A journey to realise a dream

(#wanderlusttips #Bahamas) I dreamed that one day, I would witness the sunrise on this paradise island, walk peacefully on long dreamy beaches, and swim in the turquoise water with my loved one.

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The first time I learned about the Bahamas was when the 2009 Miss Universe aired on live television. The white sandy beaches complemented by the most beautiful women on the planet, the clear blue water and the tropical coconut trees mesmerised me. Ever since then, I dreamed that one day, I would witness the sunrise on this paradise island, walk peacefully on long dreamy beaches, and swim in the turquoise water with my loved one.

This great desire grew stronger and stronger, until, on a sunny summer day, my dream finally came true. The moment I arrived, I understood why the Bahamas is known as a honeymoon paradise – surrounded by blue sea and full of white sand, blessed with sun, wind and love. After a lot of consideration, we opted for an all-inclusive four-day and three-night cruise amid the immense Atlantic Ocean for our honeymoon, which marked the beginning of our life together as husband and wife.

The cruise departed at 4 pm from Miami, Florida, USA. We wasted no time, and checked in early, much like for a flight. After having been shown our room, we leisurely checked out the swimming pool, ate and discovered the ship before it left the dock.

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Majesty of the Seas is one of the smallest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, but to us, it seemed giant. The ship sports 12 floors, accommodating up to 2,000 passengers, in addition to 1,000 staff and crew. It takes days to explore all areas of this ship. The big ship and its modern amenities eased my wife’s nervousness and fatigues, despite being prone to seasickness. We immediately gravitated towards the pool area, with its live music, fun hosts and dancers who were performing in flashmobs to Latin music.

Dinner was served in a few different areas to please all passengers. Those who enjoy comfort were best suited with the buffet on the 11th floor, while the 3rd and 4th floor offered sitting dinners for those who prefer class and table service. We chose a quiet spot on the 3rd floor, as I wanted to have a private, romantic dinner with my wife, who also preferred this atmosphere. The melodious music, exquisite food, and fine wine would have pleased any couple in love.

After dinner, we walked on the deck to enjoy the ocean at nighttime. A little wine at dinner had made her eyes sparkle under the starry sky. During our first night on the cruise, we were surrounded by the deep ocean and felt so peaceful. When we woke up in the morning, we had reached the Bahamas.

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Nassau – Paradise Island

Without the sunlight dancing on the windows, I probably wouldn’t have known a new day had broken. We could see Nassau – the capital city of the Bahamas – appear in the distance. I woke up my wife with a light kiss. We didn’t hurry to get to breakfast, but took a walk along the deck to enjoy the fresh ocean air. If you’re luckier than us, you might see a rainbow as an early rain often falls just before dawn. It is believed that couples who hold hands while witnessing a rainbow will be happy together forever.

At around 7:30 am, the ship docked at Nassau port. We took time to enjoy our breakfast, and then got off the ship to explore the city. Nassau is located on New Providence Island, in the northeast of the Bahamas. Despite covering an area of only 5 – 6% of the Grand Bahamas, the city accounts for two-thirds of the entire population, which perhaps explains why Nassau is the capital city.

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A bustling shopping area is located on the main street, with goods including jewellery, perfume, ceramics and wine on offer. Tourists can discover and shop at their leisure. Souvenirs such as decorative plates or heart-shaped glasses decorated with photos of the Bahamas are priced at around US$ 12 – 15. My wife was fascinated by the island’s specialties, so we visited the straw market on Bay Street. The market sells famous handicraft products including hats, baskets, and bags made from palm tree leaves. Both of us love seafood, so before we left, we managed to fill our stomachs with food from the market. “Conch” is a favourite dish of the people here; it resembles oysters but has firmer and whiter meat, and is fried, steamed or served as part of a salad. It is said to be beneficial to men’s health.

The Bahamas gained its independence in 1973. The majority (80%) of its population is black, and are descendants of slaves. The current population is nearly 400 thousand people, with an income per capita of US$ 43,000 – an enviable number. Thanks to its beautiful landscape, the Bahamas welcomes over 2 million visitors annually, which makes tourism a key sector for the country’s economy.

If you’re not interested in shopping, you can visit the administrative area, with the pink Government House, Parliament Street with the Independence Square, Supreme Court, and National Library. All these buildings have a simple architecture, which fits the friendly nature of the people here.

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When in Nassau, swimming in the ocean is a must. Nobody can resist the velvety sandy beaches here. Paradise Island is famous for its endless beaches. It’s very convenient to travel from the pier to the island; it only cost us a US$ 4 taxi ride. Beaches here are divided into private and public areas. Public beaches are of course, free, while for access to private beaches, a charge of US$ 50 applies, which includes various services. The island also has an underwater amusement park – the Atlantis – one of the biggest in the world. However, if you are easily scared, it’s best not to go. We wanted to learn more about the local culture, so we chose to visit a public beach.

Paradise Island is worthy of its name, as even the public beach here is stunning, with smooth white sand, warm and clear blue water. The beach is not as crowded as one would imagine. If you want to rent lounge chairs and umbrellas, you only need to pay US$ 10 for each. The sand was smooth and clean, so after taking a dip in the ocean, we lay on the beach to enjoy the ocean wind and watch the seagulls. Time passed by slowly that afternoon.

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After a whole day of sightseeing and swimming in the ocean, we walked back to the cruise for dinner, after which we joined the crowd at the pool for some exotic Latin dancing and fun activities. At 11:30 pm, the ship left Nassau to set sail for another island in the Bahamas.

The night turned the day’s experiences into memories.

Cococay – under the playful shade of the coconut trees

Cococay is a small island in the northwest of the Bahamas. On a map it resembles a small dot alone in the Atlantic Ocean. It is about 7 hours away from Nassau. The large cruise ship could not dock on Cococay Island, so it had to anchor a mile away. Guests were then transported to Cococay on small ferries. Cococay lies on the apex of a triangle, the base of which is the line connecting Nassau and Grand Bahamas. “Cay” probably means island, while “Coco” definitely is derived from coconut, as there are countless coconut trees on the island. At least this was my speculation.

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Surrounded by the ocean, the whole island is covered by smooth white sand, with lounge chairs line up under the shade of coconut trees, and no one can resist swimming in the ocean. The beaches are designed in different shapes, including scallops, and are divided into different areas for snorkelling, parasailing, water skiing and kayaking.

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When on Cococay, do not miss the chance to relax with your loved one under the canopy of the coconut trees, as the sunlight bounces off your tanned skin and the tourists and locals pass by. Latin Americans are famous for being passionate, and you will see couples entwined, touching lips and sharing romantic moments together.

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Lunch was served on the beach, with a BBQ where all kinds of food was served: ribs, chicken, salads, burgers, soft drinks and fruit. I was particularly impressed with the seagulls that were bold enough to sing as they passed by the people on the beach. They were also very disciplined, only eating the leftovers once people had finished their meal.

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We were lucky enough to witness a wedding of a local couple, an incredible chance to learn about their culture. The wedding was a mix of European formality and liberal Latin American style. It took place at noon, with six bridesmaids and six groomsmen. They were so friendly, pulling visitors around the beach to join the wedding and take photos with them.

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On a holiday like this, time is all yours. Enjoy the sun and the wind on Cococay Island to get the perfect Bahamian tan before leaving and the ship setting sail for another adventure. Our life turns a new page, but our memories of the endless white sand beaches, clear blue water, rows of coconut trees swaying in the wind and my wife softly singing “under the playful shades of coconut trees, say you love me forever…” will remain in our hearts.

Tips

The best time to visit: The Bahamas has over 300 days of sunshine every year, so you can visit any time. However, to avoid peak season, the time between May to October is the best. The weather is usually warmer from December to April.

Getting there from Vietnam: There is currently no direct flight from Vietnam to the Bahamas. You need to fly to the United States, and fly from there to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. If you choose a cruise, you need to fly to Miami, Florida. You should combine a trip to the US with a trip to the Bahamas to save time and cost.

Cost for two people: The all-inclusive five-day and four-night tour for two people (three nights in the Bahamas, one night in Key West) is US$ 950. The cost of reaching the US depends on the season, airline and ticket.

Cruise activities: If you prefer leisure over moving around, the cruise offers numerous activities, including swimming, yoga, gym, live music and dancing. A theatre is open every night showing theatre performances and variety shows and there are shopping, a casino, or photography studios on board.

What to bring: Swimwear, light and convenient clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrellas, walking shoes, flip-flops or sandals for beach days. A credit card is required for check-in on the cruise, to ensure payment for incurred expenses and a tip for the whole tour (US$50).

Other: You only need a US visa (multiple entry) to enter the Bahamas.

English is the country’s official language.

The official currency is Bahamas Dollars (BSD); the exchange rate is similar to US Dollars.

Thai Dzuy | Wanderlust Tips | Cinet

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