The 5 Best Beaches in the Bahamas, According to a Local

A local's guide to the Bahamian coast, from Grand Bahama down to Inagua.

Two tourists sitting on colorful chairs under palm tree in the Bahamas

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I am not ashamed to count myself in the company of Bahamians who are beach snobs. Living in a county where beautiful beaches are as common as ships in the harbor, how could I not?

Beaches are not all we have in the Bahamas, but they are an undeniable part of what makes our islands so spectacular. To our minds, the tiny grains of sand and the unique medley of colors and depths across our coastlines and shallow flats are simply matters of divine creation. So take your pick, from Grand Bahama in the north to Inagua in the south. Choose between party beaches, surfing beaches, secluded beaches, and temporary beaches (they emerge and subside with the flow of the tides). All of them are special, but here are five of the best beaches in the Bahamas.

Pipe Creek Sandbar, Exuma Cays

Aerial view of Exuma Cays where Pipe Creek is

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Piloting a boat around the Exuma Cays is treacherous for novice navigators because the waterways here are a labyrinth of shallows. But this is exactly why these islands have such extraordinary sandbars: The shifting currents reveal islands of sand at the same place and time during each tidal cycle. Of the 365 islands that make up the Exuma Cays, one of the most well known is Big Major Cay, where the Bahamas' famous swimming pigs live. But to get a more authentic experience, steer the boat toward the Pipe Creek sandbar, a spacious patch of soft, supple sand off Little Pipe Cay. This beach disappears when the tide rises, so savor it while you can.

Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island

Stairs leading down to pink-sand beach at dusk

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The aptly named Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island is neither for sport nor for partying. This is a beach strictly for rest and relaxation. This three-mile stretch of smooth sand — whose pink hue comes from the seashells of microscopic organisms called foraminifera — ranges from 50 to 100 feet wide depending on the tide. Even at its narrowest, there's more than enough room for everyone.

Pro tip: If you're headed to Pink Sand Beach to snap a souvenir photo, do so right after the tide goes out. The pink of the sand is most vibrant when it's wet.

Cape Santa Maria, Long Island

Palm trees and boardwalk on Cape Santa Maria, Bahamas

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Many beaches have sand that's described as powder-white, but there are a couple of beaches in the Bahamas, I've found, that take the "powder" descriptor to a new level. Tropic of Cancer Beach on Little Exuma and Cape Santa Maria on the northern end of Long Island have what I would describe as powder-soft sand. The latter is a crescent-shaped, two-and-a-half-mile romantic stretch with picturesque sunsets, turquoise water, and gentle breezes. You will find peace, quiet, and privacy along this beautiful, silky-sand beach.

Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands

The Jumemtos Cays and Ragged Islands are almost completely off the grid. There are countless beaches on this 110-mile long archipelago. Whether you visit Little Ragged Island (privately owned but unoccupied and free to visit), Raccoon Cay, Hog Cay (also privately owned), Nurse Cay, Flamingo Cay (home to an exclusive fishing and hunting resort), or Double Breasted Cay, the beaches will all provide seclusion and sanctuary.

Shroud Cay, Exuma Cays

Aerial view of Shroud Cay surrounded by turquoise water

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On the north end of Shroud Cay, a small river known to locals as the “washing machine" zips around a little peninsula and empties into Exuma Sound. If you jump into the river on one side of the peninsula, the whirlpool-like current will wash you around to the other side — fun that never gets old no matter what age you are. The uninhabited, boat-access-only island sits at the northern end of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park. The island is intersected by sandy-bottomed, mangrove-lined creeks that are uniquely crystal clear. The chance to ride a dinghy through one of these magical channels is reason enough to visit.

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