Best Bahamas Beach Destinations
The Bahamas is well-known for its beautiful beaches. With over 2,000 stunning islands and cays and the clearest water on the planet, it’s no surprise that visitors come from all over to sink their toes into miles of pure white or pink sand.
An island chain beginning a mere 55 miles east of Miami, Florida, the Bahamas offer an array of tourist hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and even rustic lodges, making staying there a relatively simple endeavor.
In total, the Bahamas include around seven hundred islands, no more than thirty of which are inhabited, as well as smaller cays (pronounced “keys”) and rocks – an impressive arc stretching from just beyond the Atlantic coast of Florida to the outlying waters of Cuba, where Great Inagua lies only sixty miles offshore.
We’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in the Bahamas, covering a wide variety of islands and regions in the Bahamas. There are plenty of top beaches in Bahamas you should know about, ranging from party beaches to exotic far-off coastlines that even travel guides won’t tell you about. We will suggest the best Bahamas beaches and which islands you should visit during your Bahamas vacation.
Abacos & Loyalist Cays
The northernmost of the Bahamian islands, the Abacos are sometimes called the “isles of the old-time Loyalists” because of their association with Tory expatriates fleeing the American Revolution.
The mainland is actually composed of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, two distinct islands separated by a tiny gap.
In the far north, a group of smaller cays begins with Walker’s Cay and runs southeast to Cherokee Sound – a lengthy chain well worth visiting for its superb diving, snorkeling and fishing.
Most visitors, however, prefer to concentrate on the areas near Great Abaco’s main town, Marsh Harbour, and the old-English charm of nearby Elbow Cay, Green Turtle Cay and Treasure Cay, which provide not only glimpses of early Loyalist settlements, but also enchanting coastlines, radiant bays and inlets, and terrific aquatic sports.
On the east side, fringing reefs and several deep canyons offer excellent diving, with most choice locations just north of Marsh Harbour.
The pine-covered Abacos have a temperate-to-subtropical climate , with cool winters and mild, windy summers, and an average yearly rainfall of 50-60 inches.
Bahamians call Andros their “Big Back Yard”, an appropriate description considering the thick bush that dominates the island, which in the north consists mainly of tropical and deciduous trees.
However, what really makes Andros unique is its magnificent barrier reef, the third longest in the world after those in Australia and Central America.
Running parallel to the island’s east coast for 167 miles, the Androsian reef is a massive inner bar of elkhorn coral that lies 10-200ft underwater and helps protect the island from tropical storms and hurricanes. It’s also a truly spectacular place to explore, whether you dive, snorkel or fish , with an outer wall that plunges down spectacularly through a myriad of canyons, caves, blue holes and sand chutes.
The island is divided into three zones: North Andros, home to most of the population; Central Andros, better known as Mangrove Cay, and South Andros, the most lightly populated and remote section.
Aside from the north end, many parts of the rest of the island received electricity only in the last twenty years, and still have a rather poor, antiquated road system. This gives the region a rather charming and isolated character, a rustic appeal for those with the patience to deal with it.
Cat Island & San Salvador
A world away from the up-tempo lifestyle and commercialism of a place like Nassau, Cat Island and San Salvador offer an isolated example of Bahamian life before the advent of modern tourism.
Still retaining the traditional farming and agriculture of the old Bahamas, the islands have nonetheless experienced economic difficulties in recent years, with their young workers leaving for service jobs in New Providence and Grand Bahama and the population shrinking to new lows in the last few decades.
Nevertheless, they both have considerable attractions for visitors, from splendid stretches of pink sand beaches, to exquisite snorkeling and diving, to intimate and comfortable lodges far from the bustle of more populated islands.
Fifty-five miles east of Miami, Grand Bahama looks from the air to be a flat, dry slab of bleached limestone bristling with tall, thin pine trees and edged by a ribbon of powdery white sand and multihued bands of blue-green water.
Accessible by daily ferry service and direct flights from several major American cities, the island is ninety-six miles long and seventeen miles wide, and has a range of appealing features: gorgeous white beaches, aquamarine seas, and an exotic profusion of lush coral reefs and undersea gardens.
Despite the natural surroundings, most of the half-million annual visitors to Grand Bahama rarely stray far from the urban conglomeration of Freeport – located three miles inland from the south coast – and its seaside suburb Lucaya, which together are home to most of the island’s 47,000 residents.
Outside the city, between Pelican Point and Sweeting’s Cay, there are seven oceanic blue holes to entice divers and snorkelers.
East of Freeport, the Lucayan National Park encompasses walking trails, limestone caves and mangrove creeks that can be explored by kayak.
West of Freeport, Deadman’s Reef offers lush snorkeling opportunities accessible from the powdery white beach at Paradise Cove.
Virtually untouched by tourism, the 3200 residents of Long Island live in a dozen or so small fishing settlements along a seventy-mile strip, a narrow sliver of land rarely more than two miles wide, separating Grand Bahama Bank from the Atlantic Ocean.
A varied landscape of steep rocky cliffs, sheltered coves filled with turquoise water, idyllic green pastures with grazing goats, and historic churches in quaint seaside villages, Long Beach offers eye-catching sightseeing, whether by car or bicycle.
Along with its unspoiled rustic beauty, the island’s key attractions are its excellent diving and snorkeling, superb fishing throughout the year, and many pristine beaches.
The beaches include the striking white sands that stretch for three miles along Cape Santa Maria at the north end of the island; Guana Cay with its terrific snorkeling, further south; and secluded Lowes Beach on the Atlantic side near the southern end.
Further along, two essential sights not to be missed include Hamilton’s Cave, a collection of underground chambers filled with colorful stalactites, stalagmites and pictographs, and the Columbus Monument, atop a rocky bluff at the northern tip of the island, offering a stunning panorama of the craggy terrain and white-sand fringes that Columbus first surveyed on his two-week Bahamian tour in 1492.
Despite its tiny size – 21 miles long and 7 miles wide – New Providence has more than two-thirds of the country’s population and is home to the capital Nassau, a thriving city of around 100,000 residents.
Stretching east to west, New Providence offers a wealth of lovely, uncrowded beaches, while on its northeastern shore Nassau runs six blocks deep and features the shopping arcade Bay Street , located along Prince George Wharf.
The island’s main highlight is Cabbage Beach, covering most of the north coast and featuring deep blue water and trade winds that cool even the hottest of afternoons.
Although much of eastern New Providence has been covered by urban sprawl, the areas west of Nassau include stunning stretches of beach, though the main draw of Cable Beach is increasingly peppered by exclusive resorts, private estates, condominiums and time-shares.
More worthwhile, the western shores, twelve miles of sand from Cable Beach to the western point , are the most dazzling parts of the island, with isolated Love Beach near Compass Point a particularly appealing spot.
New Providence’s south shore has few notable beaches, and even fewer hotels, though diving and snorkeling draw many enthusiasts to the shore’s outer reef and reef walls.
Three hundred yards across the Paradise Island Bridge from Nassau’s harbor, Paradise Island consists of 686 acres of hard-pack coral and wind-blown limestone oolite sand, and until the mid-1960s was Nassau’s boat-building center.
Now Paradise Island has become a hugely popular destination, with a spate of resorts, hotels, casinos and beaches submitting it to accusations of being overbuilt. Still, the island has some quiet backwaters, namely a marvelous north coast where pink sands meet the soft turquoise of the Atlantic Ocean.
The best beaches are on the north side facing the Atlantic Ocean, while the south side mainly features marinas, docks and wharves.
From the Paradise Island Bridge, drivers encounter a huge roundabout, the northern axis of which leads to the Atlantis hotel and its casino. North of the hotel is Cabbage Beach, two miles of fabulous pink sand, and further east, separated by a small anvil-shaped headland, is Snorkeler’s Cove Beach, a striking and often deserted stretch where one can snorkel in peace.
Two main east-west roads cross the island: the first, Paradise Island Drive, heads east from the roundabout, and leads to the island’s eastern end, home to private residences, a few exclusive hotels, the airport and a golf course.
The other street, Paradise Beach Drive, running west from the roundabout, heads out to Club Med and provides access to Pirate’s Cove Beach, a secluded, windswept stretch, and Paradise Beach, two miles of sand that live up to the name.