If you’ve never been island hopping before, then The Bahamas is a great place to start. This tropical destination is made up of 700 inhabited and uninhabited islands, rocks and cays that you’re sure to fall in love with at first glance.
The region offers tons of exciting opportunities - many of which center around the vast and beautiful ocean the Bahamas is known for. It’s understandable that you might want to indulge in as many experiences as possible during your visit. To do this, you’ll definitely need to visit more than one island! This doesn’t have to be a complicated venture either. With a little planning, you can fit multiple islands into your Bahamian adventure.
In this post, we’ll help steer you in the right direction when it comes to the best islands to visit while island hopping in The Bahamas!
Good to know: Although the territory is spread across 500 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, you can visit more than one of the islands by plane or by boat at a reasonable cost. You can even consider splitting your trip between resorts on the various islands (more on that later!).
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
Florida is one of the closest U.S. destinations to The Bahamas. It won’t take long to get to locations like New Providence, Grand Bahama, and many other amazing islands of The Bahamas from there.
New Providence is likely to be the first recommendation you receive if you mention planning a vacation to The Bahamas. This is the country’s most popular island, and it is where you’ll find Nassau, the capital. Nassau is the largest city in The Bahamas, and it is easily accessible from U.S. destinations like Miami with just a 50-minute flight (here’s how to get from Miami to Nassau).
Nassau can be the perfect start to an island-hopping adventure as you can easily access other islands, including the ‘Out Islands’ (the more faraway islands) of The Bahamas from this location if you want to explore. It’ll cost less to get to some of the other islands from Nassau as well.
There are many awesome things to do in Nassau, such as beach hopping, shopping, checking out the art and history of the islands at local museums and galleries, and even taking in the vibrant nightlife which includes many bars and nightclubs and a handful of casinos.
Some of the other interesting attractions in Nassau include Cable Beach and the other great beaches in Nassau, the Pirates of Nassau Museum, Nassau’s historic city center, Colonial Forts (Fort Charlotte, Fort Montague, and Fort Fincastle), and the Queen’s Staircase.
Good to know: While in Nassau, you’ll be able to take a day trip to Paradise Island, which is connected to New Providence by two bridges. If you’re staying for the (long) weekend, choose to stay at this all-inclusive resort in Nassau, where you’ll be able to order unlimited cocktails and eat as much as you want at 10 restaurants and three food trucks. It’s all included!
On Grand Bahama, you’ll be able to swim with dolphins, snorkel, and scuba dive to your heart’s content, golf on gorgeous greens, party island-style while enjoying Fish Fry events, and lots more. It truly is a nature lover’s paradise.
Grand Bahama is about 64 miles west of Palm Beach, Florida, and offers a chance to experience simple island living. Grand Bahama is most known for its beautiful beaches, and the thrilling adventures you can have there, including shark diving and feeding. Some of the most popular places to visit while in Grand Bahama include the Lucayan National Park, Port Lucaya Marketplace, Taino Beach, Lucaya Beach, William’s Town Beach, and Xanadu Beach.
The main airport on Grand Bahama Island is the Grand Bahama International Airport. It can take around 45 minutes to fly to Freeport, Grand Bahama from Miami. This trip is quite a bit longer by boat - around 2.5 hours. Once you arrive in Grand Bahama, you can also explore nearby islands like Bimini. It takes just under 3 hours to get to Bimini by plane from Freeport, Grand Bahama. The Abacos are also about a 45-minute ferry ride from Grand Bahama. The ferry to Abaco costs around $50 USD each way.
Bimini is a cluster of islands in The Bahamas that has inspired many people, including famed novelist Ernest Hemingway. This island is around 51 miles west of Miami and it takes around 2 hours to sail there, and 45 minutes to get there by plane from Miami.
Bimini is one of the best islands to include in an island-hopping adventure because it is easy to get to some of the other popular islands of the Bahamas, such as New Providence, from there. It takes 30 minutes to get to Bimini from Nassau by plane, and from Nassau, it is easy to connect to most of the other islands of The Bahamas. The main airport in Bimini is the South Bimini Airport, but there is another airport in North Bimini as well.
While in Bimini, some interesting places you can check out include the Limestone Well (Fountain of Youth), Great Issac Cay Lighthouse, Honeymoon Harbor Beach, Bimini Sands Beach, Radio Beach, Bimini War Memorial & Heroes Park, Bimini Craft Center, Alive Town Beach, and the Bimini Museum.
Good to know: The population of Bimini is about 1,988 people.
Nassau is the capital city of The Bahamas, and it is located on the island of New Providence. While on an island-hopping adventure in The Bahamas, Nassau will be a central point that can be used to access all the other islands. Here are some popular islands near Nassau:
Three miles off the coast of Paradise Island, you’ll find Rose Island, a small island that can be a diver’s haven. There aren’t any roads or much infrastructure on Rose Island, but there are pink sand beaches and an offshore reef. Rose Island is one of few islands in The Bahamas where you can swim with pigs, a signature Bahamian adventure. There is a wildlife sanctuary there that the pigs call home.
Good to know: The best way to get to Rose Island from Nassau is by chartering a boat. It’ll take about 15 minutes by boat to get between these two islands.
The Exumas in The Bahamas is made up of over 365 islands and cays. This district of The Bahamas is also known as the Exuma Cays. It is possible to travel from Nassau to the Exumas by boat in around 3 hours. Little Exuma is slightly south of Great Exuma and the two are connected by a bridge.
At 37 miles long, Great Exuma is the largest island in the Exumas. Here, you’ll find a few upscale resort brands like Sandals Emerald Bay. Great Exuma is loved for its beautiful white sand beaches and its sustainable development outlook. On Great Exuma, you will find minimal infrastructure, allowing you to appreciate some of the beautiful beaches on this island like Coco Plum Beach, Tropic of Cancer Beach, and Three Sisters Beach.
Georgetown is the capital of the Exumas, and it is located toward the southern tip of Great Exuma. In Georgetown, you can see the charming pink and white government building, which is a central point of business activities on the island. There’s also a grocery store, boat rental, a bank, a liquor store, and a few restaurants. You’ll be able to get a water taxi to some of the nearby islands from Georgetown as well.
Good to know: If you’re planning a trip to an all-inclusive resort in Great Exuma, Exuma International Airport (GGT) is the airport you will want to fly into. Be sure to try as many of the exciting things to do in Exuma as you can before it’s time to fly back!
Big Major Cay is where it’s at if you want to try swimming with the pigs in The Bahamas. This island is to the north of Great Exuma, and it takes around 2 hours to get there from Nassau or Georgetown by boat. Consider having a day trip to this island and take the opportunity to interact with the friendly pigs.
Other than the pigs, this island is uninhabited, so you’ll be able to walk around and explore.
North of Great Exuma, you can find Staniel Cay, which is popular for its beautiful beaches, offshore coral reefs, and swimming pigs. Staniel Cay is near Big Major Cay and the island is about 5 sq miles.
Don’t let the size fool you though, Staniel Cay is gorgeous and quite famous. In fact, it was the backdrop of two James Bond Films. Thunderball in 1965 and Never Say Never Again in 1983 were both shot on the island. Staniel Cay only has a population of around 120 people, so you can definitely enjoy the opportunity for a quiet fishing trip, scenic dive among the coral reefs, or kayaking.
Stocking Island is off the eastern coast of Great Exuma, and you can get to this island by a 10-minute water taxi or ferry from Georgetown. If you choose one of these options, it’ll cost about $15 USD per person. Stocking Island is great for a day trip and once you get to this island, you’ll be able to enjoy amazing diving and authentic Bahamian cuisine.
While snorkeling on this island, you’re likely to see creatures like stingrays that love hanging around near the shore on some of the beaches. Other sightings while diving here can include octopus, starfish, sea snails, and more. After an exciting dive on this island, try the Conch Shack for something delicious to eat.
About 50 miles from Nassau, you’ll find Eleuthera, an island that is around 110 miles long and one mile wide. This island is the fourth most populated island in The Bahamas, and it is another territory where you can find pink sand beaches. Eleuthera appeals to people who just want to vacation in a serene place and get away from it all.
The population of Eleuthera is around 11,165 people, so this island definitely gives small town vibes. Some of the best attractions on this island include Pink Sand Beach, Lighthouse Beach, Glass Window Bridge, Vic Hums Night Club, Tarpum Bay, Bannerman Town, and Hatchet Bay.
If you plan on visiting Eleuthera as part of an island-hopping adventure, it’ll take around 2 hours and 40 minutes to get to this island from Nassau. Ferry services are available and chartering a boat to get to Eleuthera is a possibility as well.
Good to know: Eleuthera is to the east of New Providence and has lots of shipwrecks that can be explored during a dive. Pineapple is this island’s signature crop, so expect lots of it while there!
It’ll only take about 5 minutes by ferry to get to Harbour Island from Eleuthera. A trip here will be well worth it as you’ll be able to experience some of the famed pink sand beaches of The Bahamas. Many of these pink-hued strands can be found along the eastern shore of Harbour Island, and they’re bound to add some intrigue to your explorations.
On Harbour Island, you can visit the main settlement, Dunmore Town. Here you’ll find pastel-colored houses that, combined with the pink sand beaches, will really have you feeling like you’re living in a dream. This is a peaceful island, and here you’ll likely spend your days snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, biking, scuba diving, or just lounging on the beach enjoying the sunshine.
Good to know: There are no cars on Harbour Island, so you may need to rely on a golf cart to get around!
Adventure awaits in Long Island in The Bahamas. This island is one of the smallest inhabited islands in The Bahamas, measuring 80 miles from top to bottom and 4 miles wide. Long Island is to the southeast of Nassau, and to the south of Great Exuma.
If you choose to vacation in Nassau, you’ll easily be able to arrange a day trip to Long Island. While there you can check out some of the popular attractions, which include Lucayan Indian Cave, Dean’s Blue Hole (the second deepest blue hole in the world), Max’s Conch Bar, and Tiny’s Hurricane Hole.
It is possible to get to Long Island from Nassau by plane. This will take around 45 minutes and cost around $150 USD one way. If you choose to fly, you’ll either arrive at Deadman’s Cay Airport or Stella Maris Airport. A boat trip to Long Island can take much longer - up to 18 hours. From Georgetown in Great Exuma, it is possible to take a ferry to Long Island that’ll arrive in about 4 hours.
Good to know: Most of the gorgeous white sand beaches of Long Island are located along the island’s western coast.
Andros is one of those islands that’ll make it easy to disconnect from the seemingly pressing issues of life. This is the largest island of The Bahamas, and it is possible to get there by plane or boat from Nassau. It’ll take 2.5 hours to get to Andros by boat from Nassau, but only about 15 minutes by plane.
Though Andros is quite large, much of it remains untouched. There are many natural attractions on this island that you’ll be able to see during an island-hopping adventure in The Bahamas, including the Andros Barrier Reef (the second-largest coral reef in the Western hemisphere), the Tongue of the Ocean, Blue Holes National Park, Andros Lighthouse, Henry Morgan’s Cave, Mariners Well, the Native Colony Ruins, and the world’s oldest dive shop.
While in Andros, you’ll appreciate the chill and relaxed atmosphere, and the ability to have some pretty incredible dive experiences as well. Andros is very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving, and it offers the best bonefishing in The Bahamas.
Good to know: There are five national parks on Andros that visitors can explore while on this island.
The Abacos are considered ‘Out Islands’ of The Bahamas and they appeal to lovers of sailing and simple living. This island chain is to the north of New Providence and Paradise Island, and it is made up of 120 cays including Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay, and Spanish Cay.
Many of the Abaco Islands are uninhabited, but they can still make for interesting explorations, especially if you want to spend the day feeling like you’re on your own deserted island. If you choose to visit Great Abaco (the largest island in the Abacos) and explore from there by boat, you’ll encounter many small, beautiful islands, thriving coral reefs, and underwater caves. Some of the main attractions in the Abaco Islands are the Elbow Cay Lighthouse, Treasure Cay, the Great Abaco Golf Course, and Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar.
It’ll take about an hour to fly directly to Great Abaco from Miami, Florida. From Nassau, it takes just under two hours to get to Great Abaco by boat (this might make for an interesting day trip).
Good to know: The Abacos are popular for fishing and diving and the islands host quite a few regattas (a Bahamian cultural festival centered around sailing) throughout the year.
Visiting Great Guana Cay is like something out of a dream. The island has some of the most beautiful beaches in The Bahamas. There are even beaches with light pink sand, which is a rarity even for the Caribbean. The gorgeous sand combined with crystal clear water and a peaceful atmosphere can be just what you need to find perfect relaxation.
Great Guana Cay is appealing because it is never crowded. You can really feel like you’ve gotten away from it all. Still, there are a few restaurants on this island, a liquor store, and a grocery shop. Like a few of the other islands in The Bahamas, you won’t be renting a car here (as there are none!), but you can easily rent a golf cart to get around.
It is quite easy to get to Great Guana Cay from Great Abaco, as there are ferries from Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay. You can also explore other nearby islands via water taxi from Great Guana Cay.
Green Turtle Cay is one of the smaller and less populated islands of The Bahamas. Located north of Great Guana Cay, this island is just 3 miles long, and half a mile wide. Green Turtle Cay is one of the ‘Out-Islands’ of the Abacos, and it is best suited to travelers who want to explore and spend time on beautiful beaches. There are quite a few villas and cottages you can rent in Green Turtle Cay, and boat rentals are available too. Golf carts are also available for rent to explore this island.
While there isn’t an airport on Green Turtle Cay, you can get there via a 15-minute ferry ride from Treasure Cay in Great Abaco for $15 USD.
Elbow Cay is a 6-mile-long islet off the coast of Great Abaco. This island is to the northern end of The Bahamas, and it is popular with travelers who want a private island experience.
Elbow Cay is great for surfing thanks to the many reef breaks in this area that generate amazing waves. There are several beaches on this island, and you’ll be able to rent golf carts for the day to explore since there are very few cars.
The main settlement on this island is called Hope Town, which has a few restaurants where you can try authentic Bahamian food. There’s also a lighthouse on Elbow Cay that dates back to 1894. It is one of the last kerosene lighthouses in the world. You can get to Elbow Cay via a 20-minute ferry ride from Marsh Harbour.
Man-O-War Cay in The Bahamas is known by many as the country’s boat-building capital. It is located in the Abacos between Great Guana Cay and Elbow Cay and offers a true back-to-nature experience.
There are no bars, clubs, or any amenities of that nature in Man-O-War-Cay, but the island is home to beautiful beaches, great snorkeling, scuba diving, and opportunities to swim in the tranquil, clear seas. It is unlikely when you see the beauty of this island that you’ll miss any of the conventional luxuries of life. You’ll be too busy sinking into true relaxation and bliss.
One week can feel like a lot for a vacation, but when you’re island hopping the time can slip by - fast. If you’re planning a one-week trip to The Bahamas, it is best to book one place to stay for the entire week and do one-day excursions from that island to a couple of others that are nearby.
If your stay will be shorter than one week, it is best to just select the island that most appeals to you and explore it as much as possible. Island hopping may be too much to take on during your short stay.
Popular routes for a one week stay in The Bahamas:
Insider tip: Not sure where to stay in The Bahamas? Pick the islands that speak most to you and save the rest for later. If it’s your first trip to The Bahamas, Nassau and Exuma are great places to start.
A two-week vacation in The Bahamas will give you more time to explore more islands. If you’ll be in The Bahamas for two weeks, you might want to consider splitting your stay between two entirely different islands.
Popular routes for a two week stay in The Bahamas:
Note: this last trip might feel a bit rushed if you’re staying 14 days. Consider staying a couple of days longer.
Island hopping can be an exciting way to spend your days in The Bahamas. This country’s many islands have their own distinct personalities and offer a unique experience. You could be relaxing on the white sand of Cable Beach in Nassau one day, interacting with the world-famous swimming pigs of Pig Island the next day, and shark diving at Tiger Beach in Grand Bahama the day after that. You can make your couples' trip as low-key or exciting as you wish!
If you’re planning an island-hopping trip in The Bahamas, staying in Nassau will give you easy access to many of the other islands. Plus, you’ll be able to choose from some of the most incredible all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas.
With so many amazing islands to explore in this territory, you’ll likely regret it if you don’t experience as many as you can.