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Things to Know Before Visiting the Bahamas

Bahamas landscape photo

Do you have an upcoming trip to the Bahamas? If so, read on to learn about some of the things to know before visiting the Bahamas!

Tips for Visiting the Bahamas:

The Bahamas are made up of about 700 different islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They are located North of Cuba and southeast of Florida. Nassau is the capital and is located on New Providence. The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718 and gained it’s independence on July 10, 1973. Locals are referred to as Bahamian, not Bohemian.

Passports:

Yep, you’ll need a passport when visiting the Bahamas. No tourist visa is required.

Cell service:

We were able to access LTE cell phone services in the Bahamas, both on New Providence and Andros. However, if you choose to use your cell phone, make sure your plan supports it. There are also payphones sprinkled throughout the Bahamas that work with calling cards and coins. Not all of them work, so be sure to have a backup plan!

Land lines scattered around the island.

Vaccinations:

None are required for entry into the country.

Climate:

There has never been a recorded or reported frost in the Bahamas. Overall the Bahamas are typically sunny, averaging more than 3,000 hours or 340 days of sunlight each year. Summer, however, is the wet and rainy season and the bugs are the worst as well. Winter temperatures in the Bahamas range from mid to high 70’s and with lows in the 60’s. The bugs are least aggressive this time of year. Summer temps are typically in the high 80’s with lows in the mid 70’s. Humidity is often really intense in the summer as well. Be sure to bring sunscreen no matter what time of year you are visiting!

Hurricane Alerts:

Hurricane Season in the Caribbean officially begins June 1 and ends on November 30 though most tropical cyclones typically develop between May and October. Be sure to check the forecast before departure and stay aware of conditions while you are in the Bahamas.

Driving and Transportation:

Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road. Seatbelts are mandatory. Many of the vehicles are Japanese and are also right hand drive. Visitors with a valid drivers license who are 25 year or older are eligible to rent a car. A foreign drivers license can be used for the first three months, after that you must obtain a Bahamian drivers license. Be very careful in the roundabouts AND when walking! Most American’s tend to look left and then right because we drive on the right, but it’s the opposite in the Bahamas!

Mini buses can be used for getting around on Freeport and Nassau. On the out islands, vans that act like taxis are the main form of transportation. Most taxis have rates that are government controlled. Rates can typically be found at the airport on a posted board showing how much it costs to go from A to B.

Stay on the left hand side of the road!

Language:

The official language of the Bahamas is English. That said, some visitors have a bit of difficult understanding the Bahamian dialect.

Currency:

One of the top things to know before visiting the Bahamas is how to purchase things! The Bahamian dollar is accepted everywhere in the Bahamas. So too, is the US dollar. Currently the exchange is 1:1. Understand that most often if you pay with US dollars you will get change back in Bahamian currency so be sure to spend it all before you return or only pay with the correct amount. Many places, even some of the out islands (outside of New Providence), now accept credit cards.

Banks are typically open Monday to Thursday from 9:30 to 3:00 and on Fridays from 9:30 to 4:30. Some banks are open on Saturdays with limited hours. Operation may vary on the out islands.

Main ports:

Many people skip flights altogether and visit the Bahamas via cruise. Most ships visit these main ports:

Nassau (New Providence)
Freeport (Grand Bahama)
Matthew Town (Inagua)

Alcohol:

The drinking age is 18. I’ve never been to a place that cards but it could just be that my age is showing! The local beer to try is Kalik, pronounced Kuh-lick! If they have Kalik Gold, get one, they’re super strong. Sands isn’t bad either. Cheers!

Clothing:

The Bahamas are overall very casual. Fancy attire is not necessary unless you will be attending church or some other ceremony. Many visitors wear beachwear but it’s recommended that you cover up your bathing suit when you are away from the beach or pool. That is acceptable unless you are in a restaurant, church or casino.

Electricity:

Outlets in the Bahamas are like those in the US and will work with all American Devices. If you are coming from another country, be sure to pack a two-pin flat adapter and/or a 220 volt converter.

Time Zone:

The Bahamas is in the Eastern Time Zone and has adopted Daylight Savings Time.

Spring Break:

Some tourists want to be in the Bahamas during Spring Break and others want to avoid it altogether. Be sure to check dates in advance but spring break season is typically from late February to mid-April.

Tipping:

15-20% is customary. Be sure it’s not included in the service, however, before tipping since some places roll it right into your bill.

Things to Pack for the Bahamas:

Reef Safe Sunscreen
Hat
Snorkel, Mask, Fins
Rashguard
Chacos
Bug Spray
Swimsuit
Boardshorts
Cover-up
Shorts
T-shirts
Sunglasses
Rain Jacket
Passport
ID
Cash

Getting to the Bahamas:

We flew from Salisbury, Maryland (SBY) to Philadelphia (PHL) on American. Our layover was brutal. We arrived in Philly around 8:30 and left the next morning at 8:00. Luckily, between Gates A and B, the airport sets up complimentary cots. We were able to get two and though it was loud, they provided free eye masks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouth wash and a fleece blanket which we were allowed to keep. Promptly at 5:15 we were woken by someone in the airport because they were cleaning the area up, but it was much more comfortable than sleeping in a chair.

We flew into Nassau at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) via American and then after a short layover hopped on a flight with LeAir to get to Andros.

The Airport in Fresh Creek on Andros Island.

U.S. Embassy

The US Embassy is located on Nassau, New Providence
P.O. Box N-8197
#42 Queen Street
Nassau, The Bahamas
Telephone: +(242) 322-1181
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(242) 357-7004
Fax: +(242) 356-7174

Things to Know Before Visiting the Bahamas Recap

If you have been to the Bahamas before then hopefully the above was a refresher for you. If not, we hope our travel tips for visiting the Bahamas has been helpful!

Be sure to check our our tips on How to Avoid a Tourist Trap as well as How to Eat Like a Local!

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