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

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.


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