30 Best Things to Do in the Bahamas for a Truly Unforgettable Trip
If you've never ventured outside of Nassau, you're only scratching the surface of this island paradise that's made up of 700 islands. Here's everything you need to do and see in the Bahamas.
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What to do in the Bahamas
If you’re planning a Bahamas vacation and only focusing on well-known Nassau, you’re only scratching the surface of this island paradise. The Islands of the Bahamas comprise 700 islands and more than 2,000 tropical sand and coral cays. Only 30 of these islands are inhabited, but that still gives you a wide range of places to see and things to do in the Bahamas on a vacation, including some of the best resorts to visit anywhere.
While you’re here, spend time in the crystal-clear turquoise waters doing everything from fishing to swimming with sharks—or even swimming with pigs. On land, there’s everything from giant waterparks to small cultural museums and everything in between, plus an ocean’s worth of spots to eat and drink with ocean views.
With such a wide array of options, there’s literally something for every kind of getaway in the Bahamas, whether you’re looking for the best Bahamas resorts, best all-inclusive resorts, affordable family vacations—or you want to plan a honeymoon or couples retreat at a romantic resort.
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Get your marine fix at Atlantis
Location: Paradise Island
While you’re at Atlantis Paradise Island, you’ll be able to view more than 50,000 sea creatures representing 250 marine species that reside within 8 million gallons of ocean water and 14 lagoons throughout the hotel. Whether you want to pet stingrays or hang with sea lions, you can explore the undersea world in a whole new way. Atlantis is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Bahamas. Check out this list of the world’s most luxurious hotels and resorts to see more.
Pro tip: Hungry? Atlantis has more than 40 food and beverage outlets, including several Starbucks, burger and sandwich spots, ice cream, seafood and sushi.
Go shopping in Port Lucaya Marketplace
Location: Grand Bahama Island
If your idea of a vacation or weekend getaway includes some retail therapy, you can’t pass up a visit to Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand Bahama Island. You’ll find a traditional straw market and a craft center for local souvenirs, as well as more than 40 boutique outlets and an array of unique eateries.
Pro tip: Stop at the fruit daiquiri stand for a tropical frozen refreshment.
Dive with sharks in Stuart Cove
Want to take your diving excursions to the next level? If you’re SCUBA-certified, one of the premier things to do in Nassau is head out to Stuart Cove, a shark-filled area that has some of the Bahamas’s clearest water. You’ll be able to swim with nonaggressive Caribbean reef sharks (staying at a safe distance determined by the boat captain, of course) while also spotting a rainbow of tropical fish.
Pro tip: If you’re not certified in scuba, you can snorkel instead by the fish-filled reefs.
Explore caves at Lucayan National Park
Location: Grand Bahama Island
One of the biggest and most beautiful sea caves systems in the world is located at Lucayan National Park, and you can explore the caverns. But here’s a word of warning: They do have bats. Take a break at Gold Rock Beach, the super secluded beach in the area. Here, you can catch some rays, nap or stay active with some seriously top-notch shelling opportunities—one of the best things to do in the Bahamas.
Pro tip: Experienced scuba divers can explore Ben’s Cave, part of the cave system, underwater.
Check out Harbour Island’s pastel beach
Located on the northwestern part of Eleuthera Island, Harbour Island is one of the most gorgeous pink-sand beaches in the world. With 3.5 miles of soft, pink sand to explore, visitors will find plenty of space to relax on the pastel sand, and the turquoise waters are perfect for snorkeling, diving, swimming, fishing and boating.
Pro tip: The island’s Dunmore Town is one of the most picturesque little communities here, where quaint homes painted in varying hues make for a rainbow theme that complements island life perfectly.
Make a splash at Aquaventure Water Park
Location: Paradise Island
Atlantis Paradise Island is home to the Aquaventure Water Park, where a 141-acre floating river awaits. But with rapids and rocky waves, this isn’t your average water park. There are also 11 swimming pools and multiple mega waterslides, including a steep slide down the front of a Mayan temple and another that shoots through the center of a shark tank!
Pro tip: You don’t need to stay at the resort to experience the water park; day passes are available.
Spend the day at Cable Beach
Soft white sand and calm turquoise waters make Cable Beach one of the most coveted spots in the Bahamas for swimming and sunning, and a perfect warm winter getaway. It’s also the site of multiple high-end resorts, and this highly developed Caribbean escape along the northern coastline of Nassau has an array of shops, restaurants and spots to try out jet skiing and parasailing.
Pro tip: If you have the budget, try out some luxury amenities here, including an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course as well as the largest casino and first ESPA spa in the Caribbean.
Fill up on the fish fry on Arawak Cay
Arawak Cay is not known for its casino or pristine golf courses. It’s where locals head for fresh seafood accompanied by rum punch and local beers. It’s a perfect escape for anyone looking to enjoy historical Bahamian flair. Here, conch, shrimp, mahi-mahi and other seafood delights await.
Pro tip: Come on a Sunday for live local music to add to your list of things to do in the Bahamas.
Swim with pigs
If nothing sounds more magical than splashing around in crystal-clear water with a bunch of snorting pigs, then a boat ride from Nassau to Exuma to Pig Beach should be on your list. The hour-long ride takes you to the sight of the happiest, and most infamous, Bahamian pigs, who will take your warm-water beach experience to a whole new level. Jump in the water, and you can feed and swim alongside the snorting, and yes, swimming, swines.
Pro tip: After swimming with pigs Bahamas-style, head to the tree-covered part of the beach, where you’ll find baby piglets sleeping in the shade.
Snorkel around a fish-filled reef
Andros is the location of the third-largest barrier reef in the world. And snorkeling among the miles of coral reef filled with marine life is one of the best things to do in the Bahamas. Among the colorful residents are parrotfish, trumpetfish, scorpionfish and blue tangs. Underwater blue holes and shipwrecks make it a prime spot for spying beautiful fish. This could easily be part of anyone’s bucket-list trip.
Pro tip: Grab a bite to eat at Brigadier’s Restaurant. Set at the end of a long pier, it feels like you’re floating on the turquoise sea below.
Swim with the rays at Stingray City
Location: Great Stirrup Caye
A visit to the gentle and playful rays at Stingray City just off Nassau needs to be on the must-do list of any animal lover. You’ll be able to feed and swim with the gentle sea creatures. Go ahead and let them swim up to you for a kiss on the head! Are you a surf-and-sand lover? Discover more of the best beaches to visit.
Pro tip: This is the perfect opportunity to use a waterproof camera, but if you don’t have one you can purchase photos from the pro photographers on-site.
Frolic with flamingos
Location: Great Inagua Island
Although it’s mostly uninhabited by people, Great Inagua Island is still quite busy, since it’s home to more than 80,000 flamingos—the national bird of the Bahamas. You can spot them around Lake Windsor and Lake Rosa, where they dine on the tiny pink brine shrimp that give the birds their rosy color. The island is often referred to as the “Birdwatching Capital of the Bahamas,” and it’s also the residence of 140 species of native and migratory birds, including Bahamian parrots and pelican, making it a birding enthusiast’s paradise.
Pro tip: Head to the island’s lighthouse in Mathew Town for stellar ocean and island views.
Admire the iguanas on Sandy Cay
Location: Long Island
Long Island is home to coral white sands that mesmerize—plus opportunities for snorkeling and kayaking among the coral reefs. You can even explore an old shipwreck. The low-lying sandy coral island is about 61 acres in size, and along with some truly beautiful beaches, you’ll be able to spot and observe the critically endangered Sandy Cay Rock Iguanas that live here and nowhere else in the world. And while you wouldn’t want to disturb the iguanas with your pets, here are some dog-friendly beaches where you can take your canine companion.
Pro tip: Sandy Cay is rumored to have pirate treasure and was also the filming location of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Spend the day at Blue Lagoon Island
Location: Salt Cay
Located a few miles from Nassau, Blue Lagoon is a private island that offers a remote vibe where nature reigns supreme. Relax on the beach, dip in the clear blue ocean, then jump into the water to swim with dolphins, frolic with sea lions and stingrays and even see nurse sharks up close in the water.
Pro tip: Don’t worry if you build up an appetite exploring the island, because a lunch buffet is included in your visit.
Enjoy Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
If you’re looking for one of the most under-the-radar and best things to do in the Bahamas, consider visiting Eleuthera’s first national park, a plant-based palace featuring native flora such as ferns and orchids, mangroves and cacti that go as far as the eye can see in any direction. The 25-acre park was named for Leon Levy, a Bahamian who took a special interest in native plant life and helped nurture many of the endemic species that flower and thrive here.
Pro tip: In addition to several hundred species of plants, you’ll also be able to spot nearly 70 types of birds here as well.
Kayak the 365 Exuma Cays
Location: Great Exuma
The Bahamas is home to some of the most breathtaking ocean kayaking locations in the world because of its crystal clear and very calm waters. The Exumas are an especially good spot to paddle, since it offers much quieter, less-developed water areas than most other destinations in the Caribbean. The 365 cays offer white-sand beaches, room-temperature waters and incredible sheltered waters to explore by kayak or canoe. No matter what type of Caribbean vacation you’re looking for, be sure to check out this list of the best Caribbean island vacations to beat your winter blues.
Pro tip: Don’t want to paddle? Try a stand-up water bike instead!
Look up the Queen’s Staircase
This landmark is part of Fort Fincastle Historic Park in Nassau and is most often referred to as the “66 steps.” Carved out of solid limestone in the 18th century, the steps are steep and often slippery, but you’ll be rewarded for your climb with fantastic views of the forest and the island from the top.
Pro tip: Be sure to arrange return transportation from the steps, since it can be hard to find taxis nearby.
Celebrate Carnival every day at the Junkanoo Museum
Make some noise for Junkanoo, the foot-stomping, whistle-blowing, bell-ringing Carnival celebration of the Bahamas. Junkanoo is officially celebrated on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, but you can celebrate it every day at the festive Junkanoo World Museum & Arts Centre. The museum includes displays of elaborate costumes, plus an opportunity to don some of the festive headpieces and cloaks for a fabulous photo op.
Pro tip: Sign up for workshops where you can make your own Junkanoo mask.
Say “Ahoy, matey” to the Pirates of Nassau Museum
No, this isn’t a museum dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean, but it documents the real period in Caribbean history called the Golden Age of Piracy, which lasted from about 1690 to 1720. You’ll learn about the chaos and damage the massive concentration of pirates caused, particularly on Nassau.
Pro tip: Leave time after your self-guided tour for a stop at the museum’s Smugglers restaurant and bar for homemade conch salad.
Drink some rum at John Watling’s Distillery
This centrally located distillery, set on the famous 1789 Buena Vista Estate in downtown Nassau, is home to John Watling’s Rum, the “Spirit of The Bahamas.” Here, the namesake rum and other spirits are handcrafted, and you can get a tour, learn about production and sip samples. There are also an accompanying store and bar if you want to have more than just a taste of your favorite option.
Pro tip: Not a rum lover? The distillery also produces Red Turtle Vodka, which you can sample as well.
Go sport fishing
Location: Out Islands
The Out Islands of the Bahamas offer incredible opportunities for sport fishing. There are 700 islands that comprise the Out Islands, but only a few are inhabited. Among them is Bimini, the closest Bahamian island to the United States, considered the deep-sea fishing capital of the world. Fishing here, you’ll be able to reel in giant tuna, white and blue marlin, barracuda, amberjack, bonefish and tarpon. And if you’re interested in keeping our oceans plentiful, here are the most sustainable fish to order on your vacation or at home.
Pro tip: Many boats chartered to fish in Bimini actually leave from South Florida, so you can fish the Out Islands without having to fly to the Bahamas.
Get a view at the Glass Window Bridge
Travel along Queen’s Highway to snag one of the coolest views in the Bahamas. Glass Window Bridge consists of a strip of land and road that connects Eleuthera’s Gregory Town and Lower Bogue, with stunning views of turquoise water on one side and deep sapphire water on the other. At its narrowest point, the bridge measures just 30 feet wide.
Pro tip: You’ll hear people say this is where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, but the color change is the drop-off between the shallow bay and the deep ocean water.
Grab a Goombay Smash
Location: Harbour Island
Just the whistle-wetter to accompany a tropical sunset, the Goombay Smash is the signature Bahamian cocktail, consisting of white rum, dark rum and coconut rum in pineapple juice with a Myer’s rum floater. (Yes, you counted correctly, that’s four kinds of rum!) The perfect spot to slowly sip this tasty cocktail? Rock House on Harbour Island, famous for its Goombay Smash and gorgeous views from an open-air patio over the beach and straight out to the sparkling sea. Once you’re relaxed after a cocktail, head to the pool or the beach and enjoy one of these fun beach reads.
Pro tip: There’s a full menu of seafood on offer here too, including fan favorite seafood cakes (crab and grouper) to accompany your cocktails.
Shop till you drop on Bay Street
Bay Street offers a cornucopia of fun for anyone who loves to shop. It’s home to one of the busiest duty-free districts in the Caribbean as well as a famous straw market where you can pick up handwoven straw hats and bags and other locally made souvenirs.
Pro tip: At the Straw Market, ask to have your woven items personalized with a handstitched name or initials.
Have a beer at the Bahamian Brewery & Beverage Co.
The country’s only brewery owned and operated exclusively by Bahamians offers tours of the facility so you can see how the beer is brewed, plus try a number of samples before heading to the bar or gift shop to purchase full-size versions. Are you a beer lover? Check out this list of the best craft beers.
Pro tip: Sands Beer is the first beer the brewery made and is a local favorite.
Visit wild dolphins
If you’re looking for a circus-like dolphin performance, you’ll have to go elsewhere. But you won’t want to after experiencing dolphins in their wild, natural home. Off the coast of Bimini island, you can jump in, swim or just watch the wonderful mammals dip, dive and twirl, knowing that they’re doing everything on their own terms and in tune with their beautiful natural surroundings.
Pro tip: Because these are wild animals, please don’t touch or feed the dolphins.
Visit a landmark lighthouse
The red-and-white-striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse looks like an overgrown barber pole popping up from the shores of Hope Town. It’s hard to miss—which is the idea. This beautiful lighthouse is supposed to be noticed to keep sailors from running ashore. It’s the last kerosene-powered lighthouse in the world, and its keeper climbs 101 steps every two hours to crank the winch that keeps it running exactly 427 times.
Pro tip: Look up at night to spot the beam that flares from the top of the tower every 15 seconds.
Watch a cricket game
The national sport of the Bahamas is cricket, a British import that resembles baseball in that it uses a ball and bat. Join the fans watching their favorite teams at the Cricket Club, where British and Bahamian dishes share the menu and live games are shown on multiple screens.
Pro tip: During American football season, Miami Dolphins games often take center screen.
Settle in at Baha Mar
This luxury resort complex located along Cable Beach in Nassau is a destination within a destination. Whether you’re staying here or not, you can check out the sumptuous spa, try your luck in the casino, browse the art in the gallery, take a painting lesson, swoosh down a waterslide at the water park or even snorkel with sharks, stingrays and sea turtles at the Beach Sanctuary.
Pro tip: Visit when you’re hungry: There are 45 dining options here, ranging from casual fare to indulgent fine-dining venues to decadent sweets shops.
Kick back at Schooner Cays
If you want some serious R&R, Schooner Cays on Eleuthera is the place to go. Consisting of several long beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to escape the tourists and find your own slice of heaven. You’ll need to take a boat tour to get here, but after you arrive it will feel like you’ve left the world behind and found a true deserted island paradise.
Pro tip: Bring a picnic lunch, or choose the “Adam and Eve” package, where a private lunch is set up for you on a secluded cove.