When you think of The Bahamas, you probably imagine a luxury seaside getaway with Thunderball Grotto from the James Bond films, whereas Jamaica immediately throws up images of dreadlocks, dance, and free-spirited music. What the two destinations do have in common, however, is that they are both island nations, and they both boast of gorgeous coastlines with dolphins and interesting cultural and natural attractions. So where should you heading next: The Bahamas or Jamaica?
The Bahamas is a family of 700 islands and over 2,000 rocks and cays scattered over 100,000 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are closer to Florida in the USA. The terrain is mostly flat primarily either rocky or mangrove swamp, along with pineyards. There are more than 16 islands for you to choose from for your island vacation in the Bahamas.
Jamaica is the third largest island country in the Caribbean Sea located more than a hundred miles below Cuba. Within 4,240 sq mi area, you get to enjoy a variety of terrain. You can be in the midst of verdant mountains, hike in a jungle, splash in milky cascades, go river rafting in a gushing river. The coastline glows white with fine sand and surrounded by thriving coral reefs.
The Bahamas have plenty of luxury resorts for all kinds of travelers. Unwind in Nassau at Rosewood Baha Mar on a private stretch of Cable beach or rest in the picturesque Emerald Bay with a few nights at Grand Isle Resort and Spa.
Set along the powdery white sands of Paradise Island, The Ocean Club – A Four Seasons Resort and The Cove At Atlantis are a few places to be, to enjoy The Bahamas in style.
Jamaican beaches boast of magnificent resorts that provide breathtaking views of the sea from the comforts of your suite. Lovebirds and honeymooners can stay at the spectacular beachside The Caves resort at Negril and Secrets St. James at Montego Bay.
Traveling families can spend their weeklong vacation at the Beaches Negril and Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort and Round Hill Hotel at Montego Bay.
Bahamian food is locally inspired and seafood is a staple for Bahamians especially conch. They also love fresh catch from the sea, so it is common to find fish and lobsters at a local restaurant. Spicy and uniquely flavored, Bahamian cooking has been influenced by the American South.
Local dishes in the Bahamas that you must try are conch fritters or salad, baked crab, rock lobster, souse and stew fish. Finish your meal with guava duff for dessert with a rum-or brandy-butter sauce drizzled on top. Don’t forget to taste some Johnny Cake for snacks.
Rum based cocktails are a rage in this part of the world, so when you are chilling poolside or in a bar in the Bahamas, order a glass of The Bahama Mama or Goombay Smash among others.
Local dishes to try in Jamaica are jerk chicken, fried breadfruit, goat curry, oxtail delicacy, beef patty, Solomon Gundy, bammy, and Escovitch fish. For breakfast, order a plate of ackee and saltfish. This national dish has a different flavor and texture on your palette and definitely tasty.
While you unwind in Jamaica under the palm shade, sip on Planter’s Punch or Jamaican sunrise and end the night with a shot of Flaming Bob Marley.
Zeroing down on a beach is the toughest part of your vacation in the Bahamas as all the beaches are exceptionally beautiful. The most popular islands are the Abacos, Exumas, Grand Bahama Island, and Paradise island.
In the Bahamas, the white-sand beaches of Half Moon Cay and Castaway Cay, plus the northern part of Nassau give the Caribbean beaches a run for their money.
Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island is perfect for swimming, water sports or just rent a chair, an umbrella and order a drink from any of the beach shacks here.
The shallow coastline at Gold Rock Beach is perfect for families with little kids to swim. You will have to walk through the lush mangroves to reach the beach and explore the park’s limestone caves here.
Pig Beach in Great Exuma is not your usual sand and surf spot. You will find feral pigs swimming around and having a fun time on the beach. The origin of these non-native pigs roaming freely on the beach is an interesting tale.
Tahiti Beach on Abacos looks paradisiacal. A snorkelling trip will reveal the marine wealth lurking under the waves. Rising and falling tides will bring out the shallow sand bank and sometimes conchs are awash on the beach here.
Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and you can easily spot different kinds of fish, stingrays, lots of coral reefs and yellow crabs.
The less frequented Treasure Beach in the South Coast is serene and has more locals than tourists. It is a great place to chat up with a few Jamaicans.
The Seven Mile Beach in Negril is the longest beach on the island is great for those heady in love. You can shed your clothes at designated areas for nude sunbathing. You can also go to Bloody Bay in Negril.
Make the most of Silver Sands at Duncans Bay as it boasts of ultra fine sand with shades of pink and sees fewer crowds than other beaches.
Mammee Bay Beach in Ocho Rios is great for windsurfing and after you return tired, feast on grilled lobster and snooze under a beach umbrella.
THINGS TO DO
Daredevils can take a day out to snorkel in a saltwater sinkhole that plunges 663 feet into an abyss. Swimming above the sinkhole at Dean’s Blue Hole at Long Island looks intimidating at first but a rewarding one for sure.
Visit the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre flourishing with tropical gardens and home to many exotic plants and animals. You can watch hundreds of flamingos with their characteristic pink plumage feeding and going by their day.
Splash in water and have unlimited fun at Caribbean’s largest waterpark at Atlantis Bahamas. Make the most of the stunning slides, river rapids, pool and beaches – you shall be captivated at every turn.
Hop on a bicycle and explore Nassau with an audio tour as they guide you through Ardastra Gardens and Zoo, the dungeon ruins of Historical Fort Charlotte and Junkanoo Beach. End the day with a refreshing beer and delicious conch fritters at Fish Fry which serves authentic Bahamian food.
Scale the highest peak of the island, the Blue Mountain Peak to be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the misty valley. Start before dawn and as you hike through this lush tropical forest, bird calls fill the air and each turn in the hiking trail opens up spectacular views.
Go to Rick’s Cafe to sip on refreshing sundowners but before that, try cliff jumping. This cafe attracts a young and happening crowd and you will spot many guests jumping off the cliffs plunging into the sea below.
Go on a night cruise to discover Jamaica’s Luminous Lagoon that starts from Montego Bay. It is an enchanting experience for one and all to witness the lagoon full of tiny, harmless microscopic organisms that give the water it’s iridescent blue-green tinge.
Get adventurous on the dirt roads of Jamaica, as you course through the muddy terrains in sturdy ATVs in Sandy Bay. Appreciate the scenic views of the island from the mountain top and make the most of the trip with some sightseeing of ancient churches, villages down the way.
Trek the terraced cascade at Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios. The most unique aspect of the falls is that it the water continues to join the sea on a pretty white-sand beach.
For an adrenalin-pumping adventure, try inner tubing through the Great River. The activity involves floating down the river on your donut-shaped boat and enjoy the thick jungle as you flow downstream.
Music enthusiasts should visit Bob Marley’s Museum to witness Marley’s personal treasures. Along with the 19th century home, the property houses an 80-seat theatre, photo gallery, and record and gift shop.
Jamaica is the birthplace of Bob Marley, the best known reggae musician in the world. While in the country, you could visit the Bob Marley museum, mausoleum, as well as the village of Nine Mile in Kingston, where he spent his salad days.
However, Bahamas is not far behind when it comes to history and culture either. Nassau used to be the stronghold of pirates in the 18th century, and there is a fort, ship, and museum documenting its storied past.
The currency in the Bahamas is Bahamian dollars (BSD or $) pegged against the US dollar at 1:1, which means that US dollars are valued the same as Bahamian dollars.
|A meal for two in a mid-range hotel||USD 20 – 40|
|A meal for two in a fine dining restaurant||USD 200|
|A night in a luxury boutique resort||Starts from USD 419|
The currency in Jamaica is Jamaican dollar ($) and 1 USD costs 130 Jamaican dollars.
1:1, which means that US dollars are valued the same as Bahamian dollars.
|A meal for two in a mid-range hotel||USD 50|
|A meal for two in a fine dining restaurant||USD 200|
|A night in a luxury boutique resort||Starts from USD 300|
The final verdict
Both the destinations deserve a week long vacation. While you will spend most of the time on the pristine beaches of the Bahamas, you will explore mountains, waterfalls and rivers along with their beaches in Jamaica. The final decision is up to you but one thing’s for sure – the Caribbean Sea will not disappoint!
|Things to keep in mind||The Bahamas||Jamaica|
|Places to stay||
|Beaches and island||
|Things to do||