This year marks a milestone for The Bahamas—50 years of independence. There will be celebrations all summer, so if you needed an incentive to visit, this is it.

On July 10, 1973, The Bahamas pulled away from British rule after 325 years. However, like several other Caribbean islands, the archipelago remains part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Today, there’s a mixed population, but most are of African descent.

According to The Government of The Bahamas, 700 islands and 2,400 cays make up this destination. 16 islands are promoted for tourism purposes. You’ll find amazing beaches, luxurious resorts, and ample water sports opportunities. The Exumas, a district of The Bahamas, invite guests to swim with nurse sharks or frolic with the beach pigs.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll soon discover that The Bahamas is a special place.

Photo Credit: Mr. Fox

Independence Celebrations Galore!

Past independence celebrations have been memorable, but this year will almost certainly be one for the books. Best of all, you don’t have to wait till July to enjoy them.

On May 29, head to Bay Street in Nassau. Treat yourself to music, dance performances, and even live demonstrations by chefs.

In June, there’s an Independence Boat Light Show, which will be coordinated by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force. Other events will follow with a vibrant explosion of celebration on July 10.

Photo Credit: Laurie Chamberlain

This is your chance to check out Junkanoo, a carnival-style street party. The sounds of cowbells, drums, and island rhythms will keep you on your feet for hours.

Junkanoo parties take place every Saturday from July 2 to 30. If you can’t get out there this summer, don’t worry. There’s more fun to be had on December 26 (known as Boxing Day on the island) and New Year’s morning.

The Honorable I. Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investments, and aviation, lauded local spirit in an interview with Travel + Leisure.

“The resiliency and warm hospitality of the Bahamian people are second to none,” he said. “And excitement is high to welcome travelers…to celebrate 50 years of independence together.”

A Fascinating History and Present

As was often the case in the Caribbean, European invaders either enslaved or killed the original inhabitants of The Bahamas.

The peaceful Lucayan people made the archipelago their home until Columbus and his men arrived. Between disease and the superior weaponry of the Europeans, the indigenous people didn’t stand a chance.

Control of the Bahamian isles changed hands, but it was the British who kept their feet in the stirrups. According to Frommer’s, “England formally claimed The Bahamas in 1629. No settlement took place, however, until the 1640s.”

Each of the 16 Bahamian islands has its own personality. These islands include The Abacos, Acklins and Crooked Island, Andros, The Berry Islands, Cat Island, Bimini, Eleuthera and Harbor Island, The Exumas, Grand Bahama Island, Inagua, Long Island, Mayaguana, Paradise Island, Ragged Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

No matter which island you visit, The Bahamas offers a diverse range of activities and attractions that will make your trip truly enjoyable.