Bahamas: Choose Your Own Adventure

Relax by the beach one day, thrill-seek the next!
Jul 9, 2021

Pink sands. Turquoise waters. Blue holes. We’re turning to the dreamy Islands of The Bahamas to splash vibrant swaths of colour over the past year’s monotone gray.

A nation of over 700 idyllic islands and cays located a three-hour flight from Toronto, The Bahamas makes it easy to stake out your own piece of paradise.  

Ready for a virtual vacation? We created a choose-your-own adventure that hops through a few of the country's mangrove-lined islands and secret sandbars. Start by picking an option below to get to your first surprise stop.

You’ve just arrived in The Bahamas. Where to first? (Choose an option below.)

Dive into the world’s third-largest fringing barrier reef

Experienced and beginner divers alike will relish up to 200 feet of visibility as they glide by the 305-kilometre-long Andros Barrier Reef, the third largest fringing barrier reef in the world.

Swim with schools of tropical fish and even remnants from past ships

Scuba divers can float by stingrays, octopi, blue marlin and large schools of red snapper as they explore the coral floor.

Just stunning. Where to next?

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See where navy meets aquamarine

If you climb the karst rocks at Glass Window Bridge, the narrowest sliver on a thin crest of land that separates the wild Atlantic from the Eleuthera Bight, you can see a true natural wonder — the dark navy of the ocean abutting the neon-bright teal of the crystalline bay. It looks like Mother Nature somehow coloured within the lines.

This strip of rock is just 30 feet wide

After you visit the bridge, travel less than a kilometre south to the naturally formed Queens Baths carved into rock. Visit these pools at low or medium tide, and the sun will have warmed the water to bath-like temperatures (but be sure to step in with water shoes on).

Absolutely stunning. What’s next?

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Live like a local

Curious what a Bahamian family eats at a party or which beach they love best? Before your trip, sign up for the People-to-People Program.

Meet a local and get the inside scoop on the best conch shacks or secret beach spots

One of 800 volunteer ambassadors living throughout the country will share a bit of their life with you, inviting you to a Bahamian feast, showing you around their hometown or escorting you to a monthly tea party hosted at the Governor’s House.

So cool. What’s next?

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Swimming with friendly pigs

No one knows how these squealing cuties first came to Big Major Cay, but now the 20-some pigs are among The Bahamas’ biggest celebrities.

These little piggies know how to pose for a selfie

Take a speedboat or plane from Nassau or Great Exuma to what’s known as Pig Beach and swim with oinkers lovingly dubbed names like Kenzo and Wolfe. The sociable swine will come out to meet you and happily chomp on fresh carrots or apples you toss their way while you pet them in the balmy water.

Well, that was adorable. What’s next?

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Dancing along to the rhythm of Junkanoo

In the wee hours of the morning on Boxing Day and New Year’s, large dance groups head to Nassau’s Bay Street for the biggest celebrations of the year — Junkanoo. This confetti-coloured street parade and competition sees hundreds of people performing dances they've workshopped for months, grooving to the rhythmic sounds of goatskin drums, cowbells and horns.

Bahamians prep their costumes and choreography months before the Junkanoo celebration

Smaller versions of this 200-year-old tradition take place on many summer Saturdays if you’re not in town for the main Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 events, and you can always learn more about the art of Junkanoo at the Educulture Bahamas museum in Nassau.

That was awesome. What’s the next stop?

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Stamp a seahorse onto your own batik cloth

In the 1960s, an entrepreneur named Rosi Birch began batik-making classes on a Bahamian beach, based on the traditional Indonesian artform. Half a century later, the bright, bold material created by her Androsia workshop is the unofficial fabric of The Bahamas.

Each piece of Androsia fabric is hand-pressed and unique

Prebook a class to try hand-pressing wax onto the soft cloth before it’s dyed a brilliant fuchsia or pineapple yellow. You’ll learn from artisans who have been doing this for decades, handcrafting the stamps in island-inspired shapes like conch shells and iguanas. You can also just take a tour of the iconic factory, or browse the on-site shop for shirts, placemats and other souvenirs.

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Wiggle your toes in blush-pink sand

With powder-soft beaches framing over 700 islands, is it even possible to choose a favourite? We narrowed the field by focusing on the coastlines painted a pale pink.

Imagine this on your Instagram feed

The most famous, for good reason, is Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island. Tiny organisms called foraminifera, which have a reddish shell, colour the silky shore a delicious cotton-candy hue, and outer reefs shelter the extra-swimmable water. Be ready for an avalanche of likes when you post this one on social media.

Travelzoo Tip: Get there on your own rented golf cart; it’s Harbour Island’s primary mode of transportation.

Just gorgeous. What’s the next stop?

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Spoon into a fresh conch salad on Potter’s Cay

Eat like a local at Potter’s Cay, a line of pastel-painted conch shacks and fruit markets shaded by the bridge connecting Nassau with Paradise Island. The food stalls here sell everything, from cold Kalik beer to conch fritters, but the must-try is a Bahamian conch salad. 

Each conch shack has its own recipe; extra ingredients include spicy peppers or juice from a just-cut orange

Ordering this dish comes with a show — the cook dices up fresh onions, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple and an entire dressed conch, then squeezes the juice from a lip-smacking lime over the entire pile.

Travelzoo Tip: Go to McKenzie’s for a practiced hand; he’s been serving up salads in the same spot for 25 years.

Delicious! Where to next?

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Jump into Captain Bill’s Blue Hole

Blue holes are deep, round sinkholes carved out of limestone rock. Andros Island alone has at least 150 of them.

A layer of fresh rain water sits on top of salt water in blue holes

One of the most accessible is Captain Bill’s Blue Hole, a sapphire circle set in the middle of a green pine forest. Visitors can bring lunch and eat on picnic tables in the gazebo or walk down wooden steps right into the water. There’s also a platform hanging overhead, begging swimmers to jump in.

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Snorkel over WWI-era shipwrecks

The S.S. Sapona is not the only shipwreck in The Bahamas; here, a couple dives by a wreck off Nassau

A massive gray ghost rises out of the water about 5 kilometres from the shore of South Bimini Island. This sunken concrete ship, the S.S. Sapona, was originally commissioned by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for WWI service, but the war ended before the ship was built, and its massive hull at times served as a casino and a storage facility for Prohibition-era rum. WWII soldiers even used it for bombing target practice. Now, snorkellers can search it for secrets while swimming in the wreck with sea turtles and friendly stingrays.

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Witness a bright pink sea of 80,000 flamingos

The southernmost island in The Bahamas archipelago is Inagua — this isle plays host to the world’s largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos.

The flamingo is The Bahamas' national bird

Bird-watchers, take note: colouring the Inagua sky alongside these 5-foot-tall pink giants are emerald Bahamian parrots, violet-throated hummingbirds and about 140 other species. While you’re on the island, get a tour of the Morton Salt Factory there, which produces a million pounds of salt per year from the island’s salt pans. The flamingos are fans; the brackish water attracts brine shrimp, a main source of food for the fuchsia flock.

Travelzoo Tip: If you can’t make it to Inagua, see the famous Marching Flamingos in Nassau.

Where are you headed next?

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Now that your virtual vacation is over, ready to dream about a real one? The Islands of The Bahamas are welcoming travellers to their shores. Find out more about pre-departure guidelines before you go.

Start your planning with the Island Finder and see which of the islands are calling your name. Read up on The Bahamas’ COVID-19 safety guidelines, check out these deals and get inspired with these two-, three- or four-day itineraries.

Or, if you want to hop your way through the islands once more, get back to the top.

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