Ecotourism in the Bahamas: How to Travel Lightly By Boat

Paradise Island is at the heart of ecotourism in the Bahamas
Paradise Island is at the heart of ecotourism in the Bahamas | © Ruth Peterkin / Alamy
Photo of Liz Allen
29 November 2021
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In the Bahamas, you’ll find the world’s third-largest barrier reef, shallow waters teeming with fish, and remote islands perfect for your next sailing adventure. Travelling by boat, specifically on sail, is definitely one of the most eco-friendly ways of touring the archipelago. While touring the destination, here are some other ways of reducing your environmental impact as you go.

Point your compass in the direction of the Bahamas and explore some of its best-kept secrets by chartering a boat for the day through SamBoat. Alternatively, book a multi-day sailing vacation with Dream Yacht Charter.

Sustainable places to shop

Peruse the Creative Nassau Market

The Creative Nassau Market is the perfect pop-up market to find local, Bahamian-made jewellery, artwork, straw-weaved souvenirs, along with food and drinks. The Market was founded in 2008 to create a space to showcase the Bahamas’ unique culture, art, and heritage “from the inside out”. Thanks to the efforts of Creative Nassau Market organizers, the City of Nassau was designated as a Unesco Creative City in 2014.

The Market comes to life every Tuesday and Friday from 9am to 5pm at Nassau’s Pompey Square. If travelling to the market by boat, there are lots of marinas in downtown Nassau capable of serving a wide variety of boat sizes.

Pompey Square is home to the Creative Nassau Market | © Darryl Brooks / Alamy

Explore the vibrant Craft Cottage

The Craft Cottage is a shop in eastern Nassau painted in a mix of eye-popping colors that offers shoppers Bahamian-made home decor, glassware, jewelry, soaps, and more. With so many unique items on display, you may find it takes a couple of loops through the shop to truly take it all in. The shop is within walking distance of Downtown Nassau, making it easy to visit by boat, too.

See Bahamian-made art at the Doongalik Studios Art Gallery

Located in eastern Nassau right by the Craft Cottage, the Doongalik Studios Art Gallery displays the work of Bahamian artists. They feature a wide variety of works, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and quilts. The Doongalik Studios Art Gallery also hosts a farmer’s market on their porch and gardens. The farmers market is held every Saturday from 9am to 1pm from November through July.

Dolls for sale at Nassau’s Straw market | © Walter Bibikow / Getty

Sustainable places to eat and drink

Enjoy sustainably-sourced seafood at Fish by José Andrés

Located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Fish by José Andrés is a high-end seafood restaurant that prides itself on its sustainably-sourced produce. The restaurant serves a mix of classic Bahamian species, such as snapper and grouper, but it has also made an effort to explore using invasive species such as lionfish. If travelling by boat, slips are available at the Atlantis Marina or you can make use of one of the many marinas in Downtown Nassau and take the ferry over to Paradise Island.

Sustainable activities

Moor Up at Conception Island National Park

Conception Island National Park is among the Bahamas’ most pristine reef destinations. The nature reserve is teeming with opportunities to check out Bahamian wildlife in their natural setting. Sea birds, like the white-tailed tropicbird, sooty tern, and brown noddy are often seen nesting among the foliage along with the region’s largest concentration of tropicbirds. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles gliding through the glassy waters.

Conception Island is only accessible by boat, making it a perfect place to spend the day away from the crowds. Whether you’re travelling with your own vessel or on a chartered boat, there are mooring sites available around the white sand-fringed outcrop.

Conception Island National Park is rich in coastal vegetation and stunning beaches | © Hemis / Alamy

Go Bonefishing

The Bahamas has the largest population of bonefish on Earth thanks to the area’s vast array of islands and shallow flats. The abundance of fish makes the Bahamas a great place to fish regardless of experience level. For fly fishers, the Bahamas is also a perfect destination to try your hand at saltwater fly fishing. For the best experience, enlist one of the Bahamas’ many local fishing guides who have grown up fishing Bahamian waters and make it look like an easy art to master.

Fishing for bonefish in the saltwater flats of the Exuma islands is popular among visitors and locals alike | © Ryan Bonneau / Alamy

Scuba dive along coral reef walls

The Bahamas is home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world and the most coral in the entire Caribbean. Whether you’re an experienced scuba diver or looking to learn, the Bahamas offers a wide variety of diving opportunities for everyone to enjoy. For the most sustainable experience, steer clear of activities that use food to attract marine life.

Instead, enjoy the Bahamas’ natural underwater ecosystems by scuba diving along the islands’ coral reef walls. For a chance to see sharks and loggerhead turtles, check out the coral-laced canyons of Victory Reef off South Bimini Island. You also try your hand at drift diving by taking a ride on an underwater current at the Exuma Islands’ Washing Machine dive site. The swirling adventure is sure to give you a new appreciation for the ocean’s push and pull.

Large sponges are a common sight for divers in the Bahamas

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