Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore in the Bahamas

Our travel editor shares her favorite spots on these iconic Caribbean islands.

Every winter in New York City advertisements declaring “It’s better in the Bahamas” wallpaper the subway system just as the coldest fronts bring their bone-chilling temperatures. Intrigued by the promise (and tired of calculating the wind-chill factor), my husband and I escaped to the island nation that’s located just 90 miles to the southeast of Miami and a world away from chilly city living.

Good Eats

To say that the food prices in the Bahamas are prohibitive is an under statement. Due to importation needs and fuel surcharges, island cuisine comes at a premium. There’s no shortage of all-inclusive properties across the islands (my favorite of which is the picturesque Sands Emerald Bay on the island of Great Exuma). Stay at one and you can keep your budget in check. If you’re looking for a special-occasion splurge, a variety of top chefs—from Bobby Flay to Nobu— have set up shop on Paradise Island. For a more local experience head over to Nassau’s fish fry, a street lined with ramshackle restaurants offering island specialties including conch salad (a ceviche-style seafood dish), deep-fried conch fritters, conch chowder and spicy peas and rice. On the out islands (those that are further from the capital of Nassau) have a trusted cab driver bring you to his favorite roadside lunch spot for a straight-from-the sea or spicy jerk meal.


Photo courtesy of Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas

The Beach Club
Miami’s sizzle meets NYC’s cool factor with a “what happens in Vegas” mindset at The Cove Atlantis, a hip resort within the Paradise Island mega property Atlantis. Guest rooms here are sleek, as is the hotel’s modern open-air lobby and exclusive adults only pool/club area, Cain at The Cove. International DJs spin tunes while patrons relax on oversize beds, play craps or blackjack on outdoor gaming tables and coyly splash in the pool. The beachside cabanas are an awesome perch from which to watch it all. They have comfy couches, personal attendants, huge TVs, levered wooden windows for invoking some privacy and the best feature of all—private bathrooms. True story: When I was there Jay-Z and Beyoncé were holed up in a cabana as the NYC-based DJ played an Empire State of Mind-Single Ladies mash-up (room rates start at $590 a night; atlantis.com).
Photos courtesy of Atlantis

Sight Sea-ing
The more than 700 islands that comprise the Bahamian chain are surrounded by brilliant blue water that’s nearly translucent. So it stands to reason that watersports are the archipelago’s hottest activities. Book a half-day kayaking excursion with Island Routes Caribbean Tours in Exuma and you’ll be treated to awesome sightings of water animals all at only a paddle’s length away. Hello, friendly turtles and starfish! The motorized tours take you to deserted sand flats that stretch for miles at low tide. Ask the captain to let you out for a sunset walk. Don’t miss: A boat ride to see the archipelago’s most talked-about sea creatures— swimming pigs. Yes, pigs.

 (Photos courtesy of Island Routes Carribean Aventure Tours