5 Best Hidden Spots to Visit in the Bahamas
When most people plan a trip to the Bahamas, they look at two islands –
New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama.
But here’s something you probably didn’t know:
There are 700 islands, islets and cays in the Bahamas – the so-called Out Islands – each offering its own unique sights, tastes and beaches to explore.
From deserted pink-sand beaches, to remote cays only reachable by boat, the Out Islands of the Bahamasare the perfect Caribbean destination (without the crowds). Looking for dive spots you’ll have to yourself? There are find plenty here, including a few famous ship wrecks. Or maybe you’re after a quiet, fresh-caught lunch in a beachside cabana. There’s one on every beach.
Which islands can you not miss? These are five off-the-beaten-path Bahamas islands that offer the best of the best in Caribbean travel. They’re quiet, they’re all naturally beautiful, and they all offer a little slice of paradise to adventurous travelers.
- Cat Island
Cat Island boasts some of the most laid-back vibes in the Bahamas. It’s the perfect island to beach bum it.But if you’re up for an adventure there’s plenty to take in.
One option: Spend an afternoon hiking to the highest point in the Bahamas, Mount Alvernia. At the 206-foot summit, you’ll find a beautiful historic monastery, the perfect destination for a photo pit stop. But if you want to the stick to the water, you’re in luck. Cat Island is an offshore fishing mecca. Charter a local fishing boat and spend the day fighting champion marlin, bluefish, mahi and wahoo.
- Getting There: Cat Island has two airports, with domestic and international service available.
- Highlights: Stop at Da Pink Chicken, a favorite island beach shack, for a fruity cocktail and colorful conversation. Sunsets at Old Bight Beach are also a must.
- Rum Cay
One of the Bahamas’ best-kept secrets, Rum Cay offers the perfect dash of Caribbean solitude. The 30-square-mile island – located a 20-minute flight from San Salvador – has a seasonal population of just 300. And that means you’ll have many of the island’s beaches to yourself. (Flamingo Beach, a sandy pink cove on the west side, is a blissful escape.)
Yet, it’s the diving that draws most visitors to Rum Cay.The island is home to some truly impressive dive sites, including the HMS Conqueror. A British naval ship, the HMS sunk in 1861 in about 30 feet of water. That makes the HMS the perfect wreck to explore for divers of all skill levels.
- Getting There: Charter flights available into Port Nelson, as well as occasional commercial service.
- Highlights:The island is sparsely populated, which means the beaches are usually deserted. Picnic Bay Beach and Flamingo Beach are the best. Nearby Conception Island National Park is another must-see attraction.
- Compass Cay
If there’s one island to see in the Exumas – the exclusivecollection of islands favorited for Bahamas yacht charters – it’s Compass Cay. A private island (don’t worry, you can daytrip here for $10), the Cay offers plenty of exclusiveBahamian experiences.
Start at Compass Cay Marina and swim with the resident nurse sharks. Although they’re tame, they can be quite big – as large as 14 feet! If you have time, venture out to Rachel’s Bubble Bath,a shallow, sapphire-blue lagoon just a short hike from the marina. At high tide, the waves create a bubbling ripple effect that turns the lagoon into a warm bubble bath.
- Getting There: Visitors fly into Staniel Cay, a 20-minute boat ride from Compass Cay. Charters and boat rentals available in Staniel.
- Highlights:Take to the island’s vast trail network, which can take you to all corners of the cay. Compass Peak, at 92-feet, offers spectacular views. Plus, the trails will connect you with all 13 of the island’s beaches.
- Pelican Cay
If there’s one place to snorkel in the Bahamas, it’s here.Pelican Cay lends its name to the adjacent Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park. The park encompasses more than 2000 terrestrial and marine acres, including some of the Bahamas’ best snorkeling reefs. The park is home to 177 species of fish, marine mammal and coral, including one of the largest populations of green turtle in the Caribbean.
After a day in the water, relax on Pelican Cay. (There are two actually, the smaller Middle Pelican and the larger South Pelican). On South Pelican, the beach is soft, and the views are to die for. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon picnic.
Getting There: Pelican Cay is only reachable by boat. Charters operate out of Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbor (both of which have airports with daily service). Ferry service is also available from Grand Bahama to Marsh Harbor.
Highlights:Snorkel to the south of the nearby Sandy Cay, where the reef is said to be its most vibrant and the fish the most abundant. If you’re an early riser, catch the sunrise from the beach at Pelican Cay.
Located 50 miles east of Nassau, Eleuthera sports a much quieter vibe. That makes Eleuthera the perfect place to relax. Spend an afternoon atthe Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, the Bahamas best botanical gardens. The preserve is a must-visit, a great place for a family stroll.
Later if you’re up for adventure, rent a 4×4 and head out across the island to Lighthouse Beach. A bit of a trek, the beach is every bit worth the effort. Lighthouse Beach is one of the most picturesque beaches in all of the islands, and it’s almost always deserted.
Getting There: Eleuthera has two airports, with daily flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Nassau. Ferry service from Nassau is also available.
Highlights:Head to the north part of the island and go to the Sapphire Blue Hole, a deep aqua-marine swimming hole you can swing or jump into from the cliffs above. The swimming hole is near the Glass Window Bridge, a natural geolocation bridge; one of the narrowest points of the island, you can see both the Atlantic and Caribbean, a beautiful juxtaposition.
Adventure Awaits in the Bahamas’ Out Islands
Bottom line: If you want a one-of-a-kind Bahamian vacation, head to the Out Islands. Away from the bustle, you’ll find plenty of one-of-a-kind adventures, have the beaches to yourself, and experience true solitude.
Katja Kukovic has had a lifelong passion for boating and has been involved in the charter industry for over fifteen years. Katja is a founder of Worldwide Boat, an independent booking agency for luxury crewed yacht charters.