A Guide to the Islands of The Bahamas

A Guide to the Islands of The Bahamas

Out of all of the places I’ve traveled, The Bahamas is one of my favorite places to visit. There’s much more to this island nation than just Nassau and the Atlantis resort, and if you love remote island getaways as much as I do, then you’ll enjoy reading about my list of the top islands to visit. 

Harbour Island

This island is famous for its Pink Sand Beach, and the sand really is PINK! The sand gets its pale pink hue from thousands of broken coral pieces, shells, and calcium carbonate materials left behind by tiny marine creatures with pink and white shells. The sand is incredibly soft, the ocean water is warm, and the reef is teeming with life. Most of the resorts on this side of the island gets booked up months in advanced, so plan accordingly. To get here, you must fly into Eleuthera Airport, take a taxi to the docks, and then get on a water taxi to take you to Harbour Island.

You can see where the sand meets the sea that it has a little more of a pinkish hue, but it’s difficult to tell from the photo

The other side of the island caters to diving! There are so many dive sites; from giant shipwrecks to colorful tropical marine life, it’s a fun spot to explore the ocean. Most of the places to stay on this side of the island are like condos so you can cook meals to save some cash. Getting around the island is super easy because of how small it is, so you can rent a golf cart and get down to the beach in no time. Harbour Island definitely attracts more tourism than other islands but you really can’t miss Pink Sand Beach. 

Staniel Cay

Two words: SWIMMING PIGS. It’s quite a sight to see pigs actually swim up to your boat, and once they figure out that you don’t have anymore food, they swim to the next boat. This island has definitely attracted more tourism in the last year because of Pig Beach, so we weren’t able to find a place to stay on the island. Luckily you can see everything as an easy day trip, but it’s definitely a place I would love to come back to and spend more time. 

I know, you’ve been waiting to hear how to see the swimming pigs of Staniel Cay. This island is even tinier than Harbour Island, so when you fly into Staniel Cay Airstrip in the Exumas, someone in a golf cart will take you down the road to Staniel Cay Yacht Club. From there, you can schedule a day tour at their water sports counter. The day tour also includes snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto, where the 1965 James Bond film, Thunderball, was shot. Staniel Cay is also famous for its schools of nurse sharks that you can swim with. 

The entrance of Thunderball Grotto

Long Island

Last but not least, Long Island is my favorite island of the Bahamas. I stayed on the northern part of the island in Cape Santa Maria, where they also have an airstrip nearby. There are two beaches in the north; The Stella Maris has stunning cliffs with a rocky beach and is home to the famous Shark Amphitheater, but if you’re looking for a great beach where the water is warm and clear and the waves are virtually silent, then Cape Santa Maria is the way to go. Not to mention, your bungalow is right on the beach! The Shark Amphitheater is a dive where they take you down to 30 feet and the dive master is covered in chain mail and feeds these sharks – from Gray Tip Reef Sharks to the occasional Bull Shark and Hammerhead, it’s a scuba diving must. They only do this dive twice a week so plan ahead.

Last but not least, Dean’s Blue Hole on the southern part of the island is the deepest blue hole in the world, plunging to a depth of 663 feet. It’s a famous mecca for free divers, as it hosts the International Free Diving Competition every year. I was lucky enough to meet freedivers from Sweden, Japan, and Venezuela that were out there practicing. Without any equipment, they dive to depths of almost 400 feet in a single breath. Dean’s Blue Hole is about a 2 hour drive from Cape Santa Maria, but you can also fly into Dead Man’s Cay Airstrip which is about 15 minutes away in Clarence Town. 

If you decide to drive down to Dean’s Blue Hole on the Queen’s Highway (the only road on the island, by the way) I highly recommend stopping at Max’s Conch Bar for the best Bahamian food! Max cooks fresh caught cracked conch, plantains, breadfruit chips, and ceviche right in front of you.  

Harbour Island, Staniel Cay, and Long Island are some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and even though it may not be easy to get to these islands, I highly recommend looking beyond staying at a high end resort in the capital in order to experience authentic Bahamian culture. 

15 Replies to “A Guide to the Islands of The Bahamas”

  1. Whenever i go to islands or beachy getaways, i always want to find something secluded and so this is a perfect guide if I ever get a chance to go here. Also, I managed to go to one beach with the talc like sand and it was the best experience I’ve ever had on a beach, so I know my first stop here!

  2. Oh, I really want to visit the Bahamas, and swimming with the pigs is on my bucket list! I’m just a bit worried that it’s gonna be too expensive for me. Do you think it would be possible to visit the Bahamas on a budget?

    1. The larger islands like Grand Bahama (Freeport) or New Providence (Nassau) you could definitely do on a budget! To be honest, since Staniel Cay (where the swimming pigs are) is a tiny island and a little more difficult to reach it’s on the pricey side. I think you can find the cheapest accommodations on Airbnb but they’re in the $100 range 🙁 I hope you get to go someday!

  3. Oh my god those pigs are just the cutest! I’ve seen them all over but have never found out how to get to this island- so thank you! The Bahamas sounds like our kind of place with tons of water activities and marine life. Pinning this for future reference!

  4. Wow, all of those beached look amazing! Is it an expensive place to visit? I would love to go one day, especially to Pig Beach – that’s something you certainly don’t see every day! 😉

  5. Beautiful photos, this is so topical for me at the moment. I have some time off and the Bahamas is one of my top choices but I just can’t afford the flights at the moment. I’m looking out for deals daily! I would love to visit, freedive in Dean’s Blue Hole and see the swimming pigs – so cute!

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