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Flag of the Bahamas.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Nassau
Government constitutional parliamentary democracy
Currency Bahamian dollar (BSD)
US dollar (USD)(Widely accepted)
Area 13,940km²
Population 321,834 (2014 estimate)
Language English, Creole (among Haitian immigrants)
Religion Baptist 32%, Anglican 20%, Roman Catholic 19%, Methodist 6%, Church of God 6%, other Protestant 12%, none or unknown 3%, other 2%
Electricity 120V, 60Hz (North American plug)
Country code 1-242
Internet TLD .bs
Time Zone UTC -5h

The Bahamas or The Bahama Islands, is an archipelago consisting of about 2,000 islands if you include the cays, which are small islands that are formed on coral reefs.


The country is officially named The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The word Bahamas is of Spanish origin and means 'Shallow Water'. They are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.


Where did Columbus land?
When Christopher Columbus first arrived in the West Indies in 1492, he landed on a Bahamian island he named San Salvador. The island now presently known as San Salvador (formerly called Watling Island) has long been thought to be the island where Columbus landed. But in truth, historians do not agree on the exact site of the landing. The possibility narrows between two islands: San Salvador itself and Samana Cay, about 80 miles southeast.

Arawak natives inhabited the islands when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World on San Salvador Island in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, the Bahamas have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. Because of its geography, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US. Because the country is tax-free, it is well known as a business destination, and may companies have branches here.


The official language spoken in the Bahamas is English, however the dialect and slang is difficult for most Westerners and Europeans to understand, especially on the "out islands."

The locals speak very slow and use indigenous phrases. In general, the vast majority of Bahamians are friendly, polite, and helpful to tourists. With the exception of Nassau, violent crimes are rare in the Bahamas.

The populace is predictably friendly and more religious than one might expect: the Bahamas have one of the highest ratios of churches per capita in the world, with Baptists being the largest single group. Local newspapers will reveal religious references by elected officials in a manner that exceeds what would be found in the United States. This devotion does nothing to prohibit the activities of visitors nor is it intended to. There is a very "libertarian" attitude about personal morals.


The biggest event in the Bahamian calendar is 'Junkanoo', a street parade held on Boxing Day (26 December) and New Year's Day (1 January). Junkanoo groups "rush" through the streets of towns, especially Nassau, wearing spectacular yet disposable costumes of crepe paper and playing distinctive Junkanoo music, which combines African rhythms with loud brass and cowbells, fusing them together in a medley that veers on cacophony but is exceedingly danceable. The costumes, made from scratch every year, are disposed of on the streets as the party ends and make a great free souvenir to bring home!


There are many types of music known in the Bahamian culture but the four most prevalent forms of music are Calypso, Soca, Junkanoo and Rake and scrape. The music of the Bahamas is associated primarily with junkanoo, a celebration which occurs on Boxing Day and again on New Year's Day. Parades and other celebrations mark the ceremony. Groups like The Baha Men, Ronnie Butler and Kirkland Bodie have gained massive popularity in Japan, the United States and elsewhere.


Calypso is a style of music which is of African and Caribbean descent but originated in Trinidad and Tobago. This form of music has spread through many parts of the Caribbean, and especially the Bahamas.


Soca is a form of music which involves dance and originated from calypso music. Originally it combined the melodic rhythmic sound of calypso with firm percussion and local chutney music. Soca music has grown in the last 20 years primarily by musicians from various Anglophone Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, United States Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Belize.

Rake & scrape[edit]

Rake and scrape music comes from the musical traditions of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and is characterized by the use of a saw as the primary instrument. It was brought by immigrants from those islands from the 1920s to about the 1940s, who settled on Cat Island, and elsewhere. Rake and Scrape is traditionally used to accompany the Bahamian Quadrille and the heel-toe polka all relics of the initial mixture of Africa and Europe [1].Many of these Turks and Caicos Islanders became some of the most famous musicians in the Bahamas. Many eventually moved back to their homelands, bringing with them junkanoo. Turks and Caicos are now the second home for junkanoo.


The northern islands are subtropical have a very similar climate to South Florida. Summers are hot and rainy, while winters are drier and warm. Average winter lows are in the 60s, but cold snaps occasionally drop these into the 40s and 50s. The southern islands experience a tropical climate, with very stable warmth year round.


The Bahamas archipelago are in fact the tops of banks that were formed some time between 120,000 and 90,000 years ago from coral reef formation. The well known pink sand beaches of the Bahamas get their vibrant appearance from the fractured pieces of seashell combined with the sand. The highest point in the Bahamas is Mount Alvernia on Cat Island, which is 63 meters (over 200 feet) high.


Wildlife in Bahamas contains various species. Many different breed of crabs can be found on the beaches. Hermit and Cardisoma guanhumi are two of the land crabs to be noted frequently in the island. The wild horses of Abaco are famous in The Bahamas.

During a tour of the Bahamas, tourists can come across various other species including the Bahamas Hutia, numerous frogs, rocky raccoon, snails such as Cerion, cicada, blind cave fish, ants and reptiles.

Bahamas Wildlife features a wide range of amazing birds. Parrots and pigeons are two of the most common and popular birds found in The Bahamas. There are 8 endemic species of birds, the Bahama Woodstar, Inagua Woodstar, Olive-capped warbler, Bahama warbler, Bahama yellowthroat, Bahama oriole and Bahama swallow.

The Bahamas is also home to numerous aquatic life. Sharks, manatees, dolphins, frogfish, angelfish, starfish and turtles can be viewed in the waters surrounding The Bahamas. Apart from numerous species of fish, tourists can spot several types of worms also.


Long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills. The highest point is Mount Alvernia (63 m), on Cat Island. Grand Bahama Island features breathtaking white sandy beaches, beautifully clear turquoise blue waters and plenty of lush, tropical foliage.


Officially 120V, 60Hz, which is identical to the US and Canadian standard. Outlets are North American grounded outlets, identical to standard US and Canadian wall outlets. Occasionally non-grounded outlets may be found, which do not accept the third, round pin present on grounded plugs, and require an adapter. Older North American outlets may not be polarized (with one slot wider than the other). Otherwise, adapters are available which accept a polarized plug and adapt it for use with a non-polarized outlet. In addition, Nassau in new Providence now has a few facilities for plug in hybrid cars to recharge in the parking lot at the grocery store on the western part of New Providence.


The Bahamas is listed as an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The political and legal traditions of Bahamas closely follow the British ones, owing to their commonwealth membership.

The country has a parliamentary form of democracy and regular elections are held. The Bahamian senate consists of 16 members, who are appointed by the Governor-General. The Governor-General also appoints the Chief Justice on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Privy Council of the United Kingdom serves as the highest appellate court.

The local government districts in Bahamas elect local councils for town planning, business licenses, traffic issues and maintenance of government buildings. Lower level town councils are also accorded minor responsibilities in some large districts.


Bahamas regions map.png
New Providence (Nassau, Paradise Island)
Dominated by the capital Nassau, and paired with smaller Paradise Island, home to the gigantic Atlantis casino resort.
Grand Bahama
An ecological playground featuring an underwater limestone cave system. The centre of eco-tourism, offering nature tours, national parks and botanical gardens.
Long Island
Cat Island
Berry Islands
San Salvador Island
May have been the first landfall of Columbus.
Acklins Island / Crooked Island

The vast majority of the country's population lives in Nassau on New Providence Island and to a lesser extent, in and around the Freeport area on Grand Bahama. All other islands are known either as the Out Islands or as the Family Islands because most people in Nassau and Freeport have family on the Out Islands.


Other destinations[edit]

Several cruise lines operate private island retreats in the Bahamas. Disney Cruise Line owns Castaway Cay, Norweigan Cruise Line owns Great Stirrup Cay, Princess Cruise Line owns Princess Cay, Holland America Cruise Line/Carnival Cruise Line own Half Moon Cay, and Royal Caribbean owns Coco Cay(aka Little Stirrup Cay). To visit these islands you usually have to be a passenger on the cruise line that owns the island.

Dolphin Encounters is an all natural seawater dolphin facility with Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and California Sea Lions located on Blue Lagoon Island, (Salt Cay), a private island retreat and tourist attraction 5 km (three miles) from Nassau, Bahamas.

Get in[edit]

Yachts aplenty, Paradise Island


Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and Faroe Islands), Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom (excepting its territories), and the United States (excepting its territories and those residing in Puerto Rico) can visit 8 months visa-free.

Citizens of all EU & EEA member states not listed above, all British and American overseas territories (including Puerto Rico), plus Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cape Verde, Chile, China (PRC), Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, the Gambia, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lesotho, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe can visit 3 months visa-free.

Visitors will be asked to complete an immigration form, which must be (presumably) returned upon departure from the Bahamas.

Holders of diplomatic or official passports issued to nationals of Haiti and holders of diplomatic, official or service passports issued to nationals of Cuba do not require a visa for the Bahamas.


Citizens of India who hold a valid visa issued by Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States or any nation in the Schengen Area can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 90 days.

If you require a visa to enter the Bahamas, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Bahamian diplomatic post. For example, the British embassies in Al Khobar[2], Amman[3], Belgrade[4], Budapest[5], Damascus[6], Guatemala City[7], Helsinki[8], Jakarta[9], Jeddah[10], Kiev[11], Moscow[12], Phnom Penh[13], Prague[14], Pristina[15], Qatar[16], Rabat[17], Riga[18], Riyadh[19], Rome[20], Sofia[21], Tallinn[22], Tashkent[23], Vienna[24], Warsaw[25] and Zagreb[26] accept Bahamian visa applications (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge £50 to process a Bahamian visa application and an extra £70 if the authorities in the Bahamas require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in the Bahamas can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.

Travellers returning to the United States from the Caribbean must display their passport to get back into the States. This applies to minor children as well as adults. US immigration pre-clearance facilities are available at Nassau and Freeport.

By plane[edit]

The largest airports in the Bahamas are at the capital Nassau, on New Providence, and Freeport, on Grand Bahama. Smaller airports are scattered amongst the other islands. As of July 1, 2013, a new tax has been imposed on planes landing in the Bahamas, whether it be private or commercial, for a stay or a technical stop, all will now incur an extra usage fee. Private flights using the C7A Inward General Declaration forms will be charged a $50.00 fee upon arrival, paid to Customs. The Outbound General Declaration Form is covered in the initial fee. Commercial flights using the C7 Inward General Declaration forms will now be charged a $75.00 when entering and another $75.00 when exiting the Bahamas to be collected by Customs. These taxes are in addition to the Departure tax of $25.00 per person, including crew.

By boat[edit]

The Bahamas are a popular port of call for cruise ships plying the Caribbean. The capital, Nassau, on New Providence Island is one of the world's busiest cruise ship ports, and is well served by ships that originate from Florida. Freeport on Grand Bahama Island is a growing destination as well.

Most island groups have customs and immigration available for those arriving by yacht. The customs fee for a private yacht is $150 for 35' and under and $300 for over 35'.

Royal Caribbean has their own island in the Bahamas called Coco Cay. This island is leased by Royal Caribbean, rather than being fully owned such as Disney's ownership arrangement for Castaway Cay. It is strictly for Royal Caribbean cruisers. The island has 25 little shops for souvenirs and their own private beaches, as well as water games in the middle of the clear crystal blue ocean. They have a BBQ and main picnic area for the cruise employees as well as the people that Royal Caribbean hire to live and work on the island. Royal Caribbean is busy all year round because of the hot climate in the bahamas, that they have frequent travelers through all the months of the year.

Disney's Castaway Cay, formerly known as Gorda Cay, is a privately owned island near the island of Abaco, close to Sandy Point. This island differs from most of the leased cays in the fact that it is privately owned by The Walt Disney Company and has its own dock so that tendering is not necessary. Castaway Cay has separate areas for families, teens an adults. The island also contains a fiber optic network which connects to the ship.

There are ferries that leave from Fort Lauderdale.

Yachts and shallow water[edit]

The coastal Bahamas is defined by its shallow waters and it is distinguishable from most other Island areas of the Caribbean for this reason. ‘Bahamas’ actually equates to ‘shallow water’ in old Spanish. Shallow coastal water is a doubled edged sword for tourism, because although it often means the scenery, beaches, anchorages and landscapes are scenic and perfect for water based activities it also means yachts with deep draughts cannot easily cruise the area. One solution is catamarans and another is shallow draught motor yachts. There are a number of shallow boats based in the area and typically shallow boats visit in larger numbers than deeper ones. Accordingly, visiting and local yacht charter boats tend to also have shallow keels.

Get around[edit]

Best Time to Visit[edit]

The Bahamas is known for its natural beauty which attracts visitors from all over the world. The weather is perfect all year-round which ranges from 70°F all winter to 80°F in the summer (21°C to 26°C in Celsius). However, there is a "best" time to visit the island as hotel prices vary depending on the season. The cheapest month to fly to The Bahamas is during September while the best time to visit the Bahamas is during high season, which runs from mid-December to mid-April. It is the liveliest time in the island, with lots of festivals and celebrations under good weather condition. The only downside is that it tends to be more expensive to travel to The Bahamas during peak season. If travelling with a tight budget, it is best to visit the Bahamas during the shoulder season, from mid-April to June as flight prices tend to drop.On the other hand, off season lasts from June to November as it is the Hurricane season, and is not ideal for tourists to travel during those times.

By plane[edit]

Bahamasair [27] offers a comprehensive network radiating out from Nassau and covering most population centers. However, fares are expensive, frequencies are low, planes are small and the airline is notorious for extensive delays, and many travellers in a hurry opt to charter planes instead.

Another option to travel around the islands of the Bahamas is to take some of the newest alternative airlines such as Sky Bahamas, Western Air, Southern Air, Flamingo, Pineapple or Lee Air. Sky Bahamas occasionally travels into Ft Lauderdale to and from the Bahamas from Bimini Island. But the other airlines as mentioned before can take you from Nassau (the capital) to Freeport in the North to as far as Rum Cay in the Southern Bahamas. Check out the destination list below to see which airline fly's to which destination in the Bahamas.

Sky Bahamas- Nassau to Freeport, Exuma, Long Island, Bimini, Abaco, Cat Island & Ft Lauderdale.

Western Air- Nassau to Freeport, Abaco, Bimini, Andros

Flamingo Air- Nassau to Staniel Cay, Exuma

Lee Air- Nassau to Eleuthera, Staniel Cay, Exuma

Southern Air- Nassau to Eleuthera, Long Island, Rum Cay, Cat Island

Pineapple Air- Nassau to Eleuthera, Cat Island [28]

By bus[edit]

Nassau/New Providence have a system of buses called jitneys, discussed in the Nassau article. Bus travel on the other islands (with the exception of Grand Bahama) is very limited.

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are very expensive. A short ride from the airport to Cable Beach costs $18 and to downtown Nassau is $26. Between Cable Beach and downtown Nassau expect to pay $15-$20 with no room to negotiate.

By car[edit]

Major car rental agencies are available at the international airports at Nassau and Freeport but are harder to find on the Out Islands.

The car rental agencies at the airports use the secure parking lot model where they walk out with you to the car. When you come back, you go back into the car rental center to return the key and close out your account.

Unfortunately, like many other CARICOM nations, the Bahamas government has failed to implement common sense reforms to make rental cars visually indistinguishable from ordinary private vehicles. Rental cars are marked as such by a "SD" (self drive) prefix on their license plate numbers, which marks tourists as targets.

Bahamians drive on the left - like the United Kingdom - and the speed limits are in miles per hour. However, owing to the proximity to the United States, many vehicles are left hand drive. Therefore, take extra care whilst driving.

The Bahamas follow the British tendency to implement roundabouts instead of traffic lights where space allows. Most Bahamians drive aggressively and recklessly, similar to New York City residents, and this is most evident in congested central Nassau. Lane markings fade rapidly in the tropical heat and rain, there are huge potholes everywhere, signage (especially street name signs) is frequently missing or unclear, and driveways lack the reflecting mirrors used in the United States to help drivers see around blind corners.

Renting a car is very expensive in Nassau and Freeport ($80 per day and up) and less expensive ($60 per day and up) on the Out Islands. Many car rental agencies do not offer Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or cannot offer CDW that will completely reduce your liability for damage to the vehicle to $0. Most Nassau agencies offer relatively new vehicles but that is not always the case on the other islands.

Also, many luxury resorts have only valet parking or charge high self-parking fees.

Remember that you are not in Hawaii or Puerto Rico; the Bahamas lack significant mountains or tropical rain forests and are dominated by scrub brush. (There were a few forests on some of the larger islands but they were all cut down by early European settlers.) Outside of the cities, resorts, and beaches, there is really not that much beautiful scenery to see. Thus, whether you can justify the cost of renting a car comes down to the pure convenience of being able to go where you please when you please, without having to wait for a jitney or having to keep finding and paying taxi drivers.

By boat and yacht[edit]

  • Mail boats serve almost all populated islands in the Bahamas, and are amongst the cheapest way to reach many areas, though far from the fastest or most comfortable. The government has a mailboat schedule of mailboat routes online[29] which may or may not reflect reality.
  • Yacht charters are common, especially for wealthy visitors who hire larger super and mega yachts for the high season in the Caribbean.

By Helicopter[edit]

  • A helicopter sightseeing ride is the most exciting way to see Atlantis, Nassau and the Bahamas from a whole new vantage point. From several hundred feet up you can truly appreciate the magnificent colors and clarity of the Atlantic Ocean. See our marine life from high above, spot sumptuous homes hidden from view, identify familiar landmarks and circumnavigate Nassau and surrounding islands from the air.


While English is the official language of the Bahamas, a vast majority of the population speaks Bahamian Dialect. There are some minor regional differences from island to island in terms of pronunciation.

African influence In Bahamian dialect, some African words and expressions have been retained, such as:

yinna - you (plural) (Yoruba) jook (v.) - to stab or poke (Fulani). nanny -(v.n.)- feces or the act of defecation (probably of Kongo origin, from the word nene, of similar meaning) cut eye - an expression found in many Caribbean and Atlantic creoles, meaning to glare, literally squint or 'cut' your eyes /roll your eye Jumbay - ghost, related to the Kongo word nzumbi of similar meaning Yam - to eat, still in use in some southern and eastern islands, related to the African word nyam' Bey - meaning boy or a young boy or young lady

See[edit][add listing]

Bahamas beaches are an attraction in themselves but Bahamas is known for also possessing landmarks. Some landmarks include The Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation (formerly known as The Vendue House) and Paradise Island which possesses many attractions in itself. There are Forts and monuments all over the city of Nassau and they are open everyday for your viewing pleasure. Also there are several art galleries such as the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, the Central Bank (Lobby), the National Treasury building (Lobby), the D'Aguliar Art foundation and many others where you can view original Bahamian works of art.

Take the distillery tour at John Watlings or try out the Tru Bahamas Food Tours where you can restaurant hop and enjoy authentic Bahamian food at its best. Or be the artist for the day and pop in to the Earth & Fire Pottery Studio and create your own work of art there or try out the Bahama Hand Prints Studio and learn the unique craft in making our national Androsia prints and designs.

Do[edit][add listing]

Water is a big part of the Bahamas and it’s perfect for water sports, kiteboarding, kayaking, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, bonefishing, waverunners, island boat tours, wild dolphin excursions and even shark encounters. Averaging 80°F year-round, it’s like warm bath water.

Other activities include boat cruise excursions like the Booze Cruise or the Flying Cloud, trying your luck at the Casino at Paradise Island Atlantis Casino, the Crystal Palace Casino at the Cable Beach Strip, or in Bimini. There are many eco/environmental tours and opportunities to get to know the wild life up close and plenty of activities for the kids at Atlantis, Adastra Gardens or at Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island.

For the nature lovers there are several Eco Adventures like the nature walks at the Clifton Heritage Site and various Cave tours in Nassau and on many other islands. Their is also Golfing at the Ocean Club on Paradise Island or at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma.

If you prefer to explore at your own pace then you can opt to rent a vehicle and tour the islands by yourself. If in Nassau many opt to visit the National Art Gallery,the Pirates Museum, and several historic sites like Fort Charlotte or Fort Montague just to name a few.If you want more water action you can sign up for the "Booze Cruise", the Flying Cloud tour or book a day excursion to Rose or Blue Lagoon Island and enjoy swimming, beach pic nick's or meet the friendly Dolphins.

Their are also many festivals that go on year round in the Bahamas especially during the summer time like the Goombay (Nassau), Pineapple (Eleuthera) and Rack n' Scrap (Cat Island) Festivals.Lastly you can occasionally view a Junkanoo performance in the summer time aswell.[30]</do>

  • Bahamas Dolphin Encounters (Swim with Dolphins in the Bahamas), One Marina Drive, P.O. Box SS-6257, Nassau, (800) 205-0729, [1]. No Bahamas vacation would be complete without an encounter with dolphins, and booking a dolphin experience through Bahamas Dolphin Encounters is a sure way to make sure this dream comes true for you and your family. It's an incredible feeling to get up close and personal with friendly dolphins, and even on a deserted island or in the open ocean.  edit

Scuba Diving The Bahamas is known for scuba diving which you would expect since it is a country of 700 islands all surrounded by coral reefs. The main diving destinations are Nassau, Freeport, Andros, Bimini, San Salvador Island, Eleuthera and the northern Exumas. All of these have scheduled air service except the northern Exumas which is only dove by scuba diving liveaboards. The Bahamas started and has become famous for its shark diving dives. The popularity of these dives led the Bahamas to protect sharks in 2011.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (BSD), but it's tied to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio and US dollars are accepted everywhere at par. There is thus no need for Americans to change money, and many tourist-oriented businesses will even give change back in US$. Do keep an eye out for the famous (but now rare) three-dollar bill and 15-cent coin, both originally made to ease the 1966 transition from British pounds to dollars, $3 being roughly equivalent to £1 and $0.15 approximating a shilling. If you are coming from Bermuda, East Timor, or Panama, you will also find that the Bermudan Dollar, East Timor Centavo, and Panamanian Balboa coins are in equal value to the Bahamian dollar, but you will still need to exchange your currencies. But understanding the prices will not be a problem.

All the usual Caribbean luxury retailers are found in Nassau and Freeport, including both stand-alone boutiques for international luxury brands as well as regional Caribbean retailers that specialize in representing multiple brands.

There is very little made in the Bahamas, but some luxury goods can be purchased at a bargain, although you should do your research in advance and make sure you can properly import any purchases under your home country's duty-free allowance.

On 1 Jan 2015, the Bahamas replaced the 10% Hotel Guest Tax with a broad-based 7.5% Value Added Tax (VAT). Because the Hotel Guest Tax primarily targeted tourists and the VAT targets both tourists and locals, you can't get a refund for it.

Salespeople in the Straw Markets (arts and crafts markets) have a very direct but often humorous manner of negotiating the price of a product. A sense of humour is greatly appreciated in this island nation.

Groceries (including fresh fruits and vegetables) must be imported (see the "Eat" section below) and are very expensive. Most brands are similar to those found in the mainland United States but certain UK and European brands are also available. Some brands are found primarily in their Caribbean/South American versions (i.e., Kit Kat) instead of their U.S. version. U.S. tourists may be shocked to realize that prices are similar to those of Aruba or other remote destinations in the southern Caribbean, even though the Bahamas sit just off the Florida coast.

Beware of purchasing Cuban cigars. The vast majority of "Cubans" for sale in the Bahamas are counterfeit. Only buy cigars from reputable and dedicated tobacconists, do not buy on the street, in the market, or from rinky-dink combination cigar/liquor shops. Real Cubans cost upwards of USD30 per cigar. If the price is $10, it's 100% fauxhiba. If you do plan to buy cigars, some online research may assist you in identifying authentic Cubans. The Havana Journal Counterfeit vs Real Cohibas [31] may be particularly useful to you.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Cracked conch, peas and rice, coleslaw and a cold Kalik beer

As you'd expect in an island nation, seafood is very popular. The national dish is conch (pronounced "conk" with a hard K), a type of mollusc, served deep-fried ("cracked") or raw with a twist of lemon, and as elsewhere in the Caribbean, the classic accompaniment is peas and rice. Cracked conch looks like and tastes a little like fried calamari, but conch meat is tougher than squid and has a stronger flavour.

Like most islands in the region, the Bahamas is unable to grow the majority of fresh fruits and vegetables and lacks ranching capability to grow chicken or cattle on an industrial scale. As a result, all those items must be imported from the mainland, either via air cargo or in refrigerated container units. Expect any dish based primarily on such imported items (as opposed to local items like conch) to cost at least as twice as much as its mainland counterpart or even higher.

Ordinary meals can be purchased for anywhere from $5-25 a plate. Authentic island food can be found at the Fish Fry, a collection of small open-air restaurants where many locals hang out. Meals can be had for about $8. Sunday night the locals flock to this area for some authentic Bahamian nightlife. You can find fast-food chains such as KFC or McDonald's, especially in the downtown areas, but because the Bahamas is a heavily tourism-oriented country, you can find many nice restaurants serving many different cuisines. Most restaurants serve American or British food, though you can easily find the normal island flair, especially during the Fish Fry during June. A 15% service charge is automatically added to the bill at most establishments; additional tips are optional.

Service is distinct from the American standard. There is a concentration on the customer at hand. You are expected to patiently wait your turn. At fast food restaurants the server will take care of only the first customer until they have left the service area. Don't expect to be in a hurry even at a fast food establishment.

Service in the Bahamas takes place at a relaxed pace. Travellers can expect a leisurely pace to their meal. Expect polite, if slow, service at most establishments.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Carbonated drinks[edit]

Soda can be quite expensive in the hotels, and you will find it only on a soda tap if you are in a good restaurant; otherwise, you will usually get it in a can. The cheapest way to get this would be to go to a local "Food Mart."

"Goombay Punch" is the local soda. It has a pineapple flavor and is what the locals call a "Sweet" soda versus a cola. It is sold in cans at all grocery stores and also available in almost every Bahamian eatery.

Non-alcoholic malt beverages are also very popular. The primary brand of choice is Vita-Malt.


The legal drinking age in the Bahamas is 18. The only exception to this rule is for medical purposes.

Kalik is the national beer of the Bahamas and is always served at "all-inclusive" resorts. There are three rather distinct types: "Kalik regular" which has 4% alcohol and a smooth refreshing taste, "Kalik Light" which has been often compared to a Budweiser is a light lager which delivers the same great taste as the regular kalik but with a lower alcohol content and less calories, "Kalik Gold" has 7% alcohol, though very potent it has an excellent taste, which gives you an extra feel of the island. Guinness is also very popular.

A new beer is available -- called Sands. It can be obtained at many resorts and in the local liquor stores. It is a similar style product to Kalik. Sands is now readily available in both regular and light.

Imported beer can be incredibly expensive in the hotels but is not overly priced in bars and liquor stores. Cases of beer are available in a variety of Duty Free liquor stores.

In Freeport, the Port Lucaya Marketplace and Marina has many bars offering two Kaliks (and some other brews) for $5.

The drinking age is 18, however it is weakly enforced and teenage drinking is common.

Hard Liquors[edit]

The Bahamas has significant amount of liquor stores in relation to the population of the country. You can find liquors stores downtown, in the hotels , the port lucaya marketplace and as you continue to the tour the island, if you may not be sure of exactly where one may be located please feel free to ask for assistance.


This the best choice of drinks in the Bahamas. It's as cheap as you can get ($2-10 a bottle), tastes great, and it's made fresh by 3 different companies, the largest being the Bacardi Rum factory on New Providence south of Nassau, where you can take tours and get free drinks if you go on a 2-hour bus ride.Plant is now closed.

The Bahamas has its own native rum to offer with a variety of brands which include Ron Ricardo rum, Ole Nassau Rum and a very popular Fire in the Hole Rum, while this fire in the hole rum is gold in color it has a very distinct bottle label which is sure to be a good conversation piece in the home. The Ron Ricardo rums and Ole Nassau rums both come in a variety of flavours. Ron Ricardo has the best leading coconut rum which is used to make the ever so popular island drink "The Bahama Mamma". Other flavours include mango, pineapple and banana, a gold rum, light rum and one 151 rum. The Ole Nassau rum also offers all of the flavours to that of the Ron Ricardo. Its bottle label too is very unique and creative portraying a pirate ship along the Bahama Islands.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation in the Bahamas is expensive, and there is virtually no backpacker/hostel-type lodging. The cheapest hotels start at around $70, and most hotels cost $200-300/night, with the very best resorts easily pushing up above $500. Deals may be available in the summer off-season though.

Be aware the Bahamas charge a "Service Fee or Resort Fee" to every person staying overnight. Hotels collect the fee of $18 per night per person as well as a $6 per person one time bellhop fee. This is an addition to the rate of the room and is not optional and cannot be waived. Often tourists first hear about this when checking into their hotel for the first time.

The Bahamas Government levies a Hotel Guest Tax which is payable by each guest. This tax is 10% of the hotel rate, it submitted monthly to the Bahamas Government by the hotel operator.

Hotels in the Bahamas may levy a number of other charges upon guests in addition to the standard bill, including; gratuities-maid/bellman), a hotel 'Levy' (Promotion Board), cable, telephone, water & sewerage, energy surcharge, pool/towels.

Most hotels and resorts in the Bahamas are located in New Providence (Nassau) and neighbouring Paradise Island. The rest of the country remains rather off the beaten track for tourism, and places like Eleuthera, despite being 100 miles long, has only three hotels.


School attendance in Bahamas is required between the ages of 5 to 16. Out of the 210 primary schools run in the country, 158 are operated by the government. The remaining 52 schools are operated by private owners. Higher education is also offered by many non-Bahamian colleges in the country.

The College of the Bahamas is the main institution that offers post secondary education in the country with several schools including and undergraduate business school, an undergraduate social science. Other tertiary educational institutions in the country include Success Training College, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and Nova Southeastern University. The University of The West Indies also has a campus in the Bahamas.

There are also some international universities that offer programs in the country such as the University of Miami's MBA programme.


In most cases non-citizens may not work within The Bahamas. There are exceptions for those possessing skills not available from a Bahamian, as well as migrants of Creole descent who may or may not be in the Bahamas legally. The employer must show legitimate proof of strenuous searching for a suitable Bahamian prior to applying for a work permit for the foreign candidate. However any ordinary position that does not require any specialized skills will not readily qualify as an employment opportunity for a foreigner. Should a foreign nation apply for a position as a maid or anything along that line of employment, they would definitely be denied the occupation. This line of employment shows no necessary skills that a Bahamian could not possess.

Tourism is the main industry followed by banking.

50 percent of the national GDP is generated by tourism.

Stay safe[edit]

By the middle of the year 2007, the country had already recorded 42 murders. The murder count for 2010 was 96. Police statistics will show that most murders are linked to domestic violence or gang related disputes, mostly fuelled by competition in the illegal drug trade. In 2011 the Commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force stated that the vast majority of murder victims in New Providence (Nassau), were already well known to police. A report done by an international body stated that The Bahamas ranks amongst the top for crimes committed against women. However, to maintain good local and international relations, the police have increased their presence and the judicial system vowed to bring about "swift justice".

Visitors should exercise caution and good judgement when visiting The Bahamas. Violent crime has increased in the recent past, and the American Embassy has received several reports of sexual assaults on American tourists, including teen-aged girls.


It is illegal to import a firearm or ammunition into The Bahamas or to possess a firearm in the country without appropriate permission. Tourists who arrive by private boat are required to declare firearms to Bahamian Customs and leave firearms on the boat while in The Bahamas. Penalties for illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition are strict, and can involve heavy fines, lengthy prison terms, or both.


Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Bahamian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Police enforcement is aggressive in tourist areas, as drug dealers are known to frequent areas where tourists congregate. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Bahamas are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Bahamian people drive on the left side of the roadway however most cars that are imported are from America which has the steering wheel on the left side. Some imports are with steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle.

Law Enforcement in Bahamas[edit]

The terrority law enforcement is under jurisdiction of the Royal Bahamian Police Force.

Stay healthy[edit]

The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has reached 3.0%, which is 3 in 100 adults. Be careful who you take home and use a condom.


Bahamians are good-natured but do not suffer fools gladly.


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