Sailing: Planning Your Route to the Bahamas

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Planning Essentials for the Bahamas

Now that you and your boat are prepped for the Bahamas, it's time to look at the charts and plan your voyage across the stream. Will you cross to West End and head towards the Abacos? Maybe instead, you'll go to Bimini for a fishing trip or decide on a few longer jumps to the Exumas? Regardless of what you choose, be safe and get ready for some of the most beautiful places you've ever sailed to.

If you haven't already read our others posts about sailing to the Bahamas, do do so here -->   Part I: Prepping Your Boat + Part II: Checking into the Bahamas

Bahamas Route Planning

The closest island to the United States is Bimini but Grand Bahama could be closer depending on where you are in Florida. Both are great starting points to exploring the Bahamas. Other inhabited islands include Acklins, Andros, Berry Islands, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Great Abaco, Long Island, Mayaguana, New Providence, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador.

Each island consists of an array of smaller islands, considered cays. Cay is pronounced /ke/. There are over 700 different islands and cays to explore with 365 of them located in the Exumas. We sailed across the stream and used our Newport Vessels  Seascape  to explore the islands on day trips! The furthest island away from the United States is Inagua, over 500 miles away from Miami.

Bahamas Route Planning

Everyone’s list of “to dos” is a bit different when it comes to visiting a new area. In this post, we will focus on three different routes to plan for when visiting the Bahamas. If you’re visiting for three months, you could easily focus on one route or at a faster pace tackle all three. Enjoy!

Route 1: Relaxing in the Abacos

Crossing to West End, Grand Bahama will give you a great starting point to making your way to the Abacos. From there, Great Sale Cay is a great layover before heading to seclusion in the Northern Abacos or arriving to the popular Green Turtle Cay. You’ll need to take caution at the Whale Cay Cut but once you’re through that area, you’ll have a great time island hopping all through Sea of Abaco. Marsh Harbor is the third largest city in the Bahamas and Elbow Cay is a breathtaking getaway.

*These maps are interpretive routes and should not be used as a primary chart for navigating. 

What to Expect

The Abacos are a great start to exploring the Bahamas with colorful islands and easy access to any amenities needed. There are plenty of islands to keep you busy with a variety of attractions to check out. The cruising grounds are relatively easy in the Sea of Abaco and the marinelife is some of the best in the Bahamas.

Top Attractions

  • Lucayan National Park
  • Piggyville at No Name Cay
  • Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park
  • Walker’s Cay National Park
  • Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay
  • Elbow Cay Lighthouse
  • Cracker P’s at Lubbers Quarters Cay
  • Firefly on Elbow Cay
  • Tilloo National Park
  • Abaco National Park

- Snorkeling at Sandy Cay Reef in Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park

Route 2: Exploring the Exumas

Crossing to Bimini provides an ideal stop for the avid fisherman. Although you’ll need to wait out weather windows to cross the bank, you’ll be easily entertained at each of the stops before the Exumas. From Bimini, we suggest stopping at Nichols Town on Andros for a nice layover before New Providence. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is located in New Providence and is a popular stop for cruise ships. Plenty of shopping and attractions to enjoy all around the city. After New Providence, you’ll have only a short sail to the start of the Exumas. There are 365 islands in the Exumas to explore so you’ll be sure to stay busy here.

*These maps are interpretive routes and should not be used as a primary chart for navigating. 

What to Expect

The best part of visiting this area of the Bahamas is the fact that you can sail to a new island everyday if you have the right weather. There are secluded areas and then some of the busiest areas in the Bahamas throughout this voyage. There are inhabited islands, private islands, and bustling islands. Plan accordingly for travels to the Exumas, some islands are not stocked up with provisions. Lots of cool wildlife to explore all around these islands and beautiful beaches to relax on.


  • Sapona Wreck in Bimini
  • Blue Holes National Park on Andros
  • Exuma Land and Sea Park in Exumas
  • Thunderballl Grotto at Staniel Cay
  • Staniel Cay Yacht Club
  • Pig Beach
  • Chat N Chill on Stocking Island
  • Sharks at Highbourne Cay
  • Monument Hike on Stocking island
  • Moriah Harbour National Park

- Sharks feeding at Highbourne Cay Marina

Route 3: To Eleuthera and Beyond

Similar to Exumas, you’ll cross to Bimini for this route and need to wait on good weather before heading to the Berry Islands. These islands are popular cruise destinations with secluded beaches at times. After the Berry Islands, you’ll make your way to Eleuthera. From Harbour Island to Rock Sound you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery in every which way. Little San Salvador is a day sail away and quick stop before going further. After exploring the length of Cat Island, sailing to San Salvador will take a good weather window and distract you for a while with numerous parks. Once you’re ready to continue onward, Rum Cay and Conception Island will be fun jumps before making it to Long Island. A bit of a longer trip but for the experienced sailor, this is a great collection of islands to explore.

*These maps are interpretive routes and should not be used as a primary chart for navigating. 

What to Expect


If you’re land lovers who love to sail, this will be your favorite route. Eleuthera is filled with blue holes, caves, and pink sand beaches. San Salvador is filled with unique National Parks. Cat Island and Long island offer historic sites. Every island along the way will show you beautiful new scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife.


  • Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
  • Queen’s Bath on Eleuthera
  • Harbour Island on Eleuthera
  • Cathedral Cave on Eleuthera
  • West Coast Marine National Park
  • San Salvador Garden Cave
  • Southern Great Lake National Park
  • Graham’s Harbour Iguana and Seabird National Park
  • Green’s Bay National Park
  • Pigeon Creek & Snow Bay National Park

- Pink Sand Beaches at Governor’s Harbour on Eleuthera

Mary and Tharon have been sailing to the Bahamas for the past three years and have picked out their favorite routes and attractions along the way. If you’d like to read more from them, visit their blog at , or follow  @newportvessels  or @svtipsygypsy  on Instagram to follow their nautical adventures!



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