, en St.Thomas, que les brinda servicio a los ricos y famosos, hasta otras más tradicionales y pequeñas como Hurricane Hole, en Nassau, que ofrece estupendas vistas de los cayos y los arrecifes coralinos que la rodean.
La mayor parte de las marinas tiene útiles plataformas para participar en una amplísima variedad de actividades, entre ellas pesca deportiva, buceo, yatismo o simplemente pasarla bien.

Pesca: el Caribe es una de las mejores zonas de pesca deportiva de todo el mundo, tanto para los aficionados como para los profesionales. Una marina muy popular entre los entusiastas de la pesca es Old Bahama Bay, en Bahamas, donde las aguas que la rodean ofrecen “muchísimas áreas para pesca en alta mar, en los arrecifes y la pesca de la lisa, ya que tenemos agua por todas partes del resort”, dice Jennifer Ehrman, vicepresidenta de Mercadeo del lugar. Un poco más al norte, el sitio conocido como North Drop, un abismo de 30 metros en las afueras de St. Thomas, atrae al pez espada y a los pescadores en grandes cantidades.

Buceo: el exótico mundo submarino de la cuenca del Caribe ha sido elogiado por los buzos y expertos como uno de los mejores sitios para bucear de todo el mundo. La visibilidad es virtualmente ilimitada: las vívidas formaciones de coral, misteriosos restos de naufragios y cautivante vida marina en las islas y cayos caribeños atraen a algunos de los principales buzos del planeta. Raúl Miranda, vecino de Port Lucaya, afirma que la mayor parte de las marinas “tiene la infrastructura ideal para disfrutar de todo, lo que convierte a las Bahamas en uno de los más formidables destinos de buceo de todo el mundo”.

Yatismo: gracias a la brisa que corre el año entero, en el Caribe hay constantemente viajes en velero y en embarcaciones rápidas, actividades que se realizan en clubes de yatismo, compañías de alquiler de barcos y marinas de todos los tipos. Considerada una de las mejores zonas para practicar yatismo , atrae a los navegantes que buscan el lugar perfecto para practicarlo, o el lugar perfecto para lanzarse en una aventura por todas las islas caribeñas.

Para relajarse: las playas de arenas blanquísimas, aguas tranquilas y una vegetación exuberante resultan un marco incomparable para divertirse. Algunas marinas cuentan con resorts de servicios completos, que incluyen excelentes restaurantes y tiendas. Uno de estos sitios es Crown Bay Marina, en St. Thomas, que con el tiempo se ha convertido en el destino más importante para los amantes del mar. “Aquí se puede ver cómo viven los ricos y famosos”, dice Arlene Martell, vocera de la marina. “Es un lugar ideal para ver gente”. De igual modo, el resort de Abaco Beach ofrece alojamiento de categoría para los entusiastas de la navegación. “Contamos con todas las comodidades que tiene una marina de lujo, pero al ser un resort ofrecemos mucho más”, observa John Neophytou, gerente general.

Aparte del entretenimiento, la mayor parte de las marinas tiene una cosa en común que las une: el factor humano.
“Una de las cosas extraordinarias de la navegación es este sentido de comunidad entre los amantes del mar”, dice Steve Tadd, oriundo del sur de la Florida, y que lleva más de 25 años navegando. “No importa dónde uno vaya, siempre la gente lo ayuda a uno y todos comparten sus historias, a veces bebiendo una jarra de cerveza”, dice.
Tadd, que dirige el Programa Discovery, con sede en Chicago, para los principiantes en la navegación, se siente particularmente orgulloso de las aguas y playas de Freeport, en las Bahamas, que visitó con frecuencia en la embarcación de sus padres cuando era un niño. Fue una experiencia inolvidable, dice, que determinó su destino como un amante del mar. Sin embargo, lo que más recuerda es a la gente y su cultura: “era como descubrir y explorar un nuevo mundo”, dice.

“En cualquier marina que uno vaya, vivirá una experiencia que recordará toda la vida”, asiente Price. “Sobre todo si ocurre en el Caribe”.


FUENTE: http://www.bahamas.co.uk/activities/bahamas_activities_people.asp

Si te gusta viajar, conocer nuevas culturas e intercambiar experiencias apuntanté al programa que organiza el Ministerio de Turismo de Bahamas.

A continuación toda la información.

Discover our People-to-People Programme, where you'll meet warm and friendly Bahamians who want to show you another side of life in The Islands of the Bahamas. Hundreds ofhospitable volunteers have been chosen by the Ministry of Tourism as special personal hosts to you and your family, club or interest group.

The scheme is informal, non-regimented and very personalized. We'll bring you together with a Bahamian family in either Nassau or Freeport whose leisure, occupational or religious interests are similar to yours.

How you spend your time together is entirely up to you and your hosts. You may like to visit a school or college, join a church congregation, or simply visit some of the island's sights. The People-to-People programme is easy and free except for the cost of transportation or any personal purchases.

If you're coming to Nassau and you would like to consider our People-to-People Programme, write to:

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
People-to-People Program
P O Box N3701
Nassau, Bahamas

Or, alternatively, when in Nassau you can drop by one of the Tourist Information Centres located at the airport and Rawson Square, downtown. Or call 356-0435.

If you are coming to Freeport/Lucaya, write to:

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
People-to-People Programme
P O Box F40251
Freeport/Lucaya, Bahamas

Or, alternatively, when in Freeport drop by the Tourist Information Centre at the International Bazaar, or call 352-8044.


FUENTE: http://www.all-bahamas.com/

A continuación un montón de alojamientos para pasar unas bonitas vacaciones. En inglés

Sandy beaches of the Bahamas lined with tall swaying pine trees. Rum punches and sparkling, turqouise water. Posh resorts with golf courses, giant pools, spas and vegas-type entertainment. Gridlocked traffic on small winding streets, casinos hopping with action; cruise-ship passengers strolling through the bustling straw markets.

Popular Bahamas hotels
Atlantis Beach Tower

Atlantis Coral Towers

Atlantis Royal Towers

Banyan Beach Club

Bay View Village

Breezes Bahamas

British Colonial Hilton

Castaways Resort

Chillingsworth Court

Club Med Paradise

Club Landor Resort

Comfort Suites Paradise Island

Compass Point Hotel

Coral Sands Hotel

Crowne Plaza Club

Crowne Plaza Tower



Flamingo Bay Hotel

Green Turtle Club

Harborside Resort

Holiday Inn Nassau

Nassau Beach Hotel

Look out Villa

Ocean Club

Ocean Reef Resort

Orange Hill Beach Inn

Paradise Harbour Club

Pelican Bay Hotel

Pink Sands Hotel

Port Lucaya Resort

Quality Inn Cigatoo

Quality Inn Nassau

Radisson Cable Resort

Red Carpet Inn

Romora Bay Club

Sandals Royal hotel

Sheraton Grand Resort

Sheraton Golf Resort

South Ocean Resort

Sunrise Beach Club

Sunshine Suites

Treasure Cay Hotel

Viva Wyndham Fortuna

Westin Lucaya Beach

Wyndham Nassau Resort




FUENTE: http://www.xe.com/ucc/es/

Al instante todas las monedas del mundo: El Convertidor Universal de Divisas™ le permite realizar interactivamente conversiones de tipos de cambio de divisas en el Internet


En las islas Bahamas, crece una especie de árbol al que llaman “árbol de la vida”.

El nombre responde a su particular condición de vitalidad. Sólo hace falta plantar una ramita de este árbol en la tierra, aunque ésta esté reseca, y en el lugar crecerá otro “árbol de la vida”. Aunque no le llegue la luz solar... ¡Un nuevo árbol de esta especie nacerá con toda su fuerza!


FUENTE: http://www.redcaribe.com/curiosidades/caribe/bahamas/index.asp

¿Sabías que...
Las Bahamas constituyen un archipiélago con alrededor de 700 islas. Se halla ubicado en el Mar Caribe, al sureste de Florida y al norte de Cuba.

Las islas tiene todas ellas, un paisaje similar, son de formación coralina y piedra caliza. Su relieve es más bien bajo, excepto algunos cerros formados por dunas.

La cumbre más alta se encuentra en la isla Cat, con 63 metros de altitud.

¿Sabías que...
Las costas se hallan bordeadas de manglares, lagunas y arrecifes de corales.

¿Sabías que...
Gran atractivo para el turista lo constituye la multitud de pájaros y la vida marina existente a lo largo de los arrecifes.
La visibilidad submarina de las zonas costeras en ocasiones supera los 30 metros de profundidad.

¿Sabías que...
La isla más grande de las Bahamas es la isla Andros, con una superficie de 5.957 km2.

¿Sabías que...
El Pirata Barbanegra tuvo su cuartel general en Nassau. En ocasiones los piratas que pululaban por estas islas, encendían falsos faros para hacer que encallaran las naves y así saltearlas.

¿Sabías que...
La pequeña y angosta isla de Eleuthera recibió este nombre en honor a la diosa griega de la Libertad, Eleuteria, y fue dado por el inglés William Sayle, en el Siglo XVII. Venía emigrando de las Bermudas en busca de tierras de libertad, y se estableció allí en 1654.

Esta isla es una de las doce bases del triángulo de las Bermudas.

¿Sabías que...
Durante 1880, el sheriff de Harbord Island, ubicada al noroeste de Eleuthera, tocaba a las 21 horas de cada día una campana como señal de que a partir de ese momento era ilegal besarse en público... lo que cambió el concepto de "tierra de libertad" en la isla.

¿Sabías que...
Una Biblioteca de Nassau fue un edificio que era prisión en siglos anteriores.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004



Que se cuece...

A continuación tres direcciones donde podemos informarnos del día a día en las islas, todo lo que sea de actualidad, lo encontrarás aquí. El tiempo, política, sociedad, deportes, cultura, eventos...

FUENTE: http://www.bahamasnews.com/ NOTICIAS
http://www.jonesbahamas.com/ The Bahamas journal.
http://www.thenassauguardian.com/ The Nassau Guardian.

Friday, October 22, 2004


FUENTE: http://www.e-travelware.com/zdive/dvbahamas.htm

Escenarios submarinos en Bahamas

El archipiélago de las Bahamas, con su mezcla de atractivo internacional y tranquilidad tropical es desde hace mucho un destino tradicional del turismo. Sofisticados hoteles, tranquilas playas, excitante vida nocturna, todos los deportes y en especial los náuticos, encanto colonial y agrestes paisajes tropicales, son los ingredientes perfectos para unas vacaciones de ensueño.

Compuesto por 700 islas y más de 2000 islotes, cayos y bancos, la mayoría desiertos, el archipiélago está situado a 70 km al sudeste de Florida y al norte de Cuba. Este grupo de islas es bañado por el Océano Atlántico y sus aguas son muy ricas y variadas al estar influenciadas por el cercano Mar Caribe, incluso su temperatura (28 ° de media) y visibilidad (30 m de media) son características de las aguas caribeñas.

En su historia y cultura son visibles los legados dejados por los ingleses, además de abundar las historias de piratas. La población autóctona es descendiente de esclavos africanos y vive en gran parte del turismo.

Tanto en Nassau, capital de New Providence, como en Freeport, capital de Grand Bahama, podrá alojarse en alguno de los numerosos hoteles de lujo o en pequeñas y confortables villas, almorzar o cenar en una gran variedad de restaurantes, contratar excursiones, hacer compras en centros comerciales o visitar alguno de los casinos.

Naturalmente en ambas es factible encontrar operadores de buceo, como así también en las demás islas: Abaco, Bimini, Walker's Cay, Andros, Exuma, Stella Maris, Eleuthera y San Salvador.

En New Providence hay muchos arrecifes y más de 25 sitios de buceo, los mejores se encuentran al suroeste, con gran cantidad de corales y paredes que se pierden en las profundidades, aguas cristalinas y una típica fauna caribeña. Sumado al cuadro anterior es posible hacer inmersiones en naufragios (restos de barcos y aviones) y por supuesto los infaltables encuentros con los tiburones de Bahamas.

Entre los buceos de pared más interesantes, Razorback, en un rango de entre 12 y 20 m le mostrará abundancia de esponjas, gorgonias y peces de arrecife, y la presencia de enormes morenas verdes, peces espada y grandes cardúmenes de barracudas.

No deje de ir a Bahama Mama, embarcación de 34 m hundida en 1995, uno de los naufragios más visitados, y en cuyo interior es común toparse con meros y morenas, en tanto que los tiburones grises que rondan por fuera, incluso con alguno de más de 3 m, aumentarán su adrenalina.

El Muro, Sea Viking, Wilaurie y Edmond Willians son otros restos, que a pesar de carecer de tiburones, no dejan de tener su encanto.

Si lo que busca son cuevas, no debe perderse Tunnel Wall, donde el fondo comienza a 11 m y luego cae verticalmente hasta los 28 m. Esta pared presenta varios túneles de entre 15 y 22 m de extensión y en la inmersión podrá apreciar peces ángel, langostas, rayas y tortugas que no defraudaran ni a principiantes ni a expertos.

La isla de Andros cuenta con más de 100 lugares protegidos que le permiten exhibir un excepcional arrecife poblado de inmensos jardines de corales en excelente estado de salud y una abundante fauna que abarca tortugas marinas, cardúmenes de barracudas y caballitos de mar. Todo esto con una visibilidad que a veces supera los 50 m y que incluye paredes, naufragios, cuevas y grutas. Otro sitio para tener en cuenta es la bella barrera coralina de la isla Bimini.

Como pueden ver, a pesar de que el buceo con tiburones o "shark feeding" ( más información ) sea el plato fuerte de las islas Bahamas, y que ello implique más de una inmersión, tenga presente que puede practicar variantes de buceo más tradicionales y no por ello menos atractivas.

No por nada estas aguas han sido utilizadas en escenas submarinas de numerosas películas, algunas famosas como Tiburón o las del agente secreto James Bond.

Autor: Jack F. Marshall


FUENTE: http://www.bahamas-rental.com/re.html

Marriage in the Bahamas
"Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for the institution yet!"...Mae West


You both must spend one day in Bahamas prior to submitting your application for a marriage license.

Fill out application for license at same time at registers office.

Pay nominal fee of $40.00, license valid 3 months (no blood test required)

Both parties must be in Bahamas when making application for license.
If either party is a minor under 18 years of age, parental consent is required. Obtain forms from Register General's office

If either party ever divorced, a certified or original final decree must be produced

If either party is widowed, the death certificate of deceased spouse must be produced

If any unmarried party is a resident of a country other than the US, a declaration certifying to the unmarried status must be sworn to before a Notary Public or other person authorized to administer oaths in the country of residence. This may also be prepared by an attorney or Notary Public in the Bahamas

Photo ID issued from government office from country of residence must be produced

Evidence of arrival in Bahamas must be produced; the Bahamas Immigration embarkation card will do

For further inquiry, call the Register's Offices on the various islands. In Freeport, Grand Bahama Island you may reach them at The Assistant Registrar General of The Bahamas, P.O. Box F-42602, Freeport, Grand Bahamas, Bahamas. Telephone 242-352-4934/7 or Fax 242-352-4060. Please note that there are further requirements for couples traveling from certain countries, such as Japan to wed in the Bahamas. Do be sure and ask about all details.


FUENTE: http://www.bahamas-rental.com/minivideos-s.html

Los videos que se muestran a continuación son imágenes tomadas desde distintas partes de Eluthera, una de las 700 islas que componen Las Bahamas

1)Vista de la panorámica de Playa.

2) Concha Descascara en Playa

3) Examine de Playa

4) Océano Ve, con Olas
5) Governor's Harbor a ocaso
6) Cómo Hacerle Chowder a Concha


Fuente: http://www.radios.com.br/pages9/Bahamas/

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