Sailing and Boating Near the Bahamas

The Bahamas offers some of the Caribbean's best sailing and yachting opportunities

Photo credit: © R. Gino Santa Maria | Dreamstime.com
 

The Bahamas is known as one of the top destinations for sailors in the Caribbean. Not far from the eastern coast of Florida in the U.S., these beautiful islands are easy to reach.

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The Abacos have been called by many the "Sailing Capital of the World," and the Bahamas are also considered to be one of the top places for inexperienced sailors. They are both close to the U.S. mainland, and full of plenty of ports and easy-to-find sites. There are a number of ways you can get out on the water, from chartering a boat for a day (or more) to hiring the services of a party boat.

Boat Trips and Day Sailing

If what you want is a day at sea, not an entire vacation at sea, day rentals make the most sense. These rentals are ideal for those who want to tour the Bahamas off land, participate in water sports, and sail to secluded beaches for a private dip, or simply to sped the day relaxing as you sail around the islands.

If you goal is to spend a few hours out on the water with less than five people, your best option would be to rent a waterski boat, but if you've got six people and want room to prepare a meal, a family cruiser would be a better option. Runabouts have room enough that eight people can have space to sit, and a cruiser can seat up to 10 people, as well as provide room for them to sleep and eat.

If you merely want to experience some time on the open water, without the complications and cost of sailing on your own you should take a day sailing excursion. Wondering about taking a boat ride? See the chart below for information on area providers.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location Island
Barefoot Sailing Cruises (242) 393-0820 3.1 mi. (5.0 km) North of Nassau New Providence
Dive Abaco Snorkeling (800) 247-5338 Dive Abaco - Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Dive Guana Snorkeling (242) 365-5178 Dive Guana - Great Guana Cay Great Guana Cay
Eleuthera Tours Sailing (242) 225-4408 11.9 mi. (19.2 km) West of Rock Sound Eleuthera
Exotic Adventures (242) 374-2278 2.1 mi. (3.4 km) South-Southwest of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Flying Cloud (242) 394-5067 Paradise Island Ferry Terminal - 0.3 mi. (0.5 km) West-Southwest of Paradise Island New Providence
Island Time (888) 733-3607 The Bahamas
Ocean Fox -- Ocean Fox Diving - Waterford Eleuthera
Out Island Explorers (265) 365-5686 George Town Great Exuma
Party Cat Cruises (954) 727-5339 East Bay Street - 3.4 mi. (5.5 km) Northeast of Nassau New Providence
Pat & Diane Tours (888) 439-3959 Port Lucaya Grand Bahama Island
Powerboat Adventures -- Paradise Island New Providence
Reef Tours (242) 373-5880 Port Lucaya Grand Bahama Island
Sandy Toes (242) 363-8637 Rose Island Rose Island
Sea Island Adventures (242) 325-3910 3.1 mi. (5.0 km) West of Cable Beach New Providence
Seahorse Sailing Adventures 322-4827 Paradise Island New Providence
Seaworld Explorer (242) 356-2548 Downtown Nassau New Providence
Stuart's Cove's Snorkel Bahamas (800) 879-9832 Stuart's Cove's Snorkel Bahamas - Downtown Nassau New Providence
Sunn Odyssey (242) 373-4014 Sunn Odyssey Divers - William's Town Grand Bahama Island
Sunshine Cruises (242) 327-5122 Woodes Rogers Walk - Downtown Nassau New Providence
Superior Watersports Sailing (242) 373-7863 Sea Horse Road - Port Lucaya Grand Bahama Island
Valentines (242) 333-2080 Valentines Dive Center - Dunmore Town Harbour Island

Boat Rentals and Charters

Most often chartered by the week from within or near the Caribbean, yachts can be chartered as bareboat, skippered bareboat, or crewed charter.

Bareboat is the option for the serious - and experienced - sailor. These rentals come with all of the equipment you'll need, but no crew. Bareboat rentals will require travelers to prove their qualifications. Travelers will often be given tutorials of the region that include known reefs and safe harbors.

Two types of bareboat charters exist: voyage charters and demise charters. A voyage charter is when the owner of the boat accompanies the charterer on his voyage, though steps back and allows the charterer to be in full control. A demise charter, meanwhile, occurs when the charterer sets sail completely on his own, without the supervision of the owner.

Occasionally charter companies will decide that a prospective sailor isn't ready to take a yacht out on his or her own. They may insist that you travel with a skipper for at least the first few days of your journey. When this happens it is as though you had decided to charter a skippered bareboat yourself - the skipper will lend his knowledge and skill to your journey, and you are responsible for paying him a daily rate.

Chartering a crewed yacht to sail to the Bahamas means you'll have a captain and full crew, including a cook. However, remember that the captain is the one in charge of both your and the yacht's safety during your travel. You will decide on the itinerary, but the captain may need to alter the route for safety purposes should weather or other obstacles come in the way.

Flotilla sailing is an option that exists for large groups of people in need of sailing together, but will take more than one boat. In flotilla sailing, more than one boat is chartered, and the lead boat is captained by a hired sailor; someone who knows the region, and is very experienced in leading groups of boats. The rest of the boats are skippered by members of your party. Flotilla sailing is wonderful for large groups who are competent sailors, but lack experience sailing in international waters, or do not want to be completely in charge of the course.

Another important choice to be made is the type of boat to sail. Yachts and catamarans are the most popular choices when it comes to sailing in the Bahamas.

Yachts are luxury crafts made up of a single hull. They typically measure as small as 20 feet long, and can be as large as several hundred feet long. Each style and size had its own name, such as dingies, which are small and used for day-long trips; pocket yachts, which are mid-sized vessels; and cruises, the largest in the yacht family.

Catamarans, unlike the yacht, have two hulls. Catamarans move quickly and are easy to maneuver. They are also designed so that passengers experience a more comfortable ride.

Most charters also offer the option of having them provide food for your journey. This can be more expensive than buying the food yourself, but also more convenient. Don't forget: You're in charge of feeding everyone on board, from yourselves to the skipper and crew.

The most important aspect of booking a crewed charter is your compatibility with the crew, and brokers are often the most convenient way to find a compatible crew. Brokers can also help travelers find rates on bareboat chaters. Like travel agents, brokers can provide quotes from different companies, but the owner pays for the broker's services - not the traveler.

If you are evaluating the option of a boat charter, you can reserve one from these agencies:

Charter and Rental Services
Name Phone Location Island
Abaco Bahamas Charters Ltd (242) 366-0151 Hopetown Elbow Cay
Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals 367-1035 Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Amarok Sailing Charters (242) 477-4471 Nassau Yacht Haven - 0.5 mi. (0.8 km) South of Paradise Island New Providence
Bahama Boat Excursions (242) 421-0071 0.3 mi. (0.5 km) West-Southwest of Paradise Island New Providence
C&C Charters Island Hopping (242) 365-8582 Treasure Cay Great Abaco
Cat's Paw Boat Rentals (242) 366-0380 Hopetown Elbow Cay
Concept Boat Rentals & Sales 367-5570 Conch Inn Resort - Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Defiance Sail Charters (242) 426-4412 Great Guana Cay Great Guana Cay
Florida Yacht Group Hope Town (242) 367-4853 Hope Town Inn Marina - 0.3 mi. (0.5 km) West of Hopetown Elbow Cay
Island Marine Boat Rentals (242) 366-0282 1.3 mi. (2.1 km) West of Hopetown Elbow Cay
Rainbow Rentals Ltd 367-4602 Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Reef Rentals (242) 365-4145 Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Sea Horse Boat Rentals (242) 366-0023 0.4 mi. (0.6 km) West-Southwest of Hopetown Elbow Cay
The Moorings (242) 367-4000 Conch Inn Hotel & Marina - Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Water Ways Mechanics & Boat Rentals 365-6143 Man of War Cay Man of War Cay
Watersports Cruise Total Package 393-0998 Bishop Street - Nassau New Providence

Docking

In order to dock your vessel in the Bahamas, you must clear Customs and Immigration in one of the country's Port of Entry. Freeport and Nassau are the two major ports in the Bahamas. As you sail into the port, make sure to fly your yellow quarantine flag to notify customs hat you have not yet been officially admitted into the country. Every passenger will need to provide proof of citizenship, a passport, and another form of photo identification before filling out an immigration card. This will allow them to step foot on Bahamian soil. Be prepared to pay entry fees of $150 to $300(USD) depending upon the length of your boat. Included in the price is a cruising permit, a fishing permit, and departure tax. If you are traveling with more than four people, expect to pay an additional fee.

For more information on entry requirements, contact the Port Authority Department in Nassau at 242-322-1596 or 242-326-7354.

Ports of Entry in the Bahamas
Island GroupPorts of Entry
The Abacos Green Turtle Cay, Marsh Harbour, Spanish Cay, Treasure Cay, or Walker's Cay
The Berry Islands Chub or Great Harbour Cays
North Bimini Alice Town
Cat Cay Hawks Nest Marina
Andros Congo Town, Fresh Creek, Mangrove Cay, or Morgan's Bluff
Nassau/New Providence Islands Any marina
Grand Bahama Island Freeport Harbour, Lucayan Marina Village and Port Lucaya, or Old Bahama Bay at West End
Eluthera Governor's Harbour, Harbour Island, Rock Sound, or Spanish Wells
The Exumas George Town, Exuma
Long Island Stella Maris Airport
San Salvador Cockburn Town
Mayaguana Abraham's Bay
Inagua Matthew Town

Evaluating the option of traveling to the Bahamas using your own boat, or a boat you charter in a different location? Check out the table below to find summary information for marinas in the area.

Marinas
Name Phone Location Island
Abaco Beach Resort Marina (242) 367-4154 Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour - Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Albany Marina (242) 676-6020 7.9 mi. (12.8 km) South West of Cable Beach New Providence
Alligator Bay Marina -- 29.6 mi. (47.6 km) Northwest of Clarence Town Long Island
Bahama Houseboats -- Stocking Island Stocking Island
Baker's Bay Marina (242) 577-0635 Great Guana Cay Great Guana Cay
Bayshore Marina 393-8233 0.3 mi. (0.5 km) West-Southwest of Paradise Island New Providence
Bell Channel Marina (242) 373-2673 2.5 mi. (4.0 km) East of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Bimini Bay Marina (888) 891-2263 North Bimini North Bimini
Bimini Blue Marina (242) 347-3166 Bimini Blue Water Resort - North Bimini North Bimini
Bimini Sands Marina (242) 347-3500 Bimini Sands Beach Club - South Bimini South Bimini
Blacksound Marina (242) 365-4531 Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Blue Marlin Cove (504) 598-1455 19.6 mi. (31.5 km) West-Northwest of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Bluff House Yacht Club (242) 365-4248 Bluff House Beach Hotel - Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Boat Harbour Marina 367-2158 Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Bradford Marina (242) 352-7711 5.0 mi. (8.0 km) West of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Brown's Marina -- North Bimini North Bimini
Cape Eleuthera Marina -- Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club - 11.6 mi. (18.7 km) West of Rock Sound Eleuthera
Cat Cay Yacht Club (242) 347-3565 North Cat Cay North Cat Cay
Chub Cay Marina (242) 325-1490 Chub Cay Resort - Chub Cay Chub Cay
Clarence Town Dock -- Clarence Town Long Island
Cockburn Town Dock -- San Salvador Island San Salvador Island
Cockburn Town Marina -- San Salvador Island San Salvador Island
Coconut Cove Marina (242) 336-2659 Cistern Cay Cistern Cay
Compass Cay Marina (772) 204-0786 Compass Cay Compass Cay
Conch Inn Marina (242) 367-4000 Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Davis Harbour Marina 334-6303 Rock Sound Eleuthera
Dolphin Marina (242) 365-4262 Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
East Bay Yacht Club (242) 394-1816 3.2 mi. (5.1 km) North-Northeast of Nassau New Providence
Edwin's Boat Yard (242) 365-6006 Man of War Cay Man of War Cay
Elizabeth on the Bay Marina (242) 424-7374 Downtown Nassau New Providence
Exuma Boatyard (242) 336-2578 3.3 mi. (5.4 km) Southeast of George Town Great Exuma
Exuma Docking Services (242) 336-2578 George Town Great Exuma
Exuma Markets Dinghy Dock (242) 336-2033 Stocking Island Stocking Island
Exuma Yacht Club (242) 336-2578 Stocking Island Stocking Island
Farmers Cay Yacht Club and Marina (242) 255-4017 Little Farmer's Cay Little Farmer's Cay
February Point Marina -- 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) Southeast of George Town Great Exuma
Fish House -- Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Flamingo Bay Yacht Club (800) 824-6623 Flamingo Bay Hotel and Marina - 2.6 mi. (4.3 km) East of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Flamingo Hill Marina (242) 464-6404 Cat Island Cat Island
Flying Fish Marina (242) 337-3430 Clarence Town Long Island
Fox Landing -- 20.3 mi. (32.6 km) Northwest of Clarence Town Long Island
Government Dock -- George Town Great Exuma
Governor's Harbour Anchorage -- Governors Harbour Eleuthera
Grand Bahama Yacht Club (242) 373-8888 2.5 mi. (4.0 km) East of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Great Guana Town Dock -- Great Guana Cay Great Guana Cay
Great Harbour Cay Marina (242) 367-8005 Great Harbour Cay Great Harbour Cay
Green Turtle Club Marina (242) 365-4271 Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Gun Point Marina -- North Eleuthera North Eleuthera
Happy People Marina (242) 355-2008 Staniel Cay Staniel Cay
Harbour Central Marina 323-2172 671 Bay Street - Nassau New Providence
Harbour Club Marina (242) 393-0771 3.4 mi. (5.5 km) Northeast of Nassau New Providence
Harbour Island Club & Marina (242) 333-2427 Harbour Island Harbour Island
Harbour View Marina 394-7085 East Bay Street - Nassau New Providence
Hawk's Nest Marina (242) 342-7050 Hawks Nest Resort & Marina - Cat Island Cat Island
Hope Town Hideaways Marina (242) 366-0434 Villa Conch Pearl - Hopetown Elbow Cay
Hope Town Inn Marina (242) 366-0003 Hope Town Inn & Marina - Hopetown Elbow Cay
Hurricane Hole Marina (242) 363-3600 Marina Way - 3.5 mi. (5.6 km) North-Northeast of Nassau New Providence
Kamalame Cay Marina (242) 368-6281 10.6 mi. (17.1 km) Northwest of Andros Town North Andros Island
Kevalli Marina (242) 357-0118 Kevalli House - Stocking Island Stocking Island
Kid Cove Marina (242) 336-2628 Stocking Island Stocking Island
Landrail Point Marina -- Crooked Island Crooked Island
Leeward Yacht Club and Marina (242) 577-4111 New Plymouth - Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Lighthouse Marina (242) 366-0154 Hopetown Elbow Cay
Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina (242) 368-2305 Andros Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina - Andros Town North Andros Island
Little Whale Cay Marina -- Little Whale Cay Little Whale Cay
Long Island Petroleum Dock -- 19.4 mi. (31.2 km) Northwest of Clarence Town Long Island
Longs Landing -- Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Lyford Cay Marina (242) 362-4131 7.0 mi. (11.3 km) West-Southwest of Cable Beach New Providence
Man-O-War Marina (242) 365-6008 Man of War Cay Man of War Cay
Marina Village Docks (242) 327-6400 0.2 mi. (0.3 km) West of Paradise Island New Providence
Marina at Emerald Bay (242) 336-6100 12.1 mi. (19.4 km) Northwest of George Town Great Exuma
Marlin Marine (242) 393-7873 3.3 mi. (5.3 km) Northeast of Nassau New Providence
Marsh Harbour Boat Yard (242) 367-4879 Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Marsh Harbour Marina (242) 267-2700 Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Marsh Harbour Public Dock -- Marsh Harbour Great Abaco
Matthew Town Docks (242) 339-2143 Matthew Town Inagua
Minns Water Sports 336-3483 George Town Great Exuma
Mores Island Town Dock -- Mores Island Mores Island
Morgan's Bluff Commercial Dock -- 34.5 mi. (55.6 km) North-Northwest of Andros Town North Andros Island
Nassau Yacht Club (242) 393-5132 3.6 mi. (5.7 km) Northeast of Nassau New Providence
Nassau Yacht Haven (242) 393-8173 3.3 mi. (5.3 km) North-Northeast of Nassau New Providence
New Plymouth Public Dock -- Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Ocean Reef Marina (242) 373-4661 Ocean Reef Resort And Yacht Club - William's Town Grand Bahama Island
Old Bahama Bay Marina (242) 250-6500 Old Bahama Bay - 23.3 mi. (37.5 km) Northwest of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Old Fort Marina -- Old Fort Bay New Providence
Olde Towne Marina (242) 327-6533 West Bay Street - Nassau New Providence
Orchid Bay Marina (242) 365-5175 Great Guana Cay Great Guana Cay
Paradise Harbour Club Marina (242) 363-2992 0.8 mi. (1.3 km) East of Paradise Island New Providence
Port Lucaya Marina (242) 373-9090 Port Lucaya Marketplace - Port Lucaya Grand Bahama Island
Riding Rock Marina (242) 331-2631 Riding Rock Resort and Marina - San Salvador Island San Salvador Island
Riding Rock Marina -- San Salvador Island San Salvador Island
Romora Bay Resort Marina (242) 333-2325 Romora Bay Resort and Marina - Harbour Island Harbour Island
Runaway Bay Marina (242) 332-1744 5.9 mi. (9.6 km) Southeast of Governors Harbour Eleuthera
Russel Island Docks -- North Eleuthera North Eleuthera
Safe Harbour Marina -- Cave Cay Cave Cay
Sampson Cay Marina (877) 633-0305 Sampson Cay Sampson Cay
Scotland Cay Marina -- Scotland Cay Scotland Cay
Sea Crest Marina (242) 347-3071 Sea Crest Hotel & Marina - North Bimini North Bimini
Sea Spay Marina (242) 366-0065 Sea Spray Resort & Marina - 2.2 mi. (3.6 km) South West of Hopetown Elbow Cay
Simm's Dock -- 31.3 mi. (50.4 km) Northwest of Clarence Town Long Island
Sir Charles Hayward Yacht Club -- Smith's Point Grand Bahama Island
South Bimini Yacht Club -- South Bimini South Bimini
Spanish Cay Marina (954) 284-7998 Spanish Cay - Spanish Cay Spanish Cay
Spanish Wells Marina (242) 333-4255 North Eleuthera North Eleuthera
Staniel Cay Marina (242) 355-2024 Staniel Cay Staniel Cay
Stella Maris Marina (242) 338-2055 Long Island Long Island
Summer Point Marina (242) 331-2862 Summer Point - Rum Cay Rum Cay
Sunrise Resort Marina (800) 932-4959 ext. 4010 Sunrise Resort And Marina - 2.1 mi. (3.4 km) South-Southwest of Freeport Grand Bahama Island
Sunset Marina & Boat Rentals 365-4634 Black Sound - Green Turtle Cay Green Turtle Cay
Treasure Cay Marina -- Treasure Cay Great Abaco
Valentines Marina (866) 389-6864 Valentines Residences Resort & Marina - Dunmore Town Harbour Island
Windmere Yacht Club -- 11.3 mi. (18.2 km) Southeast of Governors Harbour Eleuthera

You can make your Bahamas vacation all the more memorable - and thrilling - when you set sail on a customized Bahamas charter trip. Whether with a crew or on your own, on a catamaran or party boat, the options, like the seas, are endless.

As perhaps the most popular island chain in the Caribbean, there is too much sailing information in the Bahamas to fit on one page. It is reccomended that for more information you view one of our local guides that will give you specific information based on individual islands and cities. Some of the most popular local sailing guides can be found below.

Sailing in Specific Areas
Guide to Abaco Sailing
Guide to Andros Sailing
Guide to Eleuthera Sailing
Guide to Grand Bahama Sailing
Guide to Great Exuma Sailing
Guide to Green Turtle Cay Sailing
Guide to Harbour Island Sailing
Guide to Long Island Sailing
Guide to New Providence Island Sailing
Guide to the Berry Islands Sailing
Guide to the Bimini Islands Sailing
 

Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.