Best Sailing Destinations In The Bahamas

Best Sailing Destinations In The Bahamas | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

The Bahamas offer some of the most beautiful tropical sailing locations in the world—and they're quite close to the mainland U.S.

The best and most beautiful tropical sailing destinations in the Bahamas are Nassau, Bimini, Grand Bahama Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, the Berry Islands, and the picturesque pink sands on the island of Eleuthera.

In this article, we'll go over seven of the best and most scenic sailing destinations in the Bahamas. We'll cover their main attractions, locations, food, and drink, along with each island's local accommodations for sailboats.

We sourced much of the information used in this article from reputable guides and directly from the tourism directories provided by the Bahamian government.


Table of contents

1. Nassau

Nassau is one of the finest and a favorite Bahamian sailing destinations. It's the capital of New Providence and home to a rich history. The island is famous for its tropical scenery, resorts, and modern infrastructure.

Nassau is particularly friendly to American boaters from the gulf and Atlantic coast. As far as accommodations are concerned, Nassau and Paradise Island are some of the best destinations to visit.

Nassau is home to modern marinas and docking facilities. There's plenty of opportunities to resupply on the island, and the populated areas have plenty of bars and restaurants. The beaches of Nassau are spectacular, and you can anchor right off the shore with ease and take a swim.

Snorkeling and reef diving are popular activities to enjoy on Nassau and its surrounding islands and shoals. The water is warm, and the weather is usually good—except for the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. But on normal days, the environment is perfect for activities in the sun and easy sailing.

2. Bimini

Bimini is one of the closest Bahamas sailing destinations to the United States and one of the most picturesque. Bimini offers beautiful reefs, blazing white sand, and crystal-clear water less than a day's journey from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The islands in the Bimini Chain each have their own unique attractions, though the majority are sparsely populated. There's a large resort in Bimini that offers the perfect tropical vacation. Additionally, Alice Town on North Bimini offers shopping, food, and drink.

The island is small and home to roughly 1,500 permanent residents. It's an extremely popular destination for cruising, as the island is very close to Florida and offers numerous places to anchor and dock. The views of the reefs are spectacular, and the beaches are welcoming—especially for catamarans and shallow-draft cruisers.

Bimini is so close to the mainland that sailboats aren't the only vessels that find their way over. Powerboats, including open-top outboard fishing center console vessels, are a common sight in the area, and the local boat traffic can be heavy.

3. Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama Island is another Bahamas destination that's within a day's sail of the mainland United States. The island, which is located just 56 nautical miles from Palm Beach, Florida, is the northernmost landmass in the Bahamas.

Unfortunately, Grand Bahama Island was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, but locals have made steady progress rebuilding the island in the last two years.

The island has a dramatic history shaped largely by its long and wide coral reefs. Initially, these reefs kept Europeans off the islands, but they were eventually used by pirates to lure ships into running aground, where they would be looted by men in small boats.

Today, the islands offer spectacular reef diving and luscious tropical scenery to explore. The Lucayan Natural Park, named after the island's native population, offers a rare glimpse into an almost untouched tropical forest that's rich with rare wildlife.

There are marinas on the island and places to anchor. That said, it's important to use care when anchoring out, as boat traffic (and especially anchors) have a detrimental effect on the already endangered coral reefs.

4. Exuma

Exuma is another top sailing destination in the Bahamas. It's popular with sailors and power boaters alike thanks to its spotless sandy cays and miles of luscious green tropical coastline. It also has extensive reefs, which are great for diving, and plenty of close offshore water sports opportunities.

George Town is a favorite overnight stop on the island, and it's also a great place to spend the week. George Town has a full-service marina, harbor, and rental locations for scuba and dive gear. Additionally, the beach is a popular and scenic destination for tourists and sailors.

The Exumas are a series of small islands and cays located around Exuma, and they offer numerous activities and sights to see for boaters. Norman Cay is a favorite destination, with lots of places to tie up and a beautiful coral reef to admire. The cay is colorful and full of life, plus it has restaurants and accommodations.

Highborn's Cay is another great spot to spend the day. The cay is home to the world-renowned 'Octopus Garden' reef, which is rich with wildlife. You can spend your time admiring the reef, hanging out on the beach, or attempting to locate one of the island's famous giant iguanas.

5. Rum Cay

Rum Cay is a lesser-known destination in the Bahamas, but it's possibly one of the best. It's known by some in the sailing community as the "sleeping beauty" island due to its seemingly untouched coral reefs and stunning antique ruins.

The water surrounding the island is shallow—really shallow. Rum Cay is known for its long underwater sandbars, which essentially extend the beach underwater for many yards when conditions are right. This allows shallow-draft vessels to drop anchor and sailors to hop onto the seafloor with water up to their waists.

The island is extremely picturesque and the perfect place to spend time on a sailboat. The weather, as you'd expect, is wonderful—and the waters are stunningly blue and clear. The island itself is also green and covered in tropical plants and wildlife.

The white sandy beaches are something out of a postcard, and the island is usually less crowded than other destinations in the Bahamas. You can hang out in the large inlet or just offshore and enjoy the beach. Or, you can dive into the healthy corral reefs for a truly unique experience.

6. Berry Islands

The Berry Islands are a beautiful island chain located in the Bahamas and also an excellent sailing destination for U.S.-based boats. The Berry Islands are known for their spectacular fishing and picturesque cays.

In fact, there are just under 30 individual small islands that make up the chain, giving sailors plenty of opportunities to find a secluded spot to anchor and enjoy the scenery.

The Berry Islands offer numerous accommodations for boaters, including docks and shore-based amenities. Additionally, the islands are known for their fresh seafood, dining locations, and there are plenty of spots to stop and grab a drink on the beach.

The island has marinas that are designed to accommodate boats with deep drafts. That means if you follow the charts correctly, you won't run aground and mess up your keel. That said, you'll have to be careful when navigating around the island, as the reefs are numerous and quite shallow.

The Berry Islands are the perfect destination to enjoy the island lifestyle. The islands are great if you like to tie up to a dock and chat with other sailors. They're also an ideal destination if you want to anchor offshore and spend the day snorkeling and paddleboarding.

And the Berry Islands are affordable—docking rates on the island are competitive, and meals are reasonably priced in most locations. It's one of the best destinations in the Bahamas for truly tropical sport fishing or relaxation.

7. Eleuthera

Eleuthera is one of the safest and most interesting islands in the Bahamas, and it's a top destination for sailboats, both large and small. Eleuthera is part of the Great Bahama Bank, and it's geographically thin and long.

The island and its surrounding cays boast 210 miles of attractive and clean coastline. It's made up of a long main island with several towns, along with four cays and Windermere Island to the east. This makes it the perfect destination to find a secluded stretch of coastline to anchor out or explore the reefs.

The population of the island is just around 8,000 people, but there are plenty of accommodations for sailors.

There are several marinas on the island with services, along with resorts and plenty of places to eat and drink. Additionally, you can freely explore the interior parts of the island and engage with the locals.

Harbor Island is a key attraction of the island, but Pink Sands Beach is the most well-known destination. Here, the sand is literally pink—which offers excellent photographic opportunities and a unique location to hang out and soak up the sun. Additionally, the water just offshore is shallow enough for wading and water activities.

Lighthouse Beach is another gorgeous location to visit, as it features unique rock formations and a lighthouse. French Heave Beach features a luscious green backdrop with a wide sandy beach, which is perfect to set out a few lawn chairs and enjoy a drink.

And if you're interested in greenery, don't forget to check out the Leon Levy Native Preserve. This nature sanctuary offers a rare glimpse into the unadulterated natural habitat of the island, featuring rare tropical birds and other wildlife. Plus, it's just a short distance from docking locations.

Best Sailing Destinations In The Bahamas
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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