The Bahamas are a perennial favorite weekend destination. And with mega-luxe resort Baha Mar slated to open later this year, the destination, we predict, will be more popular than ever. But as always in the Bahamas, it’s easy to escape the crowds. That’s good news for travelers looking to get away from it all without going very far at all.
On every island in the Bahamian chain there’s something for adventure-seekers, but why not go where no one else is—and have the waters, mountainsides and swimming holes all to yourself? Cat Island calls.
Dry Heads Reef: Go snorkeling in some of the shallowest waters in the Bahamas, reached through Fernandez Bay.
Mount Alvernia: Climb the highest point in the Bahamas and check out Hermitage, a former religious retreat.
Mermaid Hole: The blue holes of Cat Island—natural limestone pools and tunnels where the ocean flows in and out—are great to explore. Mermaid hole is rumored to be home to a fantastical longhaired she-fish.
Fernandez Bay Village: Featuring cozy cottages or private villas, Fernandez Bay also offers kayaks to guests for exploring the shallow waters around the island, as well as paddle-boarding tours, and hiking itineraries. 7744 Peters Rd. (242) 342-3043; fernandezbayvillage.com; doubles from $250.
Eleuthera Island is practically synonymous with honeymoons, with its white sand beach and 80-degree water. It’s the ideal place to de-camp for a romantic getaway.
Glass Window Bridge: From this natural “bridge” north of Gregory Town—the narrowest point on this narrow island—you can see the Atlantic on one side, and Exuma Bay on the other.
Lighthouse Beach: This stretch of sand in South Eleuthera, near Cape Eleuthera, is known for pink sands and its eponymous lighthouse.
Beachhouse Tapas: At Governor’s Harbor, this open-air Spanish tapas restaurant flaunts its views of pink sand and blue blue sea. Banks Road; (242) 332-3387.
Oceanview Farm: Horseback riding tours of the island depart twice daily; $100 per person. oceanview242.com.
The Cove, Eleuthera: Take your pick of private villas or sumptuous rooms at this island resort 50 miles east of Nassau, which features bicycles, free wi-fi, iPod checkouts, and kayaks. Gregory Town; 93-23-335-5143; thecoveeleuthera.com; doubles from $319.
A plethora of all-inclusive resorts make the Bahamas typical family fare, but there’s plenty for parents and kids to do off campus here.
Dolphin Experience: On Blue Lagoon Island, across the bay from Nassau, even the most timid of swimmers can play with the dolphins. dolphinencounters.com.
Yoga Babies: Across the bay from Nassau, Sivanada Ashram offers yoga retreats with programs oriented specifically to young yogis. sivanandabahamas.org.
UNEXO: Underwater Explorers Society, in the Port Lucaya Marina, offers dolphin swimming and scuba exploration for all ages. unexo.com.
One & Only Ocean Club: Not just for honeymooners, this family-friendly all-inclusive has a kids-only pool and a Jean-Georges restaurant with children’s menu. Casino Drive, Paradise Island, Nassau; (242) 363-2501; oneandonlyresorts.com; doubles from $600.
Credit: National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy
Islands are never cheap, importing, as they do, much of their produce and dry goods. But Long Island, Bahamas, especially off the beaten path, offers some wallet-friendly options.
Max’s Conch Bar & Grill: This thatched roof haunt has some of the best (and cheapest) conch fritters in the islands. Queens Highway, Deadman’s Cay.
Dean’s Blue Hole: You’ll find the deepest “blue hole” (a 663-foot-deep sinkhole), which also doubles as an amazing natural swimming pool, just west of Clarence Town. It’s a major draw for snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
Long Island Museum: Mapping Long Island from pre-Columbian era to the present, this institution shines the spotlight on local music, indigenous peoples, and shipwrecks. ammcbahamas.com.
Conception Island: Weather permitting, charter a boat from the water sports office Stella Maris Water Sports at Stella Maris Marina (Ocean Drive; (242) 338-2055; stellamarisresort.com) to sail 1.5 hours north of Long Island out to this beautiful deserted isle known for its birds, exceptional snorkeling, and isolation.
Gems at Paradise Bay: All of the rooms at this beachfront property have balconies overlooking the bay. Clarencetown; (242) 337-3016; gemsatparadise.com; doubles from $50 (two night minimum).