Where to stay in the Bahamas
Are you traveling to this amazing heaven and you are not sure about where to stay in the Bahamas? What is the best island in the Bahamas?
No wonder, this is an archipelago with 700 islands, some of them not even inhabited. And they all differ from each other.
But, don’t worry, this is not a guide to all these islands.
I write here only about the best islands in the Bahamas, highlighting the best reasons to visit them and book your accommodation.
Every trip is different. You may travel in a couple, as a single, or with kids. There are options for everyone, including popular child-friendly islands and romantic boutique stays.
And you know the best? I have just finished updating this guide, no old stuff!
And now let’s move to the meaty stuff
Table of Contents
- 1 Best islands in the Bahamas to stay for couples, Families and nightlife
- 2 Where to stay in the Bahamas first time – Nassau Island
- 3 Best Islands in the Bahamas for couples
- 4 Best island in the Bahamas for families
- 5 Where to stay in the Bahamas for diving
- 6 Where to stay in the Bahamas for relaxing – Grand Bahama Island
- 7 Best place to stay in the Bahamas close to nature – Cat Island
- 8 Where to stay in the Bahamas for beaches – Long Island
- 9 Essential tips about the Bahamas
- 10 FAQ on the best places to stay in the Bahamas
- 10.1 What are the transportation options within the Bahamas?
- 10.2 What are some family-friendly activities in the Bahamas?
- 10.3 What are some popular day trips in the Bahamas?
- 10.4 What are the dining options in the Bahamas?
- 10.5 What is the currency situation in the Bahamas?
- 10.6 What are the customs and taxes in the Bahamas?
- 10.7 What are the emergency services like in the Bahamas?
- 10.8 What is the tipping etiquette in the Bahamas?
Best islands in the Bahamas to stay for couples, Families and nightlife
This is a big archipelago of over 700 islands. The best island in the Bahamas where you can spend your holiday really depends on the type of trip you are planning to do and the time of the year you are visiting the Bahamas (see differences here).
There are islands and cays which work great for families, others for couples, others for activities, etc.
To make things simple you can see the Bahamas islands and cays grouped as:
- New Providence Island: this is the island with the capital, Nassau, and the largest International Airport in the country. It’s connected by two bridges to the world-famous Paradise Island, and by boat to other smaller beautiful islands and cays such as Discovery Island or Salt Cay. This is a fantastic place for a first-time visitor to the Bahamas and for families with kids (the Atlantis Resort is only a 30-minute taxi drive from the International Airport). New Providence is often known and called, improperly, Nassau Island.
- Grand Bahama Island: right in the north of the archipelago, less than 50 nautical miles from the USA, with the second most populous city, Freeport, and an International Airport (flights from the US and Canada). It’s more of a relaxing and laid-back place if compared to New Providence. The infrastructure is very good around the city and Lucaya Beach, with plenty of cruises coming on a daily basis. The weather is similar to South Florida and the Florida Keys with very mild winters (hardly below 16 Celsius).
- Out Islands: all of the other islands except the ones just above mentioned. There are over 700 of them, however, only a few are inhabited, and a bunch of them offer accommodations and activities. You can reach a few with the Bahamas Ferries. Domestic flights are also available as well as small international flights from Florida. Usually, the Out Islands have the best nature with some great boutique accommodations and small-size resorts. Expect great diving and snorkeling.
Here is a quick table of the islands I am going to mention in this guide (ranking 1 to 5, with 5 being the best).
Click on the island name for a direct link to the island description, with the pros and cons of staying there.
|Island Name||Highlight||Suggested Hotel||Short Description||Beaches||Bars/|
|Nassau Island||Best island in the Bahamas for the first-time trip||Saunders Beach Cottage||Most populous island, offers a variety of experiences||5||5||5||3||4|
|Paradise Island||Best island in the Bahamas for beach and nightlife||Atlantis Cove||Offers a mix of beach and nightlife||5||5||5||1||3|
|Exuma Islands||Best island in the Bahamas for romantic couples||St Francis Resort||Secluded islands, perfect for couples||5||3||2||5||4|
|Harbour Island||Best island in the Bahamas for a glamour stay||Coral Sands Hotel||Glamorous island with beautiful beaches||5||5||4||3||3|
|Grand Bahama||Best island in the Bahamas for families with small kids||Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach||Ideal for relaxed beach time with small kids||5||4||3||4||3|
|Long Island||Best island in the Bahamas for families in a resort||Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort||Secluded and quiet island with a beautiful beach||5||3||2||5||3|
|Andros Island||Best island in the Bahamas for diving (reef)||Nathan’s Lodge||Home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef||4||3||2||4||5|
|Bimini Islands||Best island in the Bahamas for diving (shipwrecks)||Hilton at Resorts World Bimini||Known for shipwrecks and close proximity to Miami||4||4||4||3||5|
|Cat Island||Best island in the Bahamas for nature||Rollezz Villas Beach Resort||Secluded, very quiet, flashpackers||4||2||1||5||3|
And, here is a quick summary based on the experience you want to have . Scroll down to read more details about the island
- Where to stay in the Bahamas first time: New Providence Island, also called Nassau Island, is the most popular destination in the Bahamas. It offers so many beaches and vacation options. It may have not that unique feature of other islands, however, it’s easily reachable through the popular Nassau Internation Airport. The island is also connected with a bridge to the popular Paradise Island where you will really find all you want, for a family stay as well as for great nightlife
- Best Islands in the Bahamas for couples: if you are looking for a romantic and secluded getaway then Exuma Islands is the answer. Otherwise, look into Harbour Island for a glamorous stay. Paradise Island is instead the place to be in the Bahamas for young couples that look for a mix of beach and nightlife.
- Best Islands in the Bahamas for families: for relaxed beach time with small kids then the Grand Bahama is the perfect place to be, especially if you stay in an AirBnb. If you look for a more secluded place then Long Island is the answer. And finally Paradise Island for an easy stay with plenty of kids’ activities.
- Where to stay in the Bahamas for relaxing: honestly, it’s difficult to find any island where you can’t relax. In saying that, Grand Bahama Island looks really disconnected from the entire world, even though you will find here Freeport, the second biggest city in the Bahamas. Moreover, the International Airport is well connected to both the USA and Canada, making a trip here so simple…and relaxing.
- Where to stay in the Bahamas for diving: there is a wide choice however two islands stand out in the list, Andros Island for the marine parks and Bimini Islands for shipwrecks.
- Best place to stay in the Bahamas close to nature: Cat Island is as amazing as secluded, hard to get around along the only unsealed road and with a few little options as it will be just you and nature around.
- Where to stay in the Bahamas for beaches: This is a hard choice and, as you can imagine, very debatable. Long Island is my choice for the amazing and world-renown Cape Santa Maria Beach
- Best island in the Bahamas for a honeymoon: Long Island is the perfect place for a secluded and romantic time. Don’t be surprised if you see one or two celebrities around looking for some private time.
- Where to stay in the Bahamas on a budget: The best option is Nassau Island. This is not only because it has some of the cheapest accommodations as the Ocean Front Hostel and the Kendra’s Place Studio but also because you will not have to fork out more money for the inter-islands trip. Food, drinks and nightlife are also cheaper on Nassau Island.
- Where to stay in the Bahamas to swim with pigs: indeed it’s an interesting swim that you can have and it’s in the Exuma Islands and more precisely in, obviously, Pig Island (Pig Beach). The only way to reach the place is by boat from Staniel Cay.
- Best island in the Bahamas for vacation from Miami: The Bimini Islands are just 2 hours by boat from Miami, as simple as that, seat and relax and you will be in no time on a beautiful beach.
Where to stay in the Bahamas first time – Nassau Island
This is probably your entry point to the Bahamas, especially if traveling with an international flight (except Florida/USA which is directly connected to a few islands in the Bahamas).
New Providence Island is a populous island, home to over 250,000 people, living mostly in Nassau City, the capital.
On this island, you can really find everything you want, a fun place for a family trip, a romantic stay in an isolated beach or cove, and a great destination for singles looking for nightlife.
It’s a great spot for a first-time visitor to the Bahamas as it provides all the experiences you expect from a sub-tropical island.
On the north coast, you can find one of the most iconic beaches of the Bahamas, Cable Beach, a 2 miles long white sand heaven where, besides the big names hotel (Hilton, Radisson, etc), you can also experience the Crystal Palace Casino.
It’s also well connected (a 30-minute drive from the international airport) to Paradise Island and the world-famous Atlantis Resort, a marine park “on steroids” with multiple hotels.
The question now is where to stay in Nassau with such a wide choice. Here below my tips.
Best family stay on Nassau Island
I would not hesitate to suggest the Saunders Beach Cottage, a spectacular holiday home meters from the beach, a great base to enjoy your stay
Another option is the Harborside Atlantis, a mega park/resort with plenty of attractions for kids of any age and adults too.
There are many restaurants to make happy every child and a few kids clubs to leave the parents some time off. Can you ask for more?
Best nightlife stay on Nassau Island
For a nightlife stay, you can book at the Atlantis Cove and you will love every single night (check out the Sea Glass Bar) with the possibility to spend the day in one of the many pools or at the nearby casino.
Alternatively, stay in Goodman’s Bay or Cable Beach and grab a quick taxi to one of the many great bars and clubs (have a look at Bambu).
In Cable Beach, you should book at the Sandyport Beach Resort, an adult-only resort, one of the gems of the Bahamas.
Best romantic stay In Nassau Island
For a romantic stay, check out one of the beautiful resorts on Cable Beach, where you can also have an after-dinner drink.
Alternatively, go west to one of the less touristy beaches where you can find a few boutique hotels as the Ocean West Boutique Hotel.
Best Islands in the Bahamas for couples
Here are a few suggestions which are also based on where you depart from and the type of experience you are after.
Exuma Islands (romantic and secluded getaway)
If you are after a romantic secluded getaway, then the Exuma Islands are the ultimate destination.
This is the best place to stay in the Bahamas for couples looking for some privacy or on a honeymoon.
Located south of Nassau, the islands stretch for over 60km. Some of them are interconnected, meanwhile, most are only reachable with a boat trip.
The interesting thing is that over half of the Bahamas Islands are in the Exuma archipelago. Some of them are so tiny though.
Exuma is also called “The Paradise” and for a good reason, the beautiful landscape seems painted with only a different tone of blue.
The water is nice and shallow, great for snorkeling. Diving is great but not as deep as in other islands.
It used to be a very exclusive set of islands, however, in the last few years, they opened up to a wider clientele that goes beyond the celebrities.
If you are driving around the main island then you may have a stop at the Haulover Bay Bar & Grill for a nice drink and a small selection of food. The view is insane.
The St Francis Resort is one of the best destinations in Exuma. An experience to remember forever, from the lovely rooms to the unique beach and blue water (see photos here), not to forget the amazing fresh food. This is a place to experience at least once in life, even for just a short stay
Harbour Island (glamour stay)
If you are looking for a glamorous stay, with beautiful beaches around and a selection of restaurants and cafes to spend some time, then Harbour Island may be just what you are looking for.
Dunmore Town, once the Bahama’s capital, retains all that colonial history that you can hardly find it anywhere else in the world.
Harbour Island is also connected with direct flights from Florida and a short boat trip from the airport which is going to take you straight away in the holiday mood.
The main town, Dunmore Town, was once the capital of the Bahamas.
Now it is a beautiful place of renovated colonial houses that host just over 1600 residents and a few tourists, although in a limited number.
It’s like suddenly walking back in history. Very romantic.
The beach, all around the small island, is also unique in style, with the sand in a pastel pink color (for the presence of the foraminifera).
The only mean of transportation is the golf buggy, which makes you forget any stress back at home.
Harbour Island is home to some great chic hotels, mostly dedicated to couples looking for a romantic and glamour getaway or singles searching for a relaxing time
The Coral Sands Hotel is one of the most renowned destinations in Harbour Island and for a good reason. It has all you want for a memorable stay. From the lovely swimming pool to the private beach, not to mention the colonial architecture both on the exterior and the interior of the resort. There is so much glamour in this place! Absolutely a must experience.
Once in Dunmore Town, you should not miss a coffee at the Bahamas Coffee Roasters, probably the best on the island, and the burritos are fantastic if you are looking for a bite too.
For lunch, add to your bucket list the Sip Sip Restaurant, the view is absolutely stunning and the Quesadilla Lobster is to die for.
For a local simple restaurant have a look at Brian BBQ. The number of Bahamians seating at the table is a good indication of how good is the food.
A trip to Harbour Island requires a flight to the much bigger Eleuthera Island (from Nassau and a bunch of American cities) and a short boat journey from there.
Paradise Island (mix of beach and nightlife)
If you are looking for some nightlife then Nassau and Paradise Island are the best places to stay in the Bahamas.
Paradise Island is so well connected by bridges to the capital and the Airport, making the transfer from the flight to the hotel a super easygoing process
Talking of accommodations, Atlantis Cove is a must-try with a beautiful pool, great rooms, fantastic nightlife, and all the activities of Paradise Island. Surely, you will not get bored. And from time to time they have great deals too!
Best island in the Bahamas for families
Whenever I travel with my kid the first thing I check is the swimming pool. I know he loves it. All children do. More than an amazing room or a lovely breakfast.
In the Bahamas, though, the sea is so incredible that the pool is not anymore so highly ranked for me.
Moreover, the water is usually so shallow that I do not need to worry that much, and no waves too. Ideal situation.
Paradise Island (Easy stay with plenty of kids activities)
For a super-easy stay then I would suggest looking at the Atlantis Resort.
There is a great waterpark, multiple pools, a wide choice of restaurants and food and a cinema too.
Kids clubs are also available to have some time off. It doesn’t matter what age are kids, be sure they will love it.
And it’s located on Paradise Island, just a 30-minute drive from the Nassau Internation Airport. Can you ask for more?
There are two hotels to stay for families, the Bay View Suites (budget-conscious) and the Harborside Atlantis; I would personally not recommend the Cove Atlantis, which has a more adult clientele and a young party lifestyle.
Grand Bahama (relaxed beach time with small kids)
The Grand Bahama is the ideal island if you are looking to spend some relaxing time with your kids, more beach time, with sandcastles, and lots of swimming.
The great thing about this island is also that it has the second biggest International Airport in the Bahamas and, if you are based in the USA or Canada, you may opt for a direct flight which is going to save time, money and ultimately you will have an easy life with the kids, without long stop-overs.
The Port of Call is a holiday home, just a 15-minute drive from the Airport, on a marvelous beach with a lovely pool. With direct access to the beach, the house is almost built over the sand.
The grocery store is 10 minutes away which makes it so convenient. A great apartment, easily accessible, at a great value for money, especially considering you could take a direct flight there.
Long Island (secluded with a resort)
For an organized relaxing secluded stay then the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, on the north end of Long Island, is a great option.
This resort is seating on an amazing powdery beach, rated as one of the best in the world.
Just imagine yourself opening the windows and the doors in the morning to a white beach and turquoise blue sea. It’s a great location to play with children and just have a fun time.
Water sports activities are also available for more mature children. Lovely food too, especially considering how secluded is this place.
Where to stay in the Bahamas for diving
The Bahamas are heaven for any scuba diver that wants to explore marine parks and old shipwrecks.
The marine life is unique, especially considering that here you find the third-largest barrier reef in the world.
These are the two islands that attract divers on a regular basis.
Andros Island (for the marine parks)
Andros Island is the largest and least densely populated Out Island in the Bahamas.
Nature is the number one reason to stay on Andros Island. Especially for its Marine Parks.
Andros is the home of the world’s third-largest barrier reef, with unique marine life.
Moreover, Andros has over 50 underwater blue holes and over 170 inland blue holes, of which some of them are interconnected. And a few of them have still to be explored.
In this environment, you well understand how diving is the number one reason to visit Andros Island.
In a few cases, you can visit the upper part of these blue holes even with some simple snorkeling.
Fishing is another popular activity on the island.
Nathan’s Lodge is a great spot to be based on the island with a beautiful beach right in front of the accommodation.
Bimini Islands (for shipwrecks)
Bimini is the closest set of islands to the USA and Ernest Hemingway’s home for 2 years.
He was so in love with deep-sea fishing that he could not leave such an amazing place.
And still today, the Bimini Islands are probably the most famous islands in the Bahamas for fishing.
The many shipwrecks around Bimini are a great attraction for recreational scuba diving.
The S.S. Sapona, close to the coastline is one of the easiest dives that can be done also by beginners.
The Bimini Barge is another incredible dive for more experienced divers, just off the edge of the Great Bahama Bank.
The most beautiful beach in Bimini is probably Luna Beach, in the north end. A drink at the Beach Club at sunset time is mandatory.
There are 3 islands, the North (where you can find most of the resorts), the South, and the East Bimini Island.
The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini is a great hotel to spend your holiday (in the North Island). You have 4 swimming pools to choose from (the best on the rooftop for sunset drinks). Rooms are spacious and sparkly clean. The beach is to die for. Great place, especially considering it is 2 hours by boat from Miami.
The Bimini Islands are reachable from Nassau or from Florida/USA with a ferry (from Miami in 2 hours with FRS Ferry) or a short flight (Silver Airways or Tropic Ocean). So easy.
There are two airports, one in North Bimini Island and one in South Bimini Island. There are taxis/buses waiting for the flights to take you to the resort, also using the short ferry that connects the two islands.
Where to stay in the Bahamas for relaxing – Grand Bahama Island
Freeport is the second-most populous city in the Bahamas however it does feel just like a big village, very laid-back and easy-going.
The Grand Bahama Island is very popular with cruises stopping there, on a daily basis, and families looking for a relaxing time.
The south coast offers the best beaches, with white sand and incredibly blue water.
The international airport is well connected with the USA and Canada, making it an ideal destination even for a short stay. A relaxing stay with a relaxing short trip.
The most popular area in the Grand Bahama is Lucaya Beach and that is where you will find the highest concentration of accommodations.
Drive east, or west, of Freeport and you will hardly meet anyone
The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach is a great hotel to relax and disconnect from the world. The beach pool is just perfect and the service is friendly and very attentive. The rooms are very spacious too.
Best place to stay in the Bahamas close to nature – Cat Island
Cat Island is one of the least developed islands in the Bahamas, with just a few laid-back guesthouses far from any kind of civilization.
It’s probably the best island to stay in the Bahamas if you are after the Robinson Crusoe experience, though with a guesthouse to sleep and eat.
The price range is a reflection of the visitor type, mostly flashpackers, and a few backpackers.
A flip-flop, a couple of T-shirts, and a swimsuit are all you need in Cat Island.
And if you are looking for a little town……you may be disappointed because there is none.
The Rollezz Villas Beach Resort is an amazing place to get completely isolated from the world, close to nature, enjoy the beach, and share that with just a bunch of other visitors. You will have the beach almost to yourself. Yvonne and Carl, the owners, always do their best to please any request. Such a dreamy location.
Where to stay in the Bahamas for beaches – Long Island
Long Island is an amazing and scenic island south of Nassau with a beach, Cape Santa Maria Beach, regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world by magazines and websites.
The Tropic of Cancer almost divides Long Island into 2 parts.
The coastline can’t be so different from each other. The east side is made of cliffs and hidden caves with big waves crashing onto it. The west side is based on beautiful coves and long sandy gentle beaches.
This island hosts a wealthy clientele looking for boutique accommodations and secluded coves without the need for an expensive luxury lifestyle.
The Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort is recognized as one of the loveliest places to stay on earth, without costing an arm and a leg.
If you are a diver, you don’t want to miss Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world.
There are a couple of drawbacks in Long Island.
As the names say, the island is very long and the roads are not the best. This means that moving around takes time.
There is no International Airport. You would have to fly into Nassau and from there a domestic flight. Or a boat, from Nassau or Exuma, just a few nautical miles away.
The Lighthouse Point Restaurant is a great place for a drink during the day and some food at dinner time. Great view, as more often than not in the Bahamas
Essential tips about the Bahamas
The best time to visit the Bahamas is between December and March when the temperature is very mild, between 16-18C(62F) at night and 26C(78F) during the day.
This is also the high season with the most expensive prices.
The shoulder season, between April and June, is also a great time to be in the Bahamas, with sporadic rain and still not too hot.
You can read more here on the best time to visit the Bahamas
- The Bahamian Dollar is connected to the US dollar, exactly one-to-one. Most of the shops accept both, however, it may happen to find a place accepting only the local currency.
- In rare cases, shops may not accept the US$100 banknote. My guess is that they cannot check if they are counterfeit. Try to get a small change too, this may help to speed up payment.
- Neither Uber nor Lyft or any other rideshare is available in the Bahamas.
- When you grab a taxi, just make sure to ask prior to the trip what is going to cost. This may avoid bad surprises, like everywhere in the world.
- The buses are quite cheap at $1.30. Another great option to move around. You can check the Official Transportation page for plenty of info.
- Tipping works similarly to the USA. In restaurants, tips may be already included in the bill.
- Both accommodations and excursions should be booked well in advance to avoid disappointments, especially during the American holiday period. My tip here is to plan well ahead.
- And lastly…..there is a lot to do on land but the best part comes from the ocean
FAQ on the best places to stay in the Bahamas
What are the transportation options within the Bahamas?
There are several transportation options including taxis, rental cars, public local buses, and inter-island transportation services.
What are some family-friendly activities in the Bahamas?
There are numerous family-friendly activities and attractions to explore, starting from the beach and all the related water sports. Stay in Nassau for shopping and waterparks
What are some popular day trips in the Bahamas?
There are several popular day trips for those on a short business trip or cruise ship travelers. These include visits to Half Moon Cay, a private island visited by several cruise ship lines, and Disney Castaway Cay, a 1000-acre island in the Bahamas operated exclusively for the Disney Cruise Line.
What are the dining options in the Bahamas?
The Bahamas offers a wide range of dining options, from local food to fine dining with a view. There are also options for cheap eats and breakfast places.
What is the currency situation in the Bahamas?
US Dollars are equal to the Bahamian Dollar 1:1 and are readily accepted throughout the Bahamas. There is no need to change your money if you are traveling from the US.
What are the customs and taxes in the Bahamas?
All licensed hotels collect a hotel tax of 6%. Arrivals – Customs and Duties for tourists are pretty lenient. US travelers can bring back $800 worth of goods duty-free.
What are the emergency services like in the Bahamas?
Nassau Island is the best place to stay in the Bahamas if you want to be close to Emergency Services.
What is the tipping etiquette in the Bahamas?
All food will have an automatic gratuity added to the bill. It’s important to check your bill to avoid double tipping.