Shortly after landing in The Bahamas and having my dreams of tending tiki bar until the end of time dashed (The Bahamas passport stamp blatantly states “EMPLOYMENT PROHIBITED”—it’s like they know we’ve all seen Cocktail), I learned a very interesting fact from my cab driver: There are 700 islands of The Bahamas!
During a conversation in which I asked way too many questions about the country I’d just entered after completing exactly zero hours of research beforehand, our driver asked me how many islands I thought were in The Bahamas. I immediately knew this was one of those questions where you think the answer is like eight or nine but is actually twenty. So I took a grossly exaggerated shot in the dark and said, “100! LOL I’m so smart.” Umm, damn I was off.
I instantly needed to know more. How were there 700 islands of The Bahamas, a country that’s so close it’s basically Florida, and I’d only heard of two? Resort Island and Pig Island, that is, though those aren’t their real names. (I told you, research for my two days in The Bahamas extended no further than the 10-day forecast. I saw “84°F and ☀” and that was all I needed to know.)
So, I’ve created this post to share all the information I can find on the 700 islands of The Bahamas (which is, not surprisingly, shockingly little). I have another post coming soon detailing more of what I got up to in The Bahamas, suggestions for where to stay, some ways you can explore more than just Resort and Pig Islands, and a packing list of recommended, Bahamas-specific items. Be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it!
A LITTLE ABOUT THE BAHAMAS
The islands of The Bahamas are formally known as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas because, guess what? They drive on the left here. And if you didn’t know that beforehand, getting in a cab and seeing a 5-year-old in what should be the driver’s seat is quite unsettling. That’s right folks; The Bahamas have a queen and her name is Liz. I mean, what’s more #islandvibes than Queen Elizabeth herself? Drinking her piña colada with her pinky out. I would totally visit The Bahamas again if they instituted swimming corgis. Can we make that a thing?
The Bahamas was actually the first spot Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 when he “discovered” the New World. (Did you know he never even set foot on the North American mainland? #themoreyouknow) The Spanish never colonized The Bahamas but they did succeed in wiping out the entire population of the islands by capturing the local Lucayan tribes and sending them as slaves to Hispaniola (that island that’s half Haiti, half Dominican Republic). This resulted in The Bahamas, now the third richest country in the Americas behind the U.S. and Canada, being virtually deserted until the mid-1600s.
The origin of the word Bahamas is kind of unknown but there are some theories–one being that it’s derived from the Taíno phrase ba ha ma (makes sense) which stands for “big upper middle land.” I point this out because as you read this list of names for the islands of The Bahamas, you’ll totally get why this funny. *Putting. Random. Words. Together. Beep boop beep.* Also, so you don’t think I’m just a total grammatical dodo, the word The is an official part of the country’s name and, therefore, always capitalized. The Bahamas ⇠ like that.
THE ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS
Obviously I was intrigued as soon as I learned there were 700 islands of The Bahamas, but it wasn’t until I started reading a list of their names that I became truly engrossed. Some are hilarious, some are mysterious, and some are simply: Go home, bloke who named the island, you’re drunk. I’m looking at you, Fanny Cay. I can’t pick a favorite!
I’ve done my best to include all 700 but, alas, some information still eludes me–not helped by the fact that no one has Encyclopedias anymore! Will I have to go back down there and conduct face-to-face island research with a parrot on my shoulder and a pig in tow? Don’t think I won’t! That being said, if you have information that fills in any blanks in this post, please feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below or whip me up a piña colada, post haste. What? It’ll help, I swear. #CocktailsandDreams
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | A
Acklins Island | Acklins, along with Crooked Island, are two of the more remote islands of The Bahamas and are about as naturally pristine as you can get. They’re covered in miles of undisturbed beaches, limestone caves, and are popular for snorkeling, diving, and bonefishing. So… I’mma just put my house on the market and make a beeline for Acklins Island faster than you can say “keep them daiquiris comin’!” Acklins Island was settled by American loyalists in 1780 who set up cotton plantations–an industry that was later replaced by sponge diving, that was then later replaced by whatever it is sponges are made out of today. Seriously, what is that stuff?
Alder Cay | Alder Cay is a private island located 35 miles northwest of Nassau featuring a 5-acre protected lagoon, 2 docks, and a residential duplex. The island boasts phenomenal swimming, fishing, and windsurfing and, it must be your lucky day because combined with Frozen Cay, the two are available for a combined purchase price of only $29 million. A small price to pay for your own natural bird sanctuary, no?
Allen’s Cay | Allen’s Cay is one of only three places left in the world where you can find the endangered Allen’s Cay iguana, a subspecies of the Bahamian Rock Iguana. Apparently they’re friendly and like when you bring them vegetables. You go first.
Ambergris Cays | Made up by Big Amergris Cay and Small Ambergris Cay (you’ll notice a theme in this post). The Ambergris Cays are part of the Turks and Caicos island chain which is also somehow part of The Bahamas. They were named for the plentiful ambergris found on the shores–ambergris being the waxy substance secreted by sperm whales. I’m learning way too much today.
Andros Island | Andros Island is the largest island of The Bahamas. We have a winner! It’s actually as big as all other 699 islands combined.
Angle and Fish Cay
Anna Cay – home to one single pink house.
Arawak Cay – nicknamed “Fish Fry” so I gots to check dat one out.
Athol Island – an uninhabited island used mainly for snorkeling and being the butt of island jokes.
NEED TO KNOW
So what’s the difference between an island and a cay? Believe it or not, there is one. Both are surrounded on all sides by water; both are better than the office you’re in right now; but the difference is in their makeup. Islands are formed in one of two ways: either by volcanic activity (like Hawaii and Japan) or by continental drift (like Greenland and Madagascar). Tokyo Drift is something different altogether. (What exactly it is, I couldn’t tell you.) Cays are low-elevation sandy masses found on top of coral reefs and formed by ocean currents. Islands can occur anywhere while cays are mostly found in tropical environments and in elementary school Trapper Keepers. Remember doodles like this? This is a cay ⇣
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | B
Bahama Island – Careful guys, you wouldn’t wanna sprain something…
Barracuda Island – Be careful swimming here I’m guessing?
Base Line Cay
Beach Cay – Running out of things to name your islands, eh?
Berry Islands | The Berry Islands are a chain in themselves and consist of about thirty other islands, over 100 small cays, but only 807 residents (I guess I’m going to have to update this post every so often? That’s quite exact). Most of the islands are uninhibited (my favorite kind of island) and collectively they’re known as “The Fish Bowl of The Bahamas” because of the way the currents collect marine life.
Big Bersus Cay – I think I met her once.
Big Carters Cay
Big Cave Cay
Big Crab Cay – This sounds both delicious and terrfiying.
Big Cross Cay
Big Egg Island – an island of ostriches, I presume
Big Farmer’s Cay
Big Fish Cay – named by a caveman, obvs
Big Grand Cay
Big Harbour Cay
Big Hog Cay
Big Jerry Cay – named for a mob boss, obvs
Big Joe Downer Cay – the most depressing island of The Bahamas?
Big Lake Cay – No, the biggest lake in The Bahamas is not even on this island.
Big Lloyd Cay – named after someone’s overweight cousin probably
Big Major Cay | Big Major Cay is one you may actually have heard of because it has PIGGIES! It’s an uninhibited island in the Exuma chain famous for its Pig Beach where all the little piggies go wee wee wee all the way home.
Big Pigeon Cay – How much bigger can they get!?
Big Romers Cay
Big Thrift Harbour Cay – inhabited purely by used mattress salesmen
Big Whale Cay
Big Wood Cay – Naughty meets nautical ⚓
Bimini Islands | The Bimini Islands are a chain just 50 miles east of Miami. That’s closer than Cuba. The water around the Bimini Islands is just chock full of shipwrecks. Gah! Take me now! The Biminis are also the location of the actual, gosh-darn Fountain of Youth. Guys, what are we waiting for!? Pack ya damn bags already!
Bitter Guana Cay
Bo Cat Cay – Look up bocat at your own risk. But like, don’t do it on your work computer. Or at the public library surrounded by children like I just did.
Bob Cay – What about Bob Cay?
Booby Cay – Alright, you’re cut off.
Brown Cay – Black, Brown… I guess we’re on to colors now? Although Turquoise and Magenta Cay would sound much more appealing.
Buena Vista Cay
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Cashs Cay – also known as Muhammed Island
Castaway Cay | Castaway Cay is a private island owned by Disney and is used solely as a port for Disney cruise ships. Disney’s lease on the island is up in 2096 and then IT’S MINE, SUCKAS.
Castle Island – a remote island with a lighthouse, not a castle, that was used as a retreat for pirates
Cat Island – has a population of 1,522 and it doesn’t specify so I’m assuming they mean cats.
Cat Cay – BRB, adding a cat to my drawing…
Cay One – the Ben Stein of Bahamian islands
Cay Sal Bank – is closer to Cuba than it is the rest of the Bahamas.
Cay Santo Domingo
Cay With Low Fall – huh?
Caye a Rum
Caye de Sel
Children’s Bay Cay
Chub Cay – 46 people live on Chub Cay.
Cockroach Cay – I will NOT be visiting here.
Cocoa Plum Cay
Cold Cay – Make sure to get your vitamin sea!
Conception Island | Conception Island is an extremely important island for nesting seabirds, a hatching site for green sea turtles, home to an endemic species of boa, and presumably a popular spot with honeymooners.
Cotton Bay Cay
Crooked Island – home to the first post office in The Bahamas, so that’s something
Curly Cut Cays – my favorite kind of cays!
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | D
Damas Cays – an island of Spanish-speaking ladies?
Danger Cay – Visit at your own risk, maybe?
Dead Man’s Cay – OMG there are totally Pirates of the Caribbean living here, right?
Dolly’s Cay | Dolly’s Cay is basically just a large rock out in the ocean. (Don’t confuse this with Dolly Parton’s Cay which is two massive boulders.) It’s used as a nesting grounds for: bridled terns, sooty terns, Sandwich terns, and royal terns. Those are all birds so obviously naming things in the Caribbean is the best job ever.
Doomey Cay – also a honeymoon island?
Double Breasted Cay – Oh wait, is this Dolly Parton’s Cay?
Double Headed Shot Cays – no idea
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Elbow Cay – was originally populated by British loyalists fleeing the newly formed United States of America in 1785.
Elbow Cays – Yup, these are different.
Eleuthera Island | Eleuthera is both an island and an island chain (containing Harbour, Windermere, Man, and Current Islands). It has a population of 11,000 and has an economy heavily dependent on tourism because, hello? PINK SAND BEACHES. Also, Lenny Kravitz wrote a song called “Eleutheria” because apparently he lives there.
Elizabeth Island – I’m assuming this was named after their queen? Wikipedia has failed me.
Exuma Island | Exuma Island is actually an island district that contains 365 islands–an island for every day of the year! I think I know how I’ll be spending 2019. Not only were some scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean filmed in the Exumas, but between the 16th and 18th centuries the deserted islands provided hideouts for actual pirates and their stashes. Did you see what I just said? BURIED TREASURE, YO!
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Fanny Cay – What are the chances this is a nude beach?
Fifteen Feet Cay
Fish Hawk Cay
Flamingo Cay – sounds like a magical place! And why don’t we have a flamingo emoji yet?
Frazer Hog Cay
Frozen Cay – For sale! Great deal! To purchase, your name must start with a “B” and end with an “-eyoncé”.
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | G
Gibson Hog Cay
Ginger Cay – a whole island of them?
Gold Ring Cay – Okay now this is where the pirates should’ve left their booty.
Gorda Cay – is now known as Castaway Cay having been purchased by Disney. They only call it Gorda Cay after the tourists consume too many Mickey-shaped waffles.
Grand Bahama | Grand Bahama Island is the northernmost island of The Bahamas and is only 52 miles off the coast of Palm Beach, Florida. It used to be a haven for Confederate smugglers after the Civil War and for booze smugglers during Prohibition. Today it’s a haven for farmers’ tans and tiki shirts that’ll never be worn again.
Great Cistern Cay
Great Exuma Island
Great Guana Cay
Great Guano Cay – So ‘guano’ is poop.
Great Harbour Cay
Great Inagua Island | The name originally given to this island by early settlers came from a Spanish term meaning “water is to be found here.” No!? On an island? It was also there that many ships full of treasure crashed on the surrounding reefs between the years of 1500 – 1825. So, you’re telling me there’s just treasure all around this island? Does the metal-detecting population know about this? They’ve been embarrassing themselves on all the wrong beaches!
Great Inagua Island is also a major production site in the Morton Salt enterprise. (I use that!)
Great Isaac Cay – is said to be both haunted and a factor in the Bermuda Triangle so HELL NAW.
Great Ragged Island
Great Sale Cay – You mean it gets better than $29 mil?
Great Seal Cay
Great Stirrup Cay | GSC is a private island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line and used primarily for its passengers but also has interesting Civil War and WWII histories (a place from which the Confederates could still export cotton and a spot from which the U.S. could detect approaching enemy submarines, respectively.)
Green Turtle Cay
Guincho Ginger Cay
Gut Island – Well that’s gross.
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | H
Halls Pond Cay
Harbour Island – famous for its pink sand beaches but my cab driver told me it has the best fried chicken in the world, so, SOLD.
High Cay – [insert Beavis and Butthead laugh here]
High Point Cay
High Ridge Cay
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | I
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | J
Jewfish Cay – also known as Hummingbird Cay so I guess all these names are just totally fluid. Suggestions, rather.
Joe Creek Island
Joe Downer Cays – womp, womppp
John Downer Cays
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | K
Knife Cay – Seriously, how many of these were named by swashbuckling pirates?
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | L
Laughing Bird Cay – Don’t show up here in your bathing suit.
Lee Stocking Island
Little Abaco Island
Little Bell Cay
Little Bersus Cay
Little Carters Island
Little Cat Island – 😻
Little Cave Cay
Little Cistern Cay
Little Crab Cay
Little Darby Island
Little Exuma Island
Little Farmer’s Cay
Little Grand Cay
Little Guana Cay
Little Cuana Cay
Little Harbour Cay
Little Inagua Island
Little Joe Downer Cay
Little Lloyd Cay
Little Major’s Island
Little Nurse Cay
Little Petit Cay
Little Pimlico Cay
Little Ragged Island
Little Romers Cay
Little Sale Cay – So basically all the other islands of the Bahamas, with the word ‘little’ in the front.
Little San Salvador Island | Also known as Half Moon Cay (Cay or Island? CAY OR ISLAND!?), LSSI is another private island owned by a cruise line, formerly Norwegian, now Holland America (who bought it for a measly $6 million).
Little Stirrup Cay | LSC (also known as Coco Cay) is a private island owned by Royal Caribbean and is the first example of an island being leased for the private use of cruise lines. I’ve never taken a cruise in my life. So when cruises say they go to The Bahamas, they just mean their own islands?
Little Walker Cay
Little Wax Cay
Little Whale Cay
Lone Pine Cay
Long Cay – The main town on Long Cay is a ghost town. 😱
Long Island – known for its caves and for being considered the most scenic of all the islands of The Bahamas
Lovely Bay Cays
Low Cay – I’m guessing no one really knows about the Low Cay?
Low Water Harbour Cay
Lower Crisby Cay
Lubbers Quarters Cay
Lyford Cay | Lyford Cay is a gated private island owned by and inhabited by a bunch of rich people. Said rich people include: Sean Connery, Corey Hart, the Bacardi Family🍹, and a whole buncha tycoons, heiresses, descendants, and even a famous fugitive.
Lynyard Cay – Why leave out Skynyard Cay? Missed opportunity, guys!
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Madam Dau’s Cay
Major’s Island – more piggies!
Mamma Rhonda Cay – I have a feeling this cay means business.
Man Head Cay
Man Island – Are you saying we can just send them all here?
Man-O-War Cay(s) – Maybe don’t swim here either?
Mariguana Island – Mm-hmm, I see what you did there.
Market Fish Cays
Mat Lowe’s Cay
Meeks Patch Island
Middle Bight Cay
Mira Por Vos Islands
Money Cay – Okay this is where the filthy rich people should live, no?
Moriah Harbour Cay
Mouth of Harbou Cay
Musha Cay | Musha Cay is owned by illusionist David Copperfield and the names of all the nearby islands in Copperfield Bay are as eye-rolling cheesy as you’d hope: Imagine Island, Secret Cay, Isle of Wonder, Enchanted Island, and so on.
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | N
New Providence | Yo, I’ve been to this one! New Providence is where you’ll find Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, and Paradise Island housing the most intense resort you ever did see, Atlantis. New Providence houses 70% of the entire population of The Bahamas and even Oprah Winfrey when she feels like it. (I saw her house. Ehh, I’d live in it.)
Noah Bethel Cays
Noname Cay – Come on, now. I don’t think you even tried.
Norman’s Cay | Norman’s Cay is famous for being the headquarters of the Columbian drug-smuggling operation led by Carlos Lehder and George Jung (subject of the movie Blow). And yes, the movie was filmed there–Johnny Depp is just all over the Bahamas, with and without excessive eyeliner.
Norman’s Pond Cay
North Cat Cay
North Elbow Cay
North Halls Cay
Noss Mangrove Island
Nun Jack Cay – ‘Cause you ain’t gettin’…
Nurse Channel Cay – The least exciting of all the Television Cays.
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | O
Old Yankee Cay
Outer Point Cay
Over Yonder Cay – This one might be my favorite.
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | P
Paradise Island – is basically just one gargantuan resort for pale American tourists.
Paw Paw Cay
Peace and Plenty Island – Well that’s pleasant.
Pine Tree Cay
Pot Cay – [insert Beavis and Butthead laugh here]
Potter Cay – Yer an island!
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Ragged Island – Eek, sorry about that.
Ratman’s Cay – Where I assume he lives all alone and unbothered.
Red Shank Cay
Rock Harbour Cays
Rudder Cut Cay
Rum Cay – I FOUND MY NEW HOME.
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | S
Saddle Back Cay
Sailor’s Choice Cay
Salt Pond Cay
San Salvador | San Salvador is known to be the very first island Christopher Columbus landed on in 1492, when he thought he’d reached the East Indies. Today San Salvador is mainly a tourist island whose main community is called Cockburn Town (you can’t make this stuff up).
Sand Bank Cays
Sandy Harbour Cay
Ship Channel Cay
Six Shilling Cays
Smith Cay – I own you.
South Cat Cay
South Channel Cay
South Spot Cay
South Mangrove Cays
South Stirrup Cay
Spanish Wells Cay – I’ve been here!
St. George’s Caye – Nope, just kidding. I’ve been to “Spanish Wells” which apparently is a town on St. George’s Cay. So, I haven’t been to Spanish Wells Cay. I think.
Staniel Cay | Staniel Cay is home to a small Bahamian village and is protected by the Bahamas National Trust, a kind of UNESCO World Heritage situation that protects an area believed to be of significant historic importance and natural beauty.
Stranger Cay – Please tell me this is next to Danger Cay.
Sugar Loaf Cay
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | T
Tear Coat Cay
Tee Cay – Do they call their drinking establishments ‘Tee Cay bars’?
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | U
Upper Channel Cay
Upper Samphier Cay
Upper Sandy Harbour Cay
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | V
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | W
Waderick Wells Cay
Walker’s Cay | Walker’s Cay is said to be named after a British judge named Thomas Walker who was exiled to the island in the early 1700s. After he died, the island was uninhabited for more than 200 years. So you’re telling me this guy was exiled to a deserted island and just left there? That’s the dream! How do I make this happen? And what three things did he bring with him? Just curious…
Water Cay – So this isn’t “water is to be found here” Island?
West Shroud Cay
White Bay Cay
Wilson Cay – I feel like Wilson Cay and Castaway Cay are pretty close…
Windermere Island | Princess Diana and Prince Charles spent their honeymoon here in 1981. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon got married here in 2008. Jacques Cousteau, Toni Braxton, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn (pshh, is that even a real place?) have all lived on Windermere Island in what has to be the most fascinating mix of residents ever.
Woolen Dean Cay
ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS | Y
Full disclosure: That list is not even 500-strong. Many of these islands and cays are actually small groups of such and, from what I can tell, many of them don’t even have names. Besides the “official” 700 islands of The Bahamas, there are an additional 2,400+ rocks, tiny island-wannabees, and mini-cays. I swear to God the reason there is no exact number and many of them lack names is because whoever is in charge just straight up stop giving a damn about keeping track. They’re all gorgeous and pristine! Can we just call it a day already!?
DO YOU KNOW ANY FUN FACTS TO FILL IN THE BLANKS?
LET ME KNOW BELOW!
But first, PIN ME ⇣⇣⇣