The best islands of The Bahamas offer an abundance of stunning beaches, untouched nature, and unique biodiversity. This archipelago has over 700 cays and islets scattered across the Atlantic Ocean’s turquoise waters. While the major islands offer modern conveniences for visitors, you can still find pockets of seclusion for a true escape.

    The Bahamas serves as a natural playground for those who love the sea and sand. Surfing, snorkelling, diving, and deep-sea fishing are just some of the many activities to enjoy throughout your stay. Head inland to find natural wonders like deep holes, underground caverns, and mangrove estuaries. This guide to the most beautiful islands to visit in The Bahamas shows you all the great islands and their features.

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    New Providence

    The Bahamas’ main commercial hub

    New Providence is one of the best islands in The Bahamas – in fact, it’s usually the first stop for most visitors to the archipelago. It's the place where you'll find Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas. This vibrant city is known for its impressive range of resort casinos, upscale restaurants, and unique museums. A must-do is climbing up the 18th-century Queen's Staircase to Fort Fincastle, where you can enjoy gorgeous views from the highest point on the island.

    From Nassau's harbour, numerous glass-bottom boats shuttle you to natural reefs in the archipelago. Of course, stretches of golden sand are plentiful on the island of New Providence, with standouts like Cable Beach, Caves Beach, and Delaporte Beach.

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    Paradise Island

    Luxury villas, extravagant casinos, and couture boutiques

    Paradise Island is closest to New Providence, thanks to 2 footbridges connecting Nassau to this tropical getaway. The Atlantis Bahamas serves as the island’s centrepiece, hosting an oceanside resort, a 24-hour casino, an aquarium, marine habitats, a private 18-hole golf course, and a marina. Families are drawn to Aquaventure, the resort’s 153-acre waterpark with various lagoons, swimming pools, river rides, and waterslides.

    Paradise Island is one of the most upmarket resorts in The Bahamas. You can find jewellers and designer boutiques in Crystal Court Shops, plus a wide range of handicrafts and food options at Marina Village. Attractive sites are plentiful on the island, including Versailles Gardens and French Cloister, Cabbage Beach, and Cove Beach.

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    Grand Bahama Island

    A natural playground with mangroves, underwater caves, and pristine beaches

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    The Grand Bahama Island appeals to adventurists and those looking for a secluded getaway in The Bahamas. Freeport and Lucaya are the island’s main towns, both of which offer excellent accommodation, shopping, dining, and nightlife options. You can head over to the southern shore to find over 50 miles of secluded beaches, too.

    The 530-square-mile island is also home to the Lucayan National Park, located 25 miles northeast of Freeport. You can spot a variety of native and migratory birds in this 40-acre mangrove forest, explore underwater limestone caves, and unwind on the pristine sand of Gold Rock Beach – it’s the shooting location of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise.

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    Andros

    Enjoy life like a local on The Bahamas’ largest island

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    Andros is an archipelago consisting of 3 main islands, 5 national parks, dense mangrove estuaries, and hundreds of islets. It’s known as The Bahamas’ largest unexplored island, making it a popular getaway for adventurists looking to get away from busier islands in the Caribbean.

    The Central Andros National Park has an extensive network of trails through mangrove flats, while Blue Holes National Park has dozens of circle-shaped blue holes or underwater caves. Divers often come to Andros to explore the Andros Barrier, the 3rd largest reef system in the world.

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    photo by Scott Clark (CC BY 2.0) modified

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    Harbour Island

    Known for unique pink beaches and pastel-hued cottages

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    Harbour Island is one of the smallest islands in The Bahamas, with a population of around 2,000. Dunmore Town is the island’s sole town, where British colonial-style buildings, pastel cottages, gourmet restaurants and bougainvillaea line the streets.

    Pink Sands Beach lies on the eastern coast of Harbour Island. This stretch of rose-coloured sand is a truly gorgeous sight, thanks to a unique mix of foraminifera, coral, broken shells, miniature rocks, and calcium carbonate. If you want to explore the Atlantic Ocean, opt for a sailing or snorkelling trip to Devil's Backbone – this thriving coral reef system is a great place to spot turtles and stingrays.

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    Cat Island

    Excellent for disconnecting from the world

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    Cat Island is one of the few parts of The Bahamas that’s hardly touched by tourism. While many come here to decompress and disconnect, there’s still plenty to see and do on this 150-square-mile island. Hikers can climb a stone staircase to the summit of Mount Alvernia, which rises 206 ft above sea level.

    Some of the island's most peculiar sites are Boiling Hole, Mermaid Hole, and Big Blue Hole, all of which are said to be the home of mythical sea creatures. If you want to spend time in the water, you can join diving excursions to numerous sites off the coast of Cat Island. A popular spot is Santa Maria Teresa, the wreck of a 360-ft Spanish battleship sunk in 1898.

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    7

    Exuma

    Home of the iconic swimming pigs of the Bahamas

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    Exuma is an Out Island of the Bahamas, comprising as many as 365 cays. Great Exuma and Little Exuma are the most famous and inhabited islands in the Exuma chain. You can find a wide range of accommodation, dining, and nightlife options on both islands, though Exuma’s main attraction lies at Big Major Cay.

    Head over to Pig Beach on Big Major Cay for a chance to swim with adorable Bahamian pigs. They’re quite docile creatures, though we advise against feeding them. You can spot a variety of marine animals in Exuma, including turtles at Bay Beach, nurse sharks at Compass Cay, and stingrays at Stocking Island.

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    Eleuthera

    Pink-sand beaches and inland swimming holes

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    Eleuthera is part of The Bahamas’ Out Islands, which include Harbour Island, Windermere Island, Current Island and Man Island. Gregory Town is the island’s main town, where you can see pastel cottages dotting its steep hillsides. There are also acres of pineapple plantations, giving the town its nickname of “Pineapple City”.

    Like most islands in the Caribbean, Eleuthera has miles of golden sand overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A unique feature of the island is the Glass Window Bridge, a strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Bight of Eleuthera. It’s a stark contrast of deep blue and bright turquoise – bring your camera to capture this unique sight.

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    Long Island

    Home to one of the world’s deepest blue holes

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    Long Island lies in the southern part of The Bahamas. The 80-mile-long island has contrasting facades, with calm sandy beaches along its western side and rocky headlands along its east. You can lounge on the soft sand or get active with a wide range of activities, including fishing and diving.

    With a depth of over 660 ft, Dean's Blue Hole is one of the world’s deepest marine caverns. You can find this natural wonder in a bay about 4.4 miles west of Clarence Town, the capital of Long Island. Wade in the shallow waters to the edge and safely swim across the 115-ft-wide hole.

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    10

    San Salvador Island

    Pristine beaches with interesting historical lore

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    San Salvador is a hilly island with an interesting legend. It’s supposed to be the first land spotted and visited by Christopher Columbus during his first expedition in 1492. You can head to Long Bay and find a large white cross that marks the exact spot where Columbus made landfall.

    Although it's one of the smallest populated islands in The Bahamas, you can find plenty of activities and cultural gems throughout your stay. San Salvador Island has miles of secluded beaches backed by shallow coral reefs, allowing snorkelers to observe a variety of marine creatures. Popular stretches include Snow Bay Beach, Grotto Beach, and Long Bay Beach. If you’re an experienced diver, over 50 dive sites are just off the coast.

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    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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