So you’re on the hunt for the perfect Caribbean destination. Just the word “Caribbean” – even if we’ve been pronouncing it wrong all this time! – evokes magical images of turquoise waters, warm sun shining down on golden sand, and pineapple drinks with tiny umbrellas.
And people seem to keep raving about the Bahamas, which makes you wonder: Wait, are the Bahamas in the Caribbean? You’re confident your family will love a warm Caribbean getaway, and the Bahamas islands sound beautiful, but… Is the Bahamas even in the Caribbean?
We know you’re looking for a clear, straightforward answer, and we promise we’ll get to that soon.
But if you’re considering the Bahamas islands for your Caribbean family trip, we hope your biggest takeaway is that they offer the warm blue water, tropical beach fun, and family-friendly luxury of the Caribbean you’re looking for. In fact, the Bahamas easily makes our list of top Caribbean destinations for families.
So let’s break down the Bahamas’ relation to the Caribbean, and explore why the Bahamas should be on your radar as a top Caribbean destination!
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Bahamas Family Travel Planning and Hotels
Real quick, before we dive into Bahamas fun, we want to make sure you’ve got our best travel planning resources at your fingertips. If you’re trying to plan a trip somewhere tropical, blue, and sandy, we’re here to help.
It can be a hair-pulling experience as busy parents trying to score an incredible Caribbean hotel for the whole family. We’ve literally been in your shoes – that’s why we curated an amazing collection of recommended family hotels in the Caribbean, including the Bahamas! It’s pretty much our pride and joy.
Wishing someone else would just handle the logistics for a change? We also offer bespoke Caribbean family travel planning services. Our specialty? Helping parents identify the best Caribbean island and hotel for a top-notch family trip.
Now, start daydreaming about swimming pigs and pink sand beaches as you learn more about the Bahamas and its unique connection to the Caribbean region.
The Caribbean Islands Region
Let’s dive right into the question you need answered: are the Bahamas in the Caribbean?
Here’s the short answer: Yes, and no. No, because the Bahamas is not technically in the Caribbean Sea. But yes, the Bahamas is considered part of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community.
When someone refers to the Caribbean, they might be referring to either the Caribbean Sea or the Caribbean Islands region (sometimes referred to as the Caribbean basin).
The Caribbean Sea is a geographical ocean area, whereas the “Caribbean region” is a geopolitical area that encapsulates some countries nearby but outside the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean region roughly describes the ocean area south of the U.S, east of Mexico, and north of South and Central America. It includes the West Indies and some islands in the North Atlantic.
This beautiful and detailed watercolor map of the West Indies from Notes from The Road really helps to paint the picture (pun intended) of the region, with the Bahamas right up top:
As shown on the map, the different parts of the Caribbean include:
This subregion includes some of the most popular, highly-visited Caribbean destinations: Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, etc.
The Lesser Antilles
The Lesser Antilles form the border between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic. Think of the Lesser Antilles as starting where the Caribbean islands start to turn south, and continuing down towards South America. The Lesser Antilles includes these subdivisions:
- The Leeward Islands (from the British Virgin Islands and Saint Martin to Guadeloupe)
- The Windward Islands (Dominica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago)
Lucayan Archipelago (The Bahamas)
Finally, the Lucayan Archipelago in the West Indies sits in the North Atlantic near the U.S. It includes the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos.
These groups of Caribbean islands are included in the greater West Indies region, which is sometimes used interchangeably with “the Caribbean.” They’re not exactly the same, but the subtle differences aren’t hugely important for our purposes here.
So Are the Bahamas in the Caribbean or Not?
We totally understand if you’re still confused and thinking… So are the Bahamas in the Caribbean or not?! We mentioned above that the Bahamas are part of the Lucayan Archipelago, along with Turks and Caicos.
And yes, technically the Lucayan Archipelago actually sits in the North Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. BUT it’s still considered part of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM.
So aside from the body of water it’s found in, the Bahamas are absolutely considered part of the Caribbean. And, for travelers wanting to go to a family-friendly, English-speaking Caribbean island, the Bahamas absolutely counts.
What is CARICOM?
CARICOM stands for the Caribbean Community. This integrated community grouping includes twenty different countries, as far north as the Bahamas and as far south as Guyana in South America.
CARICOM was established by a council in the 1970s so that these various countries could come together to strengthen their economies, cultures, societies, and policy under a Caribbean identity. It’s a beautiful thing that’s helped promote that cohesive energy and rich culture you’ll experience when you visit one of its islands.
Are the Bahamas part of the USA?
Since the Bahamas is the most northern country in CARICOM, many people also wonder, is the Bahamas part of the USA? Nope, the Bahamas isn’t part of the US or North America. But it’s very close to Florida (just 50 miles south!), making it a really accessible and popular place for Americans to vacation.
The Bahamas Islands: A Beautiful Blue-Sea Getaway
We hope we’ve thoroughly answered the burning question, are the Bahamas in the Caribbean? Now, how is that relevant to your dream trip?
We’re guessing you got here because you’re craving a classically Caribbean vacation experience. The beautiful boutique resort, the tasty rum drinks, the sun-kissed skin on sandy beaches beside crystal-blue waters.
Well you’re totally in luck, because the islands of the Bahamas offer the tropical escape of your dreams. Even better, the Bahamas is a great Caribbean bucket list destination for not just you, but your kids too!
Let’s jump into some of the best islands in the Bahamas for families, to help you narrow down your search.
Are the Bahamas Good For Families?
Yes! The Bahamas has quickly become one of our favorite destinations for families with kids of all ages. Most of the islands of the Bahamas are flat and low-lying, with turquoise water that stretches for what seems like miles.
You won’t find rainforest or mountainous terrain in this part of the Caribbean, but the beaches are long and gentle, perfect not just for sand castles but for young swimmers too.
And given their proximity to the United States, with direct flights available from many major U.S. cities, you should absolutely consider the Bahamas for your family trip.
How Many Islands Are In the Bahamas?
Would you believe there are nearly 700 islands in the Bahamas, and more than 2,000 cays?! It’s true, though – only about 30 of them are inhabited.
Best Islands in The Bahamas for Families
1. Harbour Island
Harbour Island is a stunning, quaint seaside village with unique New England-style architecture and an intimate feel. Only 5 minutes by ferry from the unspoiled island of Eleuthera, Harbour Island is a great choice for families who want a peaceful, nature-filled experience.
Kids will adore exploring it by golf cart, or playing on Pink Sands Beach, a rare natural gem and one of Harbour Island’s main draws. Make sure to taste some fresh pineapple at Lady Di’s Pineapple Farm, this being the Pineapple Capital of the World!
2. Long Island
Long Island is the place to go if you have young ones with adventurous spirits and an appreciation for the outdoors.This secluded, unspoiled Bahamas island is prime for fishing, snorkeling at the coral reefs, and boating.
It’s also home to an epic natural wonder your kids will be impressed (or freaked out!) by: Dean’s Blue Hole, which is the world’s second deepest blue hole.
As a major bonus, Long Island has an incredible boutique resort that checks off all the family vacation boxes: Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort.
3. New Providence Island (Nassau)
New Providence (Nassau) is at the top of the list of best islands in the Bahamas for families. Why? Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas, making it the gateway island as well as the most populated and amenity-filled.
Besides being highly accessible with direct flights from the eastern US, and a top destination for cruise ships, Nassau also has The Atlantis: the huge global resort on Paradise Island that attracts families world-wide.
To be honest, though, the Atlantis is not really our style here at Mango Tree. Instead, while on Nassau, we prefer a luxe boutique hotel called The Island House, which is sophisticated but not stuffy, and absolutely welcomes kids.
This island is a great choice for families who’d enjoy a good mix of culture, entertainment, and beach fun. Museums like the Pirates of Nassau Museum and white-sand beaches like Junkanoo will keep you and the kids thoroughly entertained. You can spend the day at the Baha Bay waterpark, but retreat to a quieter part of the island at the end of the day. There are plenty of Nassau Bahamas grocery stores to stock your fridge, always a plus when traveling with kids.
4. Andros Island
Looking for an accessible, serene island without the crowds or development of Nassau? Andros Island might be a great Bahamas destination for your family. Dubbed the “Sleeping Giant”, this massive, unspoiled island is covered in exquisite national parks and tranquil bays.
In our humble opinion, it’s home to a couple of the best family-friendly beach resorts in the Bahamas: Small Hope Bay Lodge, and Kamalame Cay. Kids are totally welcome at both, and if Andros wasn’t so stunning you would never leave their grounds.
5. Grand Bahama Island
Grand Bahama Island is one of the most popular Bahamas destinations for families. It’s easy to see why – this well-developed island has plenty of amenities, familiar activities like mini golf and bowling, plus unforgettable oceanic adventures.
You can famously swim with the pigs at Crystal Sands Beach, meet dolphins, or indulge your kids’ pirate obsession at Blackbeard’s Tower.
The great thing about Grand Bahama is that it isn’t strictly a cutesy place curated for children, nor is it just a luxurious honeymoon getaway. It strikes a great balance. So you can still wear your hot-mom bathing suit and sip on a pina colada while your kids giggle the day away building sand castles.
6. The Exumas
For a Bahamas destination that never runs out of adventure, consider the Exumas. The Exumas is a chain of a few hundred unique, secluded islands brimming with empty cays, rare wildlife, and epic boating and snorkeling spots.
Most families like to primarily stick to Great Exuma, then boat around to the surrounding cays. Swim with pigs or sting rays in the blue-green waters, enjoy yummy bites, rope swings and hammocks at Chat N’ Chill, or admire rare rock iguanas on Allen Cay. If you like an all-to-yourselves kind of vibe, this is it.
We hope we’ve given you all the information you need to understand the answer to the original question, are the Bahamas in the Caribbean? What’s more, we hope we’ve inspired you to consider the Bahamas for your next family trip!
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