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When considering things to do in the Bahamas, you’ll probably imagine dazzling white sand beaches and aquamarine seas. These are present in abundance, but there’s much more to this enchanting island chain.

Explore the Bahamas in depth and discover a swashbuckling history of pirates and buccaneers, impressive architecture, intriguing museums, and smooth rums. Meet local artisans, learn about the history of the souvenirs you’re buying, and find out more about the characters who have shaped the culture here.

Then, of course, there’s delicious Bahamian food to try, cocktails to sip, and that glorious warm sea to play in. Snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, feed stingrays, or fly down a waterslide. Whether you’re traveling as a couple, a family, or a group of friends, you’ll find your perfect vacation in these enchanting islands.

Play on the Slides at Aquaventure

View of Aquaventure waterpark

Aquaventure, Nassau

The thrills come thick and fast at the 141-acre Aquaventure waterpark on Nassau’s Paradise Island. Brave the Leap of Faith, a near-vertical drop from a reimagined Mayan temple. The hair-raising plummet aside, you’ll fly through an underwater acrylic tunnel while surrounded by marine life.

The Abyss twists and turns at high speed, while the Surge is a thrilling inner tube ride that loops down into white water rapids. The Drop is the tubing answer to a roller coaster, while the Serpent corkscrews through the darkness, emerging into an underwater tunnel where sharks circle overhead.

You could inner tube down the mile-long Rapids River, which involves periods of serenity interspersed with white water and thrilling drops. For kids of all ages, a day at Aquaventure is one of the most memorable things to do in the Bahamas.

Taste Bahamian Rum

Bottles of John Watling’s rum

John Watling’s rum

Lovers of spirits can’t visit the Bahamas without tasting the local rum. One of the best things to do in Nassau is to visit John Watling’s distillery, named after the 17th-century privateer John Watling. It’s located in a beautifully restored building on the leafy Buena Vista estate.

Watling himself was a pirate, who is remembered, unusually, for his piety. Despite operating outside the law, he observed the Sabbath and refused to let his men play cards on Sundays.

After your tour, taste the smooth “Spirit of the Bahamas” rums that are distilled and aged in white oak barrels here, and head to the Red Turtle Tavern for a cocktail or two.

Try Paddleboarding on Pearl Island

Pearl Island, one of the best things to do in the Bahamas

Pearl Island

The warm, limpid waters of the Bahamas are the perfect place for paddleboarding, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro. Pearl Island, a speck off the coast of New Providence, fringed with pale sand, is the ideal location.

The sea floor here slopes gently, and the waters are usually blissfully calm, making it easy to launch your board—and also easy to clamber back on if you fall in. Practice paddling gently near the shore, starting off kneeling and standing once you have your balance. More experienced paddleboarders can head further from the beach.

White sand beach and cabanas of Pearl Island

Pearl Island

There’s great snorkeling here, too, over reefs teeming with colorful fish. You could also rent a private cabana with uninterrupted views of the sparkling ocean and the island’s lighthouse.

Read: Where to Go Snorkeling in Nassau

Check Out Colorful Cocktails

Glass of Bahama Mama

Bahama Mama

Rum is ubiquitous in the Bahamas and forms the base of many of the best cocktails. The legendary Bahama Mama, a cold Bahamian drink with rum, coconut rum, pineapple, and lemon juice, is deliciously refreshing.

A Goombay Smash usually includes a base of dark rum and coconut liqueur, diluted with pineapple juice and lemon juice, and sweetened further with a simple syrup. Yellow Bird, meanwhile, is a boozy concoction of white rum, yellow Galliano, triple sec, and fresh lime.

Swim With Pigs

Pigs swimming at the beach in the Bahamas


Swimming with swine may seem like one of the more unusual things to do in the Bahamas, but it’s achieved legendary status in Exuma, where a herd of feral pigs regularly joins visitors for a dip in the warm Bahamian water.

Now, there’s a pig beach near Nassau, which you can combine with a day on Pearl Island. The pigs are essentially friendly, curious youngsters, like puppies.

They join visitors to splash around in the shallows, pose for photos, and accept tidbits. They will swim alongside you, and you can even pick up the smallest piglets for a cuddle.

Party on Junkanoo Beach

Clear waters of Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

Junkanoo Beach, easily walkable from downtown Nassau, is a popular beach in the Bahamas for locals due to its proximity to the urban area. You’ll find a long stretch of pale sand washed by clear water and backed by palms and feathery trees.

Watersports shacks line the sand, and beach vendors sell their wares. On weekends, you’ll find local families enjoying a cookout and a swim.

Junkanoo gets its nickname, Spring Break Beach, from the fact that it’s packed with spring breakers during the season. The beach has a lively atmosphere with music in the air and flowing cocktails.

Climb the Queen’s Staircase

Historic Queen’s Staircase in Nassau

Queen’s Staircase, Nassau

The Queen’s Staircase in Nassau is an imposing flight of stairs carved out of solid limestone by some 600 slaves in 1793. The purpose of creating the staircase was to create a quick escape from Fort Fincastle to the city center in the event of an invasion.

The staircase was named in the 19th century after Britain’s Queen Victoria, who was instrumental in ending slavery in the British Empire. It’s overhung with greenery and provides a glimpse into Nassau’s turbulent past as well as an attractive photo opportunity.

Explore the Architecture of Nassau

Historic site of Fort Fincastle

Fort Fincastle, Nassau

Nassau has some splendid old buildings dating back to the time when The Bahamas was a British colony. Check out Fort Fincastle, built in the 18th century to protect New Providence from pirate attacks.

It’s built in the shape of a steamer, with seemingly impenetrable walls, replica cannons, and views over the city. Fort Charlotte, meanwhile, spans 100 acres and still has its dungeons and hidden passageways intact.

Street view of Parliament Square

Parliament Square, Nassau

You’ll find a statue of Queen Victoria, built in 1905, on Parliament Square, in front of the pink-and-white buildings that include the House of Assembly, the Senate, and the Supreme Court.

The Gothic Christ Church Cathedral dates back to 1670, although raids by pirates destroyed much of the original. The version you see today was built in 1754 out of local limestone.

Historic site of the Cloisters on Paradise Island

Cloisters on Paradise Island

The Cloisters on Paradise Island is an even older structure, including parts of a 12th-century French monastery. But there were no French people in the Bahamas then; the beautiful old arches were dismantled in France and shipped to the Bahamas, where they now form a magnificent backdrop on the grounds of the swish Ocean Club for weddings and photo shoots.

Blend Your Own Wine

Wine making in Bahama Barrels, Nassau

Bahama Barrels, Nassau

Had enough Caribbean rum? Then why not try blending your own wine? You may have noticed a lack of vineyards in the Bahamas, but Bahama Barrels in Nassau offers wine-blending workshops guided by an expert from California.

You’ll learn about balance, finish, and acidity before you’re let loose with your own experimentation. You can take your bottle away to savor later.

The venue for the workshops is interesting; it was once a convent. Next door, visit the Heritage Museum of The Bahamas in the restored 19th-century Mountbatten House. Here, you’ll find a private collection of artifacts dating back to prehistory and spanning eras from the time of Columbus to the height of piracy.

Kick Back at Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau

Blue Lagoon Island, one of the best things to do in the Bahamas

Blue Lagoon Island

Blue Lagoon Island, officially named Salt Cay, is a private island just off the shore of New Providence, near Nassau. Escape the bustle of everyday life with a day snoozing under the coconut palms, splashing around in the lagoon, and spotting tropical birds.

Blue Lagoon Island is a great place for families with teens, as there’s plenty to do here. Try paddleboarding, or take a glass-bottomed kayak out over the reef. Work off excess energy on the inflatable Aqua Park, or rent an underwater scooter.

Swim Over the Sapona Shipwreck

Aerial view of Sapona Shipwreck

Sapona Shipwreck

The rusting hulk of the SS Sapona lies three miles from Bimini island in shallow water. The ship, commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as a troop carrier in World War I, was built from concrete due to a shortage of steel at the time.

It wasn’t completed on schedule, so it never saw active service. The ship was sold for scrap, ending up in the hands of liquor merchant Bruce Bethell, who moved it to Bimini.

Bimini’s “Rum King” stashed his liquor in the ship during Prohibition, but it ran aground in 1926 during a hurricane. The concrete was mainly bombed away by the U.S. Air Force during WWII target practice, but the metal skeleton remains, now colonized by colorful corals, sponges, and tropical fish.

The ship lies in just 15 feet of water, so it’s easy to snorkel between the rusting metal ribs and under the decks. Even if you prefer to float on the surface, you’ll have a good overview of how the wreck has become an underwater habitat.

Feed Wild Stingrays on Bimini

Stingray spotted in Honeymoon Harbor Beach in Bimini, Bahamas

Honeymoon Harbour Beach, Bimini

Just to the south of Bimini is the tiny sliver of Gun Cay, with the powdery Honeymoon Harbour Beach at its tip. This is where wild southern stingrays congregate in the clear shallows, milling around the boats that pull up here, waiting for treats.

You can feed these gentle creatures by hand; the boat drivers will give you scraps of fish and squid which you hold under the water in the flat of your palm. The rays glide over your hand and gently take the fish. It’s a breathtaking interaction with a wild creature.

Gun Cay itself comprises rocky limestone platforms, green scrub, and white sand beaches. It’s a great place to spend a few hours, although you’ll need to bring water as this really is the classic desert island with no facilities.

Sample Conch

Bahamian conch in a cup

Bahamian conch

Conch, pronounced “konk”, is a marine mollusk, similar to a snail (although don’t let that put you off), and indigenous to the Bahamas. It’s regarded as a delicacy, and you can taste it in a number of ways.

Try conch raw in a salad, or fried as a crispy fritter. Creamy conch chowder is delicious, while cracked conch is tenderized, breaded, and fried, served with French fries or mac ‘n’ cheese.

Arawak Cay in Nassau is a good place to try it, as there are several different restaurants and food shacks here.

Do bear in mind, though, that conch is endangered. Only mature specimens can be harvested, so always ask if your lunch has been sustainably caught.

Go Sport Fishing Like Hemingway

Sport fishing in the Bahamas

Sport fishing

The famous American author, who lived in nearby Key West, was known for his love of sport fishing, and Bimini was one of his favorite spots.

You can follow in Hemingway’s footsteps on a fishing tour from the island, which will take you out over the reefs to where the big fish are biting.

You’ll learn the correct technique from an expert and can try your hand at reeling in fish like snapper, grouper, barracuda, and triggerfish.

Get Close to Marine Life at Atlantis

Shark inside an aquarium


Nassau’s Atlantis Resort has the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, which offers a great opportunity to see sharks, eels, barracuda, and rays at close range.

The habitats are arranged around the “Lost City of Atlantis”, and are especially atmospheric. You’ll see some of them as you fly down the waterslides at Aquaventure, but for a more serene experience, explore the habitats at your leisure.

You can even get in the water at the Ruins Lagoon and swim in a vast tank, its underwater reconstructed ruins bringing the fantasy of the Lost City to life. The lagoon is populated by some 20,000 dazzling reef and pelagic fish, and swimming here is a surreal experience.

Take an Underwater Scooter for a Spin

Underwater scooter in the Bahamas

Underwater scooter

Although it looks like a toy from a Bond movie, an underwater scooter requires no previous experience to operate. It’s like your own personal mini-sub; you wear a full helmet over your head and breathe compressed air, but you don’t need any scuba certification.

The dazzling reefs and coral gardens around Nassau are the perfect place to explore on this exciting craft. As you’re under the surface for a prolonged period, you may encounter sea turtles and rays as well as shoals of brilliantly colored reef fish.

The scooters are battery powered, so are environmentally friendly, although you mustn’t drive them too close to the coral.

The ascent and descent are controlled by qualified safety drivers. Scooters are tethered at all times to a buoy on the surface, so there’s no chance of heading off into the blue depths alone.

See the Flamingos at Ardastra Gardens

Flamingos in Ardastra Gardens

Flamingos in Ardastra Gardens, Nassau

The flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas, but in the 1950s became severely threatened. Ardastra Gardens, a conservation center in Nassau, in partnership with the Bahamian government and others, embarked on a captive breeding program, bringing the graceful pink birds back from the brink.

You can see a flock of these beautiful birds at the gardens today, and learn more about the importance of conserving the wetlands in which they live in the wild.

Snorkel With Reef Sharks

Reef shark in the Bahamas

Reef shark

There’s a visceral thrill about spotting a shark in the water; most of us, after all, have been raised on movies that portray sharks as the bad guys.

Snorkeling with these elegant creatures is an exciting thing to do in the Bahamas for experienced swimmers. You can join a snorkel tour from Bimini, which will take you by boat to the site where Caribbean reef sharks are known to congregate.

Once you see those shadowy figures around the boat, you can slide into the water in your snorkel gear and admire their stealth and grace.

Caribbean reef sharks are the apex predators of their food chain, reaching up to 10 feet long. They’re not aggressive, though, and don’t attack humans. They may pass close to you in the water, which only adds to the thrill of the adventure.

Marvel at the Dolphin House

Head into the tiny settlement of Alice Town, the capital of sleepy Bimini, to see the extraordinary Dolphin House.

This astonishing building was created in 1993 by Ashley Saunders, a local historian and author, and is festooned inside and out with shells, sea glass, and other items salvaged from beaches. The whole design was inspired by the wild dolphins that populate the ocean around Bimini, and there are dolphin designs throughout the building.

Don’t just admire the house from the outside; join Ashley Saunders himself for a tour. As he is Bimini born and bred, he’s full of stories of life on the island.

Swim With Wild Dolphins

Dolphins swimming in the Bahamas


Swimming among wild dolphins is a profoundly moving experience and one of the most exciting things to do in the Bahamas. Bimini is one of the best places in the Bahamas to try this.

There are no guarantees, of course, as the dolphins are wild, but local operators know where the pods are likely to be. They observe the marine mammals every day and understand their habits.

You need to be a confident swimmer and snorkeler to enjoy this experience. Once dolphins have been spotted, the marine mammal expert who accompanies you will tell you when to get in the water and how to behave. Then, it’s up to you to relax into what for many is the adventure of a lifetime as the dolphins swim around you and, sometimes, right up to you.

Learn How Conch Is Harvested

Person holding fresh conch


Conch is indigenous to The Bahamas and is only allowed to be harvested by free divers. You can join a tour in Bimini to join local conch fishing experts to see what goes into producing your conch chowder or salad.

The divers will take you out on a boat and then dive down into the seagrass beds to bring up some conch. Only specimens over a certain age can be taken, as the species is endangered, and they’ll show you how to tell the vintage of a conch. You’ll also learn about the mollusk’s importance to the people, their economy, and culture.

Enjoy an Adults-Only Beach Escape

Enjoy an adults-only experience at the cool Hideaway Beach on CocoCay, a tropical island paradise. Relax on the white sand beach on a luxurious beach chair or a hammock, listening to chillout tunes spun by a poolside DJ.

You’ll find a beautiful free-form infinity pool, with loungers in the water and a swim-up bar. Rent a poolside cabana with its own mini-fridge and floating mats to use. Or try a Hideout Cabana, which opens onto an infinity edge plunge pool.

There’s no shortage of food and drinks at Hideaway Beach. Slice of Paradise is a rustic pizzeria with some Bahamian twists in the toppings, like guava BBQ chicken. Snack Shack is the place to head for chicken sandwiches, burgers, and salads. Make a beeline for On the Rocks on the shoreline for frozen margaritas to accompany your game of shuffleboard.

Learn About Mangroves at Bonefish Pond

Mangroves in Bonefish Pond

Bonefish Pond

Located on the southern shore of New Providence Island, Bonefish Pond, a national park, is the last remaining system of tidal mangroves on the island, extending to 1,235 acres of coastal wetland.

Mangroves play a vital role in the ecosystem, as their underwater roots act as a natural nursery for juvenile marine creatures. There are dozens of species of bird here, too.

Step out onto a boardwalk that juts out over the water, and learn more about the species you can spot here. You could also join a gentle kayak tour, getting closer to nature amid the lush greenery.

Relax in an Overwater Cabana on CocoCay

Elevate your time on the award-winning CocoCay with an overwater cabana. These luxe cabanas, the first of their kind in the region, bring a touch of Bora Bora to the Bahamas.

Your cabana, which accommodates up to eight, will come with a hammock, waiter service, bottled water, a bluetooth speaker, and access to the exclusive Coco Beach Club restaurant.

Best of all, each cabana has a slide, so you can simply flop from your hammock and glide gently into the warm, blue water below.

Snorkel at Love Beach

Pretty Love Beach, around 25 minutes’ drive from downtown Nassau, is worth the trip for its fantastic snorkeling.

There’s very little development here apart from a handful of beach bars and vendors; the real attraction is the 40 acres of coral reef that starts just 150 yards from the shore.

Parrotfish spotted in the Bahamas


Look out for turquoise parrotfish, which munch on the coral, as well as yellowtail damselfish, chic queen angelfish attired in brilliant shades of blue, orange, and yellow, and pretty butterflyfish.

You may spot lionfish cruising the reefs, distinguished by their red, black, and white stripes and multiple fins and spines. While they are exotic to look at, don’t touch one, as the spines are venomous.

Explore the Pirates of Nassau Museum

Exterior of Pirates of Nassau Museum

Pirates of Nassau Museum Photo by JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pirates play a significant role in the history of both the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and you can learn about some of the most notorious characters at the interactive Pirates of Nassau Museum, a fun day out for the whole family.

The golden era of piracy (if you were a pirate at least) was from the late 17th to the early 18th centuries. Then, the Bahamas was a lawless place, its shallow waters, caves, and secret coves the perfect environment for both stashing loot and lying in wait for passing merchant ships to attack and plunder.

Discover the secrets of Blackbeard and “Calico” Jack Rackham, as well as various female pirates. Step back in time to an atmospheric shanty town, then learn about the punishments and trials inflicted upon pirates as their heyday drew to a close.

There’s an interesting display of piratical artifacts and weapons, too, as well as skull and crossbones flags.

Whizz Down North America’s Tallest Water Slide

Devil’s Peak, CocoCay, one of the best things to do in the Bahamas

Devil’s Peak, CocoCay

Devil’s Peak dominates the landscape at the private island of CocoCay. This white knuckle ride towers 135 feet above the colorful tangle of slides and rides below. It’s the tallest waterslide in North America, and climbing up to the start is thrill enough for some.

Once you’re in position, lie back, cross your ankles, keep your arms in, take a deep breath, and go. You’ll fly at high speed through the red tube, hurtling through sections of flashing disco lights, emerging, exhilarated, into a channel at the base.

Feast on Lionfish

Lionfish on a plate


Stripy, frilly lionfish may look exotically beautiful, but in the Bahamas, and the whole of the Caribbean, they’re considered a menace. And while we’re encouraged to consume less fish nowadays in the name of sustainability, with lionfish, it’s the opposite. Conservationists say the more we catch and eat, the better.

The lionfish is a species that belongs in the Indian and Pacific oceans and has somehow found its way to the Caribbean. Here, there are few natural predators, and the fish, with its poisonous spines and voracious appetite, is wiping out populations of juvenile fish and crustaceans that are native to the region.

The good news is that lionfish tastes delicious. If you see it on a menu, order it. Savor the sweet, flaky white flesh as ceviche, soup, or a tasty grill, and bask in the knowledge that you’re keeping locals in business—and helping the environment, too.

Shop in the Straw Market

Wood carvings inside Straw Market, Nassau

Straw Market, Nassau

Nassau’s Straw Market has its origins in the days when life in New Providence was subsistence-based, with locals farming fruit and fishing. Sturdy, woven straw baskets were essential for carrying goods, and creating them became an art form.

Nowadays, you’ll find straw markets all over the Bahamas, but the one in Nassau on Bay Street is the most famous. This is the place to come for straw hats and purses, wood carvings, mats, beaded jewelry, and other local souvenirs.

You’re best off paying in cash, with small denomination bills (U.S. dollars will be accepted). It’s expected that you’ll indulge in a little light haggling.

Check the provenance of anything you’re buying; some goods are imported from China, so aren’t really Bahamian souvenirs.

Follow the Bimini Road

View of Bimini Road

Bimini Road

Mystery surrounds the Bimini Road, a series of perfectly aligned blocks of rock on the sea bed to the north of Bimini Island. The structure, or natural phenomenon, was discovered more than 50 years ago.

Today, you can snorkel over the monoliths and form your own opinion. Some believe it has a connection to the lost city of Atlantis, as the rocks form a similar pattern to an ancient sunken city in the Mediterranean. It could be a road, or an ancient harbor wall. But scientists who have analyzed the rock content say there’s no evidence of this. Either way, it’s a beautiful snorkel trip and a fascinating delve into mythology.

Try Bahamian Specialties

Try Bahamian food, one of the best things to do in the Bahamas

Bahamian food

You’ve tasted conch and sipped a Bahama Mama – but what else is there to try in the Bahamas?

Boiled fish, usually snapper or grouper, is Bahamian comfort food, usually served with spices and potatoes. Souse, too, is a beloved local specialty. Essentially, it’s a soup with peppers, onions, carrots, bell peppers, and celery – and in its tamest form, chicken. Some versions include sheep’s tongue or pigs’ feet but you might want to work up to those.

Baked crab on a plate

Baked crab

Baked crab is another popular Bahamian food; the crab is baked in the shell before the meat is taken out, spiced, seasoned, mixed with breadcrumbs, and then stuffed back in.

Spicy patties filled with minced meat or vegetables make a satisfying snack, while Johnny cakes seem to go with everything. These fluffy little cubes of golden cake are made with sugar and often enjoyed with butter and jam, but are sometimes served with fish or stew. As is rice ‘n’ peas, which includes pigeon peas rather than the more familiar green version, and a lot of spice.

Then there’s mac ‘n’ cheese, a national obsession. Bahamians make this tasty side dish with extras including peppers, herbs, spices, mustard, and sometimes, eggs. Multiple cheeses may be included, making this delicious dish even richer.

Read: Bahamas vs. Caribbean: Which Should You Visit?

Atlantis Resort, Nassau, one of the best things to do in the Bahamas

Atlantis Resort, Nassau

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