Sports and the Outdoors in New Providence and Paradise Islands

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Sports and the Outdoors

Boating

From Chub Cay—one of the Berry Islands 35 miles north of New Providence—to Nassau, the sailing route goes across the mile-deep Tongue of the Ocean. The Paradise Island Lighthouse welcomes yachters to Nassau Harbour, which is open at both ends. The harbor can handle the world's largest cruise liners; sometimes as many as eight tie up at one time. Two looming bridges bisect the harbor connecting Paradise Island to Nassau. Sailboats with masts taller than the high-water clearance of 72 feet must enter the harbor from the east end to reach marinas east of the bridges. A number of outfitters rent Jet Skis in front of Atlantis on Cabbage Beach.

Atlantis. The marina at Atlantis has 63 megayacht slips. 242/363–3000.

Brown's Boat Basin. On the Nassau side, Brown's Boat Basin offers a place to tie up your boat, as well as on-site engine repairs. 242/393–3331.

Hurricane Hole Marina. Ninety-slip Hurricane Hole Marina is on the Paradise Island side of the harbor. 242/363–3600. www.hurricaneholemarina.com.

Lyford Cay. At the western end of New Providence, Lyford Cay, a posh development for the rich and famous, has an excellent marina, but there is limited availability for the humble masses. 242/362–4271 Ext. 4799.

Nassau Yacht Haven. On the Nassau side of the harbor, Nassau Yacht Haven is a 150-berth marina—the largest in the Bahamas—that also arranges fishing charters. 242/393–8173. www.nassauyachthaven.com.

Premier Watersports. If your children would enjoy sitting in a row on a rubber banana and bouncing along behind a motorboat, ride the big banana at Premier Watersports, at the beach at the Riu and Atlantis. 242/324–1475; 242/427–0939 cellular.

Sail Nassau. To participate in an America's Cup racing challenge, contact Sail Nassau at Paradise Island Ferry Terminal. They also offer sunset sail cruises. 242/363–1552. www.sailnassau.com.

Fishing

The waters here are generally smooth and alive with many species of game fish, which is one of the reasons why the Bahamas has more than 20 fishing tournaments open to visitors every year. A favorite spot just west of Nassau is the Tongue of the Ocean, so called because it looks like that part of the body when viewed from the air. The channel stretches for 100 miles. For boat rental, parties of two to six will pay $600 or so for a half day, $1,600 for a full day.

Born Free Charters. This charter company has three boats and guarantees a catch on full-day charters—if you don't get a fish, you don't pay. 242/393–4144. www.bornfreefishing.com.

Charter Boat Association. The Charter Boat Association has 15 boats available for fishing charters. 242/393–3739.

Chubasco Charters. This charter company has three boats for deepsea and light tackle sportfishing. Half and full-day charters are available. 242/324–3474. www.chubascocharters.com.

Nassau Yacht Haven. Nassau Yacht Haven runs fishing charters out of its 150-slip marina. 242/393–8173. www.nassauyachthaven.com.

Golf

One & Only Ocean Club Golf Course. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, One & Only Ocean Club Golf Course (6,805 yards, par 72) is a championship course surrounded by the ocean on three sides, which means that winds can get stiff. Call to check on current availability and up-to-date prices (those not staying at Atlantis or the One & Only Ocean Club can play at management's discretion, and at a higher rate). Paradise Island Dr. next to airport, Paradise Island, New Providence Island. 242/363–3925; 800/321–3000 in U.S. 18 holes: $270; $180 after 1pm. Club rentals: $70. Daily 6 am–sundown.

Horseback Riding

Happy Trails Stables. Happy Trails Stables gives guided 90-minute trail rides, including basic riding instruction, through remote wooded areas and beaches on New Providence's southwestern coast. Two morning group rides are offered, but private rides can be arranged at any time. Courtesy round-trip bus transportation from hotels is provided (about an hour each way). Tours are limited to eight people. There's a 200-pound weight limit, and children must be at least 12 years old. Reservations are required. Coral Harbour, Western New Providence, New Providence Island. 242/362–1820. www.bahamahorse.com. $150 per person. Mon.–Sat. by appointment.

Parasailing

Premier Watersports. Premier Watersports gives you the chance to be lifted into the skies for five to eight minutes—at $70 a pop. Ask for Captain Tim or his crew on Cabbage Beach in front of the large hotels. You must be at least eight years old. 242/324–1475; 242/427–0939 cellular.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Sites

Lost Ocean Hole. The elusive (and thus exclusive) Lost Ocean Hole (east of Nassau, 40–195 feet) is aptly named because it's difficult to find. The rim of the 80-foot opening in 40 feet of water is studded with coral heads and teeming with small fish—grunts, margate, and jacks—as well as larger pompano, amberjack, and sometimes nurse sharks. Divers will find a thermocline at 80 feet, a large cave at 100 feet, and a sand ledge at 185 feet that slopes down to 195 feet.

Rose Island Reefs. The series of shallow reefs along the 14 miles of Rose Island is known as Rose Island Reefs (Nassau, 5–35 feet). The coral is varied, although the reefs are showing the effects of the heavy traffic. Still, plenty of tropical fish live here, and the wreck of the steel-hulled ship Mahoney is just outside the harbor.

Gambier Deep Reef. Off Gambier Village about 15 minutes west of Cable Beach, Gambier Deep Reef goes to a depth of 80 feet.

Sea Gardens. This site is off Love Beach on the northwestern shore beyond Gambier.

Lyford Cay Drop-Off. Lyford Cay Drop-Off (west of Nassau, 40–200-plus feet) is a cliff that plummets from a 40-foot plateau almost straight into the inky blue mile-deep Tongue of the Ocean. The wall has endless varieties of sponges, black coral, and wire coral. Along the wall, grunts, grouper, hogfish, snapper, and rockfish abound. Off the wall are pelagic game fish such as tuna, bonito, wahoo, and kingfish.

Operators

All dive shops listed below are Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) facilities. Expect to pay about $65–$99 for a two-tank dive or beginner's course. Shark dives run $100–$125, and certification costs $450 and up.

Bahama Divers Ltd.. The largest and most experienced dive operation in the country offers twice-a-day dive safaris as well as half-day snorkeling trips. PADI certification courses are available for $550 a person, and there's a full line of scuba equipment. Destinations are drop-off sites, wrecks, coral reefs and gardens, and an ocean blue hole. For Paradise Island guests, Bahama Divers has opened a small dive operation (which also carries snorkel equipment for rent) in the Paradise Island Harbour Resort. 242/393–1466, 800/398–3483, or 954/607–7731. www.bahamadivers.com.

Stuart Cove's Dive South Ocean. This shop, on the island's south shore, is considered by aficionados to be the island's leading dive shop. Although they're pros at teaching beginners (scuba instruction and guided snorkel tours are available), experienced thrill-seekers flock to Stuart Cove's for the famous shark dives. Also popular are his Out Island "Wilderness Safaris," and "Wall Flying Adventures," in which you ride an underwater scooter across the ocean wall. Check out the collection of celebrity photos. The shop runs dive trips to the south-shore reefs twice a day, weather permitting. The mini-sub adventure, which requires no experience, is $124; snorkeling expeditions cost $70 for adults and $45 for kids 12 and under. The shark dives are $155 for a three-hour dive. 242/362–4171 or 800/879–9832. www.stuartcove.com.

Tours

Cruises

Barefoot Sailing Cruises. The company offers regularly scheduled half-day snorkeling trips, full-day sailing tours of New Providence, and sunset Champagne trips, not to mention private charters. 242/393–0820. www.barefootsailingcruises.com.

Flying Cloud. This catamaran in Paradise Island offers half-day sailing and snorkeling tours, full-day cruises on some Sundays, as well as sunset sails. Private charters can also be arranged. 242/394–5067. www.flyingcloud.com.

Out Islands Trips

Bahamas Fast Ferries. This isn't just a transportation company. Bahamas Fast Ferries also offers day-trips from Nassau to Harbour Island, including lunch and pick-ups at major hotels. Potter's Cay, New Providence Island. 242/323–2166. www.bahamasferries.com.

High Seas Private Excursions. The company offers half- or full-day powerboat excursions to such destinations as Harbour Island or the Exuma Cays, as well as private yacht charters. 242/363–4458. www.highseasbahamas.com.

Island World Adventures. The company, which operates two 45-foot speed boats, offers regularly scheduled full-day or private-charter tours to the northern Exumas from Paradise Island. 242/363–3333. www.islandworldadventures.com.

Powerboat Adventures. The company offers speed-filled daytrips to the Exuma Cays on two custom-made powerboats. Overnights on the company's private island, Ship Channel Cay, can also be arranged. 242/363–2265. www.powerboatadventures.com.

Special-Interest Tours

Bahamas Outdoors Ecoventures. This outfitter offers birding and nature tours as well as biking and kayaking adventures in New Providence Island. Charters can be arranged to Andros or even Eleuthera. 242/362–1574. www.bahamasoutdoors.com.

Dolphin Encounters. On Blue Lagoon Island, the company offers dolphin and sea lion interactions. Ferry transportation is offered from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal. For an additional fee, the company offers pick-ups from Nassau. 242/363–1003. www.dolphinencounters.com.

Graycliff Chocolate Factory. Go behind the scenes at this boutique chocolate factory and make your own sweet souvenirs. The tour lasts about an hour and a half and after watching master chocolatiers in action and learning the history of chocolate production around the world, enter the chocolate classroom where you get to design your own creations, including a signature Graycliff chocolate bar. There is also a kids' classroom for younger chocolate lovers. West Hill St., Nassau, New Providence Island. 242/302–9150. www.graycliff.com. $49.95. Mon.–Sat. 11:15–2:15.

Seaworld Explorer. These trips include both a short habour cruise as well as a trip on the company's semi-submersible, which allows you to view the underwater world without going into a full-fledged submarine. 242/356–2548. www.seaworldtours.com.

Walking Tours

Tru Bahamian Food Tours. If you have three hours in Nassau, this is a great way to spend it. The eco-friendly walking tour combines the food, history, and culture of The Bahamas in a way that's sure to leave you satisfied. The seven tasting stops include some popular hot spots as well as some off-the-beaten-path gems. Meet outside Christ Church Cathedral, George St. and King St. 800/656–0713 or 242/601–1725. www.trubahamianfoodtours.com. $75. Mon.–Sat. 11–2.

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