Only 50 miles off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas are an incredible group of more than 25 inhabited islands and thousands of uninhabited small islands and cays. The islands differ physically from pine forests, to white sandy beaches, limestone caves, lush plantations, bonefishing flats and the world's third largest barrier reef. The variety in these islands ranges from the more cosmopolitan Nassau, which was once ruled by pirates, to the desert-like wildlife sanctuary of Inagua. Andros, the largest island, is known as the "bonefish capital of the world" and has its own mythical creatures such as the chickcharnie [a three toed, three fingered, red eyed, mythical creature that brings lifelong luck to anyone who sees it] or their very own "Loch Ness Monster" called Lusca. From the pink sands of Harbor Island and Eleuthera to the deserted strands of the Exumas and San Salvador, there is a lifetime of beaches to explore. Junkanoo is a national festival in the Bahamas. It is said to originated with the slaves being given a day off at Christmas time and they could leave the plantations to celebrate with their families by dancing the African dances with African music and costumes. Now the celebration is mostly at Christmas time but also on other National holidays and there is a museum showcasing Junkanoo costumes, art, and artifacts in downtown Nassau. The Bahamas have all of the water sports and island attractions of the Caribbean but are much closer to the United States.