Best Things To Do in Bahamas
From gorgeous beaches to expansive golf courses, most agree the Bahamas are the quintessential relaxing Caribbean vacation. There are historic attractions and bustling marketplaces in Nassau and Freeport. And if you're looking for more active pursuits, strap on some diving gear and explore the coral reefs or hike around The Glass Window Bridge. Kid-friendly attractions like the water park at Atlantis, Paradise Island on Paradise Island make this a great family destination as well.
Updated July 29, 2020
- #1View all PhotosfreeBahamas Beaches#1 in BahamasBeaches, Natural Wonders, Free, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Free, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Bahamas' year-round warm weather makes it a prime spot for a relaxing vacation in the sun, and some of the islands' best places to unwind can be found overlooking the country's clear blue waters. Available beaches on the Bahamas' 700 islands range from water sports-focused sands at mega-resorts like Atlantis, Paradise Island to quiet sanctuaries on private islands. Some are great locales for snorkeling or horseback riding, while others are best suited for lounging with a drink.
Gold Rock Beach in Lucayan National Park (which was featured in two "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies), Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island (named for its stunning blush shoreline) and the beaches on The Exumas' Stocking Island (where you can swim and feed stingrays) are many travelers' favorite stretches of sand.
- #2View all Photos#2 in BahamasRecreation, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Though you'll find many ways to spend your time on shore, one of the best ways to take advantage of all the Bahamas has to offer is to go on a boat tour. Chartering a boat will give you the chance to try a variety of activities, including diving and snorkeling, spear fishing and swimming with wild pigs. Many excursions also offer access to private islands, where you can lounge on pristine sands after savoring a picnic lunch on the beach.
Recent travelers raved about the sailing excursions offered in the Bahamas, describing their experiences as "incredible," "fantastic" and "awesome." However, a few cautioned that charter prices are steep, so plan your budget accordingly. Boat operators recommended by previous visitors include Island Time Charters and Bahama Boat Tours (for New Providence Island) and Exuma Water Sports (for The Exumas).
- #3View all Photos#3 in BahamasRecreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Beneath the surface of the Bahamas' waters lies a plethora of reefs and underwater caves and sinkholes teeming with aquatic animals, such as stingrays, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and Nassau grouper. It's hardly surprising, then, that visitors flock to the islands to snorkel or dive. Many local beaches, resorts and private islands offer shallow areas that are ideal for snorkeling, while islands like New Providence, Grand Bahama, Andros and The Abacos feature world-renowned dive sites, such as the 6,000-foot-deep Tongue of the Ocean (by Andros) and the James Bond Wrecks (near New Providence Island).
Many boat tours (such as ones offered by Island Time Charters and Exuma Water Sports) include snorkeling in their itineraries. For diving, past visitors suggest signing up for excursions with companies like Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas (on New Providence Island) and Sunn Odyssey Divers (on Grand Bahama Island). Each company offers knowledgeable and friendly guides, according to previous divers.
- #4View all Photos#4 in BahamasEntertainment and Nightlife, Zoos and Aquariums, Beaches, Cafes, Golf, Sports, Casinos, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, ShoppingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Zoos and Aquariums, Beaches, Cafes, Golf, Sports, Casinos, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, ShoppingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Spread across much of Paradise Island, the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort complex is home to top-notch accommodations, a casino, a golf course and multiple restaurants. But the property's most impressive features are undoubtedly its water-focused amenities. In addition to offering 11 swimming pools and 5 miles of white sand beaches, Atlantis touts a 141-acre water park called Aquaventure, where a lazy river, a Mayan-themed water playground and eight waterslides reside. The resort also boasts the world's largest open-air marine habitat filled with sharks, rays, piranha, eels and more.
Atlantis' marine habitat and water park were a hit with previous visitors, although some caution that the property is only worth attending if you're staying on-site, since day passes cost $129 per adult and $89 for each child between 4 and 12. Popular attractions at the water park include the lazy river and the Leap of Faith waterslide, and at the marine habitat, travelers enjoyed watching various aquatic animals swim by, especially at The Dig and Predator Lagoon aquariums.
- #5View all Photos#5 in BahamasBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
There are three national parks on Grand Bahama Island, but this is the definitive favorite. A 40-acre spread of mangrove, palm and pine trees, Lucayan National Park also contains the impressive Gold Rock Beach (which appears in two of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies), as well as the Burial Mound Cave (where the remains of four indigenous Lucayans were discovered in 1986) and Ben's Cave (one of the locales featured in the James Bond movie "Never Say Never Again"). Both caves are part of one of the world's longest underwater limestone cave systems.
Lucayan National Park's sights, especially the beach, impressed recent visitors. However, bugs are prevalent by the mangroves that line the beach's elevated boardwalk, so travelers recommend wearing bug spray while visiting. Some also suggest bringing a picnic lunch and some extra bread for feeding the fish swimming in the mangroves' roots. Avid divers, meanwhile, can go diving at Ben's Cave via operators like Sunn Odyssey Divers and Calabash Eco Adventures. Dives cost $140 to $169 per person.
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Whether you cruise or fly to the Bahamas, chances are you'll visit at least one private island during your stay. A few feature boutique resorts like Kamalame Cay and Fowl Cay Resort, while others (think: Blue Lagoon Island) offer activities like Segway tours and swimming with dolphins. Meanwhile, those who arrive by cruise ship via Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean International have access to their cruise line's private island. Each offers water sports equipment rentals, eco-tours, cabanas and more (for a fee).
Past visitors appreciated the various activities available at Blue Lagoon Island, especially the dolphin encounters. However, some cited poor service at the gift shop and bemoaned the no camera policy enforced at each animal experience. Travelers also praised cruise-affiliated private islands like Castaway Cay (Disney), CocoCay (Royal Caribbean) and Half Moon Cay (Carnival). Many described CocoCay as "paradise" and Half Moon Cay as "beautiful," while Disney cruisers said Castaway Cay was the highlight of their vacations.
- #7View all Photos#7 in BahamasNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, HikingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, HikingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Named for Leon Levy, a Bahamian with an interest in Eleuthera's plant life, this lush oasis is filled with native flora, ranging from ferns and orchids to mangroves and cactuses. All can be viewed from the miles of trails that weave throughout the 25-acre national park.
Described by former visitors as a "beautiful" Bahamian gem, this outdoor paradise beckons to vacationers and locals. Although the preserve's breathtaking grounds are the highlight here, travelers were equally impressed with the property's friendly, knowledgeable staff, adding that paying for a guided tour is well worth the extra expense.
- #8View all Photos#8 in BahamasFree, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDFree, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Occasionally referred to as the 66 steps (though only 65 are visible), this historic staircase spans 102 feet. It was carved out of limestone by roughly 600 slaves in the late 1700s as a way for the British (who colonized the Bahamas) to connect Bennet Hill's Fort Fincastle to the capital city of Nassau. The staircase took more than 16 years to complete and was named for Queen Victoria, who ruled over the region for 64 years and is responsible for abolishing slavery in the country.
Whether you plan on stopping here or stumble upon it while exploring Nassau, travelers say this limestone staircase is well worth a visit. To get its complete history, several travelers suggest touring the attraction with the local gentleman that sits by the lower entrance. Many describe his tours as "amazing" and "interesting." Also, if you're not keen on walking up the entire staircase, some recommend starting at the top and working your way down.
- #9View all Photos#9 in BahamasNatural Wonders, Free, Hiking, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Free, Hiking, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
For one of the most unique views in the Bahamas, travel along Queen's Highway to The Glass Window Bridge. This strip of land and road – which connects Eleuthera's Gregory Town and Lower Bogue – measures just 30 feet wide at its narrowest point. On its northern side, you'll find the rough, deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and on the southern side, the calm, turquoise-green waters of the Exuma Sound (in the Caribbean Sea).
According to previous visitors, the stark contrast between The Glass Window Bridge's two sides makes for "beautiful" and "truly amazing" views. You can see both sides without leaving your car, but to make the most of your time at the bridge, many recommend hiking around the area. To do so safely, wear shoes with a good grip, and take your time traversing the sharp rocks. A free public beach is also available on the Caribbean side.
- #10View all Photos#10 in BahamasFree, Wineries/BreweriesTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, Wineries/BreweriesTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If you need a break from snorkeling, boating or beach lounging, consider touring New Providence Island's John Watling's Distillery. This distillery is famed for its homemade rum, which you can sample and see being produced during a tour. Other spirits, such as a vodka filtered with pink sand from Eleuthera and a gin infused with plants from Andros, are also made on-site.
Some previous visitors wished their free piña colada samples were swapped for rum tastings, while others said their tours felt rushed, but overall, many recommended visiting if you need a break from the sun and sand. If you like what you sample, consider buying a bottle or two after your tour since the distillery does not export its liquors. Another tip: Linger a little longer to admire the property's architecture. The main building is featured in a scene from the James Bond movie "Casino Royale."
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