The Bahamian islands lure millions of visitors to their white-washed shores, duty-free shops, fishing and scuba diving excursions and luxurious accommodations each year. The families that flock here tend to indulge in the diversions of the mega resorts, but this diverse island chain also offers a range of activities away from the hotel zone. Nature enthusiasts can explore the offshore reefs and wildlife preserves and golf lovers can tee up on the numerous par-72 courses. Bargain-hunters enjoy patrolling the marketplaces for the best duty-free deals. No wonder the Bahamas has become a popular destination in the Caribbean.
Though the area consists of more than 700 islands and cays, this first stop for most visitors is New Providence Island’s Nassau. Here, the twinkling casinos and upscale resorts are intertwined with American Civil War history and pirate lore. The second most popular island is also the most northwest: Grand Bahama, home to bustling Freeport and a center of ecotourism with its underwater limestone caves and botanical gardens. When you need a break from all the crowds, head east from Nassau to the Outer Islands, where you can easily drop off the grid and enjoy a simpler way of life. Visit the Best Beaches in the Bahamas for an in-depth look at the best beaches located in the Bahamas. Bahamas travel is one of those beach destinations that everyone needs to enjoy, at least once. Read on for all your travel information needs when planning your trip to the Bahamas. This include important travel information for vacationing in the Bahamas. Visit the Grand
Average temperatures in the Bahamas range from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 32 degrees Celsius) in the summer to 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius) in the winter. The northern Bahamian islands can be even a little cooler. Winds across the Bahamas keep vacations cool in the daytime and help lower the temperatures at night. Relative humidity is about 65% throughout the year, making temperatures feel a little warmer than they read at times.
The islands rainy season lasts from May to October, dropping an average of 4.3 inches of rain each month. October sees the heaviest amount, with approximately 8.10 inches, and June comes in at a close second with an average of 8.9 inches of rain. Still the Bahamas experiences about 310 days of sunshine each year, and averages 8 hours per day. Although the Bahamas is located in the hurricane belt that lies across most of the Caribbean, many storms bypass the island chain and instead circle below it before heading north toward the United States. Of course, the islands are equipped to respond to a storm if one does hit.
Traveling to the Bahamas
Generally, all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport when traveling to The Bahamas, as well as proof of anticipated departure from The Bahamas. Those traveling to The Bahamas on a cruise may use another Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. However, we strongly recommend visitors obtain a passport before travel in case of an unforeseen emergency that requires a cruise passenger to disembark and return by air. U.S. travelers coming for tourism will not need a visa for travel up to 90 days. All other travelers will need a visa and/or work permit.
A Canadian citizen does not require a visa to visit The Bahamas and can remain there for a maximum period of 8 months. The individual, however, must a valid passport with an expiry date that is not less than 3 months after leaving the Bahamas and a return ticket.
To enter The Bahamas, citizens from countries other than the US and Canada are required to present a valid passport which must be current up to your travel period and some countries are also required to have a Bahamas visa. If you are departing The Bahamas for a country that has the passport validity requirement of six (6) months beyond the dates of departure, then that requirement will be enforced.
The Bahamas’ proximity to Florida means regular, relatively inexpensive flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, as well as other East Coast gateways. A few airlines fly directly to airports on the larger Out Islands, but the majority of flights arrive in Nassau or Freeport where passengers will connect to another flight before continuing to the Bahamas. Receive Low Fare Alerts for Flights with Airfarewatchdog
Getting Around in the Bahamas
Some rental car companies require renters to be at least 25 years old while others will provide vehicles to licensed drivers who are 21 and older. Requirements and restrictions can vary. If you are concerned about minimum and maximum age restrictions, insurance requirements and the like, consider contacting each firm directly, before making a final decision. One complaint with the major rental car companies on the islands is that their rates are often high. However, they can be contacted in advance to secure a reservation and their vehicles are generally in fair condition. Local dealers tend to have better rates, but their cars are frequently older, making the poor condition of the island roads more apparent. Expect rates to start at around $60(USD), not including any extras you’d like to add like insurance.
Buses in the Bahamas primarily service the major cities of the larger islands. The Family Islands – the smaller, out-lying islands that comprise the rest of the Bahamas – have no public transportation of any kind. Also, no buses in the Bahamas service the islands’ airports, major or otherwise, so taxis are the best way to reach these terminals if you don’t have private transportation. In the Nassau and Freeport areas, travelers can catch the Omni Bus. These generally have comfortable rates and schedules. Adults can expect one-way fares of $1.25(USD) up to $2.25 for longer trips. Service begins around 7 a.m. and usually runs until around 6 p.m. or dusk. It is best to check with individual bus lines to find out what time their final bus runs and whether they operate on Sundays. Be advised that Bahamian bus lines are not known for their promptness, and estimates on how frequently the buses in the Bahamas run can range from 10 to 30 minutes. Obviously, travelers who are on tight schedules or who have appointments to keep may prefer to take taxis, as the times of arrival and departure given by the bus lines are generally only very rough estimates.
Taxis are abundant in the New Providence Island area, as well as in Grand Bahama, though they are somewhat harder to find on the Out Islands. The surest places to find taxis in more remote locations are at hotels, local airports, and marinas. On the Family Islands you may find it necessary to request a taxi by radio or telephone. It is also a good idea to keep in mind that it is illegal for children under the age of five to travel in a taxi without a car or booster seat, and taxis will not provide them for passengers with small children. In most cases, taxi fare is set by the government and metered. However, if you come across an unmetered cab, settle on a fare before you get in. Bear in mind that cash will be the expected form of payment, regardless of the type of currency you and the driver agree upon. It is a good idea to establish a rate with the driver even in a metered taxi. Travelers can expect hourly rates to range anywhere from $20(USD) to $45(USD).
Restaurants & Night Life in the Bahamas
The cost of dining in the Bahamas, as in many of the Caribbean islands, can be somewhat expensive. Travelers should have no problem finding moderately priced meals but are reminded that local specialties such as grouper, conch, and “peas ‘n’ rice” will be more affordable, as they are more readily available on the islands.
Diners who prefer a very casual dining experience may be interested in the small local restaurants that have a somewhat limited menu. These can be a great opportunity to sample the most authentic local fare, and an average meal should cost less than $20(USD) per person. Fast food has also made its way into the islands and can be a familiar alternative for guests looking for an inexpensive bite to eat. Meals at fast food places will cost around $10(USD).
Moderate dining in the Bahamas often showcases many of the cultural influences that have played such an important role on the area. The menus generally reflect an interest in international cuisine and even the local dishes are often served with a continental flair. The cost of dining in a mid-range restaurant will generally be between $25(USD) and $40(USD).
When the moon lights up the night sky, entertainment awakens here. Enjoy the traditional music in quaint bars, the latest sounds in city-style nightclubs, or try your hand in a casino. On the outer islands, you could simply sit on a beach and watch a bonfire under the full moon. For more information on the best restaurants, night life, and much more, visit the following travel guides:
- The Island of Grand Bahama Travel Guide
- The Abacos Travel Guide
- The Exumas Travel Guide
- The Cat Island Travel Guide
- The Berry Islands
Things to Do
There are so many options and things to do in the Bahamas, and each of the islands has its own flavor and fun. The Bahamas is known for its stellar beaches. With over 2,000 breathtaking islands and cays, and the clearest water on Earth, it’s no wonder visitors come here from all around to sink their toes into miles of pure white, and in some places pink, sand—the very definition of paradise. Visit the Best Beaches in the Bahamas for a list of all the best beaches throughout the islands. There is no finer journey than the one that leads you to paradise and boating is another great option in the Bahamas. Whether you’re planning a quick getaway to Bimini, a cruise along the chain of islands in The Abacos or The Exumas, or a week long voyage to Nassau/Paradise Island, the waters of The Bahamas are waiting for you.
If you like diving, the islands offer an array of dive experiences. You’ll find sunken Spanish galleons, inland blue holes, underwater caves, and forest-like coral reefs teeming with marine life. You can even feed and swim with reef sharks and get your adrenaline pumping. And when it comes to nature, The Bahamas has some of the most intriguing, exotic, and mysterious natural phenomena on the planet: the world’s deepest blue hole, third-largest fringing barrier reef, and largest colony of pink flamingos. Nature preserves protect the endangered Bahama Parrot and several species of endangered iguanas. The Bahamas is also a great fishing location. Whether you’re a first-timer casting a line from a pier or a deep-sea fanatic eager to beat one of the over 50 world records set here, the waters are full of fish—bone fish in saltwater flats, prized marlin in the deep seas.
For more information on the best each island has to offer, visit the following travel guides:
- The Island of Grand Bahama Travel Guide
- The Abacos Travel Guide
- The Exumas Travel Guide
- The Cat Island Travel Guide
- The Berry Islands
Hotel Choices in the Bahamas
The Bahamas offers a wide selection of accommodations, ranging from small private guesthouses to large luxury resorts. Hotels vary in size and facilities, from deluxe (offering room service, sports, swimming pools, entertainment, and so on) to fairly simple inns.
There are package deals galore, and they are always cheaper than “rack rates.” (A rack rate is what an individual pays if he or she literally walks in from the street. These are the rates we’ve listed, though you can almost always do better — especially at the big resorts.) It’s sometimes good to go to a reliable travel agent to find out what, if anything, is available in the way of a land-and-air package before booking particular accommodations.
The winter season in The Bahamas runs roughly from the middle of December to the middle of April, and hotels charge their highest prices during this peak period. Winter is generally the dry season in the islands, but there can be heavy rainfall regardless of the time of year. During the winter months, make reservations 2 months in advance if you can. You can’t book early enough if you want to travel over Christmas or in February.
The off season in The Bahamas — roughly from mid-April to mid-December (although this varies from hotel to hotel) — amounts to a sale. In most cases, hotel rates are slashed a startling 20% to 60%. It’s a bonanza for cost-conscious travelers, especially for families who can travel in the summer. Be prepared for very strong sun, though, plus a higher chance of rain. Also note that hurricane season runs through summer and fall.
All Bahamian resorts offer a European Plan (EP) rate, which means that you pay for the price of a room. That leaves you free to dine around at night at various other resorts or restaurants without restriction. Another plan preferred by many is the Continental Plan (CP), which means you get a continental breakfast of juice, coffee, bread, and jam included in a set price. This plan is preferred by those who don’t like to look around for a place to eat breakfast.
Another major option is the Modified American Plan (MAP), which includes breakfast and one main meal of the day, either lunch or dinner. The final choice is the American Plan (AP), which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At certain resorts you will save money by booking on either the MAP or AP because discounts are granted. If you dine a la carte often for lunch and dinner, your dining costs will be much higher than if you stay on the MAP or AP.
What the Hotel Symbols Mean — As you’re shopping around for your hotel, you may see the following terms used:
- AP (American Plan): Includes three meals a day (sometimes called full board or full pension).
- EP (European Plan): Includes only the room — no meals.
- CP (Continental Plan): Includes continental breakfast of juice, coffee, bread, and jam.
- MAP (Modified American Plan): Sometimes called half-board or half-pension, this room rate includes breakfast and dinner (or lunch instead of dinner, if you prefer).
Top Bahamas Hotels
Pineapple Fields Resort
Pineapple Fields is in Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It provides free Wi-Fi access, features an outdoor pool and is just over a quarter mile from the beach. These apartments at Pineapple Fields feature a TV and air conditioning. They have a full kitchen with a fridge and a dining table. The private bathrooms also include a shower. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Pineapple Fields Resort.
Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas
This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Situated on a 4 miles talcum powder sand beach, this Galliot Cay resort offers a 5 hour tour of Long Island. A water sports facility, catamaran and bike rentals and tropically designed accommodation are offered. A private patio is provided in each Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort accommodation. Each includes a refrigerator and coffee facilities. The villa includes a fully equipped kitchen. Activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing on the tidal flats are offered at the resort. Guests can also go beach combing and shelling on the private beach at Beach Resort Cape Santa Maria. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas.
Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas – All Inclusive
Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas All-Inclusive is an Adults Only 4 star resort on Paradise Island. It sits on Nassau Harbour and features 250 guest rooms and a private harbor beach. Free standard WiFi is offered throughout.The Warwick Paradise Island – Bahamas All-Inclusive has 5 restaurants and 2 bars. One of the most noteworthy aspects of the resort is its 10,000 square foot terrace, which overlooks the marinas across the harbor. Rooms at the hotel offer views of Paradise Island, and also a mini-fridge. The resort welcome guests 18 and older with all-inclusive rates that include all meals and snacks, plus alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages, as well nightly entertainment, activities and the use of fitness center. This resort is a short walk of 10 minutes to shopping, casino, and the famous Cabbage Beach. The resort also has great on-site offerings. The property is located a 30-minute drive from Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS). For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas.
Small Hope Bay Lodge – All Inclusive
This hotel is located right on the blue waters of Andros and features bright, beach-style décor, a private beach area and free breakfast. Small Hope Bay Lodge has complimentary Wi-Fi. Small Hope Bay Lodge’s on-site restaurant serves local cuisine, and guests can find other dining options within 9.3 miles of the property. Guests will find a gift shop, game room and small library at the property, and the tour desk can help arrange outdoor activities like snorkeling and wind surfing. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Small Hope Bay Lodge – All Inclusive.
Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
Showcasing a year-round outdoor pool and spa center, Sandals Royal Bahamian All Inclusive – Couples Only is located in Nassau in the region of New Providence, just 5 miles from Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park. The resort has a sun terrace and a private beach area, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free WiFi is available throughout the property and free private parking is available on site. A flat-screen TV with cable channels, as well as an iPod docking station are featured. Some rooms have a sitting area for your convenience. Views of the sea, pool or garden are featured in certain rooms. Every room has a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and slippers. You will find free shuttle service, free shuttle service, hairdresser’s and gift shop at the property. This resort has water sports facilities and car rental is available. There are lots of activities in the area, such as golfing and horseback riding. The nearest airport is Nassau International Airport, 4.3 miles from the property. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island.
For more information on hotel accommodations each island has to offer, visit the following travel guides: