By Noelle Khalila Nicolls
Updated: January 20, 2017
Ryan Bonneau / Alamy

The Bahamas has developed so much goodwill from the reputation of its untouched beaches that many visitors, and Bahamians alike, know little of the other outdoor activities available in the islands. Inagua Island has 140 species of native and migratory birds, making it one of the best destinations for birding. Other than the West Indian flamingo with its sultry scarlet fluff, I don’t hold a personal interest in any species of birds. But I do highly rate the varied wildlife encounters available in the Bahamas. They include opportunities to hand-feed stingrays and rambunctious rock iguanas; daring shark dives and not so daring encounters with dolphins in captivity. Local dolphin facilities are popular, but I am an advocate of wild dolphin sightings, best enjoyed in Bimini and Grand Bahama. Above all else, my most favorite outdoor activities involve fishing, blue holes, which are extremely deep, naturally-formed water reservoirs with cavernous interiors, tidal pools, the beach, and the bush (our forests). 

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island

You can either conquer Dean’s Blue Hole from above or below, and unless you rank among the world’s elite few underwater cave divers, you should do like me, and head for the hills. Dean’s Blue Hole is the deepest in the world. It sits neatly in a Long Island cove, surrounded by cliffs and elongated by a beach. You can hike to the ridge on a nature trail and jump in the blue hole, or snorkel on the surface and spook yourself over its watery depths. Stay at Gems at Paradise for easy access to Rainbow Cliffs. 

Rainbow Cliffs, Exuma

Fully experiencing this National Heritage Site requires athleticism and a bit of crazy. The coastal views from the crest of the cliffs are breathtaking, particularly at sunset. You can enjoy these with a cautious hike over uneven rocks. To get down below, where a tidal pool is nestled on a sea level plateau, you have to do a bit of climbing. The reward: a romantic sauna bath you will never forget. Stay at Rainbow Inn for easy access to Rainbow Cliffs. 

The Beach

Beautiful beaches are so abundant in the Bahamas we cannot help but be prejudice when it comes to powder soft white sand and translucently blue shallow waters. I admit I have been guilty of turning up my nose at black sand and pebble beaches, as beautiful as they can be. Needless to say, in the Bahamas you must head outdoors and engage in beach loafing.  

Rambling, Acklins

Acklins is a very remote island in the south with scheduled flights only on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Visitors normally choose Acklins for peace and quiet and fishing. But one of the best outdoor activities unique to the island is rambling, the process of hiking in the bush in search of the aromatic cascarilla tree, used for traditional medicine and commercial export. The sweet smell of this native shrub caught the attention of Christopher Columbus, who described Acklins as a fragrant island. Nature trails in Acklins will put you in contact with sweet-scented plants and flowering tropic foliage. 

Fishing, Andros

The first time I went spear fishing it took me over 15 attempts to catch my first lobster, but it was well worth the copious consumptions of salt water from my exhausted dives down below. Spear fishing is one of the more challenging forms of fishing, but also one of the most exciting. For a more normal place, the Bahamas offers the best in bottom fishing, deep-sea fishing and fly fishing. 

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