You know Nassau and Paradise Island, you've likely heard of Grand Bahama Island, but there's much more to the Bahamas than meets the eye. Feel like doing some exploring? You're in luck — the Bahamas are one of the world's premier island-hopping destinations. There are many to choose from, they all have something different (and spectacular) to offer and accessing them is fairly easy. Here are a few of our favorites.
Known to be a favored tropical escape for Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s, Bimini offers much in the way of island activities covering a wide variety of interests. If you love to dive, you can enjoy both wreck and reef diving. If you prefer to snorkel, there are several snorkel sites teeming with fascinating marine life. If you love to fish, Bimini just happens to be known as the sport fishing capital of the world. If you want to relax on the beach, there are several stretches of sand to choose from. Birding, sea kayaking (on your own or with guided eco-tours), unique attractions on land and several dining and shopping opportunities further add to Bimini's appeal.
Getting here: South Bimini Airport (BIM) offers daily scheduled air service to Bimini from Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and Florida.
If you like pink sand (and how could you not), then you'll probably fall for Harbour Island as hard as we did. Located off the northeast coast of Eleuthera, the island's aforementioned pink sand beach is three miles long and runs the entire length of the island. Buildings are painted in pretty pastel hues and the favored mode of transport is golf carts, bicycles or scooters (no cars here). Swim, snorkel, wander the beach or snap pictures of the colorful architecture as you peruse the small shops and cafes. If relaxation is what you're after, this is your island.
Getting here: There are three airports on mainland Eleuthera (your jumping off point for Harbour Island): North Eleuthera (ELH), Governor's Harbour (GHB) in Central Eleuthera and Rock Sound (RSD) in South Eleuthera. Access to Harbour Island from Eleuthera is easy via regular ferry service.
Sometimes referred to as a "mini-Bahamas" because it has its own set of outlying islands, the Abacos are a 120-mile-long island chain perfect for boating and sailing enthusiasts who want to do a little (or a lot) of exploring. The largest of the chain are Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco, with a string of much smaller barrier islands completing the package. Charming colonial towns, three golf courses, four dedicated national parks, miles of gorgeous beaches, great fishing and diving, and a large selection of places to stay, eat and drink all add to the appeal of the Abacos.
Getting here: Two airports serve the Abacos: Marsh Harbour International Airport (MHH) and Treasure Cay International Airport (TCB). There is frequent service from Nassau to Marsh Harbour.
Even though it's the fifth-largest island in the Caribbean, Andros is also the most sparsely developed of all the Bahamas. What it lacks in development it makes up for in natural wonders, including the world's third-largest barrier reef (after Australia's Great Barrier and Central America's Belize Barrier Reef), over 40 kinds of wild orchids, rare birds, wild boar and 4-foot-long iguanas. And there's the miles of deserted beaches, freshwater lakes, pine forests and mangroves to explore. If you feel like spending some quality time with nature both in and out of the water, we suggest a stop on Andros.
Getting here: Four airports serve Andros : San Andros (SAQ), Andros Town (ASD), Mangrove Cay (MVE) and Congo Town (TZN). There are daily flights from Nassau to San Andros via Westenrair.
This archipelago of 365 cays and islands, beginning 35 miles southeast of Nassau, is well worth a spot on any island-hopping itinerary. For starters, a good portion of it (a 176-square-mile section) is known as the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, one of the world's most successful marine parks. The whole of the Exumas is a must-see spot for anyone who likes to be in or on the water — boaters, fishermen, divers, snorkelers and kayakers. White sand beaches are in abundance (thousands of miles to be exact), both popular and more secluded depending on what you're looking for. Oh, and the Exumas are also home to the famous swimming pigs (seriously , they actually swim).
Getting here: Get daily flights from Nassau into Exuma International Airport (GGT).
Often referred to as a hidden gem, tiny Rum Cay beckons those craving a taste of the undiscovered. Unexplored beaches abound, as do secluded coves that can only be accessed by boat. This is the spot where you can find your own private patch of island paradise. 60-foot coral walls and vibrant marine life also make this a haven for divers. Anyone feeling active can enjoy various water sports, including kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kite surfing.
Getting here: If you have your own boat, you can head into Sumner Point Marina through a well-marked channel. A small airstrip at the Port Nelson Airport (RCI) is serviced with occasional flights from Nassau, and charter air service can be arranged through any certified local and international carriers.
Pack your bags and join us next time when Frequent Flier gets some much-needed R&R in the pretty lake district of Guatemala.
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