Bahamas — Attractions
A dozen islands have tourist infrastructure, from the over-the-top Paradise Island to the calming shores of Cat Island, but anywhere the beaches and islands are obviously the main attraction. Great diving and boating can be enjoyed at most islands, while for tourists sights, Nassau, the capital, is the place to be; home to intriguing shopping streets and old colonial buildings that can be accessed on foot. Island hop by taxi or boat to see different sides of the cays.
Nassau is the low-rise, pastel-colored capital of the Bahamas, residing on New Providence Island. It hosts the main airport, main city, and most of the main landmarks. For sights, take a wander around Old Town to check out the Parliament Building, Fort Charlotte, and the National Art Gallery. The harbor is an attractive area to peruse and Bay Street has the best shopping, while to the west is the city’s favorite stretch of sand, Cable Beach. Just over the bridge is Paradise Island, a major Bahamian draw for its notable high-end hotels.
Address: New Providence Island, Central Bahamas
This small island is connected to New Providence by bridge and is the main destination for many visitors. The hotels here are typically top of the line and include the huge Atlantis complex. Many of the main sights reside on the grounds of mega funplex, which has a steep entry fee for those not staying at the hotel. The beaches on Paradise Island are impressive, while also worth a look is Dolphin Cay, for its porpoises and manta rays, and the Marina Village shopping street. Paradise offers a variety of water sports and good entertainment by night, including several casinos.
Address: Paradise Island, Off New Providence Island
One of the most popular islands, Grand Bahama in the north is known for its national parks, and its high quality diving set-ups. Lucayan National Park has amazing caves (Lucayan Caverns) and swamps, and reveals all ecosystems, while Peterson Cay has fabulous reefs. The Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) is one of the best places to learn to dive, from one-day courses to full certification. Freeport is the main town of Grand Bahama and home to a myriad of hotels, beaches, quality golf courses, and an international airport. On the edge of town is the stunning Garden of the Groves.
Address: Grand Bahama Island, North Bahamas
Blue Lagoon Island
Visitors can swim with bottlenose dolphins and sea lions in natural seawater set up on a private island a few nautical miles from Nassau. Also here is good snorkeling, sailing, and entertainment, plus an amusement park and a lot of beaches to relax on. Be sure to call ahead and book during peak season because it is a popular day trip for families. Trip time is about 30 minutes from Nassau.
Address: Salt Cay, Northeast of Paradise Island
Abaco is the main island attraction of the Abacos group, to the north of Nassau and to the east of Grand Bahama. As is customary in the Bahamas, Abaco has amazing beaches, including the world renowned Treasure Cay, along with several standout sights. Marsh Harbour is the main center; a cute, low-rise town with good hotels, pretty harbor, and designated airport. Nearby Castaway Cay is owned by Disney.
Address: Abacos group, North Bahamas
Exuma is a long and stunning stream of islands to the southeast of Nassau that are mostly unspoiled compared with commercial Bahamas. They are inherently beautiful and serene, and the diving and snorkeling are fantastic—for cave diving, visit Hurricane Hole. Grand Exuma is the main island and home to capital George Town, while many of the other islands are privately owned. Saddleback Cay is one such private entity that can be visited with tours available from Nassau. Grand Exuma has an international airport and is reached in about an hour by boat from Nassau.
Address: Exuma group, Central Bahamas
Cat Island offers something a bit different from your typical lazy beaches holiday. While it has fabulous sands, it also has great walking tours, owned in part to the lofty Mount Alvernia and the extensive trails of the old cotton plantations. Arthur’s Town and Orange Creek are both worth checking out, while Arawak Cave is a must-see. Cat Island is relatively close to Nassau and Eleuthera Island, and has three airports. San Salvador—the supposed first Bahamian destination visited by Columbus—is to the east.
Address: Cat Island, Central Bahamas
This pretty, characteristically long, arcing island is good to escape the mass tourism of the Bahamas, yet it also has quality hotels and facilities. With gorgeous beaches and shallow warm waters, it is easy to get to from Nassau, having a trio of airports and good boat access. There are several developments, including Governor’s Harbour and Tarpum Bay, and a slew of worthy sights that include Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, Preachers’ Cave, and Bannerman Lighthouse.
Address: Eleuthera Island, Central Bahamas