The Bahamas is comprised of 700 islands sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean starting just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The archipelago is an ecological oasis featuring 2,000 breathtaking islands and cays and boasts the clearest water on the planet—with a visibility of over 200 feet. You can see your toes as easily as you can the world’s third largest barrier reef.
Even the most experienced explorers have gotten lost in our abundant natural beauty. For centuries, our islands captivated settlers, traders and invaders, while our shipping channel enchanted pirates who quickly discovered all of our great hiding places. To this day, there are still tales of treasure. However, the real treasure is our people.
Visit www.bahamas.com and view the many islands to visit.
Tourism and Independence
The Hotel and Steam Ship Service Act of 1898 opened our doors to the world. This act provided the government support needed for the construction of hotels and subsidized steamship service.
Since then, everything from Prohibition bringing well-to-do Americans to the closure of Cuba to Americans has impacted tourism in our country.
On July 10, 1973, The Bahamas became a free and sovereign country, ending 325 years of peaceful British rule. However, The Bahamas is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and we celebrate July 10th as Bahamian Independence Day.
New Year’s Day (January 1st)
Junkanoo parades take place in most islands.
Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday)
This religious holiday marks the end of the Lenten season and is the first day of a long holiday weekend which includes the following Monday after Easter Sunday. On this holy day most Bahamians attend church services and serve fish as their main meal of the day.
Easter Monday (Monday after Easter Sunday)
This holiday marks the beginning of the beach picnicking season for Bahamians. There are also many cookouts in public parks on the Nassau waterfront; homecomings and regattas are held in some Out Islands.
Whit Monday (Seventh Monday after Easter)
This holiday marks the beginning of public witness of the Christian church and is the Monday after Whit Sunday, The Feast of Pentecost, which comes 50 days after Easter.
Labor Day (First Friday in June)
On this holiday, members of the labor unions from different organizations as well as political parties march in a large parade through the streets of downtown Nassau, usually in colorful uniforms, beginning around 10:00 a.m. Local bands and a few junkanooers lead the parades, providing lively music for the marchers and spectators. The parade ends at the Southern Recreation Grounds, where union leaders and local politicians deliver speeches. Most Bahamians spend the afternoon relaxing or visiting beaches.
Bahamas Independence Day (July 10th)
We became a fully independent nation in 1973, separating from the United Kingdom. However, we remain a member of The Commonwealth of Nations.
Emancipation Day/August Monday (First Monday in August)
This holiday celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the British colonies in 1834. The holiday is celebrated with a Junkanoo Rush-out, a day of beaching, sailing, and regattas in New Providence and the Out Islands. In New Providence, old slave villages such as Gambier in the west and Fox Hill in the east have their own special celebrations.
Discovery/Columbus Day (October 12th)
Recently there has been a drive to change the name of this holiday from Columbus Day to Hero’s Day in honor of Bahamian national heroes. To this end a small ceremony is held in Rawson Square, downtown Nassau, in honor of Bahamian national heroes.
Christmas Day (December 25th)
Christmas is celebrated in The Bahamas with many carnivals and festivals. We also have adopted many of the same traditions and customs of other countries. These include gift-giving, feasting and sending Christmas cards.
Boxing Day (December 26th)
This holiday was granted to the slaves the day after Christmas when they were given the boxes left over from their master’s gifts. These boxes usually were sent from England and were well-crafted from fine wood. Hence the holiday is known as Boxing Day. Junkanoo parades take place on some islands to commemorate this event.