It is an amazing feeling when you discover a vacation destination that you love so much it feels like home from the moment you arrive. A beautiful place with friendly, helpful people, great shopping, and clean, charming lodging; while still maintaining all the atmosphere and culture of the locale.
The Bahamas, unfortunately, is none of these things. The Bahamas possesses all the cultural charm of a run down, small town strip mall, without all the annual garbage pick up. Getting off the boat in the Bahamas feels like battling through the crowds at Walmart on Black Friday only to discover at check out that they actually doubled the everyday prices . . . after dragging all the inventory across the bathroom floor.
Not that I have seen much of the Bahamas - having only approached it by cruise ship, but if you have to go on a quest to search for a pristine, quaint place to enjoy yourself in the islands, the island you are on is doing something wrong. All those people who extoll the virtues and greatness of the Bahamas I can only imagine have never been to any of the rest of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a sexy, beautiful woman, . . . and the Bahamas is her armpit. It's a beautiful armpit - as far as armpits go, but unless you have some creepy, disturbing armpit fetish, why not visit some of the other more desirable body parts? Technically, the Bahamas can't even consider themselves part of the Caribbean. The Bahamas reside in the suburbs of the Caribbean. So vacationing there is like getting invited to a friend's house who lives just outside of New York City, but then never leaving Newark the whole time you're there.
Part of the problem may be that getting to the Bahamas is not expensive enough. You may end up on the beach next to someone whose previous dream vacation was a weekend in Talladega. There was actually a guy on the beach when I was there listening to a NASCAR race. And let me tell you, there is nothing quite so relaxing as laying on the beach enjoying the dulcet tones of the interstate overlaid with the sounds of screaming rednecks and someone toting the benefits of Goody's headache powder.
But, nevertheless, the beaches are nice and you are on the ocean. You have people that look like they might be from the islands dressed liked islanders and playing island music in a contrived Disney World version of the islands sort of way. These people make their living by hawking their wares and services to tourists. The sales technique employed involves haranguing guests mercilessly until their spirit and will to live is broken when finally, in desperation, they hold out their money and wave it in the air like a white flag in surrender. The level of persistance reminds me of the medinas in Morocco. But whereas in Morocco I actually felt bad about not purchasing anything when they were trying so hard and feigning such hospitality, in the Bahamas I felt more like reenacting the Kramer walking through the airport scene in the movie Airplane.
But in conclusion - just because I have never started a conclusion with the phrase "But in conclusion" - unless you feel really at home in the redneck riviera or possess an undeniable armpit fetish, I would bypass these islands entirely. The short answer to the question "Why not the Bahamas?" is "Why not St. Lucia?" There exists a whole world of unimaginable beauty and culture out there. Don't make yourself go on a scavenger hunt to attempt to find it.
Why Not The Bahamas?