The Bahamas are blessed with some of the most naturally beautiful environments on Earth, and many of them are occupied by critters. Whether you want to see a flamboyance of flamingos, swim with pigs or snap a photo of a hammerhead shark, it's easy to encounter the wild side of the islands.
Inagua National Park
Founded in 1965, this park on the island of Great Inagua — about 375 miles south of Nassau — is home to the world's largest breeding colony (60,000 strong) of once-endangered West Indian flamingos. If wall-to-wall pink isn't your thing, the island also boasts 140 species of native and migratory birds, including the intriguing-sounding West Indian whistling duck.
Pig Beach, Exuma Cays
Book a powerboat ride to get up close and personal with the Bahamas' most famous residents: the swimming pigs of Big Major Cay. No one is sure how they got to this uninhabited island, but the small community of wild hogs has become one of the area's prime photo ops. Kim Kardashian claimed to be "scared LOL" when she visited, but these porky paddlers are too cute to be threatening.
Lucayan National Park
Located on Grand Bahama, about 130 miles north of Nassau, this park has a maze of nature trails running through its lush forests, in which you will find all manner of birds. Paddle through mangrove swamps; then explore Lucayan's underground cave system, whose six miles of tunnels have yielded artefacts and burial sites of pre-Columbian settlements.
The expanse of pristine water surrounding this island, located 112 nautical miles west of Nassau, supports an abundance of marine life. The best way to see it is by booking a tour with the Bimini Scuba Center. Divers can swim with reef sharks and dolphins, feed stingrays and see hammerheads up close. Afraid to jump in the water? The scuba center also offers tours in a glass-bottom boat. Keep an eye out for the submerged stone slabs of so-called Bimini Road, believed by some to be remnants of the lost city of Atlantis.
Want to see local critters without leaving the comfort of your resort? Baha Mar offers numerous family-friendly options, including the Sanctuary, a marine center where you can watch the staff feed sea turtles and nurse sharks; Flamingo Cay, where you can get close to remarkably unfazed members of the flamboyance; and the Aviary, where kids can feed seed sticks to tropical birds.
1 Baha Mar Blvd., Bahamas; bahamar.com