Best Places to Sail in The Bahamas – 6 Dream Destinations!

The Bahamas are renowned as one of the most beautiful places on earth, featuring tranquil blue waters, white sand beaches, and some of the world’s most incredible weather. For those who love sailing, the Bahamas offer a paradise of scenery and adventure.

When planning their trip to the area, many sailor enthusiasts like to plan well ahead so they can be sure to hit the best places to sail in the Bahamas.

From the bustle of vibrant island towns to the peaceful isolation of uninhabited cays, the Bahamas offer an entirely unique, customizable vacation experience for sailing enthusiasts. Here are just a few spots in the Bahamas that every charterer should mark on his or her navigational chart when planning a trip:

1. Marsh Harbor

Marsh Harbor is located eastern side of the Abaco Islands in the northern part of the Bahamas. The town’s famous harbor is reminiscent of the kind of view you might see in the scenic seaside towns of Greece or Italy, with lines of yachts marking the entrance to the city.

As you approach the harbor, a beautiful collection of white buildings with red tile roofs emerges from the hillside, spreading across the rolling land. Once you get off the boat, Marsh Harbor offers a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops that are sure to please casual tourists and experienced seafarers alike.

The town is the largest settlement you’re likely to see on your travels through the Bahamas and makes a great base of operations for day trips and excursions. If you’re interested in sightseeing, many tours originate in the town, including both overland hikes and undersea scuba diving excursions.

Boats in Marsh Harbour

2. Pelican Cay Land & Sea Park

Pelican Cay Land & Sea Park is a 2,100-acre preserve managed by the Bahamas National Trust, located about a forty-minute drive from Marsh Harbor. The park is famous for the beauty of the scenery both above and below the surface of the water, including Sandy Cay Reef, one of the world’s premier snorkeling destinations.

By hiking the park on foot, visitors can see an impressive collection of the Bahamas’ native flora and fauna, including, of course, a large number of the pelicans the park is named for.

Sailors passing by the park along the coast will be treated to some of the clearest water in the world, allowing visitors to see all the way down to the seafloor, which is populated by enchanting coral and a variety of exotic fish species.

Beach in Pelican cay land3. Hope Town

Hope Town is a small settlement on Elbow Cay, a long, thin barrier island off the coast of Abaco’s main island. Many visitors to Hope Town appreciate the fact that Elbow Cay is far less developed than other parts of the Bahamas, like Marsh Harbor, keeping it free from the loud sounds of cruise ships and resorts.

Given the small size of the island, bicycles and golf carts are the primary means of transportation for locals and visitors alike, offering a fun, intimate vacation experience. The island is also home to Elbow Cay Lighthouse, one of the last kerosene burning lighthouses in the world and one of the Bahamas’ most iconic historic structures.

The lighthouse’s tall, candy-cane-striped structure is visible from almost anywhere on the island, and passing sailors can enjoy passing by the same warning light that has protected visiting ships for over 150 years.

4. Man-O-War Cay

Man-O-War Cay, also located in Abaco, is regarded as one of the most peaceful, quiet, and exclusive parts of the Bahamas. First-time visitors to the islands rarely make it to Man-O-War Cay, which only has about 500 year-round residents and is less than 100 meters wide in some places.

If you want to stay in one of the Cay’s rental homes, there is a vigorous vetting process that locals use to make sure only respectful visitors are allowed to stay in the community.

Just offshore, passing sailors can look down to the ocean floor to see the wreck of the USS Adirondack, a Union warship from the American Civil War that sunk after hitting the nearby reef.

The entire area surrounding the cay and wreck is a premier destination for snorkelers, offering breathtaking views of fish and coral that are unavailable in most parts of the world. Man-O-War Cay is the perfect example of the kind of adventurous sightseeing that is only possible in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas.

5. Green Turtle Cay

Like Elbow Cay and Man-O-War Cay, Green Turtle Cay is a small barrier island off the coast of Great Abaco. The area was settled by New Englanders, which lends the cay a peak-roofed architecture style more similar to the settlements on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard than anything else in the Bahamas.

Although Green Turtle Cay is small, it features all the amenities available in the Bahamas, including restaurants, stores, hotels, and marinas, making it a great place to stop for supplies or some rest during your sailing trip.

Throughout history, Green Turtle Cay has been a place for sailors to wait out storms, so an eclectic mix of people has washed ashore on the small island over time, lending the area a unique personality that many visitors find charming.

6. Manjack Cay

Manjack Cay is to the immediate north of Green Turtle Cay, off the coast of the Great Abaco Island. Unlike its neighbor to the south, Manjack Cay is undeveloped and privately owned, meaning it provides some of the most unspoiled scenery the Bahamas have to offer.

These qualities make Manjack a popular spot for families to picnic, feed rays and soak up the sunlight away from the noise and bustle of the resort. The waters around Manjack Cay are a renowned shark habitat, so it’s one area where you’re probably better off in your boat or on shore.

In spite of the danger, many visitors enjoy swimming with the sharks in the shallows surrounding the cay. Since the area is not preserved, many anglers also enjoy fishing for sharks on the northwest side of the island.

No matter what aspect of the Bahamas you find most beautiful, you’ll find Manjack Cay to be one of the most breathtaking places anywhere on the islands.

When you’re planning your sailing trip to the Bahamas, you should start by thinking about what side of the islands you want to see.

Do you want to take in the vibrant culture of more settled islands like Marsh Harbor or Green Turtle Cay or enjoy the peaceful tranquility of unspoiled areas like Pelican and Manjack Cays?

With the freedom of your boat, you can construct whatever vacation experience you prefer, blending relaxing days of quiet sightseeing with nights spent socializing with friends in local bars.

Regardless of how you like to spend your time, you can create the getaway vacation of your dreams when you sail the Bahamas in style.


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8 thoughts on “Best Places to Sail in The Bahamas – 6 Dream Destinations!”

  1. A great insight into the best places to sail for someone who has not been to the Bahamas before. The places you list sound like they would make the perfect beach holiday. Thank you for sharing your knowledge – will keep it in mind when planning my next sailing trip!

    • Hi Amy,

      You are very welcome!

      I am glad you like the article and hope it will serve you in the future:)

      Thank you for the comment and wish a fantastic day!

  2. The Bahamas is the pinnacle of destinations of beauty, although i dont sail i would love to go to the Bahamas on holiday, i loved your article on the destinations and i like pelican Cay park and Hope Town.
    The tranquil water and white sands is a draw for any body to want to go.
    Do you in your opinion think it would be a disadvantage To go to the Bahamas if you dont sail?

    • Hi Gareth,

      Yes, the Bahamas is a real beauty, I totally agree with you:)

      There are pros and cons to everything, but if you want my opinion, without a boat, you will not be able to access to some of the most beautiful islands as there are only reachable by boat. It would be a shame to miss this opportunity:)

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!

  3. Hello Daniella,
    I & my husband are planning a sailing trip to the Bahamas with our kids 6 & 10 years old. We took sailing classes in San Carlos 101, 103 & 104 with American Sailing Association. Anyways, we are unexperienced sailors and my question is, do you think sailing in the Bahamas would be safe for us? we were planning our trip for the month of November, is that a good time?
    Our other destination idea is The British Virgin Island, would that be a better destination for us? I really would like to know what is your opinion or advice for us. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Liliane,

      Firstly, thank you for the comment!

      That’s fantastic. The Bahamas is beautiful!
      To answer your question, if you feel confident enough to navigate a boat, then, yes, the Bahamas is a safe place to sail. You just need to check well the weather before you set sail or head to another island. Also, make sure to know where the safe harbors are located.
      The Bahamas is a winter destination, November would be an excellent time to sail there. At that time of the year, on your way, you’ll find easily other boats with whom you may want to continue the sailing trip:)
      A good suggestion about the weather, it is best to wait at least 24 hours of calm wind until the stream calms down prior any departure. To be sure, you will have to wait 48 hours of good weather.

      As for the Bvi, I would avoid sailing in November as there is still a risk of hurricanes and it is a rainy month, but the rates are quite attractive:)

      Oh, one more thing. Try to get the Steve Dodge Guide to Abacos. It is a great book about the best routes and plenty of useful information.

      I hope it helped and if you need further information, please, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’ll be more than happy to assist!

      Have a wonderful sailing trip!

  4. Oh my gosh, these are all beautiful places! We have been wanting to go on a sailing trip in the Bahamas and you have given me some great choices! I am wondering if they are all fairly close together, I mean can we sail to all of them? How long of a time period would we need if we did?

    • Hi Matt,

      Yes, as you said, these islands are beautiful!
      If you sail to the Bahamas, one thing is for sure is that you will enjoy very much your time there! Yes, these islands are close to each other, only a few km separate them. The longer the best of course, but 7 days is the minimum time to have a good time!

      I hope it helped! Please, let me know if you need more info, I’ll be more than happy to assist!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a fantastic day!


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