With over 700 islands making up this quintessentially Caribbean coral archipelago, choosing where exactly to go in the Bahamas can be a daunting prospect. Use our field guide to choose the best destination for you.
For sailing enthusiasts
Nautical types had best set sail for the Abacos, the boating capital of the world. The 120-mile-long chain is peppered with bays, coves, and protected harbors, making it a heavenly choice for island hopping onboard a boat. Hand-building boats also has a long tradition in the Abacos.
The dramatic cliffs of Long Island, named for its long coastline, also make it a popular boating destination. Its turquoise waters play host to a number of other water sports as well, fishing and diving in Dean’s Blue Hole, one of the deepest in the world.
For beach bums
Nothing says Bahamas like a pink sand beach. Eleuthera & Harbor Island are perhaps better known for their pineapple fields, but they also have their share of rosy hued sands. Over 35 miles of beaches are spread along the Atlantic coast. Slice into one of the islands’ ultra-sweet pineapples and dig your toes in the sand.
For more seclusion, many of the islands among the 30 cays of the Berry Islands are uninhabited. Sugar Beach on Great Harbour Cay is perhaps the most picturesque, but the Berries have many swim ashore beaches ready to compete for the crown.
For animal lovers
There’s plenty of wildlife to enjoy in the Caribbean, but no island is defined by its fauna more than Inagua and its trademark flamingoes. 80,000 West Indian Flamingoes color half the island with their iconic pink feathers.
Even the celebrity resort-studded Exumas have something for animal lovers. The exotic archipelago is home to a group of domesticated swimming pigs. Pull your boat in and have a snack ready to feed the welcome party – they’ll paddle out to meet you.
For general ecotourism, including incomparable birdwatching, head to Grand Bahama Island or the sparsely populated Andros.
For history buffs
A mere 50 miles from the coast of Florida, Bimini is one of the most popular destinations for Americans visiting the Bahamas. It’s also one of the best destinations for history buffs, with its strong ties to Earnest Hemingway. Like your history with a dash of legend? Some believe Bimini Road is a remnant of the great lost city of Atlantis.
Those interested in colonialism should make a beeline for San Salvador, the first Bahamanian island to welcome Christopher Columbus on his maiden voyage in 1492. The Pinta itself dropped anchor on these shores. Pay homage to the other side of the colonialism coin by exploring the ruins left by Arawak Indians on Rum Cay.
Finally, little says Caribbean history than the romance of pirates. The rocks and caves of Ragged Island made excellent hideaways and many believe Blackbeard made the island his headquarters.
For party animals
The cosmopolitan capital of the Bahamas, Nassau & Paradise Island are naturally your best bet for pulsing nightlife.
For a more authentic Bahamanian party, give Cat Island a chance. Though the pace of days on the island is laid-back, this is the lively home of the Caribbean rake and scrape music. Cultural myths and folklore also abound here, but it’s the sound of the indigenous recycled-object instruments that’ll make you want to get down.
Almost any spot on the Bahamas makes a good escape, but for an extra dose of isolation, sequester yourself on Acklins & Crooked Island. These remote islands are among the country’s least traveled and most pristine. Explore untouched caves and cliffs or enjoy world-class fishing in perfect tranquility.
Your footprints are likely to be the only ones on the beach in Mayaguana, the only Bahamanian island to bear its original Arawak name. The rustic fishing villages of this remote island will help you feel worlds away from your everyday life.