The Bahamas are an island chain in the Caribbean, off the coast of Cuba and Florida. The word “Bahamas” can refer strictly to the islands, but more commonly this designation is used to indicate the country of the Bahamas. This country is made up of more than three thousands distinct islands, some of which are extremely small and uninhabited.
The Bahamas are inhabited by between 300,000 and 400,000 permanent residents. These residents are some of the wealthiest people in the western world, after Americans and Canadians. Much of wealth of the Bahamas comes from foreign countries, which for the small island nation are often just a hop, skip and a jump away. About half of the workforce is employed in jobs related to tourism or tourism construction. Because of this foreign income, the tax system in the Bahamas is quite different from that of the United States. While the US derives much of its tax revenue from income tax, the Bahamas do not. Instead of taxes on income, capital gains wealth or corporations, the government of the Bahamas is funded in large part by taxes on imports and exports. Payroll taxes are also in effect.
The climate of the Bahamas is decidedly tropical. No freezing temperatures have ever been recorded, although it has gotten to the mid-30s on rare occasions. This makes the area ideal for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, fishing, SCUBA diving, parasailing and other marine pursuits.
Snorkeling can be done with a minimum of equipment. Snorkelers need a mask and snorkel, and optional items include swim fins and a wetsuit or rash guard. In warm water such as the Bahamas, the wet suit or rash guard will be primarily to ward off intense sun. Snorkeling equipment is not all created equal. The cheapest snorkels are a simple tube with a mouthpiece. Better quality snorkels have a sump valve below the mouthpiece, to allow water to drain if it happens to flow down the top. Snorkel masks also often have a valve in the nose piece, to allow for clearing water out. The snorkeler simply holds the mask firmly against the head, and then exhales through the nose. As air escapes the valve, water is cleared from the mask.
An excellent place to snorkel in the Bahamas is in and around the SS Sapona. This concrete ship ran aground in the 70s, on Bimini, the closest island to the United States. In subsequent years, the wreck was used for target practice by the military. That and various storms took their toll, and today, the ship is more of a system of steel ribs than an actual hull. The structure attracts fish and other sea life, and since it is near the surface (half in and half out of the water), snorkeling is paramount.