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Travel Guide to the Bahamas – How, Where & Frequently Asked Questions

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor March 5th, 2019 Posted in Caribbean Travel Blog, Destination, Travel Blog, Travel Guides No comments

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas has been an enduring tourist destination since 1492 when Columbus landed in San Salvador. You will enjoy your Bahamas vacation whether you investigate a lot of islands as part of a cruise or just visit one. Boredom isn’t an option with all the fun activities and alluring beaches. Between the special tours, boats, water sports, and kids activities there is a lot to do. Whatever you do on your Bahamas vacation a lifetime of memories is guaranteed.

There are many aspects of Island culture that you can enjoy while in the Bahamas. A long history of colonization and piracy has resulted in a mix of African and European influences. A unique form of celebration called Junkanoo is a must-see. If you’ve experienced Mardi Gras and Carnival then you’ve got an idea of what this is about. Cowbells, drums, and whistles entice participants into rhythmic dance. Christmas is the prime time of year to experience this festival since it relates back to slaveholder traditions.

Don’t despair if you can’t make it in late December as many islands host a Junkanoo festival in summer. Your kids will love this spectacle and you will all have stories to share with the folks back home about your Bahamas vacation.

Questions and Answers about the Bahamas

Where are the Bahamas?

Located in the continent of the Caribbean, Bahamas covers 10,010 square kilometers of land and 3,870 square kilometers of water, making it the 162nd largest nation in the world with a total area of 13,880 square kilometers.

Is it safe to travel to the Bahamas?

The Bahamas aren’t too safe to visit with its high murder rate, but if you apply safety and precaution measures, it should minimize the risk of getting hurt. Be very careful when using public transport. Taxi drivers might try to overcharge you since the cabs in this country are not metered. Remain vigilant on public transport since that’s where pickpockets operate. Pickpockets are, of course, common, and this country is ridden with both petty and violent crime, though this time, the accent is on violent crime.

Violent crime is extremely common in the Bahamas. The country is ridden with violent crime, and armed robberies, kidnappings, and murders are extremely common, usually not affecting tourists though violence towards foreigners has been on an increase during the past couple of years. Even though there haven’t been any terrorist attacks in The Bahamas’ recent history, they shouldn’t be ruled out so remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.

How to Change Money in the Bahamas?

Visa Experiences Around the World Trip - Filipina Backpacker in Bahamas

The currency is the Bahamian dollar (B$1), pegged to the U.S. dollar so that they’re always equivalent. There is no restriction on bringing foreign currency into The Bahamas. The easiest way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine). Credit cards are another safe way to carry money, but their use has become more difficult, especially in The Bahamas. They also provide a convenient record of all your expenses, and they generally offer relatively good exchange rates. You can usually withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs, provided you know your PIN.

What is Unique about the Bahamas?

The Bahamas archipelago is an ecological oasis sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean, starting just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. It comprises 700 breathtaking islands, over 2,000 rocks, and cays, and boasts the clearest water on the planet—with a visibility of over 200 feet. You can see your toes as easily as you can the world’s third-largest fringing barrier reef.

What is the culture of Bahamas?

The Bahamas has been thoroughly Americanized owing to the proximity and sheer amount of visitors that vacation here. Expect McDonalds and KFCs in all main towns, and the US dollar being used side by side the Bahamian dollar. For the most part, Bahamians are easy going, polite, and humorous, and they speak an intriguing mix of American/British slang. The dress is casual, although avoid wearing a bikini away from the beach.

Evidence of West African roots and culture is all around in the form of music and dance. Many festivals celebrate this heritage, with parades in town that feature lively singing and dancing, the clanking of steel drums, and the donning of unusually elaborate costumes. The top festival is the end-of-year Junkanoo; an extravaganza that spans into the new year.

The shopping in the Bahamas is average, although there is an abundance of arts and crafts, with conch carvings, straw hats, woven knick-knacks, and art in the main markets.

What is the Geography of Bahamas?

The Bahamas is an archipelago of approximately 700 flat, low-lying islands in the western Atlantic Ocean. It extends from eighty kilometers east of Florida to eighty kilometers northeast of Cuba.

In addition to the United States and Cuba, neighbors of the Bahamas include Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands; both are located to the southeast of the Bahamas.

The Tropic of Cancer runs through the middle of the archipelago, passing across the lower part of Great Exuma Island and the upper part of Long Island. Although the total land area of the archipelago is 13,934 square kilometers, slightly larger than New Jersey and Connecticut combined, the islands are sprawled over an area of approximately 259,000 square kilometers.

How to travel to the Bahamas?

If you are planning to travel to the Bahamas, here are some of the airlines that will take you to the Bahamas.

  • From London: British Airways, Delta, and American Airlines offer flights from London to the Bahamas.
  • From the USA: American Airlines and US Airways offer flights from the USA to the Bahamas.
  • From Dubai: Air Canada and American Airlines offer flights from Dubai to the Bahamas.
  • From Singapore: Delta and American Airlines offer flights from Singapore to the Bahamas.

How to travel in Bahamas -Transport in the Bahamas

  • Taxi Easily flagged down on all of the islands, taxis are quicker and easier than driving on your own and is one of the best ways to get around when jitneys aren’t available. But some cabs are in rough condition and combined with some of the less traveled roads, you could be in for a bumpy ride.
  • Jitney The most popular form of transportation on New Providence Island and Grand Bahama Island is the jitney, especially if you’re moving around central Nassau. These public buses can hold up to 32 people and operate every day from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., with reduced hours on Sundays.
  • Water Taxi Despite the ferry and water taxi routes, island hopping in the Bahamas can be very difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Water taxis provide short service between Nassau and Paradise Island and are common throughout The Out Islands.
  • Private rentals Renting a car can be helpful if you’re going to explore the areas beyond your resort (just don’t forget to drive on the left side of the road). But car hires and gas are notoriously expensive, not to mention the fact that the island’s older and less-traveled roads are usually in poor condition.

What’s the food like in the Bahamas?

Every year, tourists flock to the Bahamas to enjoy the warm sun, sandy beaches, and crystal clear water. When you’re not lounging in the sun or enjoying the islands’ tourist attractions, get a taste for the nation’s cuisine by sampling its food at local restaurants. Given the Bahamas’ proximity to the ocean, many varieties of seafood are common, but the country is known for several other types of food. When you visit the Bahamas, expect to see side dishes of macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, coleslaw and potato salad with many meals. Bahamian food is often well seasoned, and commonly spicy due to ingredients such as the Bahamian bird pepper. Coconut is also a common ingredient in dishes from soups to desserts, while alcohol beverages that combine fruit juices and rum are extremely common throughout the islands.

What is the weather like in the Bahamas?

The Bahamas is tropical and typically bathed in sunshine for most of the year. There are two seasons: the dry (winter) December through April and the rainy (summer) season from May through November. The dry season is easily the best time, with less precipitation and nice daily average temperatures of around 77°F (25°C).

Be aware that the Bahamas lies in a region which is prone to hurricanes. Tropical storms and severe weather appear in the summer months—typically July through October—but don’t always strike the Bahamas. This is the low season, when it is humid and hot (mid-80s °F), plus there is more chance of rain. Most showers appear between June and August, with June alone seeing nine inches.

Important things to pack for a trip to the Bahamas

  • Sun hat It gets hot in The Bahamas and you WILL need a hat. I love big brimmed hats for days by the pool and beach.
  • Sunscreen This is the most important thing to pack.
  • Sunglasses No explanation needed! But, pack a few pairs
  • Lose pants Instead of casual pants, get yourself a pair of stylish, loose-fitting pants for a tropical destination. They’re just as comfortable as yoga pants but can be styled up for a night out, or down for a day of travel.

10 Amazing places to see and things to do in the Bahamas

1. Enjoy Caribbean beauty on Pink Sands Beach

Away from the booming resorts and gaudy casino complexes of Nassau, pretty little Pink Sands Beach offers a more quintessentially Caribbean experience.

2. Visit Charming Harbor Island

Rent a golf cart and roam the narrow streets lined with historic pastel-colored clapboard houses to enjoy a Bahamian island where it feels like time stood still.

3. Join a Junkanoo Rush

The rhythmic beat of the goatskin drums, the vibrant crepe paper, feather plumed costumes, and flamboyant dancers rushing along Bay Street is a spectacle not to be missed. The Bahamas’ national festival Junkanoo has its roots in the days of slavery and takes place in the capital on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Year’s Day starting just after midnight.

4. Enjoy Snorkeling

The islands of the Bahamas are surrounded by coral, making it easy to just grab a mask, snorkel, and fins, and swim out to shallow reefs teeming with sea life. Expect to see schools of vibrant small fish like Sergeant Majors, Butterflyfish, and Angelfish.

5. SCUBA Dive a Barrier Reef

The crystal clear waters of the Bahamas are home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, making it a top choice for SCUBA divers. The Andros Barrier Reef is 190 miles long and starts at eight-feet below sea level plunging into the Tongue of the Ocean more than 6,000 feet down.

6. Horseback Riding on the Beach

Whether you’re an accomplished equestrian or you’ve never mounted a horse, galloping along a sandy white beach, hair flowing in the ocean breeze, will create memories for a lifetime. If you’re a novice rider, perhaps keep it to a slow walk or trot. Pinetree Stables in Grand Bahama and Windsor Equestrian Centre in New Providence all lead trail rides that end up on a beach where you and your trusty steed can even go for a swim.

7. Enjoy Bonefishing

The first and perhaps biggest challenge of this popular catch and release sport is simply spotting one, as they blend in perfectly with the shallow, sandy bottom.

8. Swim with Dolphins (but don’t touch!)

Humans have a fascination with dolphins, so it’s no surprise that one of the top-rated experiences on a tropical vacation is the opportunity to interact with them.

9. Enjoy Swimming With Pigs in the Exumas

Perhaps one of the quirkiest experiences to be had in The Bahamas is a close-up encounter with the world famous swimming pigs. The original herd of piggy superstars lives on Big Major Cay in the Exuma chain.

10. Pet a Shark

Make a visit of Compass Cay for a chance to pet a shark. A handful of nurse sharks hang out around and even on the submerged deck at this private island marina.

Final thoughts on the Bahamas

The Bahamas is a nation consisting of several small and big islands in the West Indies. Now, as an independent nation, the Bahamas has wonderful marine life and beaches to enjoy. From sunbathing, sailing, diving, dolphin watching, to simply snorkeling, the Bahamas provides one of the greatest excursion experiences. Aside from beaches, the Bahamas Island also offers a wonderful visit to various places such as museums, historical places, stunning green natural botanical gardens, old architectural forts and safari tours.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]