Bahamas Travel Tips

Bahamas Travel Tips 2014-10-24T21:04:33+00:00

The Bahamas are a group of islands located just off of the United States (closest islands sit just 60 miles from Florida). Many people would be surprised to learn that The Bahamas are actually one of the richest countries in North America just after the United States and Canada. Like Canada, the Bahamas are part of the Commonwealth and have had close ties with United Kingdom since 1648 when the first English colonist came. Like a lot of Caribbean Islands the Bahamas has become a popular tourist destination and thousands of Americans and Europeans flock to the beaches of Nassua and Freeport… some of the biggest cities of the Bahamas. Undoubtedly the reason you would want to travel to the Bahamas is to enjoy the massive resorts on islands like Nassua, enjoy some of the top rated beaches in the world, enjoy the culture with festivals like Junkaroo (a traditional African Street Parade), or enjoy the slow pace and people who are the Bahamas (updated as of February 2013)

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Noteworthy Places
Getting to/around The Bahamas
Breakdown of Costs
Bahamian People
Bahamian Language
Definitely Do’s and Don’ts
From Splurging to Saving
Good for Gay Lifestyle?
Random Advice

Noteworthy Places I’ve Been To

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Nassau – Undoubtedly the top thing to do in Nassau is to go enjoy one of the biggest resorts in the world, Atlantis Hotel. The hotel is very well-known and is kind of mini water park. Also it includes one impressive aquarium.. A definite must if you’re visiting Nassau. Other than that you can enjoy downtown Nassau or one of the many excellent beaches Nassau has to offer.

Freeport/Grand Bahamas – Freeport and the Grand Bahamas is surprisingly charming city but very tiny. If you’re looking to find sun, solitude, sand and turquoise water than Freeport is perfect. Some of the best things to do are Lucayan National Park (Gold Rock Beach and the Arawak Caves), Lucayan Beach and market, as well as parasailing, snuba, snorkeling, and boating.

Getting to/around The Bahamas

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By Plane – I have never taken a plane to Nassau (will be in February) but if you are just planning to stay in the Bahamas then you can travel by plane. Many US carries fly to the Bahamas including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United Airlines and US Airways as well as many international carries like British Airways, Air Canada, WestJet, Bahamasair and some other less major carriers. Usually the major hubs of these airlines will get you there direct, like Dallas, Atlanta, and New York. To get to Freeport you can take US Airways through Philadelphia or Charlotte or connect through Miami on American or Bahamasair.

By Cruise – A lot of people see the Bahamas by a cruise. This what I’ve done in the past. Majority of the cruises go to Nassau but some do dock at Freeport, Coco Cay or Castaway  Cay which a port that Disney Cruise Lines own solely. Most of these cruises leave from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, San Juan, or Tampa.

By Boat – It is possible to rent a boat or yacht and dock in the Bahamas. Of course you need your passport and will have to go through immigration and customs if you plan to do this.

The Bahamas have a lot of islands so to get around in the Bahamas many people fly using Bahamasair. However service is expensive and planes are constantly delayed. You might be better to rent a boat if you plan on exploring more islands in the Bahamas. If you plan to get a boat companies like Windward Islands can help you charter a boat. Be aware that taxi’s are expensive on the islands.

Breakdown of Costs

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Hotels – The Bahamas is known to be one of the most expensive Caribbean countries to visit and hotels are not a bargain.If you’re staying at the famed Atlantis hotel expect to pay a minimum of 150 – 200 dollars a night (and that is on the off-season for a bargain). Sometimes websites like Expedia or Orbitz offer last-minute deals if you’re willing to go on the whim. If you’re staying on other hotels in the Bahamas expect to pay somewhere between $100-300 dollars a night for a decent hotel. Of course if you’re willing to splurge there is always accommodations for you.

Food – Eating in the Bahamas is comparable to the United States or a bit higher. If you’re staying in a hotel like the Atlantis expect to pay more for your food (they have a funny way of jacking up the prices just because you’re staying in a hotel like the Atlantis). As a whole though you can find deals where food is included in the price of your hotel ticket. This is an all inclusive hotel and is something to consider when booking your hotel. Since food is about the same I would budget around 7-15 dollars per meal. Of course if you want to eat fancy then there are restaurants for that. Seafood is very popular on the island.

Other Activities – If you’re coming on a cruise ship to the Bahamas the cruise ship will offer excursions or things to do for a set prices. These can range from a taxi to a nearby beach, para-sailing, cave exploring, etc… With the Bahamas you might be able to find someone in cities like Nassau and Freeport that can do the excursion cheaper. I would compare the cruise ship with companies that offer the same tour (do some google searching). Make sure you budget these excursions in so you can do some fun things while in the Bahamas. Overall the average costs for a 7 day stay in the Bahamas is around 1500 dollars to 2000 dollars.

Bahamian People

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Like most Caribbean nations the Bahamian people are generally nice and relaxed people. There is never a sense of urgency in the Caribbean so don’t expect things to be fast paced (and if you’re in the Caribbean that is kind of how you want to keep it). While the people are nice you must be careful with people taken advantage of you (like on excursions or when you are at a craft store). While shopping in a market it’s expected you bargain… so bargain! It’s never the price they give you up front.

Bahamian Language

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The official language in the Bahamas is English. Of course you’re in the Caribbean so there might be slight variations of English but you will definitely be able to understand any local.

Definitely Do’s and Don’ts

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Do go to Atlantis on Nassau and see what there is to offer. You don’t have to even stay at the hotel and you can visit just for a day. It can be very crowded some days but the hotel is gorgeous so it might be worth a visit.

Don’t be surprised if there is slow service everywhere… enjoy it and take your mind off worries you have back home.

Do try the national dish, conch, which usually comes with peas and rice.

Don’t buy Cuban cigars… more than likely they are fake.

Do look for last minute resort deals like I did for my Freeport trip. You can find great bargains when it is the off-season.

Don’t be taken advantage of. People in the Bahamas have seen every type of tourists and they know how to work you when they want more money out of you. If you’re stupid enough then I would be doing the same thing.

Do have some rum while in the Bahamas. Like most Caribbean countries rum is very popular!

From Splurging to Saving

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Splurging would be going to the Atlantis Hotel and staying there for 7 nights. Because the Atlantis is a world renowned hotel you can expect to pay way more than 2000 dollars for a week (for hotel, food, and excursions). This definitely would be one of the higher end hotels but the hotel is amazing and has plenty to offer. If you don’t need to stay at the Atlantis then there are plenty of suitable hotels that are not that expensive. They might be a little older but you won’t be spending much time in the hotel anyways. If you’re looking to do things while in the Bahamas then of course that will all be extra. Excursions like para-sailing cost anywhere from 40 – 100 dollars. Of course if you want to save there is always the beach and the Bahamas has plenty of great choices. Most places are walk-able from your hotel so there isn’t a great need for a taxi although there is that option. If you’re coming to the Bahamas there really isn’t much options for people on an extreme budget. Expect to pay hotel prices. (Nassau does apparently have the only hostel to stay at… you stay must pay the flight to get over there so…).

I was able to spend only 150 dollars in Freeport for 5 days but I had to really budget myself. Meals usually costs around 10-30 dollars and that can add up really quickly. Also I was close to the beach so I didn’t ave to get a taxi every time I wanted to go to the beach. Taxis can cost as much as 5 dollars one way even know you’re only going like less than 2 miles. In general everything is overpriced in the Bahamas and to save you must be very diligent with your money.

Good for Gay Lifestyle?

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It’s a mix for this country. Surprisingly the Bahamas is super religious so that may have some people turning their heads with gay couples. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in the Bahamas though. Marriage and same sex unions are not legal here although gays are not discriminated towards and gays are allowed to serve in the military. The nightlife is not as extensive in the Bahamas but Nassau does have 3 gay bars. As a whole you will be fine if you’re gay in the Bahamas, especially since you’re a visitor, but be weary not everybody there is okay with homosexuality.

Random Advice

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You can bring American money and they will gladly take it. These days the Bahamian Dollar and the US Dollar are about the same.

People will try to rip you off… it’s okay don’t stress out this is just common.

Crime is rare but it does happen so just be alert. Don’t be flashy with your jewelry and money.

During the summer/fall time there is a chance that the Bahamas will get hit be a hurricane. You’ve been warned!

Rainy season is in the summer so if you want to miss the rain I would go in the winter time… plus you can escape the cold (if you live in a northern city).

 

 

 

images by: byasoni and shawnvoyage