Beaches 101: Paradise Island, Cable Beach & More

In The Bahamas, the issue about public access to beaches is a hot and controversial subject. Recognizing this, the government has made efforts to intersperse public beaches near private ones, where access would otherwise be impeded. Although mega-resorts restrict nonguests from having easy access to their individual beaches, there are so many public beaches on New Providence Island and Paradise Island that all a beach lover has to do is stop the car at, or walk to, many of the unmarked, unnamed beaches that flank these islands.

If you stay in one of the large beachfront resorts, just head for the ocean via the sand in front the resort. Otherwise, below are a few details that will come in handy if your accommodations aren't oceanfront, or if you want to explore another beach:

Cabbage Beach  (also called West Beach) -- On Paradise Island, this is the real showcase, with broad, white sands that stretch for at least 3km (1 3/4 miles). Casuarinas, palms, and sea grapes border it. While it's likely to be crowded in winter, you can find a little more elbowroom by walking to its northwestern stretch. You can reach Paradise Island from downtown Nassau by walking over the bridge, taking a taxi, or boarding a ferryboat at Prince George Wharf. Cabbage Beach does not have public facilities, but if you patronize one of the handful of bars and restaurants nearby, you can use its restrooms.

Cable Beach --  No particular beach is actually called Cable Beach, yet this is New Providence Island's most popular beachfront destination. The 6.5km (4-mile) stretch of resorts and white-sand beaches in the central northern coast has calypso music floating to the sand from hotel pool patios and vendors making their way between sunblock-slathered bodies. There are no public toilets here because guests of the resorts use their hotels' restrooms. If you're not a hotel guest or customer, you're not supposed to use the facilities. The Cable Beach resorts begin 5km (3 miles) west of downtown Nassau.

Caves Beach -- On the north shore, past Cable Beach, Caves Beach, which has soft sands, lies some 11km (6 3/4 miles) west of Nassau. It stands near Rock Point, right before the turnoff along Blake Road that leads to the airport. Since visitors often don't know of this beach, it's a good spot at which to escape the hordes. There are no toilets or changing facilities.

Delaporte Beach -- Just west of the busiest section of Cable Beach, Delaporte is a public-access beach where you can go to escape the crowds. It opens onto clear waters and boasts white sands, although it has no facilities.

Goodman's Bay -- This public beach lies east of Cable Beach on the way toward Nassau's center. Goodman's Bay and Saunders Beach often host local fund-raising cookouts, at which vendors sell fish, chicken, conch, peas 'n' rice, and macaroni and cheese. People swim and socialize to blaring reggae and calypso music. To find out when one of these beach parties is happening, ask the staff at your hotel or pick up a local newspaper. There is a playground here, too, and toilet facilities.

Paradise Beach -- This beach, on Paradise Island, is one of the best in the entire area. White and sandy, it's dotted with chikees (thatched huts), which are perfect when you've had too much sun. Mainly used by guests of the Atlantis Resort, it lies at the island's far western tip. If you're not a guest, access is difficult. If you're staying at a hotel in Nassau and want to come to Paradise Island for a day at the beach, it's better to go to Cabbage Beach .

Saunders Beach --East of Cable Beach, this is where many islanders head on their weekends off. To reach it, take West Bay Street from Nassau toward Coral Island. The beach is across from Fort Charlotte, just west of Arawak Cay. Like Goodman's Bay , it often hosts local fund-raising cookouts that are open to the public. These can be a lot of fun. There are no public facilities.

Western Esplanade (also called Junkanoo Beach or Lighthouse Beach) -- If you're staying at a hotel in downtown Nassau, such as the British Colonial Hilton, this is a good beach to patronize close to town. The narrow strip of sand is convenient to Nassau and has toilets, changing facilities, and a snack bar.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.