The Bahamas Is Home to Beautiful Blue Waters, Luxury Resorts, and Private Islands — How to Plan the Perfect Trip
Paradise is closer than you think. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, better known simply as the Bahamas, is a chain of islands spread out over 500 miles in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical and laid-back, these Caribbean islands are a favorite for vacationers because they're easy to reach yet provide an experience far removed from the ordinary, thanks to turquoise waters, warm, salty breezes, and plenty of opportunities to learn how to enjoy life to the fullest from the locals.
Freeport on Grand Bahama Island is located just 70 nautical miles off the east coast of Florida, and many Floridians boat there on a regular basis. For everyone else, however, it's just a quick flight away. Plan a trip to the Bahamas for your next getaway and you'll see that you don't have to travel far to feel like you've landed in paradise.
Best Time to Visit the Bahamas
The best time to visit the Bahamas depends your goals. Peak season here lasts from mid-December to mid-April, when the weather is at its most glorious. However, this is also when crowds descend on the islands, so you'll have to contend with higher prices and other tourists.
It never gets much colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the Bahamas, so there's never a bad time to visit if you're worried about winter, but keep in mind the Atlantic hurricane season stretches from June to November. Traveling during hurricane season doesn't guarantee a storm will disrupt your trip, but it's worth considering as you book.
The summer months are also rainy, so you may get wet, but there will be fewer crowds and more affordable rates. Tourist numbers dip lowest in September and October, so plan a trip during these months if you want to visit the Bahamas when crowds are at their thinnest.
Best Things to Do in the Bahamas
If you're traveling to the Bahamas, you likely want to visit the beach. Luckily, all the islands in the Bahamas have beautiful beaches to enjoy.
Other popular pastimes include boating (you can book a day trip or charter a private boat with a captain), visiting private islands, and diving and snorkeling. If it's an activity in or on the water, you can (and should) probably do it in the Bahamas. The water here is clear, warm, and beautiful — not to mention filled with sea life.
One of the most popular things to do in the Bahamas is visit the Atlantis, a resort located on Paradise Island in Nassau. Many flights stop in Nassau, and there's a lot to do whether or not you stay on the property, making it a convenient destination. Plus, you don't have to be a guest to purchase a day pass to the thrilling 141-acre Aquaventure water park. There's also a casino, golf course, and multiple restaurants to enjoy.
Other draws in Nassau are the Versailles Gardens, Bahama Barrels winery, tours of John Watling's Distillery, and learning to make your own chocolates at Graycliff Chocolatier.
Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island is another favorite, though most people only visit this island if they're stopping here on a cruise. You can kayak through mangroves or simply stroll around. If you're in Nassau, Clifton Heritage National Park is great spot to snorkel because there are underwater statues.
Where to Stay in the Bahamas
Atlantis on Paradise Island is one of the most popular resorts in the Bahamas — Prince William and Kate Middleton even spent the night on a recent tour of the Caribbean. There are five different hotels on the massive property, so you can choose the vibe that's right for you. Flying into Nassau will get you closest to the hotel.
Baha Mar is another popular option for those flying into Nassau. This 1,000-acre luxury resort complex is located on the island of New Providence and has three different hotel options to choose from. There are also properties on other islands, from Bimini to Harbour Island, plus private islands if you want to splurge.
How to Get to the Bahamas
When you think of the Caribbean, you might assume flying is the only way to get there. And while this is true in some cases for the Bahamas — across the islands, there are 20 international airports with regularly scheduled flights from around the world — many choose to travel there via cruise.
Keep in mind that Nassau is the most connected destination with regular flights and a busy airport, while getting to the Out Islands can be a bit more complicated (though totally worth it). Just be aware that your flight to the Out Islands will probably connect via Nassau. Private charters are also a popular option.
Though flights in and around the Bahamas are available, cruises are perhaps the most common way to get to the Bahamas.
Most cruise lines include the Bahamas on their Caribbean routes, and some even have private islands, including Disney (Castaway Cay), Carnival (Half Moon Cay), Norwegian (Great Stirrup Cay), Princess (Princess Cays), MSC (Ocean Cay — MSC Marine Reserve), and Royal Caribbean (Perfect Day at CocoCay). Virgin Voyages also has a private destination on Bimini called the Beach Club at Bimini.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville brand even has a Margaritaville at Sea cruise ship that sails from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island on a regular basis.
Bottom line, if you want to visit the Bahamas, you have options when it comes to how to get there.
The Bahamas Islands
There are more than 700 islands in the Bahamas, so you're not going to be able to visit them all in one trip. Some are unpopulated and tiny, but there are a few major hot spots.
The main islands are the Abacos, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exumas, Grand Bahama Island, Paradise Island, and New Providence Island, home to Nassau.
There are also thousands of little cays sprinkled throughout, so if you visit the Bahamas and fall in love — a very likely scenario — you'll have enough places to explore for a lifetime.