Road trip on an island nation? That’s right. These pint-sized road trips pack a full dose of Bahamian culture at each stop.
A visit to the Bahamas puts travelers in a Caribbean dream. The country comprises some 700 individual islands, and accordingly, beaches, water sports and sprawling resorts are the main attractions. But those looking for a deeper dive into Bahamian culture and North American history would do well to hit the road.
Stepping outside of the all-inclusive resort and onto the open highway can give travelers a window into the heart and soul of the Bahamas: its people. Bahamian roadsides are a mix of enthusiastic locals, delicious cuisine and breathtaking natural beauty. As you might expect, road trips in the Bahamas tend to be short, usually less than two hours. Some require four-wheel drive to navigate uncertain conditions, while others can be completed on a golf cart.
These are the best road trips in the Bahamas.
1. Drive the Queen’s Highway on Eleuthera
Best drive for history
Gregory Town–Gregory Town; 321km (200 miles)
Jagged cliff faces, cave systems complete with pirate paintings, and plantation ruins wedged between dramatic coastlines – Eleuthera has it all. This road trip is so popular that Bahamians “go down island” to regularly make the trek themselves.
The Queen’s Highway, which runs approximately 177km (110 miles) from one end of Eleuthera to another is an autobahn by island standards, though you’ll still need to watch for potholes.
Stops at Preacher’s Cave, the Queen’s Baths and Glass Window Bridge put three of the most well-known attractions in the Bahamas along the route. Other notable sites include plantation ruins near Bannerman Town and a side trip to Harbour Island.
Planning tip: Harbour Island shines as a dining destination, with serious and stylish restaurants competing for the high-end tourist dollar. Elsewhere on Eleuthera you'll find basic, dependable Bahamian places, and a scattering of more ambitious kitchens, particularly around Governor's Harbour.
2. Rent a golf cart to tour Harbour Island
Best drive for colorful photography
Dunmore Town–Dunmore Town; 11km (7 miles)
It’s golf carts only on Harbour Island, where pink-sand beaches and pastel-colored Georgian buildings await travelers who make the short voyage over from Eleuthera. To get there, take a taxi from North Eleuthera Airport to the nearby dock, then grab a water taxi to Dunmore Town.
Golf-cart rentals can be readily found in town for about US$60 per day. Spend your time digging into copious quantities of fresh conch salad and lounging on Pink Sands Beach, a 3-mile stretch of pink sand created by naturally occurring crushed coral. Make sure to catch the sunset at Government Dock with a cocktail in hand.
3. Circumnavigate San Salvador Island by scooter
Best drive for exploring inland lakes
Cockburn Town–Cockburn Town; 25 miles (40km)
San Salvador’s claim to fame is an isolated stone monument that marks the spot where Christopher Columbus first landed in North America in 1492. Today, travelers to the island will find a plethora of inland lakes to explore in between stops at Snow Bay, Bonefish Bay Beach and East Beach.
The best way to see this island is by scooter. Scooter rentals are available at Cockburn Town Airport for around US$100 per day. With wheels acquired, hit the Queen’s Highway on a tour featuring Dixon Hill Lighthouse, Landing Point and the beaches. Car and bike rentals are also available at the airport.
Local tip: San Salvador Island is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the Bahamas.
4. Explore Long Island by car
Best drive for variety
Deadman’s Cay–Stella Maris; 128km (80 miles)
At 128km in length, Long Island offers one of the most lengthy road trips in the Bahamas, with an array of exploration opportunities along the way, from Dean’s Blue Hole, a 202-meter (663ft) marine cavern, to Hamilton Cave and Cape Santa Maria, another Columbus landing site.
This outer island is easily accessible from Grand Bahama via a connecting flight to Deadman’s Cay or Stella Maris. Our recommendation? Arrange for a local car rental company to have your vehicle waiting at Deadman’s Cay before heading south in the morning, with the goal of making sunset at Cape Santa Maria on the northern end of the island.
Take a pitstop at the Diva’s Spot for seaside conch salad and conversation near McKann’s Settlement.
Detour: Leave time to explore Hamilton Cave with a guide. It's believed that the indigenous Lucayan people lived here around 500 CE.
5. Take a grand tour of Grand Bahama
Best drive for accessibility
Freeport–Freeport; 231km (144 miles)
The Grand Bahama Highway stretches for 72 miles from West End to East End on the most immediately accessible island to most international travelers in the entire island chain. Car rentals are readily available in Freeport.
Grand Bahama is more bustling than outer islands like Eletheura and Long Island, but still offers nearly instant access to breathtaking beaches along the route. Highlights include stops at Lucayan National Park – where forests of gumbo limbo trees give way to observation platforms over mangrove swamps and picture-perfect sands at Gold Rock Beach – and Garden of the Groves, a labyrinth of manicured trails through cascading waterfalls near Freeport.
Local tip: Divers will be pleasantly surprised by the diving here. One prime site is the Theo wreck, a 70m-long sunken freighter with safe swim-through areas that can be accessed both day and night with a tour operator.
Visa requirements for the Bahamas
US and Canadian passport holders do not need a visa to visit the Bahamas. They will, however, need a valid passport with two blank passport pages and proof of departure from the Bahamas, such as an airplane ticket or cruise ticket. Passports must be valid for at least three months after the expected date of departure.