Caribbean

Islands of Adventure

written by | Posted on September 1st, 2011

When it comes to making memories, the islands of The Bahamas don’t disappoint.

A typical family vacation in the Caribbean involves a lot of time relaxing and playing on the beach. But while every escape needs a little “R&R,” you shouldn’t leave action and excitement out of the equation, either. Vacations are about making memories, after all, and nothing’s more memorable than a true family adventure. That’s what makes The Bahamas, with its unique combination of kid-friendly adventures and hotels that cater to families, an ideal destination for parents traveling with kids.

high-end adventures Turn off your BlackBerry, leave the laptop at home, and remove those earbuds—nothing brings families closer together than disconnecting from the world they left behind and focusing on the scenery around them. That’s part of what makes Fowl Cay (fowlcay.com) an ideal family escape, according to Fowl Cay general manager Marta Verhoustraete. “The most important thing that parents appreciate is getting back to nature. [At Fowl Cay], there’s no texting, no computer games. Everyone goes outside for their fun.”

That fun centers mainly on the crystal clear waters surrounding the Exumas, the scenic Out Islands that Fowl Cay calls home. Shallow and wave-free, they allow parents to go exploring with kids of all ages, whether it’s by kayak, by boat, or simply with a snorkeling mask. But this isn’t just your typical walk along the shoreline. The resort’s policy of including your clients’ own motorboat in the list of villa amenities expands their horizons. “We supply them with snorkel gear, and they can leave in the boat to explore this incredible territory,” Verhoustraete explains. “They can go to the southern end of the marine park, to see iguanas, or to see the wild pigs. It’s all very much in the immediate vicinity—there’s so much to do. Often, we’ll pack them a picnic lunch, so they can spend as much or as little time as they like off the cay.”

And there’s plenty to entice them away. Thunderball Grotto, a spectacular swimming and snorkeling cave that served as a setting for one of the James Bond films, is just minutes away by boat on Staniel Cay. The infamous swimming pigs are also within easy reach of Fowl Cay, charging out of the brush beyond the beach and swimming up to clients’ boats in search of food. (Clients should keep younger kids in the boat—these pigs aren’t shy!) And Compass Cay has its own share of delights, Verhoustraete says. “Compass Cay itself is owned by a native Bahamian. It’s a natural, laid-back cay that has a little marina, but for the most part is a very rustic place.” Here, clients can explore that rustic side via walking trails, including one that leads to Rachel’s Bubble Bath on the cay’s northern tip—a beach with a section of cliff that sends bubbles into the air when the water crashes into it. If the act of exploring The Bahamas’ unique and untouched landscape isn’t adventurous enough for your clients, send them back to the marina. There, they can climb into the water with nurse sharks—harmless ones, of course, but sharks all the same.

Of course, adventure isn’t the only thing that’ll bring families to Fowl Cay. The resort’s villa-style accommodations are perfect for parents and kids traveling together, offering enough personal space for each member of the family. Villas range from one to three bedrooms, so they offer “lots of different options,” Verhoustraete says. Plus, “The houses are very comfortable and in the living area and communal areas—plus the outside—people can spend time together.”

And while experiences like swimming with sharks or snorkeling inside a cave are welcome adventures, Verhoustraete says families won’t run into any unwanted excitement. “For families, the safety aspect is important. At Fowl Cay, everybody can run around—there’s no issue. There’s very little traffic, except for golf carts. There’s nothing, really, that’s dangerous. You don’t have to lock your doors or worry about putting your stuff away. It’s a very refreshing thing in this day and age.”

Rates at Fowl Cay start at $1,285.71 per villa per night, with a 4-night minimum stay.

fins & fun The Exumas aren’t the only place where clients can encounter thrilling undersea life. Stuart Cove’s (stuartcove.com/agent) in Nassau also puts travelers face-to-face with the creatures of the deep, including sharks. And because its snorkeling and mini-sub adventures require very little training or expertise in the water, these excursions are perfect for the whole family.