Bahamas With Kids

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Calm, shallow waters with tons of fish and hundreds of islands to explore…

The Bahamas’ clear, calm waters make it an oasis of water activities perfect for kids. From snorkeling with sharks to kayaking through mangroves to live aboard sailing, The Bahamas mean fun in the sun for the whole family. The most popular of the Bahamian Islands is New Providence, home to Nassau.  Here, the white sand beaches offer all the amenities of the big resorts…water sports, beachfront pools, full service lounge chairs and more. Our whole family enjoyed exploring downtown Nassau. The kids enjoyed a visit to Pirates of Nassau to learn about the islands tumultous past, and we all liked browsing the craft markets and modern duty free shops and discovering the islands biggest resort – Atlantis.  In Atlantis’ aquarium, we discovered life below the surface in the Bahamas…watching gentle manta rays and huge schools of fish glide by. But out in the water, there’s a notoriously scarier creature lurking and Stuart Cove’s offers the chance to snorkel with them.  After the excitement of Nassau, Cat Island, with its deserted beaches and laid back lifestyle, is quite a change. With only a few hundred residents, Cat Island’s pace is slow and kayaks right on the beach make snorkeling easy. We even found sand dollars right off shore!  Over on the bigger island of Grand Bahama, we are thrilled to explore Lucayan National Park, a mangrove paradise filled with small creatures perfect for kayaking. To see the video documentary of our trip, get Travel With Kids Bahamas.

Kids Picks: Snorkeling With Sharks off New Providence, Cat Island Beach, Kayaking in Lucayan National Park

New Providence/Nassau With Kids

The hub of transportation and activity in The Bahamas is Nassau. With a third of the island of New Providence living in this capital city, it can feel a bit crowded, but on the flip side many of the resorts offer full-service pampering and there’s plenty to do.  We went snorkeling with Stuart Cove’s where we made two stops, the first to explore the reef, the second got us mask to fin with the reef’s number one predators, sharks.  For a close-up look at one of The Bahamas more tame creature, we hopped in the water at Dolphin Encounters where we were kissed, splashed and got to ride dolphins.  Nassau is packed with markets, the most famous being the Straw Market, but we found that a bit over-priced and aggressive.  A better choice is the small market across the main road from the Cable Beach resorts.  The boys, of course, loved discovering Nassau’s pirate past at Pirate of Nassau museum.  It tells the story of such famous pirates as Blackbeard and Anne Bonny, who strolled the streets here.

Grand Bahama With Kids

The second most visited island, Grand Bahamas has a bit of everything.  A crazy nightlife scene mixes with deserted beaches, packed resorts compete with cozy vacation rentals, souped up water activities offset the huge Lucayan National Park.  We stayed a short drive from Freeport, the main city, thus in easy reach of the festive atmosphere, but far enough away to get some peace and quiet when we wanted it.  Lucayan National Park was a hit.  We went on a kayak tour with Grand Bahama Nature Tours. As we paddled through a tunnel of mangroves, our guide pointed out wildlife like herons and raccoons.  We ended the tour at the famous beach featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and World’s End, you know the one where Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Captain Norrington fight over the chest with Davy Jones’ heart.  To get a bit further into the water and explore the reef life, we hopped aboard a Pat & Diane tour.  The underwater life was exceptional and the kids were especially thrilled about the on-board water slide and climbing wall.

Cat Island With Kids

Cat Island is part of the Out Islands, and is well off the tourist track.  We stayed at Fernandez Bay Village and our cottage was one of less than a dozen along the beach, which meant a quiet beach with plenty of the room to let the kids roam and explore.  They enjoyed finding crabs and sand dollars (you could snorkel right off the beach) while we read and we all enjoyed taking the resort’s kayaks out to a little islet in the bay and hopping in for a reef snorkel.  To explore a bit further, we headed by whaler boat to the estuary where we spotted turtles darting below the boat.  And inland, we all had fun hiking to The Hermitage, a sanctuary built by Fr. Jerome on the island’s highest point (in fact the highest point in all of The Bahamas) at about 200 ft.

Family-Friendly Places to Stay in The Bahamas:

Bahamas has a huge range of options for lodging from individual vacation rentals to cottage resorts to modern chain resorts. Here’s where we stayed.

– Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort– New Providence – Situated on 1000 ft. of white sand, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort’s 694 rooms offer large balconies with sweeping views of the Atlantic or the tropical gardens.  The resort has three heated pools, one with a swim-up bar, and plenty of water activities.

– Diamonds by the Sea– Grand Bahama – Located on the outskirts of Freeport Diamonds By the Sea has several cottages for rent with accommodations choices ranging from studio suite to a 3-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath.  The cottages are one of the only beachfront rentals available in Freeport and are close enough to enjoy the action, but far enough removed to avoid the constant hustle and bustle. Plus, the full kitchens mean you can cook making for more relaxing meal times, and the spacious living areas means plenty of room for the whole family to spread out.

– Fernandez Bay Resort– Cat Island – This resort combines the benefits of your own cottage (plenty of room for the whole family, a full kitchen for meal preparation) with the amenities of a resort (water activities, a full restaurant, market).  The resort’s cottages are one of only a few along a beautiful crescent of white sand, so there is plenty of privacy and the kids are easy to keep track of as they run around and explore.

Getting To The Bahamas:

We took a Bahamasair flight from Fort Lauderdale to Nassua and between the islands.  They have the most flights per day and some of the best rates. Discovery Cruise ( runs day trips from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport.  The Bahamas are also a very popular boating destination and many Florida charter companies offer trips through the islands. Discovery Cruise runs day tripsfrom Fort Lauderdale to Freeport.  The Bahamas are also a very popular boatingdestination and many Florida charter companies offer trips through the islands.

Getting Around The Bahamas:

– AIR – Bahamasair connects most big islands to Nassau.  Daily flights leave for the Family Islands and many of the Out Islands.  There are also several small airlines and charter services including: Abaco Air, Air Sunshine, Cat Island Air, Flamingo Air Charters, Southern Air and Western Air.

– BOAT – Bahamas Ferries runs high-speed ferries from Nassau to Andros, Abacos, Eleuthera and the Exumas.  There are also mail boats that run through the Family Islands, which accept passengers as well.  The Bahamas are popular for sailing and yachting. Therefore, harbors, and even small bays, are well-equipped to host private boats.

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