Look around the Bahamas and you’re bound to notice turquoise water, white sand beaches, neon-colored cocktails, and women — chilling with their friends and living their best life. Thus, when it came time to select a destination for my own recent bachelorette party, the Bahamas seemed like a natural choice.
After nearly two years apart from friends spread across the country, I wanted to pick a place where we could both bond over a new experience and relax — the Bahamas offers both. One day you can rent a luxe poolside cabana and listen to a DJ, and the next you can go snorkeling at Dean’s Blue Hole, the second deepest saltwater sinkhole in the world. During my specific vacation at SLS Baha Mar, a luxury property in Nassau, my friends and I stayed out late drinking expertly mixed rum cocktails at the hotel’s posh Skybar — set on the hotel roof — and dancing with locals in the lobby’s festive Monkey Bar, only to wake up for an early dive along Clifton Wall and David Tucker Wreck, a decommissioned boat from the Royal Bahamas Defense Force.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who decided to trade the Strip for the beach. In recent years, the Bahamas has become a noted hotspot for girls trips and bachelorette parties, with a surge in bookings and hotels offering packages catering to large groups of female guests. Less conventional than notorious girls trip playgrounds like Las Vegas and Nashville, these tropical islands offer a cloudless, carefree sanctuary that feels like it’s a lot further away than a quick, 110-mile flight off the southern coast of Florida, making it a convenient retreat for anyone looking to unplug, let loose, and escape the real world for a long weekend. This urge seems to have only grown as the dust of COVID-19 begins to settle, and women are looking to reconnect with their friends in a big way.
“SLS Baha Mar has seen a significant increase in bachelorette parties over the past year and are expecting that to grow, largely due to the wedding boom of 2022, but also as people become more comfortable with traveling internationally,” says Danyelle Montgomery, director of sales and marketing at SLS Baha Mar, which has become one of the country’s most popular hotels for girls getaways and part of the larger Baha Mar resort, which also includes Rosewood Baha Mar and Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. In response to oversized demand, the property recently created its Baha Bach Blow-Out package, which includes 50-minute individual massages, pre- or post-party in-room IV drips, a VIP table at BOND Nightclub, a VIP cabana at Privilege (the hotel’s adults-only pool where champagne guns are a thing) outfitted with an in-suite Hangover Bloody Mary Bar Cart, and more. “Groups, including bachelorette and bachelor parties, are looking for a turnkey, stress-free vacation option, which is exactly what SLS Baha Mar provides.”
Going to the Bahamas works so well for a large group because it fits the mold of several ideal girls trips in one. As my friend Cindy Zhang put it after we returned to New York City, “The Bahamas is a very inclusive environment in that there is something for everyone, from the super active traveler to somebody who wants to stay at the beach all day. It's very easy to create a shared experience.”
Yes, you can satisfy foodies with conch fritters and local Caribbean lobster at Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chophouse, art and architecture lovers with a trip to a 12th-century Augustinian cloister, explorers with a boat ride to Harbour Island’s famous pink sand beaches and pastel-colored cottages, and wellness aficionados with a luxe spa day. (Full-body massage with warmed tiger shells, anyone?) SLS Baha Mar even boasts the largest casino in the Caribbean for your friend who’s bummed you skipped Vegas.
After departing for home, Zhang reminded me that this was, in fact, her second trip to the Bahamas. The first? Another girls trip just before the pandemic, organized by a wellness-minded friend. This getaway, however, did not involve champagne guns or casinos. Instead, the group opted to spend time at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, a beachside compound that allows people to experience a vegan lifestyle and provides yoga and meditation sessions three times a day.
“I think the yoga retreat is a really nice place to get to know your closest friends at a very deep level,” says Ellie Lan, Zhang’s friend who hosted the restorative trip. “We meditated, did yoga, and ate vegetarian food. We didn't even have coffee for a week straight, much less any conventional entertainment. It makes you look inward and really examine and appreciate your relationships.”
While our trips looked vastly differently, Lan and I both found what we were looking for on the islands: connection. Ultimately, the Bahamas can be whatever you (and your friends) want it to be: a raucous scene straight out of Bridesmaids, a meditative retreat, or something in between. With sophisticated restaurants, breathtaking beaches, thrilling activities, and vibrant nightlife, there’s something for every occasion and every group — no matter how large.
This article was originally published on