Large-scale resorts are not hard to find on New Providence Island and Grand Bahama Island, the main two islands of the Bahamas. On the Bahamas’ Out Islands (every other island in the archipelago), hotels tend to be small, intimate, and filled with Bahamian charm. Here are our 10 favorite boutique hotels in Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Andros, and Cat Island.
This 40-acre boutique resort is a chic retreat for celebs, wealthy families, and splurging honeymooners. Nearly all aspects are noteworthy, but the jaw-dropping infinity pool and cliffside bar sitting between two private, pink-sand beaches are especially striking. Chic, airy rooms have white decor and enormous villas come with private plunge pools and state-of-the-art kitchens. Because the resort is located in a remote area of an already remote island, guests will be dining on the property often. Of major importance, then, is the quality of the food and beverage program -- and the atmosphere of the restaurants. The main restaurant overlooks the sea; at night, candles are lit, lounge music plays, and sunsets are magical. The resort's sushi bar is the only one on Eleuthera and nearby islands, and the chef is enthusiastic about creating beautiful daily specials based on what he catches while spearfishing.
Originally built as a private home in the 1940s, the Rock House has gone through many transformations before becoming the intimate boutique hotel it is today. The property is situated on a hill overlooking the harbor, away from the hustle and bustle of Bay Street below. Its 10 individually decorated rooms are modern and sharp, and contain king-size pillow-top beds, minibars, flat-screen TVs, and powerful air-conditioning. The hotel's restaurant serves free breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner. Its terraces are romantic, with candlelit tables, spectacular sunset views, and quiet music playing in the background.
Accessible only by seaplane or private boat, the upscale Tiamo Resort is the definition of secluded. Excellent amenities include an infinity pool with stunning ocean views, an open-air restaurant serving fresh seafood, and a small spa. Rooms are airy and rustic, with free nonalcoholic minibars, garden showers, and screened in porches -- some even have plunge pools. Keep in mind that the price tag matches the experience, and while all meals and soft drinks are included, alcohol, room service, and activities cost extra.
From the outside, this hillside boutique hotel looks like a contemporary country home, with wooden wraparound porches, rope hammocks, and flower gardens. Beach-home-inspired rooms range from studios to a stand-alone cottage. All include flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and plenty of outdoor seating, and many have full kitchens. The pink sands of Twin Coves Beach are a 15-minute walk from the hotel, and Governor’s Harbour is only a five-minute drive away. Note that there is no on-site pool or restaurant.
Guests arriving at the open-air lobby need not worry about long check-in lines at this small resort. During the day, it would be hard to run into another guest, as most are on the famous three-mile stretch of pink-sand beach or at the freshwater pool. Weddings and honeymoons are popular here, and the occasional celeb (such as Paul McCartney and his family) can be found bunkering down in one of the 25 freestanding cottages. Room decor mixes modern and tradition, with sleek wooden bed frames, romantic open-style showers, and screened-in windows that allow breezes to float in from all sides (air-conditioning is also available). While the beachside restaurant gets a nice crowd for breakfast and lunch, dinner is usually served on the romantic garden terrace. Afterwards, guests might have a nightcap in the lobby before wandering back to their cottages for a good night’s sleep. Those wild roosters are sure to say hello in the morning, but this is part of the unspoiled Harbour Island experience.
The relaxed Sky Beach Club packs lots of contemporary island charm into a small package. The seven rooms range in size from one-room Bungalows by the beach to spacious four-bedroom Villas, some of which have private infinity pools. The hotel has a poolside bar and open-air restaurant serving casual lunches and dinners, plus a stunning infinity pool and hot tub overlook Sky Beach.
The value-oriented Pigeon Cay Beach Club quiet and secluded, and not just because of its remote location on Cat Island, but also because there’s no TV or Wi-Fi in its seven cottages. (They do have full kitchens and furnished outdoor spaces.) Many guests choose to explore the island or lounge on the beach -- which is gorgeous with turquoise blue water and powdery white sand. You may encounter a few guests at the beach bar, but solitude is not hard to find here.
Like most hotels on beautiful and remote Cat Island, Shannas Cove is small and secluded -- a feeling that’s enhanced by the lack of Wi-Fi in the five bungalows, and the handful of channels received by TVs. Aside from the free water sports, there’s little activity in the area, but guests are happy exploring the island or finding solitude on the beach. But the resort isn’t without its social element. The owners and other guests tend to be friendly and welcoming, and there’s regular gatherings in the restaurant's bar in the evenings. It’s not unusual for everyone to get to know each other’s names over the course of a visit.
The mid-range Small Hope Bay Lodge is an informal, natural, all-inclusive property located on Andros Island, a short flight from Nassau. Guests looking to get lost in the secluded, quiet, rugged nature of the property can be found lounging in hammocks, Adirondack chairs, or on one of two beaches. There's also a large variety of excursions, including diving, fishing, snorkeling, and nature walks, that keep guests active and occupied. The 21 cabins are rustic, a little worn, and lack Wi-Fi or TVs, but they all have porches facing the ocean. There's a friendly and communal atmosphere as guests gather together to share meals in the restaurant, sip drinks at the bar, or linger by the outdoor grill. Small Hope has one of the best rates on the island given its features.
Unique Village feels secluded and laid-back -- welcome qualities in any hotel, especially one on exclusive Eleuthera. The resort overlooks the pink sands of Poponi Beach, which is a major draw for the guests who make their way out here. The 14 spacious and air-conditioned rooms feature simple island decor, free Wi-Fi, and outdoor terraces -- many of which face the ocean. An open-air restaurant serving casual Bahamian grill fare for all three meals and an ample pool terrace round out a solid list of features for a two-and-a-half pearl hotel.