Bahama Mama

The Bahamas commands one of the world’s most popular cruise ports, but to know this paradise (including Paradise Island) is to visit at least a few of its roughly 700 islands and cays at a slower pace. Nassau, the country’s vibrant cultural core, offers an abundance of restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. Ask any local, however, and they’ll tell you that nothing exudes escapism more than the Family Islands—the settlements outside of New Providence. Some of the most alluring beaches and island-style nightlife can be found on Harbour Island, a celebrity playground and the former summer home of Lord Dunmore, an 18th century governor of the Bahamas. Meanwhile, the adjacent island of Eleuthera encourages exploration, with its 110 miles of quiet fishing villages, mystical blue holes, and unsullied turquoise coves. Here’s our guide to where to stay and what to do and drink for a spring break that is equal parts adventure, relaxation, and libation.

New Providence

The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort

Where to Stay: Beginning with its Versailles Garden and low-rise cream buildings, it’s clear why The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort, caught the eye of James Bond in Casino Royale. The tiered, quarter-mile sculpture garden is one of the most romantic spots around, running from an adults-only pool to a 12th century French Augustinian cloister overlooking Nassau Harbor. In true Bond style, guests can go Jet Skiing, diving, and yachting, and even request the secret 007 tasting menu at the Martini Bar. Expansive grounds—across 35 acres, powder-sand shores that front crystal-clear water, and an indulgent spa—offer an elegant resort atmosphere with nearby activities for the whole family. Last year marked the resort’s 60th anniversary, and it just debuted renovated rooms in its Crescent Wing.

For more of a party atmosphere, stay at one of the upscale resorts at Baha Mar on Cable Beach, a $4.2 billion resort development with Rosewood, SLS, and Grand Hyatt properties. Baha Mar features countless eateries, the largest casino in the Caribbean, a waterpark, a flamingo sanctuary, and the Bond nightclub.

What to Do: In the morning, go snorkeling at Clifton Heritage National Park, home to Ocean Atlas, the world’s largest underwater statue. Spend the rest of the day bar-hopping and beach-bumming on West Bay Street, where locals hang out. Brunch at Studio Cafe and have a cocktail at Bon Vivants in Sandyport. For a late lunch, enjoy a frozen white rum piña colada at the Daiquiri Shack and eat conch—the Bahamian equivalent to escargot—at Dino’s Gourmet Conch Salad, a beach shack in front of Gambier Village. Relax to the sound of the waves at Orange Hill Beach.

What to Know: Paradise Island connects to Nassau by bridge, so fly into the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) and get to the island by car. Coming home, pass through customs in Nassau and land in a domestic terminal.


North Eleuthera

The Cove Eleuthera

Where to Stay: Located on a quiet beach, The Other Side is solar-powered glamping at its finest. Each private tent comes with hardwood floors, AC, outdoor bathtub, and a large bed. The Cove, a stylish property hidden between two coves near Gregory Town, is reopening with a new design for its 27 villas by California-based BAR Architects and Interiors. Amenities include a fitness center, spa suites, sushi bar, and sunset bar. Each of the bungalow-style accommodations afford privacy as well as proximity to the tranquil stretches of sand. Don’t miss the Asian-inspired restaurant, which sources much of its produce from the onsite garden.

The Other Side

What to Do: Swim with pigs in Spanish Wells, then head over to the Glass Window Bridge to marvel at the meeting place of the dark Atlantic Ocean and the crystal-clear Bright of Eleuthera. Pack some cold Bahamian Kalik beer for a trip to Preacher’s Cave, the resting point of some of the first British settlers, then go cliff diving in the Sapphire Blue Hole. Shred the waves at Surfer’s Beach.

What to Know: Visitors can fly into North Eleuthera Airport (ELH) or take a ferry from Nassau. Rent a car or 4×4 to get across the island’s occasional unpaved dirt roads. Serene, low-key, and calm, this is the island to feel immersed in nature. Leave the heels at home—there’s little you can’t do in flip-flops.


Harbour Island

Coral Sands

Where to Stay: On the island’s sandy east coast find the 10-mile Pink Sands Beach, which gets its color from the mix of crushed coral reefs and sand. Four main resorts dot the shores, each offering the access to the same blissful beach—perhaps the finest in the Bahamas and Caribbean. Choose from Pink Sands Resort, Ocean View Club, The Dunmore, or Coral Sands Resort as your home base, and spend your days walking along the beach to explore and lunching at one of the adjacent properties.

In town, for those seeking more activities in the water but off the shore, Eleven Experience’s 11-room Bahama House offers a rum tasting and a bone-fishing experience on its 35-foot Scorpion RIB Boat.


What to Do: Dance the night away at the open-roof Vic Hum Club, which features a basketball court. Daddy D’s nightclub offers drinking games and karaoke nights. At the oceanfront Gusty’s Bar, the dance floor is made of pink sand. Recover the next day by taking a stroll or riding a golf cart around the pastel-hued, colonial-style cottages of Dunmore Town. Eat a light breakfast at Arthur’s Bakery. Have lunch at The Rockhouse and dine at The Landing. For the daring, go drift diving in Current Cut.

For shopping, explore local boutiques with unique wares: A and A Hidden Treasures offers customizable bags and totes made from local straw; Dake’s Shoppe features curated caftans, jewelry, and other finds; don’t miss the one-of-a-kind silk caftans, jewelry, and home items sourced from around the globe at Shine; and designer India Hicks’ store, The Sugarmill, is worth a stop for home items and T-shirts and hats with a mermaid-pirate motif designed by her son.

What to Know: Getting there isn’t as hard as it sounds. Fly into North Eleuthera (ELH) and hop into any of the cabs waiting outside for the 10-minute ride (about $10/person) to the harbor. Ferries to and from Harbour Island (about $10/person) leave from the water taxi point until 11 p.m. Reservations are not required, but cash is. Cars are not allowed on Harbour Island, so reserve a golf cart in advance through your hotel.

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