Planning a vacation can be exciting, but it’s also possible to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. How long you are going to be in the islands, what sorts of activities you enjoy, and where you feel like traveling will all play a part in your unique answers.
The Best Things to Do in the Bahamas: Our Recommendations
These are some of the top things you can do to make a trip to the Bahamas memorable.
1. Check Out a Blue Hole
Blue holes are circular pools of deep, blue water. These twilight blue bodies of water look like mystical portals and there are more in the Bahamas than anywhere else in the world.
A blue hole is an entrance to an underground cave or sinkhole. Some contain freshwater deposited by geological changes eons ago. Others are saltwater and can be found offshore in otherwise cerulean blue water. Many mix fresh and salt.
Inside a blue hole, you may see geological formations like stalagmites and mineral deposits against sheer, limestone walls. Many are home to stunning sealife like flitting tropical fish and moray eels.
Each island has a few and some have many. Andros, for instance, has over 200 throughout the island. They’re sought out by divers, but there is also a lot to see if you are a snorkeler or swimmer. At Treasure Cay Cove, for instance, you can drop into the water from a rope swing, then float in the water.
2. Go Deep-Sea Fishing
Deep-sea fishing is such a big deal in the Bahamas that competitive anglers flock there from all over for tournaments. It’s common to catch tuna, marlin, Mahi Mahi, sailfish and more.
The Bahamas allows you to apply online for a fishing permit before you even arrive. This way, you have it all sorted and aren’t spending precious vacation time on paperwork.
Are you a laidback angler just looking to get on the water? Check out a fishing charter. You can even find ones that will clean your catch so you can take it to a local restaurant to have it cooked.
Looking to test your skills against other fishermen? There are tournaments nearly every week of the year. Check online to see which contest is where, so you can schedule a chance to attend.
The diving in the Bahamas gets a lot of love. But, getting certified and renting tanks can be pricey. Snorkeling is way more accessible. Simple set-ups can be purchased at a bunch of different stores all around the islands.
If you go on a tour, they may have a set you can rent or borrow. I started snorkeling in Hawaii when I was a kid (and remained obsessed, even taking my snorkel and mask into the swimming pool back home).
My husband never tried it out until he was an adult and was a little intimidated his first time. But, it only takes a few minutes to figure out the basics.
After that, you can float around for ages just watching the undersea world go by. There are dozens of companies offering excursions to the many reefs around the islands. Check reviews online to choose one that offers the sorts of tours you want.
Many resorts and beaches also have great snorkeling right offshore. At Atlantis on Nassau, they have a lagoon area with a lot of bright fish and interesting rock formations.
Spanish Wells in Eleuthera has a number of great snorkeling spots, as well. Check local advice when you are going on your own. Make sure you pick a calm day and safe waters.
4. Visit the World’s Largest Underwater Statue
There’s no shortage of great snorkeling in the Bahamas. One of the most unusual attractions is Ocean Atlas, which is the largest underwater statue in the world. Ocean Atlas was designed by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.
The statue is located off the west coast of New Providence. Both snorkelers and divers can get a good look, as it is only 16 feet under the clear, blue water.
The statue can be reached from the beach. You’ll need to pay a small fee for access (and a little more if you need to rent gear). Then, you can swim out and see this unusual art installation.
5. Eat at the Freeport Fish Fry
A lot of the time, if you ask a Bahamian the best things to do in Freeport, they’ll say it’s catching a boat to one of the Family Islands. But, while you are in Freeport, plan at least one dinner at the fish fry at Smith Point.
This is a group of vendors where you can get snapper, mahi, pork, chicken, and other foods cooked in local styles. Outriggers is the most famous and popular option. But, there are plenty of smaller vendors with short lines and excellent food.
The sides are equally excellent, with choices that include peas and rice, sweet rolls, mac and cheese, and long stewed greens. Save room for guava duff for dessert.
Most people say to get there between 6 and 7 to get the best options. Some spots sell out fast. After dinner, head over to the bar side for music and dancing. Have a Kalik or a local cocktail like a goombay smash.
6. Listen to Some Music
Musicians and DJs in the Bahamas play music styles that include reggae, dancehall, rake and scrape, soca, and more. In Nassau, many of the big resorts have music most nights.
You can also head down Bay Street to see who is playing at places like Taste of Nassau, Waterloo, and Xscape. The Out Islands tend to be quieter, with fewer nightlife options.
That said, should you find yourself on Eleuthera on a Tuesday or Friday night, head over to Elvina’s Bar in Gregory Town. They have an open mic where you can hear lots of talented local musicians.
7. Walk on a Pink Sand Beach
It seems you can’t read a Bahamas destination list without seeing the phrase “white sand beach.” If you’re already from a location where beaches filled with white sand are the norm, how about a pink one?
Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island offers three miles of pale pink sand, gentle waters, and a quiet, laid-back vibe. It’s on the Atlantic side of the island and up to 100 feet wide in some areas. The pink sand is actually made up of tiny shells. Microscopic organisms called foraminifera live along reefs and under rocks.
When fish, currents, and waves knock them loose and their shells break down, this distinctive pink sand is the result. Pink Sands Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and with good reason.
8. Drink a Goombay Smash
Or a Yellow Bird. Or a Rum Runner (although, this last is actually a Florida Keys invention.)
Drinks like Sky Juice, Bahamas Mamas, and others typically mix a couple of types of rum with abundant local juices and a liqueur or two for flavor. Pineapples are grown on Eleuthera and offer a sweet and tangy punch to local cocktails.
Coconut is abundant, as it is in every tropical region. I’m personally a little leery of frozen cocktails, as they tend to originate in a carton laden with high fructose syrup and bright, artificial colors.
But, The Daiquari Shack in Nassau has great reviews. Past visitors say the drinks are made with fresh ingredients and generous pours. More of a beer drinker? You have a few local options. Kalik, of course, is well-known beyond the country’s borders.
You can also find Sands, a locally owned beer, at beaches and bars throughout the islands. The Bahamas has a couple of craft breweries now, too. Pirate Republic and Rip Ty’d both have tap rooms in Nassau.
9. Swim with the Exuma Pigs
No one seems to know how the pigs got to Big Major Cay, but they are now a Bahamian institution. You can charter a ride out to swim with them on the otherwise uninhabited island.
Some people say the pigs are survivors of a shipwreck in the exploration age. They swam to the island and their descendants live there still. Other people say the pigs were deliberately released by a group of sailors who planned to come back later and keep them as a food animal.
The sailors never returned, but the pigs remain. The trip to Pig Beach from Nassau tags about two hours by speed boat. You can also catch a tour leaving from Staniel Cay or Great Exuma.
Be cautious, as these are wild animals. They will bite if disturbed. Do not feed the pigs (and especially don’t offer them alcohol).
When several pigs turned up dead in 2017, experts concluded that the pigs had accidentally consumed large amounts of sand while eating food thrown on the beach by tourists. The beasts have been feeding themselves well for at least a century, and can continue to happily forage if we treat them well.
10. Attend a Festival
Many people only associate Carnival with the run-up to Lent, but in the Caribbean, there are festivals and carnivals all year long. Junkanoo is the biggest in the islands and is held twice a year. The winter carnival runs from Boxing Day (December 26) to January 1.
In the summer, it goes on every Saturday in July and August. There are also smaller festivals throughout the year. The Mid-winter Wahoo on Bimini is popular with Floridians.
Every June, Eleuthera celebrates the Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town with parades, a recipe contest, dancing, and more. After a couple years’ hiatus, the Eleuthera All That Jazz Festival is coming back, too. The official Facebook page says the festival will be back April 4, 5, and 6 in 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions to help you decide what to do in the Bahamas:
What is the Bahamas best known for?
This tropical country is renowned for its white sand beaches, its clear, teal waters, and a deep and complex history that includes everything from explorers to pirates.
What do people do in the Bahamas?
It all depends on how you like to spend your time. If you enjoy being in the water, snorkeling and scuba diving are prime pastimes. Anglers will find a bounty of large sporting fish in the area. History buffs will find many opportunities to explore.
Is there much to do in the Bahamas?
That depends on your definition and which island. The two main islands have a lot of restaurants, nightlife, and activities. The Out Islands have fewer organized attractions, but plenty of lush habitat to explore.
Is it a good idea to go to the Bahamas?
Absolutely. There are people who describe the country as the best vacation destination in the world.
Summing Up: What to Do in the Bahamas
What you spend your time doing really depends on you. Is a vacation a chance to sit down, unwind, and enjoy a little stillness? Do that without guilt. Are you someone who wants to maximize every day of travel? Fill up those days.
Just, for the love of all that’s right and good, don’t spend every day at an all-inclusive taking in spoonfed activities. Get outside the bubble and see a bit of the real country. Listen to a soca band. Eat some peas and rice.
Visit a beach outside your resort. There is so much to do in such beautiful settings. You’ll be glad you did. So, what are you waiting for — book your trip to the Bahamas today!