First-time visitors to the Bahamas either arrive by a cruise ship docking in Nassa, or land at the airport in Freeport on Grand Bahama island. Either way, after their arrival, tourists are often inspired to explore the islands beyond these larger cities.

For many would-be retirees who have enjoyed vacationing there, the burning question that remains is not whether to retire in the Bahamas but where to retire in the Bahamas.

Luckily, some of the decision-making processes have already been sorted: Out of 700 islands, only 30 are inhabited. Furthermore, locals refer to all of the islands other than Grand Bahama and New Providence islands as the Out Islands. So what are the best places to live in the Bahamas? It depends on what you are looking for during your retirement.

Key Takeaways

  • If you are thinking of retiring to the Bahamas, you should consider what is most important to you in terms of amenities.
  • The most popular islands are Grand Bahama and New Providence, but retirees shouldn't overlook the smaller Out Islands of the Bahamas. 
  • The island of Eleuthera offers solid infrastructure and amenities without the heavy crowds.
  • Grand Bahama Island is home to Freeport, a large town known for its upscale homes, restaurants, and hotels.
  • The Abacos are a small chain of islands in the Bahamas may be an affordable and laid-back option for retirees.

Nassau

On the island of New Providence – home to 70% of the islands’ total population – Nassau is the beating commercial and political heart of the Bahamas. The islands' most lucrative industries—including tourism, investment management, and international banking (otherwise known as offshore finance)—are headquartered here.

True to its history as a British colony, the Bahamas is still a Commonwealth nation, and Nassau is its capital city. It’s the de rigeur port of call for cruise ships, and for good reason: It’s known for upscale duty-free shopping, horse-drawn carriages, and enough luxury resorts to lend the place an atmosphere of eternal vacation. Nassau residents appreciate that they don’t need to leave town to hit the beach. Expect a vibrant mix of Haitian, English, and West African cultural influences. 

Freeport and Lucaya

Twin cities that straddle the water’s edge on the island of Grand Bahama, a favorite port among cruise ships, these towns offer an appealing dual mix of resort living (Freeport) and local culture (Lucaya). The beaches are another draw. The farther you get from the cruise ships (and you don’t have to go far), the more likely you'll find a serene stretch of white sand on which to stroll, tan, or snooze.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be at home on Grand Bahama, which is home to Lucayan National Park, featuring one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world. 

Eleuthera

While it’s less well known than Grand Bahama or New Providence, the island of Eleuthera may outrank both in sheer beauty. Eleuthera is one of the Out Islands, known for its gorgeous beaches, turquoise waters, and friendly communities. While tourism has a significant presence, the atmosphere is far from touristy.

At 100 miles long, Eleuthera has good infrastructure and amenities, while retaining the serenity for which the Out Islands are beloved. With good access to municipal water, power supplies, and local lumberyards, Eleuthera is a good spot for those interested in building a new home. Gardeners will also appreciate the fact that while the rest of the Out Islands are predominantly rocky, this island has enough soil to grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables. 

With just approximately 11,000 people on the whole island, expect to know your neighbors and immerse yourself in local life. Even the biggest town, Governor’s Harbour, is home to just about 700 people. 

The Abacos are a chain of small islands in the Bahamas known for beautiful beaches, a laid-back culture, and are popular with the boat lovers. There is an international airport in the town of Marsh Harbor, too.

The Bottom Line

There may be no “best” Bahamian island, but there may be the best choice island for you.

If you would prefer to spend your time on one of the country’s two most populous islands you will have easy access to major hospitals, shopping opportunities, fine dining, and more luxury accommodations.

For those inclined to venture out a bit farther out to the more sparsely inhabited Out Islands, you will get a heavy dose of natural beauty and serenity with less of an expensive lifestyle.

The good news? No matter where you go, retiring in the Bahamas means living near beautiful beaches, enjoying great food and drinks, plus a bevy of opportunities to spend time out on the water.