BAHAMAS TRAVEL GUIDE

THE BAHAMAS TRAVEL GUIDE

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WELCOME TO THE BAHAMAS!

The Bahamas – home to Junkaroo, pink beaches, blue holes (Cousteau putting the ‘Big Yard’ on the map), world-class snorkeling and diving, Grand Bahama, Nassau, Paradise Island, the Loyalist Cays, and Pig Beach – all of which reside over an archipelago of 700-plus islands and cays that make up some of the world’s largest coral reef systems in the world.

LANGUAGES IN THE BAHAMAS

The official language is English, with a ‘Bahamian Dialect’, but Haitian Creole can also be heard spoken.

BAHAMIAN CULTURE

The Bahamian culture derives mostly from African influences combined with British and American culture. Claiming independence from the British in 1973, the Bahamas Christianity is the predominant religion in the country. Combined with the African influence, Bahamians enjoy a mix of indigenous forms of music, dance, art and cuisine. Like Belizeans, Bahamians are considered laid back and easy going. You’re more than apt to experience a welcome smile and friendly demeanor amongst the Bahamians on their 30 inhabited coral-based islands.

POPULAR BAHAMIAN ACTIVITIES

Considering The Bahamas make up such a large reef system, it goes without saying that the top activities enjoyed here are fishing, diving and snorkeling.  Boating, of course, is also popular.  Dance, music and sport also play a big part of Bahamian activities. The big event for the Bahamas is Junkaroo parade, a street carnival that has been taking place for over 500 years. This historic, cultural even takes place on Boxing Day (December 26th), New Year’s Day and in the summer.  If you go The Bahamas, try to attend one of these – you will not be disappointed.

BAHAMIAN CURRENCY

The Bahamian dollar (BSD or $) is basically a one-to-one exchange rate with the U.S. dollar.  U.S. dollars can be used in The Bahamas but do expect to receive Bahamian dollars in the exchange, which cannot be used in the U.S.

BAHAMAS TRANSPORTATION

The Bahamas has all forms of transportation. There is no Uber or Lyft at this time, however, there are similar rideshare apps, like Bahrezy and Getme Ride, you can check out.

There are also rental cars and taxis, so getting around and booking transportation in advance or working on the fly, is no problem, although it may be recommended to book a taxi in advance to ensure you receive the correct car.

TIPPING IN THE BAHAMAS

Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules.  That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated. 

What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc.  For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.

Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.

BAHAMIAN HOLIDAYS

A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays.  It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday.  It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So, take just a few moments to look at The Bahamas’ holidays.

BAHAMAS ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS

Besides money, required ID and your ticket, The Bahamas’ voltage is 120 and the standard frequency is 60 Hz, so they use both Type A and Type B adapters, like the U.S.  Although you don’t have to bring an adapter, check your electronics – if you have one requiring a 3-prong outlet you may want to bring a Type B adapter just in case.  Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home.  If you are going to another country on your trip other than The Bahamas, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested global adapters below for your convenience.

Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK
471 Reviews
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK*
  • A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR THE BAHAMAS

From the U.S., you will need a valid passport valid at time of entry that allows for two pages required for entry stamp.  Visas are not required for U.S. citizens.  The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to The Bahamas.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

VACCINATIONS FOR THE BAHAMAS

There are normally no vaccinations required for The Bahamas.  The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to The Bahamas.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

BAHAMAS TRAVEL BOOKING

BAHAMAS ECOTOURISM TIPS

There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in The Bahamas. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.

ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL

Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.

Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION

The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in The Bahamas are walking or renting a bicycle or electric scooter.

ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS

Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:

Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Bahamas and other Caribbean Green Global members.

Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.

Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.

LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Bahamas certifications.

Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.

GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.

Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com, in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!

ECO-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

The Bahamas has ecotourism vacations available to explore for your next vacation.

Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in The Bahamas. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.

When doing any type of water sports in The Bahamas, use reef-safe sunscreen to protect marine biodiversity. Here are a few of the best recommended reef-safe sunscreens to get you started:

MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel.  Read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

BAHAMAS SAFETY TIPS

HOW TO TRAVEL THE BAHAMAS SAFELY

Petty and violent crimes can exist in The Bahamas during the day and in tourist areas – more so in New Providence and Grand Bahama.  Be smart and take precautions while traveling and consult local and U.S.-based advisory boards in advance, if need be.  Beyond that, my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:

  • always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
  • always be “street wise”.
  • always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
  • never leave your food or drink unattended.
  • keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
  • be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
  • research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
  • if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.

BAHAMAS BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

BEST TIME TO VISIT THE BAHAMAS

The Bahamas’ high season, due to the best weather conditions, is November to mid-April but, of course, this could make it the highest cost time to go as well.  A lower cost time to go is from July to October, but that is considered hurricane season so plan well and have travel insurance in case you need to rebook or get delayed due to weather.  Like Belize, I would recommend going at the end of high season in April to May to avoid the crowds and costs and before it gets too hot.

PERSONAL STORY

I first went to The Bahamas during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season 2000 (and the “Y2K scare”).  I thought if there was going to be a place to be stuck during a supposed world technology shutdown, The Bahamas seemed OK, right? 

The weather in Nassau that time of year is lovely, but the water can still be chilly.  Experiencing the Junkaroo Festival held the day after Christmas was a major treat.  The dance and colorful costumes were amazing to behold.

I also played my first round of golf there.  Military golf, that is.  I bought my then-husband a round of golf as a Christmas present. We shared the time on the course as he taught me with plenty of people playing through, of course.  It took forever to get through the back nine. By the time we finished the sun was going down and there was no one left on the course. Or so I thought. 

While my husband was returning the rental clubs, I stood alone on the path watching a couple of golf carts coming my way from the front nine.  As they got closer, I could see the tall driver more clearly, tongue slightly out (I’m not kidding).  They drove up to about 10 feet away from me to only then veer right and up to a gate that slowly opened for them which revealed a white stretch Mercedes limousine. 

I don’t get star-struck, but I must say my jaw dropped.  Yes, it was Michael Jordan, driving the golf cart with this body guards in tow.  Seems his family was also on the island vacationing for the holidays.  As a UNC basketball fan, this was the highlight of my trip, as I’m sure you can imagine. My poor ex missed it. 

THE BAHAMAS PHOTOS

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