As you circle above the 700 islands that make up the Bahamas before landing, nose smooshed against the window, the striking brightness of the tropical-tinged colours looks unreal. You’ll see the waves of the 100,000 square miles of Bahamian ocean territory lapping against the coast clear as your bright eyes. As your anticipation rises the further you sink down, your stomach will feel the flutter of the birds and butterflies.
Whatever rouses your passions, the Bahamas offer a bit of something for everyone. With the ease of an all-inclusive stay tacked on, you’ll be feeling mellow and serene within minutes of your first deep breath of the ocean air and sip of your rum punch. Let us tickle your Bahamas fancy with our picks of all-inclusive Bahamas resorts.
For diving and fishing adventurers
Small Hope Bay Lodge
Occupying a stretch of the largest and least populated island in the Bahamas, Andros Island’s Small Hope Bay Lodge is an all-inclusive stay for water-devoted visitors. It’s the oldest dive resort on the islands welcoming to all experience levels. Regardless of whether you are looking to dive for the first time or you consider yourself a seasoned diving pro, the lodge offers upwards of three different daily diving excursions to the third largest barrier reef in the world. Fishermen are not left out to dry with a solid daily program of deep sea and reef fishing.
Ocean excursions aside, there is an abundance of natural Bahamian beauty on land where the quietly rugged landscape is dotted with hammocks tempting you into an afternoon snooze. For those with a family in tow, free babysitting is available for kids ages two to seven.
The 21 cabins feature local pine tree walls, sculptural sea relics, and the locally-made Androsia batik fabrics. Instead of providing TV or WiFi in your rooms, lodge guests are encouraged to linger on their private porch, taking in the play-by-play action of the ocean waves and the accompanying orchestra of bird calls.
The Small Hope Bay community is always eager to swap adventurous tales over a delicious tropical curry at the restaurant, watching freshly caught fish grilling away or over a quick beer as the sun sets. The easy-going atmosphere and inspiring love of the sea is a large part of why so many return yearly to the beloved resort.
For those who travel in packs
Stella Maris Resort
Months of stress attempting to coordinate schedules with your entire gang ends in the blissful slow-pace of the Stella Maris Resort on Long Island in the Bahamas. Finally, there’s nothing to worry about other than picking a cocktail and remembering where you’ve gleefully kicked off your shoes upon entering your villa.
The resort offers several self-contained villas, some with private pools, that can sleep up to eight family members and friends. Just remember to give yourselves a little space — there’s no need to be glued at the hip throughout the entire trip! Some can take off snorkelling while the others do an eco-tour or linger on the white sands of the beach with an enthralling book. Beginner and pro scuba diving trips to shark reefs and shipwrecks are also offered. If there are fishing enthusiasts among you who want to cast out their rods on a fishing outing, prepare the grill for a fresh caught Marlin, Tuna or Mahi-Mahi, depending on the season.
For an adults-only romantic jaunt
Sandals Royal Bahamian
It’s the mid-20th century in Nassau and the famous Balmoral Club is entertaining international royalty including the likes of Nixon, the Beatles and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Fast forward to present day and the property has been rejuvenated as the celebrated Sandals Royal Bahamian, an adults-only all-inclusive Bahamas resort where remains of the glamourous Balmoral past include stately roman columns, fountains and a sparkling Baccarat chandelier. The romantic haven is brimming with lovebirds spoon feeding each other during candlelit meals on the beach or snorkelling while holding hands.
A daily orientation alerts you to your itinerary options among a whirlwind of activities. There are a whopping seven outdoor pools, two of which are open 24/7 and have swim-up bars. The perfect time to enjoy them without the crowds of lovers is during sunrise. You can also retreat to the resort’s private island, accessed by the free hourly ferry or by sailboat or kayak. It’s hardly a castaway situation on the island where a restaurant provides lunch and there are plenty of cabanas for a cat nap.
Once the sun sets, join in on the late-night action at the Piano Bar or the authentic English Cricketeer Pub that was shipped over in pieces from England and has the smoothest pints on tap. If you want something more down-tempo, gather around the crackle of the outdoor fire pit in the evening for some velvety jazz.
For the golfing devotee
Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan
Far too often a resort’s all-inclusive package doesn’t extend all the way to the golf green. Lighthouse Point at Grand Lucayan has foregone extra fees in favour of unlimited golfing on the championship Reef Course with coaches on hand to help you perfect your game. End each memorable day playing in the sun with the salty breeze by treating yourself to a port wine and a Cuban cigar on the Havana Cay veranda with a view on the beach.
The resort isn’t just all about golf; save some time for poolside cocktails or basking in the heat on the long stretch of white sand beach that flanks the property. Included in the all-inclusive pricetag is eating your way across five restaurants with a plethora of delicious options. It’s hard to exercise self-control when faced with the tantalizing food smells so simply banish concerns about your waistline with some water sports; on the menu is parasailing, waterskiing or windsurfing.
For the once in a lifetime family vacation
Atlantis Paradise Island
The neighbours took their kids to Atlantis, and so did your cousin Sara and her husband Matt. They posted a million photos on Facebook and now your kids won’t stop nagging about going to Atlantis Paradise Island. Consider this though: the kids are only kids once (remember when they were babies?!) and the sunny, easy-going vibe in the Bahamas would do you some good as well.
The crown jewel of the Atlantis Resort is its 141-acre waterscape, geared up to make everyone giddy: There’s the straight down, 60-foot plunge slide that shoots you through a shark-filled lagoon. The Rapid River sends you through waves, rapids, and waterfalls on an inflatable tube. I wouldn’t even climb to look over the top of the Power Tower which stands at a gut-wrenching 120 feet high and has special “master-blaster” technology for an even faster descent. There’s also plenty of small-friendly rides and pools. Water fun aside, there’s golf, beaches, top-notch food and everything else you would expect from an all-inclusive of this calibre. We’re willing to put our neck on the line here and say the Atlantis experience trumps Disneyland…
We won’t lie to you, Atlantis is a tad expensive but money wasn’t made to sit in your wallet! There’s a range of accommodation including the Royal, home of one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, as well as The Beach, The Coral, The Reef and The Cove.
For adults-only ease
Riu Palace Paradise Island All-Inclusive
The Riu Palace Paradise Island is located on the quintessentially Caribbean, postcard-worthy Cabbage Beach. It’s one of the nicest beaches on the islands and a good people place to people watch from behind those dark sunglasses. Guests of the adults-only Riu Palace can expect a lively atmosphere fueled in part by the unlimited food and booze. Signalling the start of a wild week are the in-room alcohol dispensers but considering the quality of the cocktails, you’d be better off throwing on your swimsuit and heading downstairs. Awaiting you is a sweet-sour daiquiri at the infinity edge pool that melts into the view over the beach.
The property was recently renovated which means its culinary offerings stretch further than a classic resort buffet like Chutney, the Indian restaurant with sensationally flavourful curries. Eating poolside always brings back childhood memories of summer but forget getting a hot dog and fries, the Riu has a jerk chicken hut which when paired with a crisp beer in the sun has got to be one helluva enjoyable meal. If you get bored of chilling with the grown-ups and crave a bit more action, just next door there’s the Atlantis Resort, accessible by purchasing a day pass and reachable via the beach.
For families on a budget
Melia Nassau Beach Resort
Just because you can’t justify the splurge of Atlantis doesn’t mean that the Bahamas are completely out of your range. The Melia Nassau Beach Resort is in the vicinity of Atlantis but with a more budget-friendly price tag. There are three luxurious pools with waterfalls and have their own vibe. The bustling main pool has a swim-up bar, a DJ playing during the day and lots of pool games to keep everyone occupied. The east and west pools are more secluded with fewer people, lovely tropical foliage and a gentle shallow entry area for young children. The Resort sits on Cable Beach, which is exceptionally kid-friendly with soft white sand sloping gently into the placid turquoise water.
There are two standout dining experiences at modern Mexican restaurant Cilantro as well as Japanese/Peruvian fusion at Nikkei. There’s also plenty of kid-friendly options including pizza and pasta and chances are there will be something you’ll all love.