Pillowy soft sand, baby-blue water, and everything that makes a tropical destination feel like a dream — that’s what you can expect when you visit the Bahamas. This picture-perfect island nation has some of the most idyllic beaches in the world, but the beauty doesn’t stop there. Visitors who come to bask in the sun on a beach chair, drink in hand, often miss out on the other amazing places this vibrant archipelago has to offer.
From swimming with pigs in the Exumas to exploring the second-deepest blue hole in the world, here are the top things to do in the Bahamas, including many exciting adventures that might surprise you:
21. Swim with pigs
Swimming with pigs at Big Major Cay (aka Pig Beach) in the Exumas is one of the most popular activities in the Bahamas — and for good reason! These friendly pigs are accustomed to human interaction and swim right up to your boat on excursions like this one.
Not all pig tours in Big Major Cay are created equal, though, so make sure to check out this guide to swimming with pigs in the Bahamas for everything you need to know before choosing one.
20. Go scuba diving
The pristine waters of the Bahamas make for the perfect scuba diving conditions. There are all kinds of marine creatures to see, from giant conch to stingrays and schools of brightly colored fish. The islands are an excellent place for beginner divers to learn the basics, and this beginner scuba diving program is a great option.
The most impressive place to go diving in the Bahamas is at the 190-mile Andros Barrier Reef, just off the coast of Andros. There you’ll find an awe-inspiring array of marine life, vibrant corals, and even blue holes nearby. For an all-inclusive diving experience, check out Andros Beach Club.
19. Snuggle up to nurse sharks
So you’ve now swum with pigs and you’re ready to expand your comfort zone to other marine life: nurse sharks! They are docile animals that are used to swimming with tourists. You can pet them and even lean in for a little snuggle if you’d like. I mean, when else can you literally hug a shark?
18. Visit Dean’s Blue Hole
Dean’s Blue Hole is the second largest sinkhole in the world. Because the water is so clear, you can see up to 115 feet into the hole, which is 663 feet deep. It’s similar to Belize’s Blue Hole but far less crowded, which is a huge plus. It’s a popular free-diving destination, but you can also swim and snorkel there. If you’re intrigued to learn how to free dive, you can take a beginners course at Vertical Blue.
Getting to Dean’s Blue Hole involves flying to Long Island and making your way to the Turtle Cove development. Find more information on how to access Dean’s Blue Hole here.
17. Float in the calm waters of Pirate Beach
When you visit the Bahamas, don’t miss out on the small island of Staniel Cay, where you’ll find the serene Pirate Beach. The water has a sweet baby-blue color, and the soft white sand makes it even more dreamy. To get there, follow the G&B highway almost to the end and take a right onto a dirt road before the end of the highway.
16. Rent a golf cart
Whether you’re on a small island like Staniel Cay or hanging out in a city like Nassau, renting a golf cart in the Bahamas gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. You’ll be able to find secret beaches and take yourself to dinner — and anywhere else you’d like!
On many islands in the Bahamas, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation, so you’ll fit right in with the locals. Just make sure you don’t forget to drive on the left!
15. Hike on Stocking Island
This island is a rugged natural masterpiece perfect for a hike because of its rocky cliffs, where you’ll get incredible views. Although the entire island is only about three miles long, there’s plenty to see. From stromatolites and the world’s oldest fossils to the fascinating Jacques Cousteau mystery cave, you’ll love exploring Stocking Island on pristine nature trails.
14. Check out Thunderball Grotto
A visit to Thunderball Grotto — a system of underwater caves that you can swim, snorkel, or dive in — may very well be included on any tours to see pigs and nurse sharks, as it’s just west of Staniel Cay. It’s best to visit during low tide, because at high tide, it is necessary to go in with diving equipment.
You might recognize Thunderball Grotto from the James Bond movies that feature it, but that’s not even the most exciting thing about this incredible natural wonder. Beneath the water’s surface, you’ll see schools of colorful fish and other marine life thriving in their natural habitat. The way the sunlight enters through the top of the grotto creates a mystical atmosphere, making this place impossible to forget.
13. Explore caves at Lucayan National Park
On southern coast of Grand Bahama lies Lucayan National Park, a 40-acre natural treasure complete with underwater caves, mangrove swamps, beaches, and forests teeming with wildlife. It’s also home to the famous Gold Rock Beach, which has a pristine coral reef right off its shore. This park is the ideal spot for nature lovers who want to get off the beaten path in the Bahamas, far from the big hotels.
12. Play an underwater piano
All right, so maybe you can’t actually play this underwater piano, but you certainly can pretend to! David Copperfield owns an island close to it and commissioned this work of art, titling it “The Musician.”
Visiting this unique treasure isn’t included on most tours out of Staniel Cay, but if you have a private boat, you can sail to it. It’s about 15 minutes away from Farmer’s Cay and only about 15 feet below the water’s surface, making it easy to swim down and take a photo, like the one above.
11. Parasail over Cabbage Beach
The crystal-clear water around Paradise Island’s Cabbage Beach is even more impressive when you see it from above, so why not try parasailing? This parasailing adventure will take you up to 500 feet into the air with a parachute harnessed to you. Being so high up is truly a thrill, and the pump of adrenaline is a daring way spice up your beach vacation.
10. Step back in time at the Cloisters in Nassau
Did you expect to find the remnants of a 14th-century French monastery in the Bahamas? Me either! But you certainly can on Paradise Island at the Ocean Club, a Four Seasons resort. The garden is sandwiched between two large condominium buildings and is reminiscent of medieval France, with grand stone arches and elaborate statues.
As strange as this place sounds, it’s one of the most unique things you’ll find in the Bahamas. Check it out — you can walk right into the gardens even if you aren’t a guest at the resort.
9. Shop at the Nassau Straw Market
This ultra-popular market might be swarming with tourists, but it’s a must-stop nonetheless if you’re in Nassau. It’s where most tourists get their souvenirs. Some of the stalls are quite gimmicky, but there are a few hidden gems with handmade goods to check out. You’ll see a lot of handicrafts made from straw as well, hence the name: Nassau Straw Market.
8. See a piece of history at Clifton Heritage National Park
The 208-acre Clinton Heritage National Park in southwestern New Providence claims to be one of the most eco-friendly parks in the Bahamas. You could spend an entire day exploring its historic ruins, caves, and trails. There’s also a neat underwater sculpture garden that you can snorkel to!
7. Board a glass-bottom boat
Considering the splendor of marine life you’ll find in the Bahamas, a glass-bottom boat ride is an absolute must! These adventures allow you to see turtles, tropical fish, nurse sharks, and more without even getting into the water.
This tour takes off in Nassau and not only includes a glass-bottom boat tour to nearby landmarks but also a stop at a popular snorkeling spot so you can get into the water.
6. Get off the beaten path at Primeval Forest National Park
This brilliant, 7.5-acre national park in New Providence is one of the most underrated things to do in the Bahamas. It’s the ideal playground for nature lovers, as it features diverse flora and fauna, limestone sinkholes, and ancient trees that appear to be straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
Primeval Forest National Park is accessible by car or golf cart. As it’s a lesser-known attraction, you’ll enjoy escaping the Nassau crowds in this green paradise.
5. Find a pink beach on Eleuthera Island
Eleuthera Island is a long thin island known for having the best pink-sand beaches in the Bahamas. There you’ll also find an exciting array of natural wonders, like Queens Bath, a collection of rocky natural pools. Another popular spot here is the Glass Window Bridge, which unites the north and south points of the island. Driving this narrow one-way bridge gives you panoramic views of the Atlantic and Caribbean seas.
Exploring Eleuthera Island is as simple as taking a day trip from Nassau, but you could also spend your entire Bahamian vacation here, because of how much there is to do on just this one island.
4. Escape to Harbour Island
Most tourism in the Bahamas is concentrated in the capital city of Nassau, as well as the big resorts on Paradise Island. If you want to escape the crowds, though, Harbour Island will be a treat for you.
Characterized by colorful clapboard houses its and famous pink beach, Harbour Island is more than just a place to relax in the sand. It’s only 3.25 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, so you can easily walk the entire island in one go if you want to. Since it’s so small, you can’t fly directly to Harbour Island, but you can to nearby Eleuthera Island and sail over easily.
3. Try local delights
Anywhere I go, I get excited about trying local dishes, and the Bahamas is no exception. On this food and culture tour through downtown Nassau, you’ll be able to learn about the rich history behind Bahamian cuisine. The tour features family-owned restaurants that will delight you with their hospitality and bold flavors. From trying quintessential conch dishes to tasting handmade truffles by a renowned pastry chef, this experience is the best way to eat your way through Nassau.
Another hot spot for delicious Bahamian food is the Fish Fry on Arawak Cay, which is world-famous for its seafood.
2. Dance your heart out at the Junkanoo Festival
The Junkanoo Festival is essentially a celebration of Bahamian culture, dating back to the 18th century. It occurs on several holidays, including the day after Christmas, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and other small holidays throughout the year.
The festival happens on Bay Street in Nassau, with smaller celebrations scattered throughout nearby islands as well. To see if your trip to the Bahamas coincides with the Junkanoo Festival, check out the schedule here.
1. Discover an uninhabited paradise at Rose Island
Sandy Toes Beach on Rose Island is off the typical Bahamian tourist track and another place where you’ll find pigs roaming about. With a gorgeous beach complete with seaside hammocks, ample snorkeling spots, and activities galore, you can spend the whole day here. There are kayaks and tubes available to rent and volleyball courts to play on as well.
This full-day beach excursion takes the pressure off planning your trip to Rose Island as it includes transportation, food, snorkeling gear, and more. Since it’s a private island, it’s recommended to book an excursion to get there.
Whether you’re itching for that perfect beach vacation or you want to get a taste for Bahamian culture, this is your invitation to start planning your adventure to the Bahamas. Which item on this list makes you the most excited to visit?