Close to the East Coast of the United States, the Bahamas are known as a refuge from the harsh winters of the north. But there's more to this paradise than sugar-white beaches and warm sunshine. You can swim with dolphins and tropical fish in the turquoise waters. Or soar above the sea in a parasail. Then explore the islands' thrilling history as a haven for pirates - a "Privateer's Republic" was formed at one point with Blackbeard himself as the magistrate.