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Currency: Bahamian Dollar (par w/USD)
Drives On: Left
Phone Code: +1
National Day: July 10
Internet Domain: .bs
Electrical Outlets: Type A
Bahamian World Heritage Sties: 0
The Bahamas is an English speaking island nation, which is also known as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The nation has a tropical climate and has never had a frost or freeze. The lowest temperature on the island was recorded at around 3 to 5 degree Celsius. The island is also frequently visited by tropical storms and hurricanes. Travel to the Bahamas to experience the beauty of the Caribbean.
Despite that, the Bahamas still has one of the most prosperous economies in the West Indies. It relies heavily on tourism to keep its economy flourishing. In fact, tourism accounts for 60% of the nation’s GDP while also providing lots of employment opportunities for the locals. Cruises regularly make a stop to the Bahamas. But aside from a stop at the cruise, tourist also visit The Bahamas due to its wide range of tourist attractions that include the Blue Lagoon Island, Dean’s Blue Hole, Atlantis, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island and Green Turtle Cay, among others.
History of the Bahamas
According to historical data, the first record of human settlement in The Bahamas is during the first millennium AD. The first inhabitants were the Lucayans who arrived on the islands during the 500 and 800 AD. They came from the other islands in the Caribbean region. Most of the earlier inhabitants in The Bahamas came from other parts of South America.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island of Guanahani. Columbus named it San Salvador Island during his first voyage. Two centuries later, 1648 to be exact, the first European permanent settlement was established on Eleuthera. The slave trade in the 18th century also brought in many Africans to the islands where they worked as laborers. The African descendants make up 85% of the Bahamian population.
In July 1973, The Bahamas gained its independence from the UK.
Bahamas Travel Basics
Connectivity: There are several free WiFi hotspots in the Bahamas both in Nassau and Freeport.
International Airports: There are three major airports servicing flights that travel to the Bahamas. The first one is Lynden Pindling International Airport in New Providence. The other two are Marsh Harbour International Airport and Grand Bahama International Airport.
In addition to these, there are a few other airports servicing the Bahamas, although some of these only cater to domestic flights: South Bimini Airport, San Andros Airport, Mayaguana Airport, South Andros Airport, Great Harbour Cay Airport, and New Bight Airport.
Visa Requirements Visa requirement for tourists that travel to the Bahamas will vary depending on which country the tourist is traveling from. For example, US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to travel to the Bahamas and can stay for a maximum of 8 months. Latin American citizens, on the other hand, do not require a visa as well but must have a valid passport during the entire duration of their intended stay.
Crime: The crime rate in the Bahamas is quite high. In September and November of 2014, Canada and the US respectively, have issued separate crime warnings for their citizens in and traveling to the Bahamas. Both embassies have warned their citizens to exercise high caution due to the critical level of criminal activity, from petty to serious crimes, often targeting tourists.
UPDATE: As of January 2018, The United States State Department has issued a new crime warning for its citizens officially issued on January 10, 2018. All US citizens are advised to “exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime”. They have even characterized the country as “critical” when it comes to safety concerns. Some of the most common crimes reported on tourists include armed robberies, burglaries, and sexual assault.
Getting Around: While there are car rental agencies in The Bahamas, most of them have issues such as non-working seat belts or lack of car seats. It is also required that you have to be at least 21 years of age before you can rent and drive a car in the Bahamas. When driving your own car, too, expect to pay fuel prices twice than that in the US. Also, the method of payment in petrol stations is cash – make sure you keep them handy.
And since The Bahamas consist of many islands, another common mode of transportation is boat travel. You can choose betwen the traditional ferry boats or the new air-conditioned boats. The availability of the modern boats are quite limited still. If you are traveling to certain remote islands, expect to be served by slow and old-fashioned boats.
Trivia: Did you know that there are up to 700 islands that make up The Bahamas? Out of the 700 islands, though, only 40 of these are populated. The Bahamas is also located right on the edge of the infamous Bermuda Triangle.
Cuisine in the Bahamas
Bahamian cuisine is the term used to describe the cuisine from the Bahamas. The cuisine of this Caribbean island utilizes most of the produce and catch from the region, which includes seafood (shellfish, lobsters, and crabs), tropical fruits (mango, papaya, pineapple, passion fruit), and crops. The use of meat is also popular in Bahamian cuisine, particularly chicken and mutton.
Soups are also popular in the Bahamas and there are several soup recipes served on the island. Since they use a lot of seafood for cooking, stewed fish or conch chowder are among the local favorites. Another soup recipe known as souse is also popular and it is made with chicken, potatoes, lime, and pepper.
Due to the access to many tropical fruits, they are used in plenty of desserts in The Bahamas. Among the most popular desserts are coconut or pineapple tart, guava duff, and fruit cake.
Bahamas: Top Activities
There are plenty of islands in the Bahamas, which also means there are lots of gorgeous beaches to explore. If you travel to the Bahamas, it is a good idea to explore and swim in these pristine beaches so you can indulge in a relaxing experience and exploit the beauty of this Caribbean island nation. You can choose your itinerary for your trip based on whether you want to explore white sand or pink sand beaches!
Recommended: Nassau, Freeport, Grand Bahama, Abaco Islands, Long Island
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
These are two more popular activities for tourists who come to the Bahamas. Fortunately, there are many great spots for snorkeling and scuba diving so you can immerse in the experience you’ve come to enjoy. There are plenty of coral reef dive and snorkel sites to choose from for all skill levels.
Recommended: Rose Island, Norman’s Cay, Marsh Harbour, Long Island, Green Turtle Cay, Andros
National Park Exploration
Aside from the beaches and dive sites, travel to the Bahamas would not be complete without a visit to one of many national parks on the island. Each national park will have something unique to offer. Hence, you can opt to visit more than one national park during your visit.
Recommended: Blue Holes National Park, Iangua National Park, West Side National Park, Abaco National Park
Fishing is another fun activity to try in The Bahamas. The islands are rich in natural resources and marine life. You can, therefore, check out some of our recommended destinations for fishing in the Bahamas.
Recommended: Andros, Acklins Island, West End (Grand Bahama), Crooked Island, Marsh Harbour, Moore’s Island
Sailing in the Caribbean islands is a dream for many. It is the ultimate idea of paradise in the tropics! If you want to try sailing in The Bahamas, you need not miss out on these perfect sailing destinations.
Recommended: Marsh Harbour, Pelican Cay Land & Sea Park, Hope Town, Green Turtle Cay, Manjack Cay
Know Before You Go
Use the following information when planning your travel to the Bahamas:
- The Bahamian Dollar is almost the same with the US Dollar in terms of currency value. Hence, there is no need to have your US Dollars replaced before you go.
- Tourists who travel to the Bahamas might be required to show a return ticket. Make sure you provide proof of your return ticket available.
- For tourists traveling from North America, you won’t have to bring any adaptor with you.
- Tipping is not required in The Bahamas. Most bills on restaurants and bars already include a 15% gratuity. Tipping is optional, especially if you liked the exceptional service given.
- Visa is not required for visitors from the US. You need to show only your passport.
- While generally safe, there is a huge spike in violent crimes in Nassau recently. All tourists are advised to exercise caution when exploring off-the-beaten locations.
- Diarrhea is the most common risk for travelers in The Bahamas. All travelers susceptible to digestive problems are advised to refrain from consuming uncooked foods, milk products, and stick to bottled water. Avoid drinking directly from the tap.
Photos of the Bahamas
Books on The Bahamas
- Fodor’s Bahamas (Full-color Travel Guide). This book is written by local travel guides with recommendations for all tastes and budgets.
- Cruising Bahamas. This book has everything you need for every dive, every snorkel, and other activities while cruising the Bahamas.
- The Insider’s Nassau Travel Guide. This is the guide you need for exploring one of the most beautiful parts of Bahamas – Nassau.
- Living in the Bahamas: Adventures in Paradise. This is the go-to resource for the serious explorer with everything you need to make the most of this Caribbean paradise.
Bahamas Travel Podcasts and YouTube Channels
- Podcast: The Bahamas
- Podcast Episode 105: Where to Eat in the Bahamas
- The Bahamas | Youtube
- Amateur Traveler Episodes on the Bahamas
Online Bahamas Resources
- Bahamas Pinterest Board
- 8 Things You Might Not Have Known About The Bahamas
- Travel Tips | The Official Site of The Bahamas