Best of the Bahamas – The 10 Best Bahamas Islands
For tropical vacations, the Bahamas are legendary. And with good reason. Even as one of the smallest countries in the world, the Bahamas archipelago, with its approximately 700 tiny Family Island and 2,000 tinier islets, offers a broad spectrum of topography, facilities and recreational opportunities, and gorgeous, pristine beaches besides. There are nearly 30 inhabited islands here, and of those more than a dozen hold tourist interest.
So, for those visiting the Bahamas for the first time, or even those revisiting, here are the ‘Top 10’ islands in the archipelago, which are also the ones most easily accessible to visitors.
New Providence is the principal island in the Bahamas. It is by far the most populous, most popular, and literally a magnet for vacationers, particularly Americans. On it is located Nassau, the largest and best known Bahamian city, which claims more than 175,000 people and over 400 banks (oh, did we mention that the Bahamas is a tax haven? No? Well, it is!)! Accommodations, dining choices and other visitor facilities are plentiful here, as are other real time tourist attractions. Besides its history-laden narrow streets and British-era forts, the chief draws here are the Atlantis International Resort and Casino and the Queen’s Staircase, the latter a 65-step stone stairway, representing one step for each year of Queen Victoria’s rule, which climbs 102 feet to Fort Fincastle. Popular activities include swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing, diving, sport fishing, walking and bicycling.
Grand Bahama is the fourth largest island in the Bahamas. A travel brochure for the island describes it as “cosmopolitan glitz and glamour, coupled with miles of pristine beaches and endless turquoise seas.” And that really sums it up. The island has a dozen or so good hotels, several excellent waterfront restaurants, outstanding shopping venues, two casinos, and miles and miles of sandy beaches. The main city here is Freeport, which is the second largest and most modern in the Bahamas, with a population of 50,000. The big draw on the island is the Lucayan National Park, an environmental happening of sorts.
The Abacos, or just Abaco, is a cluster of tiny islands, islets and outcroppings that forms a 100-mile-long archipelago of its own. This is the second largest such island group in the Bahamas, and the most visited among the Bahamian ‘Out Islands’. Its capital city, Marsh Harbour, which is really a one-stop-light town, is the third largest in the Bahamas. There are other quaint towns and villages on the other Abacos islands as well, with pastel-colored clapboard houses, sun-drenched beaches, abundant tropical flora, quiet country lanes, and more than 50 species of wild tropical birds. Recreation in the Abacos includes all the warm-weather outdoor sports you can think of, while the amenities here can be described as modern.
Andros is by far the largest island in the Bahamas, 104 miles long and 40 miles wide, located just north of the Abacos, with an island-wide population of 8,000. There are three main towns on Andros, Nicholl’s Town, Fresh Creek and Kemp’s Bay, all of them accessible by boat or direct flights from either Miami or Nassau. There are good visitor facilities here, including a wide selection of accommodations, ranging from full-fledged resorts to neat little guest houses. The island is particularly popular with divers.