If you are looking for natural beauty, incredible beaches, and a holiday full of adventure then the Bahamas will be your dream destination. But which is the best island in the Bahamas for you?
This nation is famous for its rich cultural history, flavorful seafood, and tropical weather. It’s also popular with Hollywood directors who often film movie scenes here simply because the scenery is so breathtaking.
However the Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands! And if you’ve not been here before – not all of us are Hollywood directors – then working out what island to visit can be tough.
Depending on your interests and what you want to do, certain islands will suit you better. Some Bahamas islands are best for beaches, others for resorts, and others for activities like diving, snorkeling, fishing, island hopping, swimming with dolphins and pigs (seriously).
Thankfully we know the Bahamas well, so can help you decide which is the best island in the Bahamas for you!
Below we look at the best island in the Bahamas for beaches, then the best island for diving/snorkeling, resorts, nightlife, and finally, the best island for activities.
So start packing your suitcase, it’s time to begin your Caribbean adventure!
The Best Bahamas Island for Beaches
The Bahamas are known worldwide as a nation of beautiful beaches. And no wonder. The beaches here are mesmerising, and in our opinion, incomparable. (Recommended: Are There Snakes in the Bahamas?).
The gorgeous palm-tree lined white sand, crystal-clear water and turquoise hues that stretch out into the ocean. It’s the image of the Caribbean we all have in our minds.
However some islands in the Bahamas have beaches that are better than others. Some have softer, whiter sand. Others have more beach activities like boat cruises, surfing and swimming with pigs.
So to help you out, here’s our top three best islands in the Bahamas for beaches:
Harbour Island is famous for its incredibly unique pink sand beaches.
The three mile Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island is arguably the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas, and is famous worldwide for its pink tinge.
That incredible pale pink sand actually comes from the naturally crushed shells of tiny coral creatures. If you get the chance to visit here, you must. It’s unforgettable.
Harbour Island itself is tiny – just 3.5 miles long and half a mile wide – and is something of a hidden gem in the Bahamas. It does have a few boutique hotels, but in general the beaches here are very empty in comparison to other islands.
So not only do you get to sunbathe, swim and enjoy potentially the world’s prettiest beach, but you’ll have much of it to yourself. Bliss.
Paradise Island got its name for a reason. This place is the paradise you’ve always imagined – soft white sand giving way to warm turquoise water perfect for swimming.
Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach are exquisite examples of that, and Cabbage Beach is regularly voted as one of the top ten beaches in the world. The sand here is delicate, incredibly soft, and the water shallow and wonderfully warm – perfect for wallowing or snorkeling.
A big advantage of Paradise Island is it’s just off the coast of Nassau – the capital of the Bahamas – and can be reached by a short boat ride.
That makes it one of the most accessible beaches in the Bahamas, as well as one of the best.
It’s also a very developed island so you have a spectacular beach alongside access to many restaurants, cocktail bars, and trendy beachside bars.
Big Major Cay
Around the Bahamas you will get gorgeous white sand beaches, but if you’re looking for a really special experience then head to Big Major Cay in Exuma.
You won’t be able to stay here overnight as it’s an uninhabited island. However while people don’t live here, it’s not empty…..
This island has become famous for its Pig Beach. It’s a typically gorgeous Bahamian beach, on a typically gorgeous Bahamian island, except that a colony of friendly pigs live here!
Every day these photogenic pigs enjoy the shallow warm waters at Pig Beach, where they happily swim amongst tourists. They’re incredibly cute, friendly, and more than happy to be your swimming buddy.
Swimming with pigs in the Bahamas – cross that off your bucket list!
If you end up staying in Nassau/Paradise Island, then you can easily get a speedboat to Big Major Cay and visit Pig Beach!
The Best Bahamas Island for Diving and Snorkeling
As soon as you see the Bahamas appearing below as your plane starts to descend, the water is the first thing that catches your eye. The changing color of the tropical sea here is inviting, and below it is an astonishing underwater world.
One of the best things about the Bahamas is that the sea here has some of the warmest and clearest water in the world. That makes it perfect for snorkeling and diving.
If you’re planning a trip to the Bahamas, getting into the water and witnessing what’s underneath the surface is an absolute must.
With that in mind, here’s what we believe are the three best islands in the Bahamas for snorkeling and diving.
The Abaco Islands
The Abaco Islands is famous amongst divers – and for a reason!
This large group of islands in the Bahamas is dotted with colorful coral reefs, has countless amazing underwater caves, as well as pristine protected national sea parks.
The result is an environment teeming with reef fish, sea turtles, sharks and rays. It’s a beautiful busy underwater city.
The variety of sea life here is reason enough to visit, but the average depth around the islands is just five meters. That makes it perfect for snorkelers and those learning to scuba dive.
This idyllic little island has no roads and only a few small buildings including a beach bar, but what it does have is Rose Island Reef – a wonderful coral reef which is full of life.
It’s easy to reach Rose Island as it’s only a few miles off the coast of Nassau. This island is often regarded as the best place for snorkeling in the Bahamas due to the clarity of water here, and how shallow the water is.
There’s a couple of shipwrecks just off Rose Island’s coastline too, both of which are home to lots of colorful fish.
As an added bonus, there’s a small population of swimming pigs that live on Rose Island. So you can have an amazing snorkeling experience, followed by a swimming pig photo opportunity!
Andros is the largest island in the Bahamas and is actually bigger than all the other islands combined! It will come as no surprise then that this Bahamian mammoth is one of the best places to scuba dive in the Caribbean.
Yet despite that claim to fame, and its size, this is one of the least explored islands in the Bahamas.
Why is this a must-visit diving destination? Well Andros Barrier Reef is the third largest barrier reef in the world, and officially the third largest living organism on the planet!
This 190 mile long reef is thriving and colorful. You’ll find over 160 species of fish and coral here, including green turtles and reef sharks. As one of the world’s healthiest reefs, this is an exceptional place to dive.
On top of that, Andros also has the largest concentration of blue holes in the world – these are huge underwater caverns and sinkholes. They look incredible due to the sea’s change in color from blue to pitch black because of the sudden depth change below.
There’s also sea caves and plenty of shipwrecks to explore as well, some of which are excellent night dive sites.
The Best Bahamas Island for Resorts
Of course when you think about a place like the Bahamas, five-star resorts where you can sip a cocktail on the beach come to mind.
This country doesn’t disappoint when it comes to five-star stays, and across the archipelago you will find some exceptional resorts and boutique hotels.
Considering most people come to the Bahamas for pure relaxation, you want to stay on an island where there’s resorts with the best food, entertainment, drinks, and service.
With that in mind, below we share the two best islands for resorts in the Bahamas. This is just our opinion, and there’s plenty of great options. However, it’s hard to go wrong with the choices below.
Nassau and Paradise Island
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is where most tourists stay when vacationing in this nation.
As a result, some of the best hotels and resorts have been built on Nassau and neighboring Paradise Island. In fact both have become famous in recent years for their luxury resorts and hotels.
Below are some of the top-rated resorts that are worth checking out in Nassau and Paradise Island. Expect five-star food, countless entertainment options, and beachside bars beside crystal clear turquoise water.
- Margaritaville Beach Resort
- Sandyport Beach Resort
- Atlantis (Paradise Island)
- The Ocean Club
- Courtyard by Marriot Nassau Downtown
Giving Nassau a run for its money when it comes to resorts is Great Exuma – an island with wonderful long stretches of white sand, and lots of island hopping opportunities.
Some of the biggest beach resorts in the Bahamas can be found on Great Exuma, including these five which are well worth looking into:
- Peace and Plenty Resort
- Grand Isle Resort and Residences
- Exuma Beach Resort
- Kahari Resort
- Stella Maris Resort Club
Mid-December to mid-April is peak tourist season in the Bahamas and hotels charge the highest prices during this period. The earlier you make your reservation, the cheaper the rooms tend to be.
The Best Bahamas Island for Nightlife
Nightlife is important on holiday – it’s your chance to have guilt-free drinks and unwind after months of working hard at home.
At least for us, having good bars close by and the option to visit a nightclub or a casino in the evening is a must.
Thankfully, nightlife in the Bahamas is very good, and there’s plenty of options for late night entertainment.
The Bahamian people are friendly and full of life as well, so you’ll find many nightlife spots are popular with locals as well as tourists. That makes the evenings a great time to make some new friends while abroad.
Almost all the big resorts and hotels in this country have bars, beachside bars, casino, pubs and sometimes their own nightclub. And that’s the case in whatever island you decide to stay on.
However, the two islands we think are especially good for nightlife – Paradise Island and Grand Bahama – have a fantastic variety of nightlife options. They’re both very different though. One is more about partying, the other is more laid back and down to earth.
Whether you want to grab a cocktail at a smooth jazz bar in the early evening, try your luck at blackjack at midnight, or party it up at 4am, you’ll have the opportunity in the Bahamas!
Paradise Island is well known for its outstanding nightlife, mainly thanks to the variety of bars and clubs here.
This island has many nightclubs, comedy clubs, bars, casinos, and a lot more. Neighboring Nassau is also a great place if you’re looking for fun when the sun goes down!
In our opinion, three of the best nightlife spots on Paradise Island are:
Aura Nightclub: This is probably the best nightclub on Paradise Island. Some of the world’s top DJs spin discs here until the early hours of the morning.
Atlantis Casino: This casino has 90 table games, more than 850 slots, and holds many tournaments. If you’re looking for a late-night adrenaline rush, this is the place!
Bullion Bar: This bar is famous in the Bahamas for its fine champagne and cocktails. If you want to feel fancy, or want a completely unique Bahamian nightlife experience, then you must visit.
Outdoor events, late-night food joints, concerts, jazz clubs and piano bars. That’s Grand Bahama for you.
The nightlife here is more laid back than Paradise Island, but it still exists to entertain and grab your attention. Sometimes it does that with incredible pianists, perfectly crafted cocktails, or just beers with the best seaside views in the world.
A few of our favorite nightlife spots in Grand Bahama include:
Cotton Candy Jazz Club: A piano bar with smooth jazz tunes while sipping a Bahamian rum, or Scottish single malt. Sign us up!
Out Da Sea Bar and Grill: One of our favorite dinner spots throughout the Bahamas! They only use locally caught fresh seafood, and you taste that in the dishes. Grab a beer, taste incredible food, and enjoy the fact you’re in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Bones Bar: This is our favorite cocktail bar on Grand Bahama. There’s a superb rum collection, and it’s right beside the sea.
Two Dollar Bar and Grill: This local bar and food joint is the place to go to meet locals and enjoy a laid back beer in the evening. There’s a great view of the beach, tasty food (try the Conch Fritters), and friendly atmosphere.
The Best Bahamas Island for Activities
The Bahamas is a place where you can do almost everything.
Whether that’s diving around coral reefs, jet skiing between islands, playing roulette at a resort casino, having a go making traditional Bahamian straw handicrafts, or making a splash at a waterpark with your kids.
It’ll come as little surprise then that the most famous islands in the Bahamas are usually the ones with the most activities available.
Below are the three best Bahamas islands for activities. All three have activities for both adults and kids, so are great options whether traveling as a couple or family.
We’ve featured Paradise Island a lot here, but it really does pack a lot into such a small space.
If you’ve got kids then they will love the 141 acre water park – Aquaventure. There’s a mile long river ride, many huge water slides, 11 swimming pools, a river rapids, and even more. It’s often touted as being the best waterpark in the world.
Predator Lagoon – a huge aquarium – will bring you close to sharks and colorful jellyfish. But if you want to get your toes wet, then there’s plenty of charter yachts and catamaran tours leaving from Paradise Island and nearby Nassau as well.
For adults, the world-famous Atlantis Casino is a good place to lose your money (!), or if you lost too much money on poker the night before, spend a classy evening at the Atlantis Theatre.
If activities are the most important thing when deciding where to stay on your Bahamas vacation, then a stay at Paradise Island won’t disappoint.
This island, and the chain of islands it’s a part of, have a whole host of beach activities available. Some of the most popular include catamaran trips as part of an island hopping adventure, hiring jet skis and kayaks, as well as trips to the nearby islands that have those famous swimming pigs!
For something more cultural head to the capital of the island, George Town, where you can find the Straw Market. The Bahamas is famous for its straw handicrafts, and this is where the best items can be found. Some vendors make handicrafts at their stall – they’ll even show you how if you ask nicely!
Grand Bahama has all the usual beach activities you’d expect on a tropical paradise island, but it also has a fantastic golf course and some of the best duty free shopping (at the International Bazaar) in the Bahamas.
For shopping that combines local handicrafts and independent boutique shops then spend a few hours at Port Lucaya Marketplace. There’s some lovely laid back restaurants and bars here too.
Pirate’s Cove Zipline and Water Park is an easy place to go to keep kids happy, or for something incredibly memorable, you can go horse riding on the beach with Pinetree Stables.
If you want to feel more in nature, a trip to Lucayan National Park is a must. With pristine undeveloped beaches and 6 miles of underwater caves this is a piece of untouched Bahamian nature that can be easily reached.
What makes Grand Bahama so good for activities is the wide variety of possibilities here. Probably more so than any other island in the Bahamas. You get cultural experiences, kid-friendly activities, beach fun, shopping, food and more.