20 Amazing Things The Bahamas Is Known For

The islands of The Bahamas are a tropical hot spot and rank among the best holiday destinations in the world. Their beauty, amazing weather, and the fact that there are so many islands (700 in total) are part of what makes this popular archipelago special.


Picture: Couple lounging over the Bahamian ocean at Sandals Royal Bahamian.

Even with their popularity, there are some things you might not know about The Bahamas without having gone there yourself, like the fact that you can swim with pigs at Big Major Cay, or that the island has an intriguing pirate history. If you’re planning a trip to The Bahamas, know you’re in for a relaxing stay.

In this article on the Sandals Blog:

20 amazing things The Bahamas are known for
Eight authentic Bahamian souvenirs to bring home with you
Bonus: Five interesting facts about The Bahamas

20 amazing things The Bahamas are known for

1. Pristine white sand beaches & turquoise waters


NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly famously called The Bahamas "the most beautiful place from space", and it’s easy to see why. With white sand beaches and an incredible palette of deep blue and turquoise waters, this tropical paradise stands out. Home to some of the world’s most beautiful coasts, you’ll likely experience beach hopping like never before. It’s the ultimate place for a tropical getaway.

Insider tip: There are so many great beaches in The Bahamas that it can be hard to choose just one. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in The Bahamas. Feel free to beach hop to your heart’s content!

2. The swimming pigs of Exuma


The Bahamas has the most famous swimming-with-pigs experience in the Caribbean, which you’ll want to check out during your trip. For this tour, you’ll need to take a boat to Big Major Cay, also known as Pig Island. Once you get close enough to the island, you’ll actually see some of the pigs swimming out to your boat to greet you. This is a family-friendly tour, but couples also enjoy the experience and getting to know the swimming pigs of The Bahamas. Big Major Cay is located about 82 miles southeast of Nassau. Apart from the pigs and their caretakers during some parts of the day, the island is uninhabited.

3. The playground of the world’s rich & famous


A handful of Caribbean islands are recognised for attracting the rich and famous, and The Bahamas are high on that list. Renowned for their stunning beauty and beach experiences, these picturesque islands have long captivated wealthy travellers from across the globe. It's no wonder the ultra-rich have become well-known for purchasing not only estates but entire islands to call their own. During your stay, you may get a peek at the oceanfront villas of Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and other celebrities.

4. History of pirates


Photo credit: Sergey Goryachev/Shutterstock.com

The so-called “Golden Age of Piracy” is said to have been a time during the 1600s and 1700s when pirates had a booming economy in the Caribbean, particularly in The Bahamas. They targeted and plundered merchant ships passing through the harbour. Their bounty included gold, salt and a variety of other goods. Their gains attracted even more pirates, and among the infamous figures in the region at that time was Blackbeard. This chaotic state of affairs continued until 1718, when British captain Woodes Rogers was appointed Captain General and Governor in Chief of Nassau, marking the end of the Pirate Republic.

5. Fantastic scuba diving & snorkelling


The Bahamas is a top choice for travellers with diving inspirations wishing to witness underwater life at its most spectacular. There are many diving spots for both snorkellers and scuba divers, including the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the Andros blue holes, the Conception Island Wall in Long Island, the Henry Ford Wreck in the Biminis, and the many reefs that can be found in The Abacos.

6. The first landing of Christopher Columbus


Photo credit: Everett - Art/Shutterstock.com

Picture: First Landing of Christopher Columbus, by Frederick Kemmelmeyer, c. 1800-05.

Much information is available about Christopher Columbus’ journey through the Caribbean region, and The Bahamas is said to have been one of the first places where his crew made landfall. As the story goes, Columbus “discovered” the new world, beginning in either San Salvador, The Bahamas or Samana Cay in The Bahamas. The local Lucayan Taíno people may have already been present when he arrived. However, after several years, the Taíno people vanished from the islands.

7. The Bahama Mama cocktail


Photo credit: JJava Designs/Shutterstock.com

This tropical cocktail, with rum, coconut rum, grenadine, orange and pineapple juice, is a must-try when visiting The Bahamas. Consider grabbing a good spot on the beach or by the swimming pool and relaxing with this alcoholic beverage. While on the islands, try some of the other local classics, like Sky Juice or Goombay Smash. Prefer a non-alcoholic option? Choose the refreshing Fruit Punch, a popular drink made from a delicious blend of tropical fruit juices.

Looking for a place that offers unlimited cocktails? Guests of the Sandals resorts in The Bahamas can order unlimited cocktails (and other beverages) at the bars, on the beach and in the swimming pools — for no extra charge. It’s all included in your stay. Cocktails are mixed by some of the island's best bartenders and made with premium spirits and fruit juices.

8. A multitude of islands you can visit


With over 700 islands waiting to be explored, deciding where to start can feel like a challenge. Fortunately, there’s a great way you can narrow down your options and plan your perfect island getaway.

For starters, many islands are uninhabited, making it easier to decide where to visit. Consider scheduling island-hopping tours, which allow you to explore multiple islands in one trip. Some of the best islands in The Bahamas include New Providence, Paradise Island, The Exumas, The Abacos, Andros, Bimini, The Berry Islands, Eleuthera and Harbour Island. The population of The Bahamas is just under 400,000 people, and around 70% of the population resides in New Providence, home to Nassau, the Bahamas' capital.

Most travellers fly into New Providence, which makes it one of the most “happening” places in The Bahamas. Paradise Island is great for families with kids and is connected to New Providence by two bridges. All other islands are known as the ”Out Islands”, where you’ll find more peace and quiet. Exuma is famed for having some of the most stunning white-sand beaches and blue waters in all of the Bahamas.

Looking for an all-inclusive resort in The Bahamas? Sandals Royal Bahamian is a lively resort in Nassau that comes with a private offshore island. It’s an amazing place for scuba divers (you’ll be pleased to know scuba diving is included in your stay). Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma is known to be located on a beautiful long stretch of white sand beach and comes with an 18-hole Championship golf course with stunning views over Exuma’s waters.

9. Delicious conch dishes & other seafood


Photo credit: MevZup/Shutterstock.com

Give your taste buds a new experience in The Bahamas with fresh seafood that is as varied as it is delicious. Europe, Africa and South America inspire the food across the islands in a way that will leave you wanting more. While on any Bahamian island, try everything at least once, from conch salad (conch ceviche), johnny cakes, baked crab, rock lobster, fried fish and more. After your holiday, you’re bound to return home with a new favourite dish and, hopefully, a recipe to recreate.

10. Sport fishing & bonefishing


The Bahamas is a good place to start if you haven’t been sport fishing or bonefishing before. If you’re a seasoned diver, however, you’ll enjoy this experience even more, knowing before you go that the waters of The Bahamas are filled with marine life, which is sure to make your fishing expedition that much more exciting. For sport fishing, try The Biminis, which has a reputation for having the best sport fishing in the world. Ernest Hemingway’s love for The Biminis is said to have put the two islands on the map for fishing and their stunning beauty. The Biminis are located just 50 miles from the Florida coast. Andros Island is known for having the third-largest reef in the world. Where bonefishing is concerned, you can try your luck at the heart of the many unspoiled mangroves and shallow trenches that can be found along the island. Long Island and New Providence (Nassau) are also great fishing spots.

11. Pink sand beaches


Photo credit: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com

The Bahamas is one of the only places in the world where you can find pink sand beaches, and Harbour Island, located to the northeast of Eleuthera, is one of the best places to find them. You’ll commonly hear the island being referred to as “Briland” by locals, and it’ll probably be love at first sight once you glance upon the quaint Dunmore Town, which is littered with pastel-coloured cottages. While on the island, indulge in sand bathing, diving or a fishing expedition. A visit to Harbour Island makes a pretty cool day trip, and you can get there via The Bahamas Fast Ferries Catamaran or by plane from Nassau. Some resorts, like Sandals Royal Bahamian, offer day trips.

12. Junkanoo festival


Junkanoo is a real Caribbean party, if there ever was one. Junkanoo is a big event in The Bahamas, held on Christmas and New Year’s Day every year. The celebration can be described as the Bahamian version of carnival. If you’ve never experienced a Caribbean carnival, expect costumes, live bands, traditional instruments, parades and lots of excitement.

Insider tip: If you plan to travel to The Bahamas for Junkanoo, you’ll have to book your flight at least six months in advance, as many hotels and resorts tend to be fully booked around this time.

13. The Bahamas featured in James Bond movies


Photo credit: Danita Delmont/Shutterstock.com

Many famous movies were filmed in The Bahamas, which isn’t surprising considering how beautiful the islands are. Among these are the James Bond films, Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. Thunderball Grotto in the Exuma Cays is a great diving and snorkelling spot, and its name comes from the fact that it was a standout feature in the movie Thunderball, particularly during an underwater fight scene. Divers love exploring the underwater cave, which some describe as intimidating at first but exciting once you get into it. Excursions are available from Sandals Emerald Bay.

14. The local dialect – “Talkin’ Bahamian”


Photo credit: Remanz/Shutterstock.com

Islanders typically speak a Creole dialect, and there are ways to learn more about their local language, which has African influences. While on the islands, shop around for local books which can help you translate what you hear and even help you throw out a phrase or two. English is widely spoken in The Bahamas, so you’re unlikely to have challenges with communication whether or not you’re familiar with the local dialect.

Here are some common phrases you might hear during your visit:


This can mean anyone, regardless of gender. For instance, someone may ask, “Where mah’bey go again?”, which translates to “Where did this person go to?” This is something you’ll hear frequently.

“Well mudda sick!”

This is an expression of surprise or excitement akin to the English variations of “You’re joking” or “Oh my goodness!”

“Mash up”

This is a common Caribbean phrase which means to break or destroy something. For example, “You just mash up my book” translates to “You just destroyed or damaged my book”. This phrase is also used when a person is tired, and “mash up” may describe how sick or exhausted they feel.


This term usually refers to a stray dog, and you may spot quite a few “potcakes” during your trip to The Bahamas. Potcakes are considered mixed breeds, and their nickname comes from the idea that old Bahamians would cook everything in one pot, the “potcake” being the mix of everything stuck together at the bottom of the pot after cooking.


This popular Caribbean term often refers to a group of people. For example, you may hear someone say, “You can catch a ride with Derek dem”, which means, “You can get a lift with Derek and the others.”

15. A history of colonial conflict and slavery


Photo credit: Barbara Kalbfleisch/Shutterstock.com

Picture: Pompey Square is the site where enslaved people were unloaded from ships in the 19th century. Named after an enslaved person who, in 1830, led a revolt which led to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Caribbean history is filled with colonial conflict, and The Bahamas is no exception. Find out more about the history of The Bahamas while on the island by visiting places like the Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation in downtown Nassau, Bimini Museum, Man-O-War Heritage Museum in Abaco, The Dolphin House in Alice Town, Albert Lowe Museum in Abaco, The Bahamas Historical Society Museum in Nassau, Long Island Library and Museum, Heritage Museum of The Bahamas in Nassau and others.

16. Pirate forts


Photo credit: tokar/Shutterstock.com

You can explore several forts in The Bahamas, including Fort Charlotte, the largest fort on the island of New Providence, in Nassau. Lord Dunmore built Fort Charlotte in 1788-1789. It was named after Queen Saharia Charlotte, the wife of King George III. The fort features a drawbridge, dungeons, underground passages, 42 cannons and amazing views.

Fort Fincastle, built in 1793, is another popular attraction that gets its name from British captain Lord Dunmore. His second title was Viscount Fincastle. As history tells it, Fincastle built the fort to help keep the Nassau Harbour safe. It was also a useful lookout point for pirates. Fort Fincastle is made of cut limestone.

Another well-known fort in The Bahamas is Fort Montague, also made of local limestone. It is the oldest fort on New Providence island and is on the east end of the Nassau Harbour. Fort Montague’s history goes as far back as 1725, but its present form has existed since 1741–1742, when the British used it to keep Spanish invaders away. The site also has a history of being used by the United States military in 1776.

Blackbeard’s Tower is a bit harder to find, but it is believed to have been used by Blackbeard himself as a lookout point in the 1700s. Since the “Golden Age of Piracy”, the tower has deteriorated but is still a historical landmark in The Bahamas.

17. Cave diving


Photo credit: Rich Carey/Shutterstock.com

Many years ago, thousands in fact, the waters around The Bahamas were more than 100 feet lower than they are today. With rising sea levels, some caves on the island, largely made of limestone, were submerged. This has led to The Bahamas being recognised as one of the best places in the world to cave dive, something you should consider trying on your holiday in the islands.

18. Olympic champions


Photo credit: Denis Kuvaev/Shutterstock.com

The Bahamas has 14 Olympic medals to show for itself, thanks to athletes' efforts, including sprinters Pauline Davis-Thompson, Tonique Williams-Darling and Shaunae Miller. All the islands’ Olympic medals were secured in athletics and sailing. Notably, the 14-medal figure equates to a rate of 33.9 per million residents (impressive considering the Bahamian population is only about 385,340). Finland, Sweden, and Hungary are the only countries that top The Bahamas’ per capita strike rate.

19. Luxury goods shopping


Photo credit: Remanz/Shutterstock.com

You can find some great shopping opportunities in The Bahamas, which few islands in the region can boast. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or high-end items, you will likely find a shop or local market offering something to suit your budget. Nassau and Paradise Island are great options for jewellery shopping, as well as finding brand-name fashion, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. If you want art or other unique pieces, try heading to a craft centre downtown (Nassau) and bargain for a good price.

20. Historic lighthouses

Elbow Reef Lighthouse Hope Town Bahamas

Photo credit: Sinn P. Photography/Shutterstock.com

Lighthouses have a certain intrigue about them, and there are a few notable lighthouses you can check out while in the Caribbean. Elbow Reef Lighthouse, also known as the Hope Town Lighthouse in Elbow Cay Bahamas, is among the most visited. Hope Town is charming, and this 89-foot lighthouse adds to its appeal. The Elbow Reef Lighthouse was built in the 1860s, an era when lighthouses helped to warn or guide ships at sea, and it has survived to bring a bit of the past into the future. Amazing views are available from the top, which makes climbing the 101 steps worth it. The Hog Island Lighthouse on the western tip of Paradise Island is the oldest and best-known lighthouse in The Bahamas and was built in 1817.

Eight authentic Bahamian souvenirs to bring home with you

1. Pirate Doubloon jewellery


Photo credit: M.R. Brennan/Shutterstock.com

Considering The Bahamas has a rich pirate history, it’s only natural that you might gravitate to jewellery inspired by this facet of the islands’ past. At Coin of the Realm in downtown Nassau, you’ll find Bahamian gold and silver, ancient Greek and Roman coins, and other treasures. Collectors can pick up sets of Bahamian gold and silver coins, while shoppers hoping to pick up something interesting may find the perfect earrings, pendants or rings to suit their style.

2. Conch shell items


Photo credit: Anubhab Roy/Shutterstock.com

Interesting items made of the beautiful conch shell are easy to find in the Bahamas, especially for jewellery, cutlery and bowls. You can find plenty of conch shell creations at local craft markets, and they’ll make the perfect gift for friends and family.

3. Locally made arts & crafts


Photo credit: dnaveh/Shutterstock.com

You can’t go wrong with local arts and crafts when selecting souvenirs to bring back home. Try Bahama Art & Handicrafts, located just outside downtown Nassau, where you can find a variety of unique pieces. Items range from sea glass and watercolour paintings to wood carvings, jams, hot sauces and more.

4. Pirate Republic craft beer


Buy some Pirate Republic craft beer for the beer lover back home. You can find the brewery and pub downtown Nassau near the cruise port and taste the different beers on offer. You won’t be disappointed trying out The Bahamas’ only craft beer!

5. Junkanoo art


Photo credit: Trae Rollins/Shutterstock.com

Missed out on Junkanoo? You can still take a piece of this cultural carnival home by picking up Junkanoo-inspired jewellery, paintings, ornaments and more. In a way, this makes up for missing out on the parade and is an opportunity to bring parts of the festival home with you.

6. Straw goods


Photo credit: dnaveh/Shutterstock.com

The Nassau Straw Market and the Port Lucaya Marketplace are great choices if you’re looking for custom-made straw products. There's much on offer — think hats, baskets, purses and other trinkets — so you're sure to find something just right. Some sellers can be quite persistent, but if you know what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it, you should have a smooth and fun shopping experience.

7. Homemade jams & jellies


Photo credit: thodonal88/Shutterstock.com

As far as jams and jellies are concerned, it’s worth trying guava jelly, pineapple jam or any other fruity varieties available during your visit to The Bahamas. You can even pick up a couple to take the sweet taste of The Bahamas home with you.

8. Coconut sculptures


Photo credit: OlegD/Shutterstock.com

Coconuts anyone? Well, if not the real kind, then a sculpture. Choose a coconut husk item to remember your unforgettable Bahamian getaway. Most artisan shops on the island sell a range of sculptures depicting animals, sea creatures and more.

Bonus: Five interesting facts about The Bahamas

1. It once snowed in The Bahamas


Photo credit: Lenach/Shutterstock.com

Not many Caribbean islands can claim this feat, but The Bahamas had a wintery experience one cold January day, on the 17th of the month, in 1977, to be precise. Cold weather from southern Florida swept down to the islands, and it snowed in The Bahamas for the first time ever. Though there was no snow pile-up leading to beaches and other areas being covered in slush, there were plenty of flurries in the city of Freeport, Grand Bahama.

2. The world’s second deepest blue hole is in The Bahamas


Photo credit: Lora B/Shutterstock.com

As far as blue holes go, you’ll find one of the deepest in the world in The Bahamas. With a drop off of 660 ft, Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island in The Bahamas is certainly newsworthy. Many divers choose this location specifically because they hope to achieve world records. There are other more well-known underwater attractions of a similar sort, such as The Great Blue Hole on Belize's Great Barrier Reef, but Dean's Blue Hole is substantially deeper and has a drop-off close to shore.

3. The highest point in The Bahamas is not so high


The Bahamas is not known for its towering mountains, with the highest point reaching a little over 200 feet. In fact, it ranks fifth among countries with the lowest "highest point" in the world. The Gambia, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Maldives are the countries that fall in a similar category with The Bahamas in terms of "highest point". The Bahamas are low-lying because nearly all of the islands’ land is formed of elevated coral reefs or sandbars.

4. The Bahamas is technically not part of the Caribbean


Geographically, not everyone agrees that The Bahamas, which are located to the north of the Caribbean, are a part of that area. It is said that the islands were not produced by a volcanic process, in contrast to many Caribbean islands. Their positioning further distances them from the Caribbean region. The Bahamas, however, certainly contribute to the Caribbean identity, mostly because of their shared history, climate and other characteristics with the other islands in the area. Plus, The Bahamas has strong ties to other Caribbean associations and nations within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

5. The first inhabitants of The Bahamas were Taíno people


Photo credit: Soul Ray/Shutterstock.com

The Taíno indigenous people who settled in the islands, including Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hispaniola and the Northern Lesser Antilles, were the first known people to inhabit The Bahamas. More specifically, the Lucayan people of Taíno descent had a solid presence in the islands long before voyages and other famed discoveries, including those of Christopher Columbus. The Lucayans were taken into captivity the years after Columbus’ arrival, changing the face of the island forever. By 1520, there were no Taíno people left in The Bahamas.

Like any other destination, there’s much to learn about The Bahamas as a visitor. Whether you spend as much time as possible relaxing on a white sand beach or exploring the pirate history of The Bahamas firsthand, you’ll find many things to do on the islands as you get better acquainted with all the things The Bahamas is known for.

Read More Travel Guides

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.