What are the best things to see and do in The Bahamas?

Dan Heching

Most of the premier activities in the Bahamas involve the Atlantic Ocean — from lounging on a schooner to bouncing on the waves on a jet ski, water-lovers will be in their element. Of course, there’s no need to actually get wet — those who prefer relaxing on the beach have literally thousands of beaches to choose from, where sunbathing is the only task at hand. Last but certainly not least, inland life in the Bahamas offers endless activities for those wishing to stroll, shop, explore and of course, eat. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ top five things to see and do in the Bahamas.
 
1. Lounge on the beach. With over 3,000 islands and keys making up this Caribbean destination, there is surely a beach tailor-made for each and every traveler’s tastes. If you’re staying at a big resort like Atlantis and the beaches are crowded, try walking in the surf in either direction, and odds are you’ll find a stretch of secluded sand all your own. From the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island to the ‘sugary’ soft sands of Cable Beach, there is no shortage of space for the number one Caribbean activity – soaking in the sun and diving into the deep crystal blue seas.
 
2. Go snorkeling or scuba diving. The Bahamas still boasts some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring coral reefs in the world, teeming with marine life visible just below the surface. There are many ways to get out on (and under) the water, but the snorkeling and diving off Abacos and Andros Islands is among the best, thanks to the shipwrecks (and even a submerged train) in view in relatively shallow waters.
 
3. Hit the slot machines. After a day of sun and surf, it’s nice to have a night out at the casinos on Paradise Island and at Cable Beach. As the perfect accompaniment, order a few rum cocktails—they are delicious.

4. Meet the marine life. Atlantis Resort offers an absolutely incredible world-renowned aquarium experience — whether you’re staying at the resort or not. Dolphin meets as well as ‘shark dives’ throughout the islands offer amazing ways to swim right along with the local underwater sea life.
 
5. Join the party. Junkanoo is the name of the national Bahamian festival — sort of an African Mardi Gras meets Carnival parade — that is held every Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day. This is a must-see, if your trip falls outside these dates. Head to the Junkanoo Expo at Prince George Wharf on Nassau Island to catch a glimpse of the colorful, handmade costumes and floats (not to mention the high-energy Junkanoo drum beats) that make the festival world famous.

  • On June 11
    Dan Howard answered the question: Dan Howard

    What are the best places to stay in The Bahamas?

    In December of 2014, the luxury loding landscape of the Caribbean will be redefined with the debut of Baha Mar, a destination featuring a Rosewood hotel, an SLS property, a Grand Hyatt and the largest casino in the Caribbean.  Taken together, the new Baha Mar is being heralded as The Bahamian Riviera, with shopping and dining amenities that truly cater to the jet set. The Cable Beach location is both convenient to the beautiful Lynden Pindling Airport and to historic Nassau.  It also can be used as a jumping off point to the recreation, remote beaches, fishing and beauty of the Out Islands. 
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    Where are the best beaches in The Bahamas?

    With miles of sandy shoreline, there’s a different beach for every kind of beachgoer in The Bahamas. As this archipelago is principally made up of coral, there is often exposed limestone outcroppings on the beaches or just a few steps out into the water, creating pleasantly warm tidal pools that sometimes contain colorful fish or crabs.
     
    One of the most distinctive beaches in all the islands is the pink sand beach on Harbour Island, with sands the pale russet color of the sunset you’re bound to see if you decide to linger through the afternoon.
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    What is the best thing to bring home from The Bahamas?

    Besides a suntan, one of the best things to bring home from The Bahamas is seashells. The shells both on the beach and in the water all over The Bahamas are as breathtaking as fine jewelry, and make excellent souvenirs and or decoration back home. It’s important, of course, to make sure you’re not removing a live animal from its natural habitat, so the best way to go about your shelling expedition is to just marvel at them during your beach walk, scuba dive or snorkel, and then make sure to pick up the pink conch shells, sand dollars and sea biscuits that are sold on the seashore, and practically everywhere else.
     
    As for ‘quick-fix’ tourist souvenirs, there’s always the hustle and bustle of the Straw Market in Nassau, where you can find bags, fans, baskets and other straw products sold by ever-bargaining craftsmen.
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  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    What are the five best Bahamas food experiences?

    As expected, The Bahamas is a wonderland for the seafood lover, but that is only the first stop on the remarkable culinary tour these islands have to offer, boasting West African, Caribbean and European influences all mixed together to mouthwatering and robustly flavored perfection. Forbes Travel Guide recommends these food experiences for the best taste of The Bahamas.
     
    1. Conch. Pronounced ‘conk’, this is the absolute top seafood staple of The Bahamas, emerging from the iconic and beautifully large shells and served pretty much everywhere in a whole variety of ways: grilled, in salads, gumbos, as fritters or as a chowder (this latter form is a house favorite in many establishments). In late October (a lovely time to visit The Bahamas), catch the Annual Conch Festival, when local chefs compete with their most original conch dishes. Free samples as well as other culinary events and music make this a very popular foodie happening.
     
    2. Nassau Grouper. A more classic fish getting its name from the Bahamian capital, dishes prepared with grouper are delicious and often prepared with local spices, or breaded and in a sandwich, like at The Prop Club at the Grand Lucayan in Freeport.
     
    3. Spa food. The Bahamas are a great place to retreat and rebuild, and nowhere is better for that purpose than Paradise Island’s Sivananda Yoga Ashram. The center’s communally prepared lacto-vegetarian meals — served twice daily at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. — always offer a surprise dish of the day, often inspired by the flavors of India and always fresh and healthy. Make sure to take a beach or dockside yoga class beforehand to work up your appetite.
     
    4. Crawfish. Known as ‘Bahamian Lobster’ but with no claws, crawfish (also called Spiny or Rock Lobster) is the largest food export of The Bahamas and is another near-permanent fixture on most beachside menus. One place with guaranteed scrumptious crawfish is the thoroughly popular Iries Restaurant, also located at the Grand Lucayan.
     
    5. Native ‘Sugar Loaf’ Pineapple. At Pineapple Fields on Eleuthra Island, get your hands on the famously sweet and succulent pineapples known throughout The Bahamas, in season starting in June. The nickname ‘Sugar Loaf’ makes perfect sense when these large fruits arrive, sliced and served on a plate like a loaf of bread. Pineapples are delicious on their own of course, but also make the perfect accouterment to a tropical cocktail, avec umbrella.
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    Where is the best nightlife in The Bahamas?

    Looking for the best nightlife in The Bahamas? The casinos and nightclubs at Atlantis and The Crystal Palace on Cable Beach are buzzing with people into the morning hours. For those seeking the night beach scene, head to Pete’s Pub & Gallery in Abaco. This is the island’s quintessential beach bar, a community-conscious and family-owned business open daily and not closing “til everyone goes home.” Deliciously fresh seafood, good beers on tap, live music on the beach — it’s the ideal Bahamian experience. If you arrive early, make sure to check out The Foundry — this family of sculptors runs the only bronze foundry in all the islands, continuing a tradition of artistic expression begun by the family patriarch.
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    What is the best way to see The Bahamas in one day?

    One thing that is surprisingly easy in the Bahamas is waking up early. Rising with the sun is the best way to get the most out of your day, with a morning stroll or swim along the beach, followed by a relaxing ocean-side breakfast. After your morning meal, head to the Pelican Cays National Park, it’s an underwater nature reserve that provides ideal Bahamian views from under the water. Snorkel and take in the coral and marine life for an hour, then get on top of the water and see the Bahamas by boat or ferry.
     
    The Abaco Islands are an ideal base and starting point for your island-hopping adventure, then off to Marsh Harbour in Great Abaco. If you have options, check out Hope Town on the beautiful island of Elbow Cay and the spectacularly long beach at Great Guana. Here you’ll find water-focused activities from fishing excursions to simply searching for sand dollars on local sandbars.
     
    If you’re itching to see more, you can always hop a puddle jumper via BahamasAir from Nassau to Eleuthra, featuring a wealth of dramatic land and rock formations such as the Glass Window Bridge, The Cow & The Bull, Hatchet Bay Cave and Ocean Hole.

    Nothing closes a Bahamian day like bookending it by watching the sunset, which is best enjoyed while sitting next to a beach bonfire. We love Fernandez Bay Village on the unspoiled shores of nearby Cat Island.
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    Where is the best shopping in The Bahamas?

    Shopping in the Bahamas runs the gamut, from purchasing conch shells at a local’s charming makeshift booth on the dock to exceptionally artistic souvenirs at ‘Mixed Media’, the boutique at the National Art Gallery in Nassau. On the same island, you can find the remarkable limestone Queen Anne’s Staircase, walk up the 65 hand-carved steps and explore the nearby curio shops and independently owned galleries. The shops seem to invite you inside to get lost amongst their wares of original and whimsically conceived ceramics, jewelry and artwork.
     
    Other interesting and more far-flung spots include Vernon’s Grocery on Great Abaco Island, with its award-winning key lime pies, fresh-out-of-the-oven Bahamian-style bread, and a vast array of enticing Bahama spices, as well as Sandpiper Arts and Crafts on Great Exuma Island — a truly unique and atypical gift shop offering antique photos and better than average tropical clothing.
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    What are the best things to do with kids in The Bahamas?

    The Bahamas are a family-friendly hot spot, with a wide range of all-inclusive cruises and packages to keep kids entertained. It’s also simple to put together your own action-packed itinerary in the Bahamas. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to do with tots in tow.
     
    1. Meet the Pirates of Nassau. One of the more fascinating aspects of the Bahamas’ past involves the illustrious career of pirates on the islands in the 17th and 18th centuries, and this museum presents the fabled history in an interesting and educational way that’s fit for the whole family.
     
    2. Cruise over to Disney’s Castaway Cay. Disney Cruise Lines unveiled their two latest ocean liners in the last two years, each custom-built with families in mind. An exclusive stop for cruise passengers traveling to the Bahamas is Castaway Cay, an island privately owned by the company and offering loads of activities for children of all ages.
     
    3. Swim with dolphins. The Dolphin Experience on Grand Bahama Island as well as Atlantis’ Dolphin Cay are some of the premier sites for swim-with-dolphins excursions, with programs tailored for the little ones and ranging from ‘shallow water interactions’ to ‘deep water swims’.
     
    4. Visit the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo. When it comes to local animals, it’s not all about sea life in the Bahamas—this amazing attraction is different from most zoos because these land animals roam freely. Kids will also have a chance to interact more intimately with the animals, as hand feeding is allowed in some areas.
     
    5. Explore the Hermitage on Cat Island. One of the more secluded of the Bahama Islands, Cat Island features this gorgeous and historic site built by a monk just after World War II, filled with precipices and outcroppings just waiting to be explored by the little ones
  • On September 17, 2012
    Dan Heching answered the question: Dan Heching

    What are the best things to see and do in The Bahamas?

    Most of the premier activities in the Bahamas involve the Atlantic Ocean — from lounging on a schooner to bouncing on the waves on a jet ski, water-lovers will be in their element. Of course, there’s no need to actually get wet — those who prefer relaxing on the beach have literally thousands of beaches to choose from, where sunbathing is the only task at hand. Last but certainly not least, inland life in the Bahamas offers endless activities for those wishing to stroll, shop, explore and of course, eat. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ top five things to see and do in the Bahamas.
     
    1. Lounge on the beach. With over 3,000 islands and keys making up this Caribbean destination, there is surely a beach tailor-made for each and every traveler’s tastes. If you’re staying at a big resort like Atlantis and the beaches are crowded, try walking in the surf in either direction, and odds are you’ll find a stretch of secluded sand all your own. From the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island to the ‘sugary’ soft sands of Cable Beach, there is no shortage of space for the number one Caribbean activity – soaking in the sun and diving into the deep crystal blue seas.
     
    2. Go snorkeling or scuba diving. The Bahamas still boasts some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring coral reefs in the world, teeming with marine life visible just below the surface. There are many ways to get out on (and under) the water, but the snorkeling and diving off Abacos and Andros Islands is among the best, thanks to the shipwrecks (and even a submerged train) in view in relatively shallow waters.
     
    3. Hit the slot machines. After a day of sun and surf, it’s nice to have a night out at the casinos on Paradise Island and at Cable Beach. As the perfect accompaniment, order a few rum cocktails—they are delicious.

    4. Meet the marine life. Atlantis Resort offers an absolutely incredible world-renowned aquarium experience — whether you’re staying at the resort or not. Dolphin meets as well as ‘shark dives’ throughout the islands offer amazing ways to swim right along with the local underwater sea life.
     
    5. Join the party. Junkanoo is the name of the national Bahamian festival — sort of an African Mardi Gras meets Carnival parade — that is held every Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day. This is a must-see, if your trip falls outside these dates. Head to the Junkanoo Expo at Prince George Wharf on Nassau Island to catch a glimpse of the colorful, handmade costumes and floats (not to mention the high-energy Junkanoo drum beats) that make the festival world famous.
  • On July 26, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in The Bahamas?

    It’s hard to avoid the great pull of megaresort Atlantis when deciding where to stay in The Bahamas, since this literal ocean palace simply cannot be ignored. With upwards of six separate but harmonious resort properties in the mix, the grounds feel at once like a theme park and an exotic tropical playground, with pools at every turn and more options for where to relax, what to eat and how to play than previously thought possible. Of course, ‘getting away from it all’ might require a more remote and singular atmosphere, and The Bahamas is not at all short in that department either. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best places to stay in the Bahamas.
     
    1. One & Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island. Exclusive and intimate, this resort (housed on the grounds of a former private estate) feels like checking into your very own colonial oceanfront home — in fact, James Bond did, in the movie Casino Royale, which was filmed at the resort. Indulge with a villa residence and you’ll have your very own private oceanfront plunge pool and dedicated 24-hour butler service.
     
    2. The Cove at Atlantis. One of the newer hotel towers at the sprawling resort, The Cove is pure hypnotic luxury. With mind-bending architectural design throughout the open-air lobby area and rooms designed to literally whisk you away, you might actually feel like you’re the only one around in spite of the fact that endless attractions — from Dolphin Cay to the award-winning Mandara Spa — are all right there.
     
    3. Graycliff Hotel, Nassau. Being by the beach isn’t the only draw here in The Bahamas, and the intimately tucked-away Graycliff Hotel will make you thrilled that you went for something a little different. Stately rooms and a plantation-style reception and lounge do a wonderful job of bringing Bahamian history to life, replete with old-world charm, romance and an ornate mosaic-bottomed pool.
     
    4. Harborside Resort at Atlantis. One of the main appeals of staying at an all-inclusive resort is convenience, because when the whole family is in tow ease and accessibility are what’s important. The Harborside is a place that really takes this into account, what with the included unlimited use of various resort activities including
AquaVenture Water Park, the ubiquitous pools, The Dig, the aquariums and of course, limitless beach access. who just want to check in and check out.
     
    5. Bimini Bay Resort & Marina. Located on the ‘Out Island’ of Bimini (belonging to the subcategory of Bahama Islands that are truly remote-feeling and ‘out there’), this luxury resort is at once far-away and the center of a wealth of tropical activity, featuring chic accommodations, two full-service marinas, an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and the Fisherman's Village along with much much more.
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