USA Today is asking readers to help them pick the 10Best. The news broadcasting company asked a panel of Caribbean travel experts to nominate their 20 favorite attractions in contests covering food, lodging, destinations, travel gear, things to do…the list goes on. And they have left it up to you to make the final decision by casting your vote.
The Bahamas has nominees in six categories – Best Caribbean Attraction, Best Caribbean Beach, Best Caribbean Golf Course, Best Caribbean Resort, Best Caribbean Rum Distillery, and Best Restaurant in the Caribbean.
You can visit 10best.com/awards/travel to vote for your favorite, once per day, until voting ends on Monday, February 14 at noon ET. The winning attractions as determined by the votes will be announced on Friday, February 25.
The 40-acre Lucayan National Park, Grand Bahama, has been nominated in Best Caribbean Attraction. The park was established in 1977 and is renowned for its system of water caves, one of the longest in the world. Two caves at Lucayan National Park are open to the public – Ben’s Cave, a refuge for tiny buffy flower bats, and Burial Mound Cave, where bones of The Bahamas’ earliest inhabitants were discovered. The park is home to all six of The Bahamas’ vegetation zones, and nature trails and boardwalks offer a unique view of the island’s ecosystems.
Dean’s Blue Hole, located on the coast of Long Island; Fortune Beach near Freeport; Gold Rock Beach, located within the protected Lucayan National Park; Tahiti Beach on the southern tip of Elbow Cay in The Abacos; and Tropic of Cancer Beach, the longest beach on the island of Exuma are in the running for Best Caribbean Beach.
Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest saltwater underwater cavern and is considered one of the most beautiful blue holes. It is also widely known as among the top of the world’s best diving and snorkeling sites, framed by an inlet on one side and cliffs and white sand beaches on the other.
Fortune Beach got its name from a shipwreck estimated to be worth some $2 million. Since the beach can only be accessed by private transportation, visitors will often have the sand to themselves (and the patrons of Banana Bay restaurant).
Gold Rock Beach comprises a spectacular and secluded stretch of sand known as Grand Bahama’s “welcome mat”. Beach goers can make use of BBQ pits, picnic tables and benches and, at low tide, the sand stretches for yards out to sea.
Tahiti Beach features soft white sand shaded by coconut trees and clear, calm water perfect for swimming. It’s only accessible on foot or by bike or boat and, at low tide, its large sand bar is ideal for shelling.
Tropic of Cancer Beach draws visitors for its pristine white sand beach and the Tropic of Cancer meridian line – the imaginary line which marks the northern boundary of the tropics. It’s notoriously tricky to find and, with no amenities, it’s not uncommon for the beach to be deserted, so those who find it can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and viewing the colorful fish in the clear waters.
Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience in Freeport, a thatch-roofed bar at Taino Beach, is nominated in the Best Caribbean Beach Bar category.
The Abaco Club, Abaco; Baha Mar Royal Blue Golf Course, New Providence; and Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course, Great Exuma, are among the Best Caribbean Golf Course nominees.
The Abaco Club Scottish-style “tropical links designed by British course architects Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie, which hugs the coast, the course features sloping greens, rugged rocks and lush vegetation, and golfers can polish their skills in the expansive practice facility”.
Baha Mar Royal Blue Golf Course has a bit of everything – white sand dunes, rolling fairways, Atlantic views, elevation changes and a dense jungle environment. The staff place tee locations each morning based on the weather, so each playing experience is unique.
Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course, one of the most scenic courses in the Caribbean, is an 18-hole oceanside course designed by the legendary Greg Norman. Six holes hug the shoreline of a peninsula on Great Exuma, while trade winds and challenging fairways make the game interesting for players of all ability levels.
Graycliff Hotel on New Providence, and Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros are in the running for Best Caribbean Resort.
Graycliff Hotel, built by a retired pirate in 1740, has stories around every corner. The wine cellar of the hotel’s five-star restaurant boasts over 275,000 bottles from over 400 vintners in 15 countries. You may prefer to try a cigar hand-rolled on-site, visit the chocolatier’s shop, or sharpen your culinary skills under the tutelage of the restaurant’s executive chef.
Small Hope Bay Lodge with 21 rooms is a family-owned lodge, that opened in 1960, as The Bahamas’ first dive resort, that reflects the authentic and heartwarming experience of the Caribbean with good food and attentive staff. The chef will prepare your catch of the day for you. The 124-mile long barrier reef offers outstanding diving, snorkeling, and fishing opportunities for all levels of experience, and the lodge provides local guides and boats.
John Watling’s Distillery is among the Best Caribbean Rum Distillery nominees. The distillery situated in historic downtown Nassau within the 1789 Buena Vista Estate offers free production and museum tours where visitors learn all about the facility’s small-batch rum. Guests can watch production in action from a viewing mezzanine before sipping rum-infused cocktails inside the Red Turtle Tavern.
Banana Bay in Freeport and Graycliff Restaurant in New Providence are among the nominees for Best Restaurant in the Caribbean.
Banana Bay, this lunch and cocktail, is known for their house-made banana bread, as well as a menu of Bahamian and American favorites, served with views of Fortune Beach.
Graycliff Restaurant, an inimitable Nassau experience, is a five-star dining establishment. The dining experience feels like you are settling into an intimate dinner party with friends at their historic, colonial-style mansion – that just so happens to house an award-winning wine cellar.
USA TODAY 10BEST READER’S CHOICE 2022
Best Caribbean Attraction nominees
Lucayan National Park, Grand Bahama
Best Caribbean Beach
Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island
Fortune Beach, Freeport
Gold Rock Beach, Lucayan National Park, Grand Bahama
Tahiti Beach, Elbow Cay
Tropic of Cancer Beach, Little Exuma
Best Caribbean Beach Bar nominee
Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience, Freeport
Best Caribbean Golf Course
The Abaco Club, Abaco
Baha Mar Royal Blue Golf Course, New Providence
Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course, Great Exuma
Best Caribbean Resort
Graycliff Hotel, New Providence
Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros
Best Caribbean Rum Distillery
John Watling’s Distillery
Best Restaurant in the Caribbean
Banana Bay, Freeport
Graycliff Restaurant, New Providence