The Best Parks and Hiking in the Bahamas
The best parks and hiking trails in the Bahamas provide a worthy diversion from the beach. Once you’ve had your fill of island fare (and sunburned bits of skin you never knew you had), you may be inclined to chart a hiking adventure. The Bahamas offer incredible parks—on both land and sea—thousands of incredible national attractions, and plenty of open space where you can stretch your legs, hike, and enjoy.
Originally found by western sailors in the 1600s, Preacher’s Cave has long been an important spot on Eleuthera and served as a makeshift church for more than a century. Today it’s more known for its natural beauty than for its historic significance, and it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists to visit. Walking into the cave you are instantly drawn to the boreholes in the top of the cave, the filtered light twinkling to the ground below. The cave is located approximately 10 miles from North Eleuthera Airport and is on the north shores of Eleuthera adjoining Tay Bay Beach.
Treks, hikes, and walks aren’t top of mind when it comes to the Bahamas, but nearly every island has a network of trails that offer visitors a unique look at the interior. The Bimini Nature Hiking Trail is an easily-accessed network that puts Bahamian flora and fauna into perspective with educational markers, while the highest point in the Bahamas, the towering Mount Alvernia (203 feet above sea level), can by reached via the simple Cat Island hiking trail. Hike Andros Island to explore the mangrove marshes, pine forests, and the fresh water reservoir.
The Exumas are a stunning archipelago of remote islands and cays strung between Nassau and Long Island, and around a dozen of these tiny islands are protected within the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. Established in 1958 as a preserve where no fishing is allowed, it was the first marine protected area in the Caribbean. It has been highly successful at maintaining the fragile beaches and marine life found in the area. Visitors can take boat tours to the park to go diving and snorkeling on the many healthy reefs and to explore the secluded tropical islands, where endangered Bahamian iguanas roam the beaches. On Big Major Cay, you can go swimming with the pigs at Pig Beach and give them fresh water, as their water supply is limited.
Chartering a fishing boat for a day on the open ocean is one thing, but getting beneath the waves with a spear and a mask is a wholly different experience, one that you can enjoy with the help and instruction of Strata G Smith, a native Bahamian who works out of Bimini, alongside his wife Kathleen Fisher of Bimini Healing Arts. Explore some of the finest underwater parks in the Bahamas with with one of the finest, and safest, instructors you’ll ever meet. Strata provides guide services, teaches traditional, hand-line and spear fishing, offers sightseeing trips, and more. Strata generally works with visitors who have their own boats, or those who have rented on-island. Contact Strata at: 242 473 1141
One of the most beautiful bits of Bimini are the mangrove forests – yet this unique eco-system rarely gets the attention it deserves. Bimini’s mangroves are home to many important island species, including lobster, conch, sharks, the Bimini Boa, and the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish. This delicate system is seriously threatened by development – an important marine reserve may soon be leased out to hotel developers, who would destroy much of what little mangrove remains. Often, one first-hand experience is enough to show visitors that change is needed. You can support the health of the mangroves by choosing a low-impact tour with a local guide or kayak or paddle board adventure to explore the mangroves – local guide Strata G Smith (as well as Ebbie David and Ansil Saunders) can combine mangrove visits with charter tours (depending on tides and boat size). Photo courtesy Kathleen Fisher/Bimini Healing Arts