The San Salvador Island Bahamas may be a tiny island, but it is massive in spirit and heart.
The island, often confused with El Salvador in Central America, has very few residents and even fewer tourists.
Hence, when you visit the place, it will make you feel as if you’re the only one on the island.
It is a beautiful spot in the Bahamas, so we recommend staying at least a day to enjoy it. Plus, there are surprisingly tons of things to do.
San Salvador Island Bahamas
San Salvador Island is truly blessed with natural landscapes and stunning beaches.
It also has a mix of modern infrastructure and amenities.
Owing to its rich history, the name of the island has been changed multiple times in the past.
It was originally called the Guanahani by the Lucayan Indians, and then it was changed to Watling’s Island until 1925.
Finally, it was called the San Salvador Islands. It was named by Christopher Columbus, meaning Christ the Savior.
The Local Residents
San Salvador Island barely has 1,200 residents, which are significantly lesser than Nassau that is similarly sized.
It has a cozy and small-town feel wherein almost every resident knows the other by name.
They're also well-known for being caring and friendly to tourists.
You can either bike, drive, or walk around this island and won’t have to worry about feeling unsafe.
Upon exploring the island, you will most definitely see the hurricanes' damages, especially the biggest one that happened back in 2009.
Even with all that, it did not dampen the resident’s spirit, proving their resilience and positivity.
The majority of the structures on the island that were damaged in the hurricane have either been rebuilt or repaired since then.
Attractions To Consider Visiting
Even for a small island, there are tons of attractions to visit in San Salvador.
Let's list and talk about some of the best ones in detail so that you can plan your itinerary accordingly.
- Dixon Hill Lighthouse
The Dixon Hill Lighthouse is located about 10 miles from the island’s airport; simply turn right from the airport and you'll find it.
It is still occupied and operated by the keepers. They constantly refuel the lighthouse manually with 400,000 candles every two hours or so.
The Dixon Hill Lighthouse is only one of the handful ones left in the world.
It is also one of the only three of its types you will find in the Bahamas.
The best thing about this lighthouse is that you don’t just get to visit it only from the outside.
You can also head inside and climb the stairs to the top. However, we must warn you that the stairs inside are extremely steep and can even feel like a ladder.
That said, they make for some amazing pictures, especially when you are clicking from the top.
- Landing Point
The Landing Point is located on Long Bay Beach, which is a little more than four miles away from the San Salvador airport.
You would need to turn left or to the south from the airport to reach it.
Once there, you will find monuments dedicated to where Christopher Columbus made landfall back in 1492.
We must say that the Landing Point is a truly gorgeous place and makes an excellent spot for pictures.
Walking a little down, you will find a large monument that honors the Mexico Olympics held in 1968.
This was built because the plane that carried the Olympic torch had briefly touched down on this island when they had to refuel.
Since the Island of San Salvador barely has any inhabitants, the beaches are immaculate.
They will give even the ones on other Caribbean islands and other beaches in the world a run for their money.
All this quietness will allow you to clearly hear the waves' lapping and even the gentle breeze that goes through all the coconut trees.
The beautiful beaches you can choose to visit include Long Bay Beach, Grotto Beach, and Snow Bay Beach.
When you are heading out to explore these beaches, make sure to carry along some sunscreen, towel, and swimsuits.
You can simply walk or rent a scooter or bike and park it on the side of the road.
- High Cays Private Island
We found the High Cays Private Island excursion to be one of the best activities on this island.
This spot will make you feel like you are being whisked away to your own private island where you can do activities like snorkeling, hiking, and grill some fresh lobsters all by yourself.
If that’s not enough, you can have unlimited drinks like wine, rum punch, and Bahamian coffee while you're at the High Cays Private Island.
- Snorkel or Dive
San Salvador is blessed with ample coral reefs and marine life; you will find at least 50 snorkeling and diving sites.
It is considered one of the topmost wall-diving destinations in the Bahamas.
The visibility underwater can reach up to an impressive 150 feet.
If you like to snorkel, you can either book it while you are on the island or before reaching it. Alternatively, you can do it by the beach itself.
Similarly, you can either book your diving tours in advance or choose one when you’re there.
Most resorts may have their own or have a tie-up with these services, so you will find it easy to book them during your stay.
Where To Stay
With so many attractions to explore and activities to enjoy, a good place to get some rest will make your vacation or getaway almost perfect.
Thus, here are some of the best San Salvador Island hotels or resorts where you can stay:
- Club Med Columbus Isle
The Club Med Columbus Isle is possibly the biggest and the most inclusive resort you will find on this island.
It has the best views of the Caribbean Sea among all the resorts.
All the activities this resort provides are included in the stay, so you won’t have to spend a penny extra.
That said, even if you are an outsider, you can freely visit the resort to have dinner or to party.
- Riding Rock Inn Resort and Marina
The Riding Rock Inn Resort and Marina is an excellent option for those interested in fishing or scuba diving.
It is located by the sea and features the best diving sites that the island has to offer. You can even dive as often as you would like.
It provides an all-inclusive package that features non-alcoholic drinks and meals.
- The Sand Residence Hotel
This is another beautiful hotel, but we particularly love it because it is located on a completely private and gorgeous beach area in Cockburn Town.
- Homestay The Bohemian
Homestay The Bohemian is another beautiful property you can live in when you are on this island.
Do note, though, that you need to rent a car when you choose to stay in this hotel.
That is because the hotel is situated in Sandy Point, which is roughly four to five miles away from the city center.
Where To Eat
You will find that all the big and fancy restaurants are located in the resorts itself.
Still, if you want to eat local cuisine, you can visit the handful of restaurants available on the Island of San Salvador.
Most of these local restaurants will require ordering in advance because of the low number of customers.
We did find a small restaurant that you can visit anytime for some delicious food.
It is called K’s Take Away and is located right across from the airport. Be sure to try their “crack conch."
San Salvador Island FAQs
1. Is San Salvador Bahamas safe?
Yes, this island is extremely safe. As mentioned earlier, there are only a little over 1,200 residents. Plus, all of them are friendly and caring.
In fact, you would be surprised to know that San Salvador does not have a functional jail and virtually has no crime.
There is even a joke among the locals that the jail had to shut down due to lack of business.
2. Where is San Salvador located in the Bahamas?
San Salvador is located on the Atlantic side of the archipelago of the Bahamas.
It is about 200 miles southeast of Nassau.
The island is only a one-hour flight away from Florida.
Cockburn Town is the island’s capital, which is located on the west coast.
3. What is San Salvador Bahamas known for?
San Salvador is known for its pristine beaches, many monuments, ruins, and shipwrecks. All of this directly reflects its rich history.
There is also an underwater monument the island is famously known for.
It is said to mark the spot where the Pinta dropped the anchor.
The Island That Will Steal Your Heart
The San Salvador Island Bahamas is one of the perfect getaway spots.
Even for a small island, there is a lot to see and do.
Best of all, you never have to worry about being unsafe.
All the locals are always willing to help, so be sure to get out and explore as much as you can.