Sipping on a cocktail at an all-inclusive resort in The Bahamas is every vacationers’ dream. These islands and cays (around 700 in total) are part of a tropical archipelago in the Caribbean that truly showcases why this region is an amazing place to vacation.
If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely heard great things about these islands and are already sold on a vacation in The Bahamas. There are loads of options for hotels and resorts in The Bahamas, but that list dwindles significantly when you’re searching for adults-only all-inclusive resorts for couples. If you have your sights set on the perfect couples experience in The Bahamas, you just might find yourself at a stand-off between Sandals Royal Bahamian versus Sandals Emerald Bay.
Although these resorts are both located in The Bahamas, they’re located on different islands and provide guests with a different experience. Find out which one is best for you!
Expert tip: The timing of your vacation can be just as important as the available activities! Learn about the best time to visit The Bahamas so you can know what to expect.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
In case you’re unfamiliar with these resorts, here are a few details:
Sandals Royal Bahamian can be found in Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, on the island of New Providence. This is an all-inclusive resort for couples situated on Cable Beach, very close to some of the most interesting sights of bustling Nassau.
Sandals Emerald Bay on the other hand, is located in The Bahamas on the island of Great Exuma, a pristine isle with a population of just over 7,000 people. Great Exuma is the largest island in the Exuma cays and is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the Caribbean, such as Coco Plum Beach. While there isn’t much happening in terms of nightlife on Great Exuma, you can enjoy lots of on-resort entertainment, day or night, if you’re staying at Sandals Emerald Bay.
At both Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay, you can expect to find all the luxurious inclusions of a Sandals Resort, such as unlimited, anytime food and (alcoholic) drinks, around-the-clock entertainment, all-you-can-play land and water sports with professional instruction, complimentary airport transfers, and more. What really sets these properties apart are their ‘personalities’, which we’ll elaborate more on later in this post.
Sandals Royal Bahamian, generally, has a more lively atmosphere than Sandals Emerald Bay, which is known for being more laid back. If you’re looking to socialize and party, Sandals Royal Bahamian is the resort you’re looking for. On top of that, Sandals Royal Bahamian is known as one of the best Sandals Resorts to have an amazing scuba dive experience, and the resort offers guests access to a private offshore island.
Sandals Emerald Bay, on the other hand, will offer you a more private, intimate experience, and is located on one of the most stunning beaches in the world. The blue color of the water is out of this world! This makes Sandals Emerald Bay the best choice for couples who want to get away from it all and enjoy long walks on the beach. If you love to play a round (or two) of golf, you can’t beat the views from Sandals Emerald Bay’s Championship course.
Choose the resort that best fits your needs!
Below we’ll have a look at both resorts with a bit more detail.
The vivacious Sandals Royal Bahamian is right on beat with the pulse of Bahamian life. You can expect lots of on-property entertainment as well as options to explore the wider Nassau area.
It’ll be relatively easy to make your way to Nassau as a direct flight from many U.S. cities can land you at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS).
Once you arrive, it’s just a 15-minute ride from the airport to the resort. Airport transfers are included for all Sandals guests, and Rolls Royce or Mercedes-Benz transfers are complimentary in certain top-tier suites.
Sandals Emerald Bay is a lot more remote than Sandals Royal Bahamian. Ahead of walking into all-inclusive bliss at Sandals Emerald Bay, you’ll have the options of flying directly into the Exuma International Airport (GGT) in George Town, Exuma or having a stopover at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in Nassau first. Direct flights are available from U.S. cities including Miami, Atlanta, and Charlotte, as well as Toronto, Canada.
The transfer time once you arrive in Great Exuma is just around 20 minutes from the airport to the resort on the complimentary shuttle.
Sandals Royal Bahamian is loved for its vibrant atmosphere and its offshore island. It takes just two minutes to get to Sandals Barefoot Cay from the resort by boat. Once you arrive, you can enjoy a private beach, swim-up bar, pool and whirlpool, and a scrumptious dining experience at Aralia House, which serves fresh seafood and Caribbean cuisine. The beach on the back side of the offshore island is known to be a great place to snorkel with turtles.
This resort incorporates ten gourmet restaurants (plus three themed food trucks) offering unlimited dining, eight bars (including swim-up bars), two sky-sized pools overlooking the stunning Caribbean Sea, a spa, and luxurious accommodations like swim-up suites and rooms with private plunge pools, butler suites with 24-hour room service, and so much more.
You should also check out Sandals Royal Bahamian’s incredible penthouse gym with an out-of-this-world ocean view!
Sandals Emerald Bay is loved for its long private white-sand beach and gorgeous blue waters. If you want to spend most of your time in The Bahamas on the beach, Sandals Emerald Bay is a great option. Some of the am enities that add to the picture-perfect ambiance of this resort are its elegant villas and suites spread out across an expansive 500 acres, three pools, 11 specialty restaurants serving cuisine that includes French, Italian, and authentically Bahamian options, eight bars including swim-up bars, large spa, accommodation options with a private pool, and the list goes on!
The award-winning golf course at Sandals Emerald Bay is among the most scenic in the Caribbean. This 18-hole, par 72 championship ocean-side golf course is available to all Sandals guests in The Bahamas. Green fees are included for guests of Sandals Emerald Bay.
Sandals Emerald Bay also has a marina, which is accessible to guests who plan on arriving via yacht.
Good to know: Sandals Emerald Bay does not offer ‘Luxury’ level rooms, just ‘Club’ and ‘Butler’ level rooms. This means you’ll get room service and a fully stocked in-room bar no matter which suite you choose!
There are lots of things to do at Sandals Royal Bahamian! Some of the activities guests love the most at this resort are scuba diving and water sports (with professional instruction included). At Sandals Royal Bahamian, you’ll have the time of your lives with day and night entertainment including live shows at the Coconut Grove, land sports like volleyball, day and night tennis, basketball, and pretty much anything else you’d like to do under the sun.
Sandals Emerald Bay is a dream for travelers wanting romance and relaxation. During your Sandals stay in Great Exuma, you’ll be able to get into activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. Sandals Emerald Bay also has an amazing beachfront golf course where you can tee off as a couple or solo. If you decide to head out and explore the island, you can book some of the best tours right at the resort’s tour desk (more on this below!).
Ten gourmet restaurants mean you’ll have a lot of dining options to choose from during a romantic vacation at Sandals Royal Bahamian. These include Gordon’s on the Pier, which just so happens to have the perfect ambiance for a sunset dinner, and La Plume, known and loved for its exquisite French cuisine. You’ll also love Butch’s Island Chophouse, which has perfectly seasoned, hand-cut steaks, fish fillets, and seafood - elements for an unforgettable dining experience.
There are 11 gourmet restaurants to dine at during your stay at Sandals Emerald Bay. La Parisienne, a restaurant offering authentic French cuisine, is a popular option for dinner, while Il Cielo (an Italian restaurant) with its famous crunchy banana french toast is a must-try breakfast spot. You also won’t want to miss out on Bombay Club’s Indian cuisine, or Soy’s sushi bar menu that pairs so well with sake! Hit that sweet spot by topping things off with a visit to Café de Paris, a pastry and ice cream shop.
A visit to Rose Island makes the perfect day trip when vacationing in Nassau. This island is as uninhabited as they come and has no roads or formal residential infrastructure. It is located just 5 kilometers east of Paradise Island in The Bahamas, and day trips here usually include diving, sightseeing, swimming with the pigs, and sometimes surfing. Lunch is usually included with most tours.
Another day trip option while in Nassau is a Blue Lagoon adventure. This tour is perfect if cuddling and swimming with dolphins and sea lions is your idea of a day well spent. In addition to the dolphin and sea lion encounters, there’s also an inflatable water park for children, and a buffet lunch is included with most tours.
Take a tour of Nassau’s colorful city center, which is filled with history and adventure. You can do this via a 2-hour guided tour, or head out on your own to explore landmarks like Fort Charlotte, Fort Fincastle, the Queen’s Staircase, and the Government House. This tour will really give you a sense of day-to-day life in The Bahamas, and you can take some really great pictures along the way!
Swimming with pigs is probably not something you imagined you’d be doing while on vacation… or perhaps it is. Maybe you saw the cute faces of the famous swimming pigs of The Bahamas online and thought it was absolutely something you wanted to do while on the islands. Well, the good news is that swimming with the pigs is just as popular today as it's always been. So you’ll easily be able to set up a tour through your resort, and check this amazing activity off your bucket list!
Expert tip: If you’re planning to stay in Nassau at Sandals Royal Bahamian, you’re best bet is to see the Swimming Pigs of Rose Island. There are day trips available to the original swimming pigs of Big Major Cay as well, but it often means spending a couple of hours on a powerboat.
Thunderball Grotto is also known as James Bond Cave, and it can be found on Staniel Cay in The Bahamas. This site consists of an underwater cave system that is great for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Thunderball Grotto is loved by visitors for its cinematic appeal — the landmark made a special appearance in the James Bond movie ‘Thunderball’, which just so happens to have been filmed in the Exumas.
Bitter Guana Cay is perfect for a nature-oriented experience while in The Bahamas. There are stand-out coral rock formations at this location, a sandy beach, and lots of friendly native iguanas. The thriving iguana population is part of the appeal of this island adventure, and there are many tours that can take you to spend a few hours there.
Still can’t choose? Stay at both Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay!
If you can’t seem to decide which Sandals resort in The Bahamas is the best fit for your vacation, consider a split stay! Split stays make it possible to enjoy both resorts on a single vacation. You can book one of the resorts for the first part of your getaway and then book the other for the remainder of your time.
This works best if your total stay in The Bahamas will be seven nights or more, so you don’t have to rush around during your vacation. You should plan carefully, and factor in the time it will take to pack and travel between destinations to make the best of your overall vacation experience.
Domestic flights are available between Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) and Exuma International Airport (GGT), making it easy to get back and forth between Nassau and Exuma. The flight time between the two islands is about 35 minutes.
Insider tip: About ready to pack? This packing list for a Bahamas vacation will help you gather everything you’ll need. Check out some of the things The Bahamas is known for to get you excited for your stay.
There’s no shortage of resorts in The Bahamas, but it has to be Sandals if you’re going all-inclusive! No other resort in The Bahamas includes more for couples.
Both Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay will have you wishing you could stay there forever! The only way to make a decision between the two is to decide on the sort of experience you want on your vacation.
Serene and intimate? Sandals Emerald Bay will be right up your alley. Lively and spontaneous? Sandals Royal Bahamian will make you feel right at home. Love to play golf? Emerald Bay has to be your pick. Prefer to have access to a private offshore island? Royal Bahamian has the upper hand.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with all-inclusive vacations in The Bahamas!
Insider tip: Just tied the knot and looking for the perfect honeymoon destination? Honeymoons in The Bahamas are gaining popularity and this amazing destination may be just right for you!