Wet and fabulous free things to do in The Bahamas
Jul 06, 2017
Who said having fun in The Bahamas had to cost money
Part of the beauty of the Out Islands is that nature provides many opportunities for free fun. These three water-based activities aren’t the only free ones, but they are every bit wet and fabulous. And of course, all beaches in The Bahamas are public up to the high tide mark. That means the ocean is completely free, and wherever there is public access you can swim and play for free to your heart's content.
Sun-soaking in Tidal Pools
Tidal pools are naturally formed salt water swimming pools, nestled into the rocks along the coast. Their shallow beds are replenished and washed by the sea at high tide and are warmed by the sun all day. Queen’s Bath is the most well known tidal pool in Eleuthera. It is stunning at sunrise and sunset, and easy to access from North Eleuthera, close to the Glass Window Bridge. There is another tidal pool at the Rainbow Bay Cliffs, but it takes guts and a bit of risk to enjoy a swim in this pool. Technically, you will have to scale a cliff, so take photos of this beauty from above or venture down at your own risk. These tidal pools are part of the Bahamas’ natural heritage and available for all to enjoy. You can find them on other islands as well, like the Exumas and Long Island.
Blue Holes of the Out Islands
The forests of Andros Island are peppered with inland blue holes: deep limestone sinkholes filled with a mixture of salt and fresh water. Like tidal pools, they are also nature's very own swimming pools. Freshwater sits at the surface of inland blue holes. Many of them, like Cousteau Blue Hole, require an off-road vehicle to access, but others you can hike to, like Rainbow Blue Hole, or drive to, in a regular sedan: Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole, most notably. It costs nothing for you to experience the excitement and trepidation of swimming in these deep and mysterious blue holes.
In the Out Islands, there are also ocean-based blue holes, known as ocean holes. These you access by boat. Although Andros is home to a Blue Holes National Park, many of the Out Islands have blue holes you can enjoy. Long Island is home to the deepest ocean hole in the world. The Abacos has the largest explored underwater cave network in the World. The mouths of these caves are the blue holes of the Abacos. Acklins, Eleuthera, and the Berry Islands are also known for their blue holes.
Fishing from an Island Dock or Beach
Whether you actually love to fish or to simply experience new things, fishing is a free and fabulous activity you can enjoy from an island dock or beach. In Mangrove Cay, Andros you can even fly fish for free. Forget that people say fly fishing is expensive. Okay yes, you can do it the professional way, at a cost. And yes, this does involve chartering special boats with skilled guides and specialized equipment (which you should also try). But you can also do it the free, old-fashioned way: fishing from an island dock or right off the beach. So says Cheryl Bastian, a travel companion who knows firsthand.
As the owner of Swain’s Cay Lodge, one of the top fishing lodges in Mangrove Cay, Cheryl has reason to brag. “We have a room where you can practically fish from your front door. That’s how close it is to the beach”. Mangrove Cay has many beaches that can basically pass as fishing flats, which means at high tide the water is around 6-feet. During the daily incoming and outgoing tides, you can walk off the beach and join the bonefish on the flats for a fishing party. They come in from the deep to feed just off shore. You can bike around Mangrove Cay and find many beaches to cast a net.
Open Ocean Snorkel
This is not as taxing as it sounds and it doesn't involve a boat. Head to a beach, take a gentle swim out until you hit the offshore reefs. Many times they run parallel to the shoreline, or around the rocks that sometimes bookend a beach. These ocean swims are a teaser for the real deal (large reefs filled with fish and diverse sea life). However, with this relaxing free activity, you can gain a fuller appreciation for how clear and refreshing the waters of The Bahamas are and tickle your imagination.