Bahamas tourist attractions are similar to other well-developed destinations such as Cancun - they emphasize dining, shopping and nightlife. The islands also are a popular golf destination.
But unique Caribbean attractions often have their roots in nature or history, and the Bahamas are no different.
Noteworthy standard attractions include nine golf courses and a large number of watersports activities including many snorkeling and scuba diving operators.
Ten major attractions stand out more than many others.
1) Atlantis Waterpark (Nassau)
It's hard to miss Atlantis for anyone visiting Nassau by cruise or for a week. Aquaventure, which opened in 2007, is a 141-acre water park that contains 200 million gallons of water. The park has slides, lazy rivers and rapids. Power Tower contains four waterslides.
2) Port Lucaya Marketplace (Freeport)
For anyone with an interest in shopping during a stop at Freeport, a good starting point is the Port Lucaya Marketplace.
It's a popular place to visit for anyone on a Bahamas cruise that includes Grand Bahama island.
The marketplace is a 12-acre shopping and dining complex on the waterfront. Colorful structures and brick walkways add to the atmosphere.
Besides dining and shopping, visitors can charter fishing boats, dive boats and reef tours.
3) Straw Market (Nassau)
The Nassau shopping district is one of the biggest in the Caribbean, and the Straw Market is one of the biggest of its kind as well.
The market is located on the water near the cruise terminal. If visiting by cruise, go through the terminal and take a right. Go down the road in front of the terminal about three blocks to reach the market.
Vendors offer many hand-crafted goods for sale, some made locally and some not. Check out the wood carver stands at the side of the market farthest from the cruise terminal.
4) Fort Charlotte (Nassau)
The largest fort in the Bahamas sits on a hill with views of Nassau, the harbor and Paradise Island. It has a moat, dungeons, underground passages and numerous cannon on 100 acres of land. The entrance fee is $5 for adults, $2 for children (under 12) and $3 for seniors.
5) Lucayan National Park (Grand Bahama Island)
The park has the world's longest underwater system of limestone caves, accessible via land and ocean. Visitors to the 40-acre park also can see upland forests, rare flower species and mangrove creeks.
Fincastle is located on Bennet's Hill within walking distance of downtown Nassau. Fort Charlotte is a better choice, but Fincastle is a quick and educational visit, and it’s each to reach.
The fort, shaped like a paddle-wheel steamer, was built in 1793. Because Nassau was never attacked, this fort was used first as a lighthouse and then as a signal tower.
It is open to the public Monday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.
7) Queen’s Staircase (Nassau)
This popular attraction in Nassau has 65 steps that were carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the 18th century. It is a good spot for taking interesting photos.
The staircase was named in honor of Queen Victoria, who reigned for 65 years. The top of the stairs lie near Fort Fincastle and Nassau's Water Tower. Tourists should combine both sites in a single visit.
8) Rand Nature Center (Grand Bahama Island)
The first educational nature center created on the Bahamas is known for its West Indian flamingos that nest at a pond inside the park.
The center also is known for plant species and other bird species including Red-legged Thrushes, Stripe-headed Tanagers and the Bahama Parrot.
9) Pirates of Nassau (Nassau)
This interactive entertainment tells the story of pirates in an educational, historically accurate way. The facility has a pirate-themed pub and gift shop. Tel: 242-356-3759; fax: 242-356-3951.
10) Abaco Wild Horse Preserve (The Abacos)
The wild horses are Abaco Barbs, which are descended from the time of Christopher Columbus' explorations.
The herd has declined from more than 200 in the 1960s to only nine today, but they now live in a preserve and receive the support of a non-profit organization that is trying to save them.
11) Elizabeth Harbour (Exuma)
Yachtsmen worldwide visit the beautiful Elizabeth Harbour, which is the location of the annual National Family Island Regatta that takes place in the last week of April each year as well as the George Town Cruising Regatta.
12) Hatchet Bay Cave (Eleuthera)
Visitors to Hatchet Bay can tour this mile-long cave filled with stalagmites and stalactites. A cave guide is recommended.