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Bahamas holiday: Why the stunning destination should be top choice for your next break


The rain and wind lashes down on my windows in the UK as I write this, so it is a pleasure to close my eyes and be taken back to paradise. Even better, I know the option to return is easier than ever thanks to Virgin Atlantic’s new direct route to the Bahamas, which launched late in 2021. The company has a close association with the country – their stunning Virgin Voyages cruise ship, The Scarlet Lady, travels between Miami and the Bahamas, offering a younger, up-for-fun cruise crowd a slice of Caribbean heaven.

Travel in recent times has been fraught, frankly, but travelling with Virgin made the whole process smooth. Testing rules continue to change so do check before flying, but when I flew, the requirement for entry into the Bahamas was a professionally administered lateral flow test completed up to five days before departure.

Virgin are partnered with Prenetics, who made the process swift and painless, alleviating any concerns. Even better, when rules changed while I was in the Bahamas and the UK government required a PCR test on return rather than just a lateral flow, upgrading with Prenetics was easy and fuss free – and the return of the familiar ‘pandemic-panic’ lifted pretty quickly.

My only other worry, as someone who hadn’t flown long-haul since 2018, was the flight itself. However, I needn’t have stressed – everyone was masked up, cleanliness was the highest priority, and wipes and hand sanitiser were provided in the goodie bag (along with the more recognisable treats of luxury socks, REN beauty products, and an eye mask).

As always with Virgin, staff were fun and friendly, reassuring passengers who may have been understandably nervous after so long away from travel. This being the first proper holiday I’d had in years, I eked out every moment and made sure to upgrade into the Virgin lounge at Heathrow – well worth it. Vast, luxurious and with a mercifully well stocked bar, this is the place to start the celebrations. Those less in the party mood are also well catered for with exercise bikes and a healthy food offering (I started with an angelic green smoothie, but soon turned my back on this for a cocktail).

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So with Virgin Atlantic setting the bar high at the start of the trip, I was ready to enjoy myself – and the Bahamas has something for whatever mood you are in. It should do – the Bahamas is in fact made up of 700 islands, so there is plenty of choice on offer.

Those looking for classic desert island paradise should book a day trip to the Exhumas. The warm, clear water and pristine white sand are a sight to behold after so long stuck in Blighty, but what has really put these islands on the map is something altogether more unexpected…pigs. Search the Bahamas on Instagram any time in the last few years and you won’t have been able to miss the famous swimming pigs.

As it turns out, there isn’t just one place to swim with the animals, and if you want a real up-close experience without the crowds, book with Power Boat Adventures. A group of 15 of us set off on a boat from Nassau and just over an hour later, after a beautiful ride on the open water, we stopped at an uninhabited island filled with iguanas. Yes, it’s not just pigs that roam here, and on so-called ‘iguana island’, we were able to feed the fascinating creatures their favourite snack of grapes. After ample time for photos and swimming in the incredibly warm sea, we were back on the boat and on to a larger island where the pigs live.

The reality behind the Instagram facade is that they don’t exactly roam free – they do have pens, and are looked after by staff, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. Our group formed a circle in the sea, and the pigs were let out of their pen and ushered down to us. Nervous at first, they soon realised we had treats for them and swam over, ready to pose for the endless selfies we all wanted. Be warned though – you will be ducking a constant stream of floating pig poo for your troubles! Once we were done, humans and pigs made their way out of the warm ocean and flopped onto the private beach for some relaxation. There is a bar on site, so drinks were flowing, and the trip includes a buffet lunch enjoyed on a wooden deck over the lapping waves – magically simple and laid back.

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This mix of relaxation and party vibes is something to be enjoyed at another famous Bahamian landmark – The Atlantis. A huge resort, this is the perfect place to stay for a mixed group who might be looking for different things. Families will love the Aquarium, water rides, pools and shopping, while couples can hole up in the luxuriously large rooms at The Cove, where I stayed.

As well as The Cove, there is The Royal, The Reef, The Coral, The Beach and Harbourside Resort – each offering the Bahamas experience at different price points.

We were after some fun, so booked a beach side cabana for our group and kept the staff busy with a seemingly endless appetite for Whispering Angel.

Despite its size, the beaches didn’t feel crowded – in fact, it felt like we had a slice of the island all for ourselves. One area where The Atlantis particularly shines is its staff – everyone I meet is proud and excited to work here, and that passion and enthusiasm shines through with excellent service and a genuinely warm welcome.

If you want to take the tempo up a notch, check in to the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar hotel. Also a pretty vast resort, rooms are decorated in a sleek, beach-y style and the hotel has a buzzy atmosphere.

As at The Atlantis, there is a casino for those who want to have a flutter, and the poolside cabana experience is also seriously fun, with snacks and drinks flowing all day by the circular pool which comes complete with inflatables for yet more Instagram posing.

Where the hotel really comes into its own though is the food. Whatever you fancy eating, there is a restaurant for that, and unlike many large resorts I’ve stayed in around the world, the quality is exceptional everywhere we try.

Want a romantic upscale French meal? Book Café Boulud. Looking for a raucous Chinese dinner with your group? Don’t miss Shuang Ba. Mexican, Japanese, Thai…I could go on.



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