These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest guidance before travelling. Our writer visited these hotels prior to the pandemic.
With world-class, powder-soft sandy strands, the 700-island archipelago of the Bahamas is a magical fly-and-flop holiday destination. But the islands offer much else besides beaches, including outstanding deep-sea fishing, diving and bird-watching. Our pick of the best all-inclusive hotels in the Bahamas come in all sizes and styles, from vast resorts with every facility to a chic private island retreat and a small-scale, diving-oriented property. Their locations are very varied too – from right in the thick of things on developed Paradise Island, to remote spots on Andros, San Salvador and Great Exuma, all in the Out Islands.
Hotel Riu Palace Paradise Island
You won’t find a better Bahamas all-inclusive location than the Riu Palace’s, halfway along Cabbage Beach near Atlantis – a spot for which guests at neighbouring resorts pay upwards of four times as much. Décor is typical of the Spanish chain’s Caribbean beach resorts: a bold combination of competing colours and eclectic styles. Five restaurants and two bars keep hunger at bay, and there’s a gym, beach volleyball court and a beauty salon. But the action predictably revolves around two pools (the smaller of the two, an oceanfront infinity pool with a swim-up bar, is a guest magnet) and the superb beach – a wide, mile-long strand with pillowy ivory sands and turquoise Atlantic waters.
Kamalame Cay, Andros Island
A 96-acre private island off the central coast of Andros. The style and character is one of its strongest features with much of it cut from the personality of its resident owners, an edgy and eccentric Jamaican family. The vacation homes and cottages are nestled into beach front garden-groves and except for the overwater spa, which stands out distinctly at the end of an ocean pier, the facilities are all tucked away in forested areas of the island, preserving the sense of remoteness. The Asian-inspired gourmet meals elevate the local tastes of the Bahamas, and the Beach Grill serves barbecues on event nights. Every morning a picnic basket with fresh fruits, pastries, jams and juices is hand delivered to your front porch.
Read the full review: Kamalame Cay
From £237 pp/pn (kamalame.com)
Club Med Columbus Isle, San Salvador
Club Med Columbus Isle is the best choice on the sleepy Out Island of San Salvador for a value-packed and relaxed holiday with all the perks of a full-service all-inclusive resort. Décor in public areas curiously features an eclectic assortment of Southeast Asian art. The vibe is beachy, cosmopolitan and casual. There are 10 tennis courts, a spa and a dive centre but most guests can be found doing watersports or basking on the resort’s mile-wide, white-sand scallop of Bonefish Bay, which, even by Caribbean standards, is exceptional. Christopher’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinners notable for their quality and variety while brunch and tapas-style plates are served at La Pinta.
Sandals Emerald Bay, Exuma
A tropical honeymoon island destination favourite – it is no surprise that couples return here to share memories and a hammock for two. The adults-only resort sits on a mile of sugar-white sand made to showcase glorious sunsets. Private poolside cabanas, a spa, swim-up pool bars and karaoke competitions at the Drunken Duck compete for romantic memories. Standard rooms all feature a balcony or terrace with views of the gardens or ocean, and come with an extremely generous minibar complete with full-sized bottle of sparkling and regular wine, and spirits. There are 11 dining options across the resort, ranging from barefoot dining at the Jerk Shack to show dining at Kimonos Oriental à la carte restaurant.
Read the full review: Sandals Emerald Bay
Seven nights from £269 pp/pn (sandals.co.uk)
Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island
This boutique resort in Central Andros might not conjure images of typical all-inclusive holidays to the Bahamas – but it’s popular with diving and fishing enthusiasts and travellers who love to be close to nature. Because of its unique location and geology you can find world-class wall dives, reef dives and deep open drops 15 minutes offshore. Beachfront cabins are all tiled floors, native straw mats and wooden ceilings, with Androsia, a locally made batik fabric used throughout the resort to great effect. Dining at Small Hope Bay is equally an experience of gastronomy and community, and you are encouraged to meet new people and make friends with fellow travellers. Rates include a beginner or refresher scuba lesson.
Contributions by Tomasina De-Veall, Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, Noelle Nicolls