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Bahamas Travel Guide

25 Ultimate Things to Do in the Bahamas

The Bahamas have so much to offer, ranging from renowned beaches to stunning coral reefs. If you're headed to the Bahamas for the first time, here are 25 fun things you can't miss.

In the Bahamas, paradise awaits not just on New Providence and Paradise Island but on more than 2,000 cayes and 700 islands cradled by technicolor turquoise waters. With so many gorgeous expanses, there’s an abundance of things to do in the Bahamas for couples, families, scuba divers, seafarers, cultural explorers, historians, and travelers keen on remarkable nature encounters.

Visit this archipelagic nation to swim with pigs in Exuma, blush upon seeing Harbour Island’s pink-tinted sands, plunge into underwater sinkholes (there are blue holes in the hundreds), stroll on secluded sandbars, swim near sunken shipwrecks in waters where pirates once roamed, and behold “the narrowest place on Earth.”

Don’t think that if you’ve seen one Bahamian island, you’ve seen them all. Read on for a selection of the best things to do in the Bahamas.

1 OF 25

Feast at the Fish Fry

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Ask where to eat and nine times out of 10, Bahamians will send you to Arawak Cay, also known as “The Fish Fry”. Heading there for authentic island dishes is one of the most delectable things to do in the Bahamas. Arawak Cay—named after the Indigenous Arawak people of the Bahamas—is convenient both because of its location on Nassau’s West Bay Street and the number of restaurants waiting to accommodate guests, local and visiting. If you like to eat where the locals do, you definitely need to make your way to this beloved spot.

You can settle at one restaurant, or go on a self-directed tour, trying something different at each stop along this strip. You obviously need to try fried fish, but there is a lot more to explore. Even if you’ve had rice and peas elsewhere, put peas and rice on your list because it really is different. Have a daiquiri from Twin Brothers, and be sure to walk over to Sky Juice King for sky juice (coconut water, condensed milk, and gin) which you can enjoy leaded or unleaded. Go hungry, and walk off the food hangover on the nearby beach.

2 OF 25

Step Into Primeval Forest National Park

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Established as a national park in 2002, the Primeval Forest National Park transports visitors to a New Providence of years gone by. Virtually untouched, it is 7.5 acres of diverse flora and fauna as well as impressive sinkholes and limestone caverns. Visiting this park is one of the best things to do in the Bahamasfor nature lovers and geology enthusiasts. Get lost in this time capsule, a previous version of New Providence with some of the only remaining Blackland Coppice forests on the island. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get a photo with The Mighty Mahogany, which is believed to be the oldest tree in New Providence.

3 OF 25

Make a Splash at Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark

WHERE: Paradise Island

Aquaventure at Atlantis is not your average water park. Visiting this 141-acre watery wonderland is one of the most fun things to do in the Bahamas for the whole family. Big and little kids will have a jolly old time on next-level waterslides and water rollercoasters with inviting-yet-frightening names like The Surge and The Drop. The Challenger is perfect for a sibling showdown, The Abyss brings the thrill you can only get from an almost-vertical 50-foot drop, and Leap of Faith delivers the most thrills. If you’re not staying at Atlantis, visit the Atlantis Adventures desk to purchase day passes.

4 OF 25

Enjoy Beach Hopping

Wondering what to do in the Bahamas? Start with beaches. There are pink, gold, and bleached white sand strands, each more alluring than the next, so you needn’t fall in love with just one. Even if you are staying at a beach resort, remember to get off the hotel property and venture out to public areas. You’ll probably see friends having barbeques, parents putting their toddlers’ feet in the water, children collecting shells, runners using the sand for resistance training, and families cooling off in shallow water. There may also be people selling snacks and bottled juices and water as well as water sports operators offering their services.

Every beach is different, and the features vary from shade provided by trees, privacy provided by hedges, the presence of rocks and seaweed, and even the temperature of the water. You may find that you love a particular beach for a completely unexpected reason. Be open, try new spots, and find a way to keep notes on them all. It’ll come in handy when you return.

5 OF 25

Swim With Pigs in the Exumas

WHERE: Exuma

Answering the question of what part of the Bahamas is the prettiest is an arduous task, but The Exumas might just be the answer. The three major areas—Great Exuma, Little Exuma, and The Exuma Cays—are stunning showcases of the Bahamas’ natural beauty with must-visit destinations like Thunderball Grotto (which appeared in James Bond movies and the 1980s Tom Hanks mermaid flick Splash), shark-filled Compass Cay, and Big Major Cay, an island uninhabited by humans but known for its imported population of swimming pigs.

Big Major Cay is also referred to as Pig Beach, and you can get there by chartering a boat or taking a guided tour. Exuma Water Sports has multi-destination aerial and boat tours to visit the pigs, see nurse shark shivers, and meet the iguanas known as Bahamian Dragons among other paradisaical adventures. There is also a posse of pigs on Ship Channel Cay. Let Powerboat Adventures take you there for a day of swimming with the four-legged animals, feeding stingrays and iguanas, and pinching yourself. Enjoy lunch on the private island, watch the conch salad show, and take advantage of the open bar.

INSIDER TIPIt is important to interact with the animals responsibly. Take cues from your tour guide and under no circumstances feed the pigs beer.

 Related: Should You Swim With the Pigs in the Bahamas?

6 OF 25

Walk On Picturesque Pink Sand

WHERE: Harbour Island

The Bahamas has no shortage of powdery white sands, so why not bask in the novelty of luxuriating on a pink sand beach? You can do that on Harbour Island’s appropriately-named Pink Sand Beach. The sand is more light pink than fuchsia, but a day spent on this three-mile gem is one you won’t easily forget. You can escape to this rose-hued beach by booking the Harbour Island Day Away package from Bahamas Ferries with a departure from Nassau. The three-hour boat ride to and from is comfortable and allows you to enjoy the beautiful Bahamian waters. Upon arrival, you’ll be provided with a golf cart to explore the island, and a lunch voucher is also included in the package.


7 OF 25

Stop by the Farmers Market at Doongalik

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Farmer’s markets are always fun to visit because you can chat with vendors, learn about products, see what everyone else is buying, and often find out where retailers get their inventory. The farmers market at Doongalik on Village Road always has smart, friendly vendors ready to talk about sourcing, testing, packaging, and everything else related to their products. You can find locally-grown produce, fresh bread, handmade goods like candles and jewelry, pepper sauces, and teas. There’s even a store—Craft Cottage—on the property where you can purchase perfect souvenirs made by Bahamian artists. Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., it’s a great place to spend an hour or two.

8 OF 25

Treat Yourself to Farm-to-Table Gelato

WHERE: Paradise Island

Tucked just behind the lobby of The Coral at Atlantis, Sun & Ice is easily the best ice cream spot on New Providence or Paradise Island. Bahamian chef Wayne Moncur uses fresh milk, cream, egg yolks, and cane sugar in combination with some of your favorite Bahamian ingredients—including fruit, teas, and spices—to keep you coming back for more. These farm-to-table treats are made in-house daily and their names will pique your curiosity. For example, the delicious irie nuts—with roasted peanuts, almonds, and pecans—has cultural significance as “Irie nuts!” is often called out by street vendors selling roasted peanuts, usually at traffic lights. Make it your mission to find the story behind each sweet treat before you leave.

9 OF 25

Comingle With Flamingos

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Spend a few hours with the Bahamas’ national bird at Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre, a tropical garden and rehab facility set on more than four acres in the heart of Nassau. You’ll get up close and personal with around 130 animals including lemurs, boa constrictors, peacocks, macaws, and iguanas, however, it’s the Barbie-pink marching flamingos that elicit the most “oohs” and “aahs.”

10 OF 25

Bounce Between Art Galleries

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

The art scene in the Bahamas is fresh and exciting, and there is always an exhibition to see. Start your art adventure at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) on West and West Hill Streets, a short walk from the number 10 bus stop on Bay Street. Housed in the historic Villa Doyle building that dates back to 1860, it is open Tuesday through Sunday. In addition to four gallery spaces indoors, it has a sculpture garden and an amphitheater.

From the NAGB, you can walk to D’Aguilar Art Foundation on Virginia Street (open on Tuesdays and Thursdays). From there, take a longer walk, east on Bay Street, to contemporary art gallery Sixty 2 Sixty and, if you’re lucky, you may meet gallery owner and artist June Collie whose vibrant work you may have already seen around town. To peruse pieces from celebrated local artists and attend workshops or sip and paint classes, go to Current Gallery & Art Centre at Baha Mar, a sparkling trio of hotels that collectively house the largest assemblage of Bahamian artworks.

11 OF 25

Try a Truly Bahamian Food Tour

Food tours are a fantastic way to gain intimate knowledge of a place. Not only do you get to engage with locals and try different dishes, but you can learn about the culture and history as you walk around and hear stories about restaurants, recipes, and things you stumble upon along the way. Tru Bahamian Food Tours has offerings to suit different interests, from food tastings and lunch to cooking classes and cocktails. This is one of the best things to do in the Bahamas for epicureans that wish to taste the tropics, lunch and learn, and have an authentic and mouth-watering journey around downtown Nassau.

INSIDER TIPWith Tru Bahamian Food Tours, you can even enjoy a virtual experience if you’re not able to travel just yet, or want to get a jumpstart on the island experience before your arrival.


12 OF 25

Shop for Tropical Threads at Bahama Hand Prints

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

It is always nice to have a special keepsake from each place you visit. Sometimes it’s simply a fridge magnet or t-shirt, but there’s nothing like something handcrafted and unique that brings back the memory of a place. For the latter, make time to drop by Bahama Hand Prints which has stores on Nassau and the backward C-shaped island of Eleuthera. This isn’t one of those places that you dash into and leave 10 minutes later with something you hastily grabbed from a shelf. You’ll want to look carefully at all of the fabrics on the walls, and take your time choosing the right wallet or tote bag. Then you’ll get distracted by the aprons and wonder if you really need another maxi dress or sport shirt.

13 OF 25

Eat All the Fresh Conch You Can

You could visit the Bahamas without trying conch, but you’d probably regret it when people ask you, over and over again about how it was when you did. Conch (pronounced “conk”) is prepared in many different ways, and it’s highly recommended that you try a few. For the most adventurous, conch salad is the way to go. Not only is it delicious, but watching the preparation is an experience all on its own.

The conch is diced, mixed by hand with diced tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, and heaped into a bowl where fresh lime and orange juice are squeezed over it. Salt is sprinkled and goat pepper is added to your specifications. Even if you don’t like pepper, trust the conch salad expert to give you just enough. This is like no ceviche you have ever had. If you aren’t fond of raw seafood or want to spend less on the experience, go for conch fritters. Be sure to use the calypso sauce because conch fritters just aren’t the same without it.

Inhale all the conch goodness at Dino’s Gourmet Conch Salad stand, The Poop Deck, Crab-n-Tingsv near Junkanoo Beach, or pick a restaurant at Arawak Cay.

14 OF 25

Get the Perfect Vacation Photos

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Got a fancy camera? Bring it with you. From idyllic beaches and beautiful sunsets to old buildings and straw plaiting, there is more than a memory card full of moments to capture. Check out the forts, Rawson Square, Government House, fish being scaled at Montagu Dock, majestic trees, and police directing traffic downtown. Sometimes just carrying a camera around gets you to slow down and makes everything you see more magnificent. No camera? Maybe you should be the one being captured. Book a Bahamian photographer like Blair J. Meadows to take photos of you on one memorable day in one of the most beautiful places in the world.


15 OF 25

Hit the Slots at This Island Casino

WHERE: New Providence & Paradise Island

Do you like taking chances? Does the sound of slot machines and winnings coming through give you a thrill? Enjoy the live competition and intensity at the tables? While you’re in the Bahamas, get into one of the casinos and see if you can win another trip to the land of sun, sand, and sea.

The main Atlantis casino slot machines are open 24/7 and tables are open from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m., and there is poolside gaming (craps and blackjack) at The Cove Pool, which is exclusive to guests of The Cove. Over at Baha Mar, the casino boasts over 1,100 machines and 119 live tables with 18 various games. There is even a beachside gaming pavilion at the sprawling water park, Baha Bay, and you can visit the Sportsbook to watch and wager on a wide range of sports. Wherever you choose, you can get lucky in luxury.

16 OF 25

Have a Stress-Free Beach Day at Salt Cay

WHERE: Blue Lagoon Island

We all love an easy day when we don’t have to think about much, but sometimes even a beach day can seem like a lot to plan after a few days of fast-paced vacationing. Blue Lagoon Island—otherwise known as Salt Cay—is a great option for this point in your trip. A getaway to this turquoise water dreamboat island is one of the best things to do in the Bahamas when you simply wish to toss a towel, put on some sunscreen, put a good book in a bag, and just go without worrying about food, drinks, or entertaining the other higher-energy people on your trip.

Located three miles north of Nassau, you’ll take a short boat ride to the privately-owned island where lunch is taken care of and there are lots of lounge chairs, picnic tables, and hammocks to sway in. The lagoon is calm which is perfect for non-swimmers and watchful parents. You can go for a carefree beach day on a hidden beach or opt for interactive programs like stingray, sea lion, and dolphin encounters. If you want to keep young adults busy while you relax, this is a great way to do it.


17 OF 25

Tour John Watling’s Distillery

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

A spirited time is on the cards when visiting John Watling’s Distillery which is a top recommendation of cultural things to do in the Bahamas on a cruise stop. Located on the historic Buena Vista Estate within walking distance of Nassau’s cruise port, this small-batch rum distillery is open seven days a week except for national holidays. Drop by the distillery on Delancey Street for a free tour to find out exactly how sugarcane molasses, charcoal, coconut, and sisal come together to make what you’ll savor and buy to share with friends when you get back home.

18 OF 25

Dive Into Dean’s Blue Hole

WHERE: Long Island

Do you like to find the most talked-about places in the world? Then plunge into Dean’s Blue Hole which is said to be the deepest blue hole in the world. Blue holes are circular marine sinkholes with entrances beneath the surface, and this one dips 663 feet (202 meters) into the Atlantic Ocean. Plunging into these crystal-clear waters is one of the most exhilarating things to do in the Bahamas for divers and it has been the scenic setting for many freediving competitions and record attempts. To see this watery dip, you’ll have to go to Long Island, an 80-mile slice of sandy paradise that was previously called Fernandina after Christopher Columbus changed it from its original moniker given by the Native Arawak people, Yumba.


19 OF 25

Visit 'The Narrowest Place on Earth'

WHERE: Eleuthera

Get the distinct feeling of being in two places at once on the island of Eleuthera when you go to the world-famous Glass Window Bridge. Just thirty feet wide, the bridge is the only connection between the settlements of Gregory Town and Lower Bogue in Eleuthera and it is referred to as “the narrowest place on Earth”. Crossing this slither of land by bike, car, or on foot is one of the most unique things to do in the Bahamas or perhaps the world. The deep blue Atlantic Ocean on one side makes it seem almost impossible to believe that the turquoise waters of the Bight of Eleuthera on the other side are real. When you’re on the Glass Window Bridge, you are standing between two wondrous worlds.

20 OF 25

Feel the Joy of Junkanoo

The ultimate Bahamian event is the Junkanoo Parade and competition that takes place on New Year’s Day and Boxing Day (December 26) at 2 a.m. Groups spend months together, designing and creating costumes out of cardboard, styrofoam, crepe paper, beads, and feathers, choreographing and practicing dances, and arranging and practicing music (with goatskin drums, cowbells, whistles, and brass instruments) to fit their top-secret themes. When they bring their performances to Bay Street, loyal fans greet them with unbridled enthusiasm. The event lasts for hours and hours, past daybreak. Throughout the year, there are smaller performances on holidays, at celebrations, and on hotel properties. Find out when and where you can catch one and be there; it is absolutely worth missing whatever you’d planned to do before.

INSIDER TIPAt any time of the year, you can learn about the history of the Bahamas’ centuries-old Junkanoo tradition at the Educulture Junkanoo Museum in downtown Nassau.

21 OF 25

Devour Rum Cake

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Sampling local culinary delights is naturally one of the best things to do in Nassau, Bahamas’ colorful capital, so make a beeline for The Bahamas Rum Cake Factory to try a beloved Bahamian specialty. Rum cake can be found throughout the archipelago—Mom’s Bakery on Little Exuma is highly recommended as well—but only this one has been declared “the official rum cake of the Bahamas.” Marinated in Ole Nassau Bahamian Rum and infused with top-secret ingredients, you can purchase your crumbly heaven in an array of flavors ranging from chocolate and caramel to pineapple and piña colada.

22 OF 25

Learn About the History of Pirates and the Bahamas

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Lawless pirates and privateers like Henry Morgan, Blackbeard, Calico Jack, William Catt, and Mary Read plagued the waters of the Bahamas during the three-decade age of piracy in the late 1600s and 1700s. Those maritime plunderers may be long gone but their legacy lives on at Pirates of Nassau, an interactive museum. Families looking for fun things to do in the Bahamas should come here, tour the exhibits, learn about women pirates in the Bahamas, and pick up some booty from the gift shop. A stone’s throw away, you can drink in history at Pirate Republic Brewing, the Bahamas’ first craft brewery. Sample a Black Beer’d Stout, Gold & Haze of Piracy, and other pirate-inspired sips and embark on the brewery’s history-filled tour.

23 OF 25

Ascend and Descend the Queen’s Staircase

WHERE: Nassau, New Providence

Fort Fincastle was constructed atop Nassau’s highest point, Bennett’s Hill, circa 1793 to protect the city from the aforementioned pirates. Within it is a limestone staircase hand carved with pickaxes by hundreds of slaves to create a direct access route to the fort in the event of an attack and it is known as the Queen’s Staircase or “66 Steps.” It took 16 years to construct this 102-foot highway which was named after Queen Victoria, who had signed the declaration to abolish slavery in 1837 when she ascended the throne. The staircase sits in a palm tree-filled tropical grotto located within walking distance of the cruise port, making it one of the top things to do in the Bahamas on a cruise stop.

24 OF 25

Go Birding at Lucayan National Park

WHERE: Grand Bahama

Grand Bahama is a true birder’s paradise with the second-highest number of native bird species to be found on any of the archipelago’s 700 islands and 2,000-plus cays. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Grand Bahama is to spend a day at Lucayan National Park—one of three national parks on the island—cavorting between pine forests and pilgrimage-worthy secluded beaches like Gold Rock Beach where scenes from The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest were shot. Go birding in the park to spot Bahama swallows, olive-capped warblers, red-winged blackbirds, and purple martins in iridescent black and blue plumage. This 40-acre nature sanctuary also boasts one world’s largest underwater cave systems—two are open to the public—and it’s the Bahamas’ second most visited national park.

25 OF 25

Find Underwater Ecstasy in Andros

WHERE: Andros

Visiting the Andros Barrier Reef is one of the best things to do in the Bahamas for keen snorkelers and avid divers. Measuring 190 miles long, it’s the third-largest barrier reef in the world after Australia and Belize’s aquatic goldmines. Pick up gear from the various dive shops on Andros, or stay at a hotel with on-site diving amenities such as Caerula Mar, Kamalame Cay, or Small Hope Bay Lodge and head out to explore an opulent aquarium. You’ll see fascinating fish flitting around, examine wrecks and blue holes and make lasting memories underwater.