The Bahamas Is Celebrating Its 50th Year of Independence in 2023 — Here's What's New

It's the perfect year to plan a trip to the Bahamas.

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

This year will provide a moment 50 years in the making for the Bahamas.

On July 10, 2023, the West Indies nation known for its turquoise waters and infectious, amiable spirit will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence. And, as it turns out, it’s going to be quite a party leading up to and well beyond the big day.

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

"The resiliency and warm hospitality of the Bahamian people are second to none, and excitement is high to welcome travelers...to celebrate 50 years of independence together,” said the Honorable I. Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investments, and aviation, in an exclusive interview with Travel + Leisure. “Across our 16 unique island destinations, from Nassau Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island to our unspoiled Out Islands, visitors are met with a rejuvenated spirit, ecological wonders that must be seen to be believed, and in 2023, grand cultural celebrations."

A quick history lesson for context: The Commonwealth of the Bahamas was originally settled in the ninth century by the Lucayan people who came north from the Caribbean. It was officially dubbed "San Salvador" by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and, through subsequent centuries, changed hands among the British and Spanish. In 1783, the British solidified power, and in 1834, slavery was abolished in the nation. After centuries of varied rule, on July 10, 1973, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas declared its independence.

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

Preliminary 50th anniversary details provided to T+L promise “Golden Jubilee” festivities commemorating the past, present, and future, each honoring the talents, creativity, and spirit of its people.

The Bahamas’ unique People-to-People program also promises to be on full display. The countrywide initiative connects tourists with locals for hands-on experiences such as guided visits through Arawak Cay — home to the largest fish fry in the country — and farm tours with the "Lady of the Pineapple Fields," Lady Di.

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

Components of the Golden Jubilee will geographically span the archipelago and include to-be-unveiled festivals and events. Travelers are encouraged to keep an eye on Bahamas.com and the country’s social media channels for the latest confirmed details.

Anniversary aside, several major enhancements and developments will roll out in the Bahamas this year. Among them — following a $300 million redevelopment — Nassau’s new cruise port, with a Junkanoo museum, is slated to open in May.

New this year, sailing will officially be named the national sport of the Bahamas, making those island hops to Elbow Cay and Little Harbour that much more of a must. In terms of a secluded and eco-friendly excursion, Ragged Island — home to just 72 inhabitants, as well as Deadman’s Cay Caves and the Tropic of Cancer Beach — kicked off the year by being designated 100% solar-powered, the first Bahamian island to do so.

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

As for hotels, Nassau’s new Goldwynn Resort & Residences is now taking reservations for Feb. 1 and beyond, with options overlooking the Atlantic and an adjacent golf course. Some key renovations have just been completed as well, including to The Cove on Eleuthera and the bungalow-clad Club Med Columbus Isle on San Salvador.

New properties are in the works, too — notably, the star-studded Paradise Island collaboration from Pharrell Williams and Miami-based hospitality guru David Grutman. Bearing the name Somewhere Else, the hotel is slated to open in 2024.

<p>Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments &amp; Aviation</p>

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

"The Bahamas is maintaining steady momentum,” Cooper told T+L. "From the multimillion-dollar revitalization of downtown Nassau to eco-friendly innovations underway on Grand Bahama Island and the Ragged Islands, we are putting our stake in the ground to declare what the Bahamas will be for generations to come: a modern Caribbean archipelago full of opportunities."

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