Located in the Western Atlantic Ocean, approximately 50 miles east of Florida is an archipelago of 700 islands and over 2000 rocks and cays. With a total area (land and sea) of over 100,000 square miles and the estimated land area being only about 5,400 square miles, this archipelago is known as the Islands of The Bahamas.
From Grand Bahama in the north to Inagua in the South, The Bahamas is made up of a diverse group of islands that give tourists a plethora of choices depending on their interests. In this article, I would highlight ten of the approximately twenty inhabited islands.
When thinking of The Bahamas, most tourists think of Nassau and Freeport. Nassau is actually the capital city of The Bahamas, located on the island of New Providence and Freeport, known as the second city, is located on the island of Grand Bahama.
New Providence: One of the smaller islands of The Bahamas, with a total area of 80 square miles, the island of New Providence is home to more than three quarters of the entire population of The Bahamas. The political capital and commercial hub of The Bahamas, The House of Assembly, The Senate and Government House (Home of the Governor General) are located on this island. Its capital city of Nassau offers tourists an exciting and educational vacation experience.
Tourists looking to let their hair down, enjoy the beaches, shopping and sightseeing by day and party the night away have numerous attractions to choose from. For tourists interested in learning more about the history of The Bahamas, Nassau has many historical sites such as forts, museums and ancient colonial style buildings. Most of the major hotels such as Atlantis Resort are located on Nassau.
Grand Bahama: The fourth largest island of The Bahamas measuring 530 square miles and second most populated, Grand Bahama is known as the “Industrial Capital of The Bahamas”. The island’s layout allows tourists to have the best of both worlds, enjoying the city and the island life; it is divided into three major sections: East End, Freeport/Lucaya and West End.
Many quaint settlements and secluded beaches may be found in East End and also National Parks for those tourists interested in Eco Tourism.
The city of Freeport, known as the second city of The Bahamas, is a bit more laid back than Nassau. The center of activity is industrial and it offers many activities and attractions for tourists such as fine shopping, kayaking, snorkeling and entertainment in the Port Lucaya Market Place.
The west end of the island also has many quaint settlements including the largest settlement in The Bahamas, Eight Mile Rock. The settlement of West End itself is a tranquil, charming sea side village where visitors may regularly see residents hanging on the bay fishing and may also have an opportunity to see a conch shell being cracked open and the conch (a Bahamian delicacy) being retrieved from the shell.
There are a few hotels, resorts and guests houses on the island.
Abaco: Known as “The Sailing Capital of the World”, with 649 square miles, Abaco is the second largest island of The Bahamas. It encompasses several cays.
A peaceful island with breathtaking beaches and picturesque settlements, Abaco offers a lot for tourists who love nature and ecotourism. There are also many historical sites on the island including the 120 feet high Candy Striped Lighthouse. Abaco National Park is home to the endangered Bahama Parrot. The Boat building Capital of The Bahamas is located on Man-O-War Cay, Abaco. The island has a few hotels, villas and marinas.
Andros: With an area of 2,300 square miles, Andros is the largest island in The Bahamas. It is known as “The Bone Fishing Capital of The World” because of its Great Barrier Reef and deep blue holes that attract tourists who enjoy Bone Fishing.
The Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center is located on Andros Island and it is also home to Morgan’s Cave/Morgan’s Bluff, a wide system of subterranean limestone caves.
The colorful Bahamian cotton batik called “Androsia Print” is produced on the island of Andros. Visitors can tour the Androsia Factory and watch the complete process of the production.
Ideal for tourists who want to relax and enjoy nature, there are a few guest houses on the island.
Bimini: This small island, only 9 square miles, is known as “The Big Game Fishing Capital of the World”. Thousands of people travel to Bimini annually for Big Game Fishing Tournaments. The island is located only 20 miles southeast of Miami, Florida and comprises North and South Bimini and many cays. Tourists who love nature, fishing, diving or kayaking will love this quaint, peaceful island.
Eleuthera: Eleuthera is widely known for its Glass Window Bridge, an area on the island where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet, offering a spectacular view. With an area of 200 square miles it is a tranquil island that has some of the Bahamas’ most beautiful beaches. Located on the northeastern end of Eleuthera, Harbour Island is famous for its three and a half miles of pale pink sand beaches.
Also known for growing juicy pineapples, Eleuthera hosts an annual Pineapple Festival that attracts Bahamians and visitors. The island also offers places for great sightseeing and tours including many historic sites from the Eleutheran Adventurers, Loyalists and other early settlers. It is a great vacation spot for rest and relaxation.
Exuma: “The Regatta Capital of the Bahamas”, Exuma is known for its regattas (boat races) that attract Bahamians and visitors alike. It has an area of 112 square miles inclusive of its many cays. The island is said to be a “Boater’s Paradise” because of its hidden coves and many private beaches.
The capital of the island, George Town, is a picturesque town with many historic churches, hotels and guest houses.
Inagua: The island of Inagua is the most southerly of the islands of The Bahamas. At 599 square miles, it is separated into two land masses: Great Inagua and Little Inagua. The island of Inagua has the widest diversity of plants and animals found in The Bahamas including the National Bird of The Bahamas, The Flamingo. This beautiful, elegant bird with pink feathers, long, thin legs, long neck and a beak that curves down may be found in the thousands at Inagua’s National Park.
Inagua is also known for the production of salt. Morton Salt Company has been on the island since 1954 and is said to be about the third largest solar complex in the world.
For tourists interested in ecotourism and exploring nature, Inagua is the ideal vacation spot.
Long Island: At 230 square miles, long island is named as such because of its seemingly unending length. It is another one of the lesser developed islands of The Bahamas that offers much serenity. With its Plantation Ruins, Caves and Historic Churches, Long Island has amazing opportunities for sightseeing. For the daring tourists that enjoy shark diving, there is a shark reef on the island that is said to offer one of the best dives in The Bahamas. The island is also great for fishing.
San Salvador: This island is quite significant in the history of The Bahamas as it is said to be the island where Christopher Columbus and his crew landed on October 12, 1492, discovering The Bahamas. The island was called Guanahani by the Lucayan Indians whom Christopher Columbus met there and he changed the name to San Salvador, meaning “Holy Saviour”. A monument of Christopher Columbus may be found on the island.
At 63 square miles, San Salvador is a peaceful island ideal for tourists looking to enjoy a peaceful and serene vacation.
In spite of the great diversity of the islands of The Bahamas, they all have a lot in common like crystal clear aqua-marine waters, pearly white sand, friendly people and scrumptious meals, just to name a few.
Whether you simply want to relax or enjoy a vacation of fun and adventure, the islands of The Bahamas have a lot to offer. Go island hopping and discover the great diversity of the islands of The Bahamas!