The Bahamas are a unique vacation spot, consisting of hundreds
of islands and cays located in the Caribbean Ocean just south of Florida and
north of Cuba. The Bahamas are home to the worldís third largest coral reef
ecosystem, boasting some of the
clearest water on the planet. Snorkel and scuba enthusiasts can enjoy visibilities
of up to 200 feet below the surface.
The Bahamas have been an independent country since 1973 and
before then were a British colony. English remains as the Bahamian national
language and since the islands are very close to
the United States, the Bahamas have always been and continue to be a popular
destination for American tourists. The northern Bahamian islands are just 50
miles off the coast of Florida! With so many places to explore in the Bahamas,
the islands serve as a very popular stopping point for many cruise lines. Cruise
passengers enjoy an opportunity to explore all of the beauty and allure the Caribbean
and Bahamian islands have to offer.
More than 4 million people visit the Bahamas each year, with most visitors
hailing from the United States. The Bahamas offers tourists cultural
experiences, outdoor adventures and beautiful tropical landscapes. Depending on what your interests
are, these top Bahaman attractions will whet your appetite for the Caribbean
lifestyle of simple and pleasurable living.
If youíre not keen on getting into the water with all of the fish and tropical
marine life the Bahamas have to offer, then the
Atlantis Aquarium is the place for you. The Atlantis Aquarium allows visitors to
experience the local marine life without ever setting foot in the water. Located
in the major city of Nassau, the aquarium is easy to access and houses more than
50,000 aquatic animals in over 8 million gallons of salt water. The aquarium
also offers 14 lagoons for visitors to explore, making this aquarium feel more
like a natural habitat rather than a man-made attraction.
These lagoons showcase underwater ruins,
sharks, barracudas, sting rays, and more. At the Mayan Temple Shark Lagoon,
visitors can take a heart-racing water slide through the lagoon, viewing sharks
on either side of them through a glass tunnel. If youíre not so adventurous, you
can view the shark lagoon from grounded vantage points that offer panoramic
views of the tank. Nurse sharks and hawksbill turtles are also on display in the
Access to some or all of the aquarium and its surrounding lagoons is
restricted during high occupancy resort times, so be sure to plan ahead in order
to purchase a pass. If you donít plan to snorkel while in one of the most
beautiful places in the world to view marine life, then the
beaches and lagoons of the Atlantis Aquarium are a must-see.
Hermitage (Cat Island)
Cat Island is located near the Tropic of Cancer and is off the beaten path.
The peak of Cat Island is Mount Alvernia, measuring in at 206 feet and is
highest point in the Bahamas. Jerome Hawes settled on Mount Alvernia in 1939 and
at the summit built a medieval-style monastery. A stone staircase leads visitors to the top
of the mountain where they can experience ruins of the monastery. Views from the
monastery consist of
breathtaking Caribbean views where most of the Bahamian horizon can be seen. Father Hawes
hand-crafted the steps of the monastery and also constructed a chapel complete
The ruins of the monastery are still in decent condition, and visitors can
walk through its various features. It is a veritable paradise on the sea and a
testament to the mixing of old and new world traditions. Mixing modern aspects
of culture along with traditional components is central to the Bahamian culture,
and also happens to be Mount Alvernia's central motif.
13) Dunmore Beach Club and Restaurant
If a busy day at Atlantis Resort or in the large city of Nassau is too
overwhelming for you, then head on over to Harbour Island to the Dunmore Beach Club
and Restaurant. To get there youíll need to fly into Eleuthera and then take a
water taxi. The club and restaurant offer a much more relaxed way of life for
visitors, a pace more closely resembling Bahamian life than the busy chaos of crowded resorts. The club has its own
beach with umbrellas, where you can relax and enjoy what you came to the Bahamas
for: the ocean breeze and calm waters. The restaurant serves authentic local
cuisine and menu items range from ceviche to curried crab cakes to jerk chicken
Dunmore Beach Club Restaurant
Guests stay in cottages with their own balconies and dine together in the
club restaurant. A cottage will run you anywhere from $350 per night in the
summer to $950 per night during high season in the winter. If you think
vacations that have too many things to do will have your head spinning rather
than resting, then the Dunmore Beach Club and Restaurant is the perfect spot for
you. And if you want to get a little bit of work done while breathing in the sea
air, the resort also offers wi-fi throughout the property.
Inside Ocean View Suite at Dunmore Beach Club
If historic charm is what you look for on vacation, then The Cloisters in
Nassau is one of the most intriguing places to visit on the islands. The
Cloisters are ruins of a 14th century French monastery. The monastery was
brought over to the United States in pieces in the 1920ís and then transported
again, piece by piece, to the Bahamas in the 1960ís. The pieces were then
assembled to replicate the original monastery in France.
The Cloisters are
located on Paradise Island and can be accessed fairly easily. Admission is free.
Each aspect of this attraction, including statues, landscaping, and a gazebo are
spectacular. It is a serene spot for reflection and slowing down. It is a rather
large collection of stones and can take a few hours to see them all. From The
Cloisters, visitors can also experience magnificent views of the harbor. It is
one of those secret places in the Bahamas that you wonít regret venturing out of
your way to see. Itís a real gem on a lovely island.
11) The Exumas
The Exumas are located 35 miles southeast of Nassau and boast pristine
beaches. If youíre looking for a luxurious vacation, check out The Exuma Cays,
home to boutique style resorts that cater to those with a little extra to spend
on their trip to the Bahamas.
At Fowl Cay Resort, you can rent a villa for
anywhere from $1,400 per night to $2,700 per night, but everything from meals to
boat rental is included in your stay. It is indeed a private getaway with all
Fowl Cay Private Island & Resort
If thatís not your style, Great Exuma and Little Exuma offer the leisurely
lifestyle that draws many tourists to the Bahamas year after year. Georgetown is
the capital of The Exumas and is located on Great Exuma Island.
The Exuma Islands
It is said that
pirates used Georgetownís harbor back in the 17th century. Two-acre Lake
Victoria offers kayaking, sailing, and boating to its visitors. Bonefishing is
also popular in Georgetown.
Great Exuma is so safe that people hardly ever lock
their doors, so you wonít have to worry about pick pocketing or any other common
tourist concerns while away from home. The people in The Exumas are extremely
friendly, so donít be surprised if you spend a majority of your days striking up
conversations with complete strangers.
10) Andros Island
If shopping is more your speed and pastime, then the straw markets on Andros
Island are a perfect stop for you. Visiting here is a fascinating experience,
because itís the largest of the islands, yet itís not very developed.
specialty at the straw markets on Andros Island is Androsia, a colorful batik.
Batik is a handmade cloth and Androsia takes inspiration from the Bahaman
islands. You can purchase clothing already made or fabric by the yard to bring
home and make your own unique Bahaman items.
Androsia is also the name of the
company that was started in 1973, the year of Bahaman independence. While on
Andros Island, you can visit the batik factory to see how the fabric is made.
Even though you can purchase Androsia items on other islands, thereís nothing
like buying it from the place where it originates. In the Red Bay and Fresh
Creek areas, you can shop other markets for wood carvings and other unique
Fresh Creek Inlet, Andros Town
There are other things to do than shopping on the island. The third largest
barrier reef is located off the coast of Andros Island, so snorkeling is a top
choice for visitors. The island is the fifth largest in all of the Caribbean and
offers boaters and fisherman a paradise to explore. Some even consider Andros
Island the bonefishing capital of the world. Wetlands and freshwater lakes are
signatures of this vast island. Its minimal development makes Andros Island the
perfect spot for nature lovers and adventure seekers who are looking to explore
the nooks and crannies of the Bahamas.
9) Rum Cay
Dating back to long before Christopher Columbus landed in the
Caribbean, Rum Cay used to be home to the Arawak Indians. At Hartford Cave,
their petroglyphs can still be found. Utensils and other dining ware, such as
bowls and plates, have also been found in the cave.
Rum Cay gets its name from a
wrecked ship carrying whiskey. In 1861, a British ship by the name of the HMS
Conqueror sank off its coast and the shipís remains make up one of the top dive
spots to explore marine wreckage in the entire Caribbean.
Engraving of HMS Conqueror
If youíre adventurous, Rum Cay is the place for you. With some of the best
waves in the Caribbean, Rum Cay is a prime spot for learning to surf for the
first time or perfecting your wave riding skills. Scuba diving is also a popular
activity as you can explore the continental shelf and view friendly and social
dolphins and sea turtles from below. The best thing about Rum Cay is that you
can fly directly there from Florida or from Nassau.
8) Cable Beach
On Paradise Island lies one of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean.
Cable Beach is a 4-mile-long beach with white sand. Multiple hotels and resorts
can be found along Cable Beach, so you can stay here for days without having to
leave. There are also numerous restaurants and other amenities.
The waters off
the coast are turquoise and full of marine life. If youíre not staying at a
hotel near the beach, you can purchase day passes for around $20 to access it.
Cable Beach isnít as secluded as some other places in the Bahamas, but it offers
entertainment and dining if youíre looking for a balance between relaxation and
activity. Itís one of the most popular places to visit when people disembark
from cruise ships.
Sunbather's View at Cable Beach, Paradise Island
The Bahamas is bursting with historical charm, and what better way to
experience it than to walk through the historic forts of Nassau. The Old Fort of
Nassau, Fort Fincastle, and Fort Charlotte can all be found in Nassau.
Fort of Nassau was demolished at the end of the 19th century, and a hotel and
community have been built around its remains. Old Fort Bay and Old Fort Club
exude the charm of the 19th century fort, and historic pieces still remain. The
club and its restaurant overlook a beautiful Nassau beach. Fort Fincastle dates
back to 1793 and visitors can experience its remains. It was built atop Bennettís
Hill and you can take a guided tour Monday through Sunday.
Fort Fincastle, Bennett's Hill, Nassau
Fort Charlotte is the
largest of all of Nassauís forts and was built in 1789.
The fort was never used
in battle, though, and not a single shot has come from the fort outside of
practice. The fort has a waterless moat, dungeons, ramparts, and a draw-bridge.
You can also get a guided tour of the fort Monday through Sunday, and itís free
to visit. Even though the fort was never attacked, the ruins are a reminder of
what life was like in 18th century Caribbean islands, and the views from it are
6) Lucayan National Park
Lucayan National Park is a 40-acre national park that was built in 1977.
Inside the park, one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world is
preserved. Six miles of caves and tunnels have been discovered here.
of pine trees make their home in this national park, a rare site to see in the
Caribbean. Orchids also grow wild here along with other rare flower species. Six
ecosystems are represented in the park, the beach being only one of them.
Rock Beach is another popular place to visit as it is is by far one of the best
beaches on Grand Bahama island, and itís quite secluded. Itís a perfect spot for
relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of Freeport. If you take a guided tour,
youíll also have a chance to visit some of Lucayanís famous caves.
5) Benís Cave
Although Benís Cave is found in Lucayan National Park, it deserves its own
spot on the list. Itís one of two inland blue holes in the park. The upper water
is fresh, while the under water is salty. The only way to experience Benís Cave
is to dive with an authorized, professional dive instructor. During the dive,
youíll be able to see stalactites, stalagmites, a halocline, and fossils. Bats
You are able to walk into the cave via a boardwalk, but the real
memorable experience comes by diving into it. Calabash Eco Adventures is one
local company that organizes these diving tours. For less than $200, you can get
a full 6-hour excursion with one hour of dive time with an experienced diver and
4) Blue Lagoon
If you want to get up close and personal with dolphins, then spend a day on
Blue Lagoon Island. You can also swim with sea lions here. Blue Lagoon Island is
also known as Salt Cay. It is the most popular attraction and activity in
Nassau, offering things to do for every interest. To interact with the dolphins
and sea lions, passes range from $90 to $185, depending on what you desire to
If youíre not into swimming with or touching large marine animals, you can
buy a cheaper beach pass and relax along the islandís shores. Until the late
19th century, the lagoon was a salt marsh. During World War II, the Allies used
the island as a secret training base. Itís a special place and a must see if
youíre in Nassau.
3) Majorís Spot Cay
Wild pigs can be found swimming along the shores of Majorís Spot Cay in The
Exumas. Nearby Staniel Cay pig owners couldnít stand the stench of their pigs,
so they took them to Majorís Spot Cay and left them there. These pigs have
become so accustomed to tourists feeding them that they greet any boat that
enters the cay.
They are friendly and non-aggressive, making them a unique site
to see in the Bahamas. These swimming porkers are Major Spot Cayís most popular
attraction. Some tourists visit The Exumas just to experience them. It might
just be worth the trip.
Known as ďThe Island in the Stream,Ē Bimini Island (actually two separate
islands separated by a short ferry ride) is one of the prime places to visit in
the Bahamas for fishing, snorkeling, and diving. It is situated on the edge of
an underwater cliff. Sugar Sand Beach is one of the most pristine beaches in the
world. If youíre looking for seclusion and a true getaway, then Bimini fits the
bill. In 1926, the ship S.S. Sapona was grounded during a hurricane and its
wreckage is one of the best shallow dive sites in the Caribbean for viewing ship
wrecks. Ernest Hemingway loved coming to Bimini to escape life, enjoying its
laid back way of living. Jimmy Buffet also enjoyed time on Bimini while writing
North Bimini Island
Dolphins cluster at the north of the island, so snorkeling or diving is
likely to be well rewarded. The Gulf Stream keeps Biminiís coral life lush and
vibrant, and black coral gardens are popular among divers and snorkelers. Vising
the ďHealing HoleĒ will give you a glimpse into the mangrove and natural spring
systems in the Bahamas. Entertainment and restaurants are also available on
Bimini. In fact, it used to be a place where people could store and enjoy
alcohol during the days of prohibition. Its 50-mile distance from the Florida
coast made it a prime location to hide liquor. Some think Bimini Road was part
of the lost city of Atlantis. Martin Luther King, Jr. also visited Bimini and a
statue to commemorate his visit and inspiration to the people of Bimini stands
in Alice Town. The Bimini Boa is native to Bimini and can be seen along the
Bimini Nature Trail.
The Abaco islands in the Bahamas are still probably one of the Bahamasí best
kept secrets. The Abacos offers the seclusion and leisure that some lesser known
islands offer, yet it also boasts the cultural and entertainment activities that
the busier cities like Nassau and Freeport brag about. The Abacos are relatively
easy to access via plane and one of the main colonial towns, Hope Town, is
bursting with life. It doesnít have the resort and tourist feel like other
Bahamas islands do, so itís appealing to those looking for a balance between
relaxation and action. Donít be fooled though; there are so many things to do in
Hope town is located on Elbow Cay and is ideal for families, couples, and
groups. It doesnít have the massive cruise ships or goods hawkers like the main
islands, so itís attractive for those looking for a truly relaxing vacation. At
the same time, it is a vibrant community with a lot of flair. You can taste
delicious local fare and hear authentic Bahaman music any night of the week
here. While there are a few inns and hotels on the island, it is ideal to rent a
small house or villa through a real estate company. The famous candy-striped
lighthouse is popular among adults and children alike.
Sailing in the Sea of Abaco
Most people can be seen
riding bikes or walking around the island. Sailing is quite popular in the Abacos, but so is sitting by the beach and enjoying the calm waters. The Abacos
have some of the best beaches in the Bahamas. If you plan to visit the Bahamas
to snorkel or dive, the Abacos offers some of the best in the Caribbean. Elbow
Cay has consistently good visibility, so the chances to see schools of fish are
high on any day. The waters are also quite calm, so itís safe and relaxing to
snorkel or dive here. Mermaid Beach has a colorful reef and is a hot spot among
With its close proximity to the United States, the Bahamas is an ideal
getaway for families, honeymooners, single travelers, and groups of friends
celebrating together. It offers a perfect balance between action and down time.
Make sure to figure out which island or islands are right for your style of
travel. If possible, spend some time island hopping to get a real feel for what
itís like to live a Bahaman life. Each island has its unique lifestyle and
culture, but as a whole, the Bahama islands offer beautiful scenery and a serene
location to forget why you needed a vacation in the first place.