With 20 major islands to choose from, deciding where to buy real estate in the Bahamas can be overwhelming. This quick primer will make it easy to find the island that best fits your tastes and budget.
Nassau and Freeport
The cities of Nassau on New Providence Island and Freeport on Grand Bahama are the only choices for buyers who want urban or suburban surroundings and the amenities that come with it–extensive shopping, a wide array of cultural opportunities, hospitals, multiple golf courses, and direct flights to many major airports.
New Providence, a small island dominated by Nassau and its suburbs, is home to 215,000 people—fully three-fourths of the Bahamas’ population. Nassau has a busy downtown with both modern and historic architecture, and on the outskirts, a strip of high-rise hotels and casinos along Cable Beach. Paradise Island, connected to New Providence by a bridge, is home to the gargantuan Atlantis and other resorts. New Providence and Paradise Island have many gated subdivisions and townhouse developments, as well as high-rise condominiums. On average, real estate prices here are much more expensive than elsewhere in the Bahamas. Expect to spend $1.5 million for a typical canal-front house in one of the popular gated communities. A one-acre beachfront lot (the yardstick we will use throughout this article) would cost at least $3 million.
Grand Bahama, the northernmost of the major Bahamian islands, has a population of 50,000, the greatest part in and around Freeport. Grand Bahama is almost 100 miles long, however, and unlike New Providence, has less populated regions with deserted beaches and tropical pine forests. Lucaya, the residential area of Freeport, has a vast network of interconnected canals lined with thousands of home lots. Canal-front lots are reasonably priced–in the $125,000 to $250,000 range. One-acre beachfront lots in Lucaya sell for $1.5 million and up.
The Out Islands
After Freeport, the largest “city” in the Bahamas is Marsh Harbour, with a population of only 5000. And the majority of settlements in the Bahamas are even smaller, with just a few hundred souls. This is the world of the Out Islands—large areas of untouched land with the occasional house or small village.
Abaco and Exuma
The Abacos and Exumas are not adjacent physically, but they have much in common. They are the most popular yachting destinations in the Bahamas, and their islands and cays provide beautiful cruising grounds. Abaco and Exuma are better known than the other Out Islands, and they each have several major resort developments. Prices are therefore higher. One-acre beachfront lots on Great Exuma are selling in the $1-2 million range. Abaco has prices in this range as well, but also less expensive beachfront in some locations.
Hemingway made his “island in the stream” famous as a center of deep-sea fishing, and it remains so today. Bimini is also just 50 miles from the east coast of Florida, which ensures a good yachting crowd. Bimini has one major resort development, Bimini Bay Resort and Casino. Bimini Bay has no casino, but it does offer condos with boat slips in the $600,000 range. The only beachfront lot listed on Bimini, for comparison purposes, is a 2.7 acre parcel for $1.7 million.
With sixty miles of beaches and only a few dozen hotel rooms, Eleuthera is a paradise for beach lovers who enjoy privacy and unspoiled natural beauty. Eleuthera has four major resorts planned or underway, but none is near completion yet, and overall, the island is still rustic and relatively unknown. Eleuthera is therefore less expensive than Abaco and Exuma–one-acre beachfront lots sell in the $500,000 range. With a population of 8000 and close proximity to resort-rich Harbour Island, Eleuthera has good infrastructure, stores, and services. If and when Eleuthera’s nascent resorts succeed, prices may catch up to Exuma and Abaco. For more information about Eleuthera and its real estate, click here.
Andros, Cat Island, Long Island
These three islands are the next step up in remoteness and the next step down in name recognition, infrastructure, services, and prices.
Andros is said to be the largest unexplored landmass in the hemisphere. The island’s interior is home to the six-foot iguanas, the rare Bahamian boa constrictor, and who knows what else. The east coast of the island, the only populated area, has scattered villages and miles of deserted beaches. For those not afraid of who-knows-what-else, beachfront lots on Andros are selling in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.
Fifty miles long and with a population of only 1600, Cat Islandis one place where you’ll never have to wait in line. Cat has many miles of spectacular pink-sand beaches and several delightful boutique resorts. A one-acre beachfront lot will set you back $350,000-400,000.
The aptly named Long Island is 96 miles long and only seven miles wide at its widest point. Long Island has a varied topography ranging from hills and cliffs in the north, to flatlands in the south. Deadman’s Cay, the commercial center, is fairly well equipped, with a medical clinic, banks, and well-stocked food stores. Prime beachfront lots on the island sell for $375,000, and lots on a narrower beach are currently selling for as little as $185,000.
San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, Inagua
For the true pioneers among you, these islands are farther south, more remote, and less populated. But the prices are tempting. A four-acre beachfront lot on Crooked Island is selling for $525,000—95% less than you would pay in Nassau.