Activities in the Bahamas for Kids and the Young at Heart
The Bahamas is known for its abundant islands, white sand beaches, and clear bright blue waters. This island nation in the Lucayan Archipelago is made up of several chains of islands brimming with a variety of activities to suit different moods, preferences, and personalities. This article includes just a sampling of the options that await both the young and young at heart in this tropical island paradise.
For the Action and Adventurers
• Located in the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Aquaventure Water Park is a water lovers playground consisting of high speed waterslides featuring The Leap of Faith and The Challenger, a not so lazy river with a few waves and rapids thrown in, a kids zone for the little ones, and a plethora of beautifully landscaped swimming pools.
• On the waterfront in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, Pirate’s Cove Zipline and Water Park is fun for the entire family. Take a ride on the zipline, or a banana boat, or just sit on the beach and watch the action.
For those who want to get in the water and interact with the sea-life, there are several options.
• For engaging with dolphins, sea lions or stingrays consider Blue Lagoon Encounters for a fun educational experience for all types of visitors even shy non-swimmers or those with special needs. Blue Lagoon Island is a natural ocean habitat and scenic cay near Nassau and is the home of Flipper.
• The Dolphin Experience on Grand Bahama Island, provides a variety of dolphin programs from sitting on a submerged platform, to swimming with dolphins in protected waters, to an open water scuba diving experience in conjunction with UNEXSO, and even an all day in depth dolphin training course.
• Atlantis’ Dolphin Cay is a renowned marine animal rehabilitation center that also offers a large array of programs and activities including in-water experiences, tours, training programs, and kayak and paddle boarding experiences amid the animals. Interactions with both dolphins and sea lions are available at Dolphin Cay.
• On a private island near Great Harbor Cay, in the Berry Island chain, Stingray City’s guides give briefings on how to handle the docile rays and then allow visitors to swim, snorkel and interact with rays in their protected lagoon.
• For a more unusual animal interaction, travel to the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay, a part of the Exuma Islands, to swim with the pigs. How the pigs ended up here is a bit of a mystery but they have adapted well and are excellent swimmers. Feeding the pigs is allowed but not encouraged, as these mammals do bite. A better option is to offer them a bowl of fresh water. Ashore, the pigs are the only inhabitants of this cay and are a touch possessive of their slice of paradise. They have been known to chase their two legged visitors.
• If longing for animal companionship on land during your visit to the Bahamas, both Trikk Pony Adventures and Pinetree Stables afford guests horseback riding experiences along the beach. Both equine adventures are located in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, and both offer a variety of treks.
For Admirers of Nature and the Environment
• Rand Nature Center is a 99-acre pineland forest attraction on Grand Bahama Island. Observe native plants such as the bush medicine plants, tropical orchids, and brilliantly colored wild birds as you hike along a series of nature trails. There is also an education center with native animal displays and a gift shop.
• The 30-acre Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is located in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera and like the Rand Nature Center is a part of the Bahamas National Trust. This preserve is a research and educational center for the propagation of indigenous flora. The trails lead visitors through a variety of exhibits including poisonous plants and wild edible plants.
• Enjoy a tranquil habitat resplendent with exotic flowers and plants amid waterfalls, butterflies, and migratory birds in the Garden of the Groves. Located on Grand Bahama Island, this attraction also features a labyrinth, kids playground, and an Arts and Crafts Center.
• Located at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is an array of exhibits featuring marine life and their habitats. The Atlantis Marine Habitat is the largest open-air aquarium in the world and houses amazing underwater displays. Snorkel in the Ruins Lagoon, take an excursion into a lost continent that houses some of the most exotic sea creatures on the planet, get up close and personal with sharks and other predators. Also, during feeding-time, guest are able to touch and feed green sea and hawksbill turtles.
• Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Center, also on Paradise Island, houses over 135 animals both native and from other regions of the world. The Conservation Center offers engaging educational and inspiring events and programs in a lush garden paradise.
• Edwin’s Turtle Lake Marine Preserve is an inland blue hole located on Eleuthera. This pristine environment is home to green sea turtles and other marine creatures. Kayak, stand up paddle board or canoe around this saltwater lake that is connected to the ocean by an underground cave system.
• Also on Eleuthera is a marvel of nature known as the Glass Window Bridge. Compare the variety of azure waters between the deep blue Atlantic Ocean and the bright turquoise Bight of Eleuthera that are only separated by a thirty foot wide rock “bridge”.
History and Cultural Devotees
• Known as the Official Site of the Bahamas, Fort Charlotte is located near Nassau overlooking Paradise Island. Visitors can go back in time as they explore the vast fort’s moat, dungeons, cannons and underground passages. A couple of days a week, staff dress in period costumes as the Royal Bahamian Defense Force performs military drills for the public. Fort Fincastle and Fort Montagu, also on New Providence Island, are both opened to the public and offer tours.
• The Pirates of Nassau Museum is an interactive pirate experience that showcases the history of pirates in the Bahamas. The exhibits include unique artifacts and provide a multi-sensory experience that will take visitors back to the time pirates inhabited the islands.
• In the small village of Elbow Cay in the Abaco Island chain is the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, one of three lighthouses left in the world that is still manually operated, and the only remaining lighthouse fueled by kerosene. This red and white striped beacon is open to the public daily, except on Sunday.
Whether one favors the action of the more populated islands or the isolation of the uninhabited cays, this small sampling of activities offers something for everyone. Both kids and parents will be amazed, and exhausted yet satisfied after indulging in all the Bahamas have to offer.