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When Houstonians crave a coastal getaway, there are myriad quick and easy flights to Mexico’s various beaches. But if you’re ready to try a different beach this year, a jaunt to The Bahamas just got a whole lot easier.

Getting to Nassau

Thanks to the all-new nonstop flights from Bahamasair directly into Nassau‘s Lynden Pindling Airport (NAS) from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), channeling your inner Bahama Mama (or Bahama Man) is easier and more affordable than ever. You’ll be on the beach sipping on daiquiris in no time after the quick three-hour flight, enjoying the 21 miles of tourist paradise. (United also offers a season nonstop flight from IAH on Saturdays.)

Make it a long weekend

Houston travelers can now enjoy Bahamasair convenient nonstop service to The Islands of The Bahamas, with twice-weekly flights departing IAH at 8 am every Monday and Thursday, arriving in Nassau by 11:10 am, and departing from Nassau at 4 pm every Wednesday and Sunday, arriving in Houston by 7:10 pm.

The airline is offering a special introductory rate of $445 (round trip including taxes), making the island getaway inexpensive and convenient. If you’re in the mood to explore beyond the white sand beaches of Nassau, the airline also offers connections to thirteen Bahamas Out Islands including Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Bimini and Exuma (home of the famed swimming pigs).

Staying in Nassau, from kid-friendly to luxe
Boasting some of the Caribbean’s best resorts, there are plenty of all-inclusive, family-friendly, ultra-exclusive and other options when visiting Nassau.

One of the most familiar and kid-friendly is the sprawling Atlantis, but the latest and greatest to hit the island is the $4.2 billion integrated beachfront resort development Baha Mar, which redefines adult luxury. Located along the beaches of New Providence, this grandiose hub is comprised of three hotels — Grand Hyatt, SLS, and Rosewood (set to open spring 2018) — with 2,300 rooms, 40 restaurants and lounges, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Royal Blue Golf Course, more than 30 luxury retail outlets (Rolex, Tiffany & Co., and Hublot to name a few), and more.

Baha Mar is also home to the largest casino in the Caribbean — Baha Mar Casino — with 100,000 square feet of gaming space, featuring state-of-the-art slot machines, table games, race and sports betting, plus five reserved and exclusive high roller gaming salons.

The pools and beaches at Baha Mar are pristine, expansive, and breathtaking. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar boasts five large resort pools, luxury poolside cabanas, swim-up bars, and endless Instagram photo-opps. Customize and tailor your experience to best suit your needs.

If you’re in desperate need of rumrunners and relaxation, grab a spot in the sun then meander down to El Jefe, the beachside retro-styled airstream featuring open-faced corn tortillas and more. If you’re looking for something more upscale and fancy, make a dinner reservation at Katsuya where you’ll be treated to Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi’s classics along with sleek and sultry interiors. Afterwards, finish off the night with a glass of bubbly at the casino. If you’re into the late-night scene, you’ll surely become acquainted with The Swimming Pig, which is open 24/7 to satisfy your cravings, no matter the time.

Exploring Nassau and Paradise Island
Guaranteed if you stay at Baha Mar you’ll have no reason to leave the property once, but if your curiosities get the best of you and you want to explore the island and culture a bit more, here are a few spots you’ll want to check out

John Watling’s Distillery
Located in historic downtown Nassau, you can tour the distillery and taste the namesake rum (if you’re not a big rum fan, try their frozen pina coladas). Not only are the famed grounds picturesque, a bottle of the “Spirit of the Bahamas” makes for a perfect souvenir or keepsake to bring back.

Downtown, Straw Market
If you’re looking for a truly authentic shopping experience, this world-famous market has an unseemingly endless supply of handmade Bahamian crafts, gifts and souvenirs. Open seven days a week, the local vendors are friendly, willing to negotiate — and persistent. Be sure to bring cash (U.S. or Bahamian).

Graycliff Hotel
Keeping with the theme of authenticity, this colonial mansion is a must-see. Located next to the Government House, you can meander around these historic grounds where the two pools and gardens are worth the trip alone. Don’t miss Graycliff Restaurant — the Caribbean’s first 5-star restaurant, which also happens to be where Jay-Z reportedly popped the question to Beyoncé.

Queen’s Staircase
Easy to miss, but you’ll be glad you didn’t. Located in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex, this awe-inspiring staircase (it’s only 65 steps, but a fantastic background for a photo) is a major landmark with its captivating beauty.

Houston pro travel tip
Visitors returning home to the U.S. go through customs in Nassau at Lynden Pindling International Airport, saving on time once you land — making it an even quicker and more enjoyable experience. Even though the kiosks at IAH are fast, this is key for maximizing your coveted vacation time.

This article originally ran in the travel section of CultureMap Houston.

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