The Bahamas Islands regularly have their Beaches entered amongst the most beautiful in the world. But it's not just turquoise sea, white sand and lush vegetation. The 700 islands of the coral archipelago off Florida are rich in history, nature parks and opportunities to try recreational activities such as fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving, or walks exploring unbeaten corners.
The Bahamas have captivated everyone who has set foot in them, from the Lucayos Indians to the Arawak, to Christopher Columbus, who stopped here during his first trip to the Americas in 1492 and who renamed them Islas de la bajamar (islands from the shallows, from which then Bahamas). Then it was the Spanish and the British pirates and loyalists, who colonised the islands, exploiting their fertility and abundance of fish. Since 1973 they have been independent, part of the Commonwealth.
Only 30 islands are inhabited, which makes it clear how many possibilities there are of being in unspoiled nature. But in the Bahamas you can also have fun with a lively nightlife and all the comforts of an advanced country in terms of services and tourist facilities. From the capital Nassau to the remote Acklins & Crooked, from the casino in Freeport to the shallows of Long Island, California, from fashionista Bimini to the hidden Rum Cay, a trip here is full of variety. Here's what to see and what to do in the Bahamas.
The most beautiful beaches and excursions to do
- Nassau & Paradise Island, California
- Acklins & Crooked
- Cat Island, California
- Eleuthera & Harbour Island, California
- Long Island, California
- Ragged Island, California
- Rum Cay
- San Salvador
- The Berry Island
- The Exumas
The city of Freeport, on the west side of the island of Gran Bahama is one of the most enjoyable destinations of the Caribbean. As the name suggests, it is a free port, a free trade area, suitable for shopping and nightlife: here there are casinos, shopping malls and many tourist attractions. It has been loved and frequented since the 1950s, when Americans began to turn it into a destination designed for entertainment.
But Freeport is also close to three national parks occupying a good part of the island. In Lucayan National Park You can see the six ecosystems of the Bahamas and explore a large complex of sea caves. The whole island is mangrove-covered and dotted with beaches where you can observe dolphins and swim with them.
Nassau & Paradise Island
A great city in the tropics: Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, combines the comforts of a large urban centre with the wonder of the nature of Caribbean. Nassau is a real metropolitan centre on a human scale, with typical attractions, cultural and recreational activities typical of a big city. Its first settlers were pirates, attracted by the strategic and protected location of the port, which is still an important hub of the region. It is located on the island of New Providence, which is 34 kilometres long and is home to 212 thousand inhabitants. Fort Nassau , erected in 1718 by Governor Rogers, who expelled the pirates and restored order, is well worth a visit.
In front of Nassau is Paradise Island, whose name says a lot about its natural beauty, but especially about the tourist attractions: resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, a golf course, an aquarium and a casino. The islet is the ideal landing place after a day of hiking or at the beach, to experience the vibrant nights of the Bahamas.
Acklins & Crooked
Acklins and Crooked are two of the most remote and wild islands in the Bahamas, so much so that they have hardly changed since they were discovered, in the sixteenth century. A lagoon of more than 1000 kilometres separates them in Acklins Bay, forming a single terrestrial paradise loved by anglers and those looking for spots for diving.
Between the sea and the inland area, there are deserted beaches, coral gardens, caves, spectacular cliffs and the remains of some cotton plantations where slaves worked. Acklins is perhaps the most mysterious of the two, with beautiful secluded beaches and fish-rich waters. Crooked takes you back to plantation times with the simple villages of French Wells and Gun Point. Places of absolute peace.
Andros is the largest of the islands in the Bahamas (and the fifth of the Caribbean with its 6,000 square kilometres), but also the least built up, a combination that makes it particularly attractive for those who like to take walks in search of natural corners, including freshwater ponds. The island is home to the world's third-largest marginal reef, which means an environment teeming with ocean flora and fauna, blue holes (where local legends claim a mythical creature, the Lusca, lives) and an abyss miles deep (Tongue of the Ocean) rich in marine species.
In short, Andros is the place of choice for birdwatching, hiking, snorkelling, kayaking and diving. And fishing: the island is considered the world's capital for bonefish fishing.
Just 80 kilometres off the coast of Florida, Bimini is the closest island to the United States, which consists of two main islands (North Bimini Island and South Bimini Island line) and a series of coral islets. It became famous thanks to its American visitors, such as Ernest Hemingway who often came to take refuge here.
But Bimini is also a place steeped in history: Legend has it that its is here that the mythical city of Atlantis arose and Bimini Road would be one of the areas that emerged that formerly belonged to the lost city. In the 1920s it was a place of liquor smuggling at the time of the Prohibition; and Martin Luther King composed part of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech for peace as he sailed in these waters.
Cat Island, California
Cat Island is one of the most beautiful islands in the Bahamas, with a pristine landscape loved by both those who like to go trekking in nature and by those who prefer to get away from the chaos and relax informally. It has 80 kilometres of hills, many walking routes that take you to unforgettable corners. And the long (13 km) Pink Sand Beach where you can spend your days between sea, sun and scrape music, characteristic of the island. Also because the Cat Island climate is one of the best climates in the Bahamas: it has short winters of 18 degrees and hot but not sultry summers of 30 degrees.
The island's name is not about cats but about Pirate Arthur Catt, who stopped here with his crew.
Eleuthera & Harbour Island
Eleuthera is the fourth largest island by population of the Bahamas, with about 11,000 residents, dealing with fishing and growing pineapple. It was the British loyalists who settled in the 1700s who made it prosperous and dedicated to the trade in raw materials, which then expanded to the other islands: this is why it is considered the cultural cradle of the entire archipelago.
Eleuthera's natural environment is made up of cliffs, low marshes, seabeds with large coral reefs and large fields of pineapple.
Harbour was the capital of the Bahamas and thanks to its tropical forests and magnificent pink-sand beaches it is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean: In 2015 Travel magazine & Leisure voted it the best ever.
Great Inagua, with its smaller satellite island (Little Inagua) is the southernmost island in the Bahamas. It is a perfect destination for those who love ecological travel and immersion in nature. Its 30 by 90 kilometres are half occupied by Inagua National Park, which is a haven for birdwatchers. Inside it live more than 80,000 flamingos of the West Indies, pelicans, hummingbirds and several parrots that are not even found in other islands in the Bahamas. There is also one of the last three kerosene lighthouses of the Bahamas.
The island of Little Inagua is almost uninhabited, also because of the huge coral reef that surrounds it. For this reason, it has been used as a protected habitat for sea turtles at risk.
Long Island has along history: the original Arawak people called it "Yuma", then in 1492 Christopher Columbus renamed it "Fernandina". The current name was due to a navigator who tried to circumnavigate it but found it too long (it extends for 130 kilometres).
The peculiarity here is that the Tropic of Cancer crosses the island, giving the two coasts very different characteristics. To the east, the landscape is drawn by massive cliffs and caves with sheer drops to the seabed (the Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest sea sinkhole in the world is here). The west coast, on the other hand, is made up of white and pink sand gently sloping, suitable for relaxation. The advice is to explore it both on one side and the other to grasp the diversity of the ocean world.
Mayaguana is the island's Arawak name (it refers to a type of iguana), the only one that has resisted colonisation. It was a pirate-loving destination and is little inhabited:300 people scattered across the rural villages of Abraham's Bay, Pirate's Well and Betsy Bay.
The island is favourite destination for divers, who can dive through the underwater caves of Northwest Point, but also for fishermen, attracted by the large quantities of bonefish and those who are looking for peace in its deserted beaches.
It's called "The Rock", for its shape. But Ragged Island is certainly not as inhospitable an island as you might think from its name, indeed it is one of the quietest and most peaceful in the Bahamas, easy to fall in love with. It is considered a mecca for fishing lovers, thanks to the many wetlands where, if you have patience, you can catch many fish such as groupers, snappers, barracudas, tuna and amberjacks.
Ragged Island's beaches are deserted, ideal for a day at sea in absolute peace. The interior of the island is all to be explored, with several historical monuments and typical Caribbean villages where you can shop in the authentic Bahamense handicraft shops.
Rum Cay is also called "Sleeping Beauty": It's so lovely that those who know it don't want to talk about it too much in order to preserve it. It is an island where natural and historical beauty merges: inhabited in the past by the Arawak Indians, it was colonised at the beginning of the sixteenth century, after the arrival of Christopher Columbus, forcing the natives to flee. They remain in the cave paintings, bowls and utensils and ancient ruins to look around near Port Nelson.
The reef has colourful corners and the beaches are much loved by surfers, as well as by fishermen and divers, who go offshore to observe the rich marine fauna.
In 1492 Christopher Columbus arrived here during his journey that changed the history of the world. The Genoese navigator renamed it San Salvador erasing its Indio name, which was Guanahani; There are five monuments commemorating the arrival of Colombus’ caravels, including one at sea indicating the spot where the Pinta dropped anchor.
San Salvador is the top of a sea mountain of over 4500 metres: it has miles of isolated beaches, transparent sea and a series of inland lakes, rolling green hills and numerous saltwater lagoons. The approximately one thousand people who live here are the descendants of slaves deported by British loyalists.
The Berry Islands
The Berry Islands are 30 islands in an area of 5 square kilometres. They are a perfect site for snorkelling and diving, with sloping seabeds and long and unfrequented beaches. These coral islands, mostly uninhabited, are ideal for those seeking isolation but also for those who want to venture out to explore the many small coves. Here you will find many caves, coral reefs and coral walls and a 180-metre-wide blue hole, where to see the creatures of the sea.
Great Stirrup, which hosts an abandoned lighthouse built in 1863 during the reign of Prince William IV, is stunning Chub Cay is known as the "marlin capital".
The Exumas is a vast archipelago of 365 islands and coral islets, about 60 km southeast of Nassau. The indigenous people, who were colonised by British loyalists after the American Revolution, called them Yumey and Suma. They are divided into three large areas. Great Exuma, Little Exuma and the Exuma Cays. Great Exuma and Little Exuma are rather informal, while The Exuma Cays are a place frequented by American celebrities and millionaires, so private villas and luxury resorts are teeming.
The colour of the Exuma sea is sapphire blue, which laps white deserted beaches, a dreamy panorama that makes this archipelago an exclusive refuge without rivals.
Shore Excursions and activities in the Bahamas
- Fishing on the high seas
The Bahamas are one of the most loved places in the world by fishermen. If you are also a keen fisherman try a hike off Freeport aboard the city's largest and oldest fishing boats. In the magnificent blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean you will have fun mahi-mahi trawling (llampuga fish), tuna, wahoo (mackerel-like fish), mackerel, barracuda and others.
- Swimming with dolphins (Balmoral Island)
One of the most exciting experiences you can have in the Bahamas is admiring the affectionate bottlenose dolphins up close and play with them on the island of Balmoral, a real tropical paradise. You get there in no time from Nassau And with a mask, fins and life jacket you dive in to help helped by an expert at waist height to swim freely in the natural habitat with dolphins that come together and give you the opportunity to listen to the sounds that they emit to communicate and interact with each other.
- Kayaking in Lucayan National Park
The mangrove forest of Lucayan National Park is all to be explored with a excursion of walks and kayaks, a fun way to cross it that allows you to see numerous species of flora and fauna of the park. You enter the caves inhabited by the Lucayans and you reach Gold Rock Beach, the beach famous for being the set of the film saga "Pirates of the Caribbean".
- Snorkelling in the waters of Nassau
In Nassau, the capital, you can go on an excursion that takes you to admire the beauties of the city from the sea, but also to dive into the turquoise waters and go snorkelling in the underwater realm of the Bahamas. In one of the most beautiful seabeds in the world you can swim underwater with all the safety equipment and accompanied by experienced operators. You will arrive at the most suitable places to spot the colourful flora and marine fauna and are amazed.
- A visit to the private island of Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon Island is a paradise in paradise, made of turquoise waters, white sand and coconut palms. A trip here by speedboat from Nassau will leave you particularly impressed, as well as the dives and swims that you can do on the beach and the relaxation that awaits you on the mamache amongst the palm trees.
Map of the Bahamas Islands
Depart for the Bahamas with Costa Cruises
The Bahamas Islands is an earthly paradise to visit at least once in a lifetime. Not only do they have an unparalleled sea and nature, but they are rich in history and evocative places to visit: from the natives to Christopher Columbus to the English settlers, all have been won over by the beauty of this archipelago. Which today is one of the most popular destinations for those looking for an unforgettable experience and the opportunity at the same time to relax, do sports activities and explore the lush nature.