A top Caribbean romantic vacation and honeymoon destination, The Bahamas offers a tropical escape with beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, just about an hour from Florida. There are two Sandals resorts in The Bahamas: Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay. These are the closest Sandals resorts to the United States.
If you’re trying to decide between Sandals Royal Bahamian or Sandals Emerald Bay, this article about these two amazing adults-only all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas will help you choose which Sandals Bahamas resort is best for you. No matter which one you choose, both adults-only all-inclusive Bahamas resorts are romantic and luxurious, perfect for your Caribbean honeymoon, anniversary trip, or couples’ vacation.
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Sandals Emerald Bay vs. Royal Bahamian: Our Choice
For us, we choose Sandals Emerald Bay, but it may not be the right choice for you.
Sandals Emerald Bay has a more laid-back atmosphere, while Sandals Royal Bahamian is better if you are looking for a party. Also, Sandals Emerald Bay is much more spread out, with a larger beach and resort area, while Sandals Royal Bahamian is much more compact.
The activities at Sandals Emerald Bay are also better for us. You can go swimming with the pigs at Sandals Emerald Bay and there is a world-class golf course there.
The other main differences between Royal Bahamian and Emerald Bay are that Sandals Royal Bahamian has a private island, and Sandals Emerald Bay only offers club- and butler-level accommodations.
Sandals Emerald Bay vs. Sandals Royal Bahamian: Overview
Sandals Emerald Bay is nestled on 500 acres in Great Exuma, along a curving mile-long beach of pristine white sand and sparkling turquoise water in the secluded Out Islands of The Bahamas. If you love golf, you’ll love the 18-hole, 7001 yards, par 72 golf course designed by Greg Norman, which features six beautiful oceanfront holes on a peninsula. When you’re not golfing, you can take a dip in the Caribbean’s largest zero-entry pool. You can also enjoy 2 other pools, 2 whirlpools, 11 restaurants, and 6 bars.
Sandals Royal Bahamian is located on the famous Cable Beach in Nassau, on the main island in the Bahamas. Recently renovated, this glamorous resort now offers beachfront swim-up suites with butler service, 2 huge pools and 6 whirlpools, 10 restaurants, and 8 bars. A unique offering at Sandals Royal Bahamian is the private offshore island with a beach, pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant, and cabanas.
Which Sandals Bahamas resort is the highest rated? Sandals Emerald Bay is slightly higher rated than Sandals Royal Bahamian (4.5 on TripAdvisor and 4.2 on Google for Sandals Emerald Bay vs. 4 on TripAdvisor and 4.1 on Google for Sandals Royal Bahamian).
Sandals Royal Bahamian vs. Sandals Emerald Bay: Getting There
While both of these Sandals Bahamas resorts are located fairly close to an airport, they are in different parts of The Bahamas.
Sandals Royal Bahamian is located in Nassau, which is the capital of The Bahamas so you can find plenty of direct flights there. The resort is located about 15 minutes from Lynden Pindling International Airport.
Sandals Emerald Bay is in Great Exuma, which is in the Out Islands. While there are fewer flights here, you can find flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and Charlotte in the U.S. Sandals Emerald Bay is located 20 minutes from the Georgetown Exuma International Airport.
As with all Sandals resorts, both Royal Bahamian and Emerald Bay include complimentary transfers to and from the airport.
Sandals Emerald Bay vs. Sandals Royal Bahamian: Accommodations
The main difference between accommodations at Sandals Emerald Bay and Sandals Royal Bahamian is that every room and suite at Sandals Emerald Bay is either club or butler level, while Sandals Royal Bahamian offers luxury, club, and butler-level rooms and suites. (Want to know more about the difference between room levels? Read this.)
The oversized rooms, villas, and suites at Sandals Emerald Bay are a mix of Bahamian style and elegance, designed to harmonize with the natural surroundings. Each has thoughtful amenities and full or partial ocean views.
Sandals Emerald Bay offers a range of luxurious suites, like the two-level Royal Estate Beachfront Butler Villa. This swanky sanctuary has direct beach access, a private pool, full living and dining rooms, a master suite with a balcony overlooking the Caribbean, and a marble bathroom with a soaking tub. Another opulent option is the Prime Minister Honeymoon One-Bedroom Beachfront Walkout Butler Suite, just steps from the sand. Both of these suites come with 24-hour private butler service.
There are also Club Level Junior Suites and oversized rooms, which offer stunning ocean views, elegant furnishings, bathrooms with soaking tubs, and private patios and balconies. These include access to Club Level amenities, including dedicated concierge service, a stylish private lounge that’s available 24 hours a day, and special activities.
At Sandals Royal Bahamian, you can choose from a wider variety of butler, club, and luxury-level rooms and suites with ocean or garden views. The elegant West Bay Oceanview Swim-up Butler Suites have walkout patios with views of the ocean, direct access to the zero-entry swim-up pool, and a Tranquility Soaking Tub for Two; a master bedroom and separate living room; fully stocked bar; and walk-in shower.
The West Bay Honeymoon Hideaway Swim-up Crystal Lagoon Zen One Bedroom Butler Suites have private furnished patios with zero-entry access to the Zen Garden swim-up pool, a separate living room with a dining area and full bar, and a walk-in shower. Or enjoy your own private pool with the Island Village One Bedroom Butler Villa Suite! These suites all come with personal butler service for the ultimate pampering.
There is also a wide range of club and luxury level rooms and suites, including swim-up, oceanview, and walk out, with private patios or balconies (some with Tranquility Soaking Tubs for Two). Club-level accommodations at Sandals Royal Bahamian come with the same amenities as at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Sandals Emerald Bay vs. Sandals Royal Bahamian: Activities
You won’t run out of things to do during your stay at either Sandals Emerald Bay or Sandals Royal Bahamian. Both resorts offer a full range of water and land activities. There are some differences in what you can do at each resort, however.
Sandals Emerald Bay is one of the best Sandals resorts for golf lovers, as it features an 18-hole course designed by Greg Norman right on the property. Set on a peninsula, this gorgeous course has 6 oceanfront holes. And best of all, greens fees are included in your stay!
You can also choose from three swimming pools at Sandals Emerald Bay, including a half-acre zero-entry pool with a dramatic fire pit in the middle. And of course, there’s a stunning white sand beach to lounge on.
You can participate in all types of water sports, from kayaking to windsurfing to paddleboarding to sailing. Explore the crystal clear waters and vibrant coral reefs around Sandals Emerald Bay with complimentary snorkeling and scuba diving. Sandals Emerald Bay also has a 17-acre marina if you want to bring your boat.
Unlimited land sports are included, such as beach volleyball, horseshoes, croquet, bocce ball, day and night tennis, pool tables, board games, and more.
There are some lovely beaches with beautiful clear water nearby that you can take a taxi to if you want to see more of the island. You can also go on fun excursions from Sandals Emerald Bay, like swimming with pigs!
At Sandals Royal Bahamian, you will be close to the bustling town of Nassau and all the attractions it has to offer, like historic sites, museums, galleries, the BahaMar waterpark, botanical gardens, markets, and casinos. You can also take optional area excursions.
Onsite at Sandals Royal Bahamian, you’ll find complimentary watersports such as kayaking, windsurfing, paddleboarding, sailing, water trikes, and Hobie Cats, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving. You can enjoy multiple pools and whirlpools, plus two beautiful beaches and the Coconut Grove lounge area. Land activities include day and night tennis, pool tables, croquet, basketball, lawn chess, shuffleboard, table tennis, and beach volleyball.
Sandals Royal Bahamian offers the exclusive offshore island of Barefoot Cay, which is just minutes from the resort via the Love Runner. It features a Beach Club with a pool, whirlpool, and swim-up bar; two secluded beaches great for relaxing, swimming, or snorkeling; an open-air seafood restaurant; and plenty of romantic spots to lounge like hammocks, cabanas, and a fire pit. You can even get massages by the water!
Both Sandals Bahamas resorts have full fitness centers (included) and Red Lane Spas, which offer a range of optional treatments and services like couples’ massages. The fitness center at Sandals Royal Bahamian is a penthouse, so you can enjoy amazing views as you work out!
Sandals Emerald Bay vs. Sandals Royal Bahamian: Dining
Sandals Emerald Bay has 11 five-star gourmet dining options. Restaurants at Sandals Emerald Bay include Il Cielo (Italian), Barefoot by the Sea (fresh seafood and island specialties, right on the beach), La Parisienne French Cuisine, an authentic English Pub, Bahama Bay (local dishes), Dino’s Pizzeria Italiano, Café de Paris, the Jerk Shack (Caribbean), Bombay Club (Indian), Soy Sushi Bar, and Kimonos Oriental Cuisine.
The 10 restaurants at Sandals Royal Bahamian include La Plume (elegant French), Butch’s Island Chop House (steaks and seafood), Tesoro (southern Italian), Kanoo (pan-Caribbean), Kimono’s Oriental Cuisine, the open-air and beachfront Aralia House (seafood, located on the private island), Soy Sushi Bar, the casual and beachside Calico Café (seafood and grilled items), the Queen’s Pearl British Pub, and Gordon’s on the Pier (grilled meat and seafood specialties in an upscale setting over the water).
You can also enjoy two food trucks: Coco Queen, serving Bahamian fare, and Sweets’N’ Tings Patisserie.
As at every Sandals resort, all meals, snacks, and beverages are included in your stay, so you can feast to your heart’s content! Room service is included in club and butler-level rooms, with butler suites offering 24-hour room service. You can also book a private candlelight dinner on the beach for an extra fee.
Sandals Emerald Bay vs. Sandals Royal Bahamian: Nightlife
You can enjoy daily and nightly entertainment at both Sandals Bahamas resorts, but the vibe at Sandals Emerald Bay is more relaxed. It has 6 bars (including a swim-up bar and a piano bar), plus activities like theme nights, live bands, and karaoke. Sandals Royal Bahamian has 8 bars (including 3 swim-up bars) and plenty of entertainment options including beach parties, theme nights, and live shows.
Sandals Royal Bahamian vs. Sandals Emerald Bay: Cost
Sandals Royal Bahamian is less expensive than Sandals Emerald Bay. Sandals Royal Bahamian is a more affordable honeymoon destination, with rates starting at $360 per person per night.
Rates at Sandals Emerald Bay start at $534 per person per night.
Your rate at either location will cover the same inclusions offered at all Sandals Resorts: complimentary airport transfers; all dining and beverages including unlimited premium liquors and unlimited Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks wines; a stocked minibar in your room; a coffee maker with Jamaican Blue Mountain Blend coffee; water sports and equipment plus professional instruction; WiFi; daily and nightly entertainment; unlimited land sports; state-of-the-art fitness center; and all tips, taxes, and gratuities.
Now that you’ve read our comparison of the two, what do you think? Would you choose Sandals Royal Bahamian or Sandals Emerald Bay for your Bahamas honeymoon or a romantic escape? Let us know in the comments!
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.