Some would consider the Out Islands to be the true Bahamas, and I would be among them. The term refers to the rest of the 700-plus major islands outside the realm of New Providence and Paradise Islands (Nassau) and Grand Bahama Island (Freeport-Lucaya).
A decade or so back the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism tried to rebrand them as the Family Islands, and continues to try to make that stick. But just about everyone else calls them the Out Islands. They are divided into a number of different island groups, 10 of which show up on travelers’ radar.
Taking them alphabetically, we begin with the Abaco Islands. It also happens to be the most-visited of the Out Islands. The Abacos lie closest to Grand Bahama Island to the west, and for some time there was talk of building a bridge between to the two.
Great Abaco Island holds Marsh Harbour, the archipelago’s main town and the nation’s third largest, but with only one stoplight. A destination for avid boaters, Abaco is an island-hopper’s fantasy. You don’t have to have your own boat, however, as ferry service operates to the major small island communities most of which were originally settled by British Loyalists – Elbow Cay (home to Hope Town), Green Turtle Cay (home of New Plymouth) and Man-O-War Cay. Other by-boat destinations known for their salty bars and restaurants include Great Guana Cay and Lubber’s Quarters.
Next in line, Andros Islands is the largest in the Bahamas, but one of the more lightly populated. Scuba divers and fishermen chasing the elusive bonefish make up the largest percentage of visitors, who find the island blessedly stuck in a time mire. For the divers, walls, blue holes, and the 6,000-feet-deep Tongue of the Ocean challenge.
Berry Islands is a hidden gem near Abaco, a cluster of small islands including and south of Great Harbour Cay that hold private resorts and cruise ship islands.
Bimini, one of the most well-known island groups, lies closest to South Florida, making it a spring and summer playground for the party boating crowd. But on its serious side, fishing figures importantly and has ever since and even before Ernest Hemingway discovered it. Scuba divers come to add the Bimini Road site, believed to have led to the lost world of Atlantis, to their life list.
Cat Island’s claim to fame is the highest point in the Bahamas, a 206-foot hill known as Mt. Alvernia and home to The Hermitage historic site. Scuba, surfing, and fishing attract a select number of visitors who love it and its one road for its adherence to old island traditions, particularly obeah religious practices, rake-and-scrape music making, and storytelling.
At 110-miles long, Eleuthera has a lot of undeveloped countryside and secluded beaches. Tiny offshore Harbour Island, however, hogs the spotlight as a destination for celebrities and for its beaches of pretty pink sand.
Another popular destination for boaters and island-hoppers, Exuma claims 365 islands and cays strung out from its main Great Exuma Island, home to George Town. Most of its boutique resorts huddle around the small town, with the exception of Sandals Emerald Bay, a vast all-inclusive property to the north.
Long Island earns its name with 80 miles of road off which spread luscious and lightly populated beaches. Visitors interested in island culture will want to visit the settlement of ONeils, where artisans hand-plait straw work as it has been done for decades.
San Salvador is home to a Club Med, which is under reconstruction following a 2015 hurricane. The remainder of the main tourism islands are isolated outposts that attract isolationists looking for escape from modern times and uncluttered diving and fishing opportunities: Inagua, Crooked and Acklins Islands and Mayaguana Island.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We donât want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in $US.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $25 per person
$$ => Tickets $25-50 per person
$$$ => Tickets $50-100 per person
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $100-250 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $250 for a double
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$ => $15-30 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $30 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $50 per person
$$ => Tickets $50-100 per person