The Bahamas has thousands of islands and even more beaches, but some strands stand out for their perfect mix of sand and surf — and in some cases, surfing, snorkeling, and swimming swine, too!
By Bob Curley
1 of 10Photo: Pola Damonte/Getty
Gold Rock Beach, Grand Bahama Island
Gold Rock Beach is the most beautiful section of Grand Bahama Island’s amazing 90 miles of south-shore strand. Located east of Freeport within the protectedLucayan National Park, the white sand beach stretches nearly the length of a football field wide at low tide, and the shallows are a delight for wading, snorkeling, or lounging with your toes in the sun-warmed waters. Reach the beach by a boardwalk snaking through the mangroves that help keep the sand in place; you can also explore the park’s limestone caves and kayak on Gold Rock Creek.
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Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island
The Atlantis resort is such a dominant presence on Paradise Island that you can sometimes overlook the great beaches that line the shore of Nassau’s exclusive near-neighbor island. Cabbage Beach has a broad necklace of soft sand, and in addition to sunning and swimming you can avail yourself of for-rent water toys or slip a mask on and explore Snorkler's Cove. The Paradise Island Beach Club faces Cabbage Beach, while guests from Atlantis and theOne&Only Ocean Clubcan stroll down the shore for a change of pace from their resort beaches.
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Nassau and Paradise Island beaches can get crowded at times, but savvy beachgoers can get a taste of the laid-back Bahamas Out Island experience on Rose Island. Just three miles off the western tip of Paradise Island, Rose Island is an uninhabited sliver of sand that feels completely remote — the perfect idyll when you want to do nothing more than claim a seat under a shady palapa in paradise.Sandy Toesoffers daily trips to Rose Island that includes a beach picnic, drinks, guided snorkeling excursion, beach games, and more.
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Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island
What’s cool about Harbour Island’s Pink Sand Beach — other than its subtly pink-hued sand, of course — is that you’ll never burn your feet while walking the shore: comprised of the pulverized shells of small coral insects, the pink sands never get hot. The three-mile beachis protected by offshore reefs that keep the waves low and water calm; the boutique Pink Sands Resort has rooms, villas, and cottages in the dunes behind the beach.
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Radio Beach, Bimini
More travelers are discovering tiny Bimini since the opening of a big new resort on the island last fall, but Radio Beach retains all of its small-town charms despite being the island’s most popular beach. A short bike or golf-cart ride from the new Hilton at Resorts World Bimini or the island’s handful of laid-back marina hotels, Radio Beach has placid waters and a long, slow slope — it feels like you can wade out to sea for miles here. Come on Sundays and join the locals drinking rum punch at the pop-up beach bar and snacking on cracked conch from CJ’s Deli, then stick around for the sun setting over the wreck of the ill-fated freighter Gallant Lady, marooned just offshore.
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Pig Beach, Big Major Cay, Exumas
You can wallow in crystal-clear waters almost anywhere in the Bahamas, but only on Big Major Cay can you swim with pigs. Going whole-hog on the tropical island vibe, a family of swine mysteriously appeared on uninhabited Big Major Cay and took up residence on the beach, spending their days basking in the sun and piggy-paddling through the waves. The pigs don’t mind if you join them for a dip: in fact, they’re likely to sidle right up in search of a snack even before you get off your boat. Four C’s Adventuresoffers day trips to Big Major Cay — don’t fall for “imitation bacon” tours that tout pig swims at other, less remote locations.
7 of 10Photo: BenDower/Getty
Surfer’s Beach, Eleuthera
Surfer’s Beach is a reminder that the Bahamas aren’t located in the mellow waters of the Caribbean, but in the somewhat livelier South Atlantic Ocean. Comparisons to Hawaii surf spots are not out of bounds at this north-facing beach on Eleuthera, although, typical of the Atlantic, the best waves come in the winter (October-April), so pack a wetsuit if you go. Once a famous surfer’s paradise, the beach suffered from hurricane damage over the years but remains dotted with surf shacks and shops where you can rent a board and test the swells.
8 of 10Photo: Enn Li Photography/Getty
Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island
True to its name, Long Island has seemingly endless beaches fringing its 80-mile shoreline, but none are quite as visually stunning as Dean’s Blue Hole, the second-deepest saltwater sinkhole in the world. Sitting in a tiny bay just north of Clarence Town, the sinkhole plunges an incredible 663 feet — about 75 feet wide at the surface, it gradually widens into a chamber 240 feet wide, 350 feet long, and 603 feet high. Yet Dean’s Blue Hole can be safely and easily snorkeled right off the shore, and the beach is among Long Island’s most scenic.
9 of 10Photo: Tony Arruza/Getty
Guana Cay, Abacos
A pair of beach bars, Grabbers andNippers, lure boaters out to Great Guana Cay in the Abacos, which has more than seven miles of reef-protected beaches with excellent snorkeling waters and — unusual for the Bahamas — high dunes overlooking the ocean. The reefs contain healthy staghorn and elkhorn corals, and nesting turtles sometimes share the beach. Rent a cottage and spend the weekend if you want to indulge in Nipper’s famous Sunday pig roast.
10 of 10Photo: Sherry Galey/Getty
Tahiti Beach, Abacos
It’s not in the South Pacific, but it’s still a bit of a journey to reach this Elbow Cay beach, which can only be accessed on foot or by bike from Hope Town. Coconut palms shade the shoreline, and you can practically stroll to the next island over when low tide reveals a wide, shallow sandbar. The lack of road access means you’ll probably have the beach to yourself other than the occasional boaters who anchor offshore.