The Bahamas is one of the most geographically complicated nations of the Atlantic. A coral-based archipelago, it is composed of more than 700 islands, 2,000 cays (pronounced "keys," from the Spanish word for small islands), and hundreds of rocky outcroppings that have damaged the hulls of countless ships since colonial days. Nassau really is the true Bahamas and retains a surprising amount of its traditionally British feel.
Fabulous beaches and relatively affordable prices continue to make Grand Bahama Island a year-round destination. Weather also enhances its continued popularity. Even though the island sits in the Atlantic Ocean, the forever-warm waters of the Gulf Stream make the beaches, particularly at the western tip, desirable even in winter. The Little Bahama Bank protects the island from the storms that roar in from the northeast.
People come here mainly to explore the outdoors. The sailing and fishing are spectacular, and the diving is excellent, too. Excellent marine facilities, with fishing guides and boat rentals, are available here. Anglers from all over the world come to test their skill against blue marlin, kingfish, dolphinfish, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, wahoo, amberjack, and grouper.
Many visitors come to The Bahamas precisely for its natural wonders, and more than any government in the Caribbean this nation is trying to protect its ecology. Government, private companies, and environmental groups have drawn up a national framework of priorities to protect the islands. One of their first goals was to save the nearly extinct West Indian flamingo. Today about 60,000 flamingos inhabit Great Inagua Island. Other programs aim to prevent the extinction of the green turtle, the white-crowned pigeon, the Bahamian parrot, and the New Providence iguana.