The Bahamas - an ultimate islands guide
Published 11 November 2021
With over 700 islands to meander through, The Bahamas is a wonderful destination for a superyacht holiday. Discover your perfect Bahamas island charter with this Burgess guide...
The Bahamas is one of the most varied island nations to visit on a yacht charter, with a vast selection of activities from which to choose across its 700 islands. Just a short flight from the US, an overnight cruise on the water from Florida or a slightly longer trip from Europe, it is understandably a firm favourite among those who have sampled what The Bahamas has to offer by yacht. From luxury resorts and excellent golf courses to secluded sandspits and exciting fishing or diving spots, there truly is something for everyone. As the locals like to say, life is better in The Bahamas.
When to visit The Bahamas
The main charter season in The Bahamas is from November to April, although it is a great destination to enjoy by yacht throughout the year. In November, the thermometer reaches an average of 28C (82F), while April sees average temperatures of 27C (81F); meanwhile the sea tends to hover around 26C (79F) throughout the year.
Best islands for families THE EXUMAS
If you are looking for things to do in The Bahamas with family, you simply cannot go wrong with a yacht charter to The Exumas; this secluded corner of paradise is beloved by all those that cruise its waters. From the sheltered sandspits and calmer waters that lie on The Bahamas Bank to the west of the archipelago, to the more rugged Atlantic facing east, the 365 mostly uninhabited islands deliver enchanting experiences day after day. The limestone islets are surrounded by coral reefs teeming with sea life that make for ideal snorkelling or scuba diving, and if you are a keen angler then the bone fishing and deep sea fishing options are practically endless.
Stop at Staniel Cay to snorkel in Thunderball Grotto, meet the famous swimming pigs of Big Major Cay, and sample a frozen pina colada and plate of conch salad at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, one of Jimmy Buffet’s favourite watering holes. Enjoy a day of activities on a remote island, from family beach Olympics to treasure hunts, then watch the sun drop past the horizon while your charter yacht crew prepares a feast of freshly grilled seafood accompanied by refreshing cocktails for dinner.
Best island for new experiences NEW PROVIDENCE
As home to the capital of Nassau and the most connected island in The Bahamas, New Providence is a great place to start your yacht charter. Here you will find sugar pink buildings, upscale resorts and a number of marinas able to dock superyachts, including at Lyford Cay and Albany, the latter of which also boasts a popular golf course and spa.
If you are visiting in late December, Junkanoo is an unmissable carnival that takes place in Nassau on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Dating back centuries, the festivities include music, dancing and vibrant costumes that celebrate the local culture and history. Another must-see are the flamingos Ardastra Gardens and Wildlife Conservation Centre.
Best island for couples PARADISE ISLAND
Just a short trip across a bridge on the north-east coast of New Providence, find the romantic haven of Paradise Island. This touristic hotspot is home to a number of dazzling resorts, which are best known for their casinos and fun activities. Atlantis Bahamas hotel and casino complex has a world-renowned water park offering various rides alongside an aquarium and other chances to get familiar with the native sea life.
James Bond enthusiasts might recognise the colonial style buildings and French inspired gardens of the exclusive Ocean Club, which was the setting for the early scenes in Casino Royale; with an excellent spa, five miles of powder white beaches and glamorous casino at your disposal, you can enjoy a romantic sojourn that you’ll never want to end.
Best island for foodies HARBOUR ISLAND
One of the finest and longest established vacation spots in The Bahamas is Harbour Island, a stone’s throw from Eleuthra, which has an airport for those arriving by air. On Harbour Island you will find supermodels and celebrities rubbing shoulders with media magnates and the biggest names on Wall Street. But don’t expect high heels and haute couture; Harbour Island has a distinctly low key charm about it. Most transportation on the island is by golf buggy and there is a relaxed, friendly ambiance wherever you go. That being said, Harbour Island does have its fair share of gourmet establishments that cater to those with refined tastes.
The spectacular Atlantic facing coastal views at the Pink Sands Resort are matched by its cuisine, which it defines as ‘island inspired with an eye on wellness and flavour’; be sure to make a reservation at Malcolm 51, its inspiring fine-dining restaurant. For a special evening, enjoy a dinner of Caribbean flavours at the Rock House, which has tables looking across the water to the west of the island. The Landing serves up modern European plates in a setting that combines contemporary cool with an island twist. And the Clubhouse at The Dunmore hotel is the place to see and be seen; its top notch food is complemented by an eclectic 60s decor that feels both homely and elegant.
Best island for relaxation LONG ISLAND
As the most under the radar island in The Bahamas, Long Island delivers a tranquil, slower pace that is run on ‘island time’. Pull on your hiking shoes and head for the trails that trace its famously rugged coastline, exploring caves and historical landmarks such as Columbus Point on the northern tip, where a hilltop monument marks where Christopher Columbus made his landfall after crossing the Atlantic.
Then reward your efforts by spending the rest of the day relaxing on the pristine four-mile beach at Cape Santa Maria Resort, voted as one of the top beaches in the world. Explore Hamilton’s Cave, The Bahamas’ largest known cave system, which was once inhabited by the Arawak Indians and features a fresh underwater spring, stalactites, stalagmites and native fauna including bats, lizards, frogs and crabs.
No trip to Long Island would be complete without a visit to Dean’s Blue Hole, the second deepest in the world at an jaw-dropping 202m (662.7ft). Here you can swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the stunning surroundings, perhaps watching in awe at the entrants of the annual freediving competition, Vertical Blue; top local competitors can descend to almost 60m (196.8ft) without assistance. Even if your aquatic aspirations are less daring, you can enjoy the famously sublime visibility of the Bahamian waters and explore the blue hole’s coral reef edges.
Best island for thrill-seekers ANDROS
The largest island in The Bahamas, Andros is relatively untouched and offers a multitude of adventures for those who like to stay active. With five national parks to discover, it is an ecotourism haven on land, while there is world class scuba diving, an abundance of blue holes and all kinds of fishing to enjoy on the water. West Side National Park spans some 6070km of pristine wilderness, while the North and South Marine Parks are home to over 300km of protected waters in the Andros Barrier Reef to the east of the island. Because the landmass of Andros is divided by a network of creeks, it has not been significantly developed and is best explored by sea, especially from the comfort of a luxury charter yacht.
Andros is home to the highest concentration of blue holes in the world. With over 180 of these marine sinkholes to explore in the Blue Holes National Park, why not combine a trip to Captain Bill’s Blue Hole with a visit with an interpretative birding trail to take in the wonders of the sea and the sky on the same day. An unmissable highlight of a yacht charter to Andros is a visit to the Tongue of the Ocean, a vertiginous drop-off found at the edge of the teeming Andros Barrier Reef. Although it makes for a great scuba spot in the day, the thrill-seekers among your group might also be keen to try a night dive over the ‘wall’, which plunges from around 20m to 1,820m from the water’s surface, and is home to a vast array of sea life. With the torches turned off, a new world of bioluminescent marine plankton is revealed that will leave you awestruck.
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