Graced with beautiful beaches of pink sand, evocative windswept panoramas and countless opportunities for diving, snorkeling and fishing, the islands of the Bahamas are well established as one of the world's top draws for both intrepid explorers and casual vacationers. An island chain beginning a mere 55 miles east of Miami, Florida, the Bahamas offer an array of tourist hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and even rustic lodges, making staying there a relatively simple endeavor. Indeed, more than three million travelers each year choose the islands as their prime destination for outdoor sports, sun worship, casino gambling and, on some of the slightly more remote spots, eco-tourism.
In total, the Bahamas include around seven hundred islands, no more than
thirty of which are inhabited, as well as smaller cays (pronounced "keys") and
rocks - an impressive arc stretching from just beyond the Atlantic coast of
Florida to the outlying waters of Cuba, where Great Inagua lies only sixty miles
offshore. Although deeper oceanic troughs surround some of the islands, most are
encircled by shallow, crystalline water that reflects a light turquoise hue
during the day and glows with purple luminescence at night. This combination of
shallow and deep water makes diving and snorkeling both challenging and
intriguing, with numerous reefs waiting to be explored just beyond the shores of
the gorgeous, uncrowded beaches.
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