In this The Bahamas travel guide you will find all you need to know about this amazing destination and how you can visit either on luxury mode or on a budget. 700 islands and thousands of cays spread out over about 500 miles of turquoise water in the Atlantic ocean, starting just 50 miles southeast of the coast of Florida, and of course a whole lot of white sand beach, colorful houses, a wealth of marine life and the Caribbean folklore. This and more is The Bahamas, the definition of paradise.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS POST COVID-19 (Updated on Nov 2020)
The Bahamas are finally open for tourism, but there are specific entry requirements established with the ultimate goal to protect the health of the Bahamian people and the visitors alike.
You can check the Bahamas Governament site to read the latest updates about the requirements in all details. Here I am giving you a quick summary:
- Travelers need to present a negative PCR test not older than 5 days from the arrival day.
- Once the test results are available it is required to apply online for the Health Visa (international) and wait for the approval (green light) – 60 USD –
- If you stay more than 5 days, on the 5th day you will need to take another quick test which is included in the cost of the visa.
BAHAMAS EXTENDED STAY (DIGITAL NOMAD VISA)
If you are looking into moving to the Bahamas for up to one year you can now apply online and it’s very easy to obtain with the following requirements
- Valid passport
- proof of employment
- health insurance
- Cost: 1000 USD
- Apply online
A natural paradise, that makes it a very much targeted destination for honeymooners, family reunions, and couples escapes alike.
Beautiful hotels, a vibrant culture, pristine beaches, watersport activities, including amazing diving, delicious food it’s just a few of all the things to do in the Bahamas.
You need to see it to believe it. I was lucky to represent a tourist company that would send me to the Bahamas for work.
Oh yas!! I had the privilege to explore many different islands stay in some of the most spectacular hotels, taste the savory local cuisine, with its spicy creole flavors, dance under a million stars at the local rhythm, swim in those turquoise waters and explore the local culture.
There is so much to see and enjoy in the Bahamas. And I will tell you all about it in a minute.
HOW TO GET TO THE BAHAMAS AND MOVE AROUND
GETTING TO THE BAHAMAS AND MOVING AROUND BY AIR
Local and international airlines connect Miami and to many of the islands although the best served is the main one, Nassau and Paradise Islands.
American Airlines, Delta and British Airways are the main international airlines that connect the Bahamas with the rest of the world. Direct flights to and from Miami, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, NYC, and London would connect everywhere. The most frequented airport in the Bahamas is Nassau although smaller airports in some of the out-island serve also as international airports connecting The Bahamas to Miami, Huston and other few international destinations, making your trip to the islands smooth and easy.
To connect between the islands has never been so easy now. If you use this interactive map, just select the island you want to travel to, and it will show you the available airlines that operate there. If you want to travel by Ferry see here below.
MOVING AROUND THE BAHAMAS BY FERRY
Once in Nassau, you can spend a few days here in one of the spectacular hotels, such as the unique Atlantis, or the New Baha Mar, with its three hotel brands (among which my favorite, the Rosewood), but you should also explore the so-called out islands, smaller and less populated and definitely more exclusive, quieter and so full of culture and beauty. You can either reach them by ferry or by small planes. Depending on how you feel more comfortable. Please note that the ferry connects also between the outer islands, not only from Nassau.
MOVING AROUND NASSAU
Nassau and Paradise Island are the most populated and developed and they have local mini busses called jitneys at 1.50 BSD that can certainly help those who travel on a budget to move around but they stop running at 6pm, after which time you will need to rely on the expensive but safe Taxi service. I have had great conversations with nice and very talkative taxi drivers, including one who wanted to convert my colleagues and myself into his religious faith. That was quite a talk 🙂 . Also if you want to move from Paradise Island to Nassau, which are normally connected by a bridge, the water-taxi across the harbour is also very popular and runs every hour for 6 BSD.
THE BAHAMAS ON A LIVEABOARD
If you are fond of diving you should definitely consider the option of a dive cruise and explore the underwater world of the 5th largest barrier reef between the islands of Andros Nassau and The Exumas.
THE BAHAMAS TRAVEL GUIDE – THINGS TO DO IN THE BAHAMIAN ISLANDS
The list of things to do in the Bahamas can be endless. Here I wanted to include the most exclusive and fun activities.
SPEND A DAY IN THE ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND
Not my favorite place but it’s worth mentioning since this is considered the best among the Bahamas family resorts. As a matter of fact, Aquaventure waterpark is great for amusing the whole family, more like a theme park than a hotel and kids love it, even the older ones, especially for the casino and the Nobu restaurant.
If Atlantis is your kind of thing, you may also want to read: 25 things to do in Atlantis Bahamas Resort
ENJOY THE SPECTACULAR WHITE AND PINK SAND BEACHES
Sunbath on the white sand on the legendary three sister beach in The Exumas and swim in the pristine turquoise waters. This is one of the countless spectacular beaches of the Bahamas, boasting the clearest water on earth and pink or powder white sand.
JOIN A BOAT TOUR
Be it a motorboat or sailing boat they will take you around the spectacular cays and send banks or snorkeling through the spectacular coral reefs. If you ask your hotel front desk staff they will certainly organize it for you.
If you love diving, The Bahamas is home of some of the best spots in the Caribbean and the 5th biggest coral reef of the world.
JOIN THE LOCAL FISH FRY
Throughout the islands the “Fish Fry” is where locals and tourists alike gather together and enjoy a delicious island-style fried fish to the sound of local rhythm and chefs showing off their cooking skills.
VISIT THE INAGUA NATIONAL PARK
The Park is the site of the largest breeding colony of West Indian Flamingos in the world. This national bird of The Bahamas now numbers approximately 50,000 on Inagua after having made a forty-year journey back from the edge of extinction.
DANCE THE JUNKANOO!
Every year, on Boxing night and New Year’s Eve locals celebrate life and freedom with this spectacular cultural event, parading with amazing colorful costumes and masks, musicians playing the drums, horns, cowbells and scrapers. It’s a festival that everybody looks forward to and tourists surely don’t want to miss if they happen to be there at that time.
SPEND A COUPLE OF DAYS IN HARBOUR ISLAND
I fell in love with this cute little corner of paradise that seemed unreal, created for a movie scene maybe. A marina and one road lined by immaculate houses like the one you had for your dolls. delicious restaurant and dreamlike beaches. One of them is the world famous pink sand beach. And it’s really pink due to the fragments of coral formations on the beach that give it that pinkish hue. To get to Harbour Island you will need to either fly to Eleuthera and then take a ferry or take a ferry from Nassau.
SPLURGE IN ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING LUXURY RESORTS IN THE BAHAMAS
I will talk in the next paragraph about where to stay in the Bahamas, but if I need to pick one it would be the Pink Sands Resort. I had the fortune to visit this property although I didn’t get so lucky to stay there. However I could tell it would have been exactly my perfect spot. Beside the beauty of the hotel, and the very spacious and private rooms, its location on the spectacular pink sand beach makes it unbeatable.
RENEW YOUR VOWS A THE GRAND ISLA RESORT AND SPA IN THE EXUMAS
The Grand Isle Resort & Spa is another of the spectacular resorts in the Bahamas, located right on the pristine Emerald Bay beach and adjacent to the 18-hole championship golf course designed by legendary PGA pro Greg Norman, for great golfing and postcards views.
TRY OUT YOUR SURFING SKILLS
Eleuthera’s Surfer’s Beach, just two miles south of Gregory Town, is where southwest winds blow breakers in from the Atlantic.
Sandy Point in San Salvador and Bimini Sands Resort & Marina at Port Royal, South Bimini offer spectacular Kite surf settings.
TAKE A PLUNGE IN THE PAST WITH A VISIT IN THE VERSAILLES GARDENS
The Versailles Gardens and Cloisters is a must if you are staying in Nassau and Paradise Island. It is a spectacular garden home of the remains of historical buildings and old cloisters. It’s owned by and located adjacent to the Ocean Club Hotel, a spectacular Four Seasons Resort, on the eastern side of Paradise Island, about 15 minutes by foot from the Atlantis Hotel. Entrance is free and open to the public.
SWIM WITH THE PIGS
When you think of pigs, you normally associate with dirt, as they love to lay in the mud, but this is not the case for the pigs in the Bahamas. They actually swim in the pristine waters and you can visit them, the little ones are happy to have a selfie taken with you. This is not a practice that would hurt them so although I don’t like to promote activities with animals I believe in this case they are treated with much love and respect. Wouldn’t it be so much fun? Check out the video below or know more here.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE BAHAMAS
There are many hotel options in the Bahamas from elegant boutique hotel or luxury resorts to cute and cheap hostels. Whatever you are looking for you will find it here. You just need to know what to want and what to pick.
Here below I am going to give you a few suggestions on the hotels in the Bahamas but it will be followed by a more detailed list for each island.
Atlantis Paradise Island Nassau – a huge complex situated on the coast of Paradise Island spread along 5 miles of white sand beach compehensive of 5 hotels of different price range, a waterpark, uncountable bars and restaurants, a casino and shops.
The Ocean Club – a Four Seasons Resort, Nassau – Elegant and exclusive a Four Season brand synonymous with excellence.
Pink Sands Resort Harbour Island – Sophisticated and yet simple elegance – a blissful retreat on a spectacular beach.
Baha Sea Backpackers – A cute small property right on the tourquise water with spectacular personalized service. Here you can find either typical Hostel bunkbeds and private rooms.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO TO THE BAHAMAS
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE BAHAMAS
The truth is that the Bahamas are “open” and ready to welcome you all year round. However, June through November, is the official hurricane season and August through October there is likely to be more rain than the rest of the year. And in the winter, say January through March, nights can be a little chilly, which is very refreshing after days spent in the sun. For this reason the peak season is considered from mid-December to mid-April with the best climate ever, although the water temperatures are a little cooler.
In The Bahamas the local currency is the Bahamian dollar which is equalsand pegged to the US dollars. Both currencies are commonly used and you are like to receive change either in US or Bahamian dollar. Remember that Bahamian dollars are not valid in the US. Best place where to exchange money is in banks.
ATMs are available and give US. Casino and shops don’t exchange money.
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE BAHAMAS
There are so many spectacular hotels in the Bahamas. Of the places I have seen in The Bahamas my favorite is the Pink Sand Resort , Harbour Island and a close second is The Cove Eleuthera, although they pretty much compete to stay at the top of my list, and maybe amongst the top of all the Caribbean hotels.
IS BAHAMAS EXPENSIVE TO VISIT
Yes, Bahamas is an expensive place to visit and one of the reason why it became such an exclusive and aspirational destination. You can visit the Bahamas on a lower budget though, if you stay in guest houses and don’t splurge in fancy restaurants. The local food is delicious and affordable although moving around in local busses is not always available. Taxis and internal flights are quite expensive.
IS BAHAMAS SAFE TO VISIT?
I was a little surprises to read about the volume of crime related issue in the Bahamas, although this does tend not to be aimed at tourists, but to more obscure local areas. The numbers of time I traveled to the Bahamas I honestly felt safe but I stuck to the most touristic places and did organized tours. So this is one thing you should consider. In any case I would like to leave you with this post that for more detailed information on the matter.
DO I NEED A VISA FOR THE BAHAMAS
Entry requirements vary depending on where you are coming from, like every other country.
For example, US and Canadian citizens are required to present a valid passport to enter the Bahamas which must be current up to the travel period, while some countries require a Bahamas Visa.
Latin American citizens are not required a visa, as long as they have a valid passport and they stay for no longer than 3 months. After that they will need apply for a visa.
You can check this site to verify the entry requirement for your own country.
WHAT’S THE BEST ISLAND OF THE BAHAMAS FOR COUPLES?
The most romantic island for honeymooners or couples escapes is to me Eleuthera and the neighboring Harbor Island, both of them offering spectacular landscapes and secluded beaches. But most of all these are home of the two most beautiful and sophisticated resorts of the Bahamas, The Cove Eleuthera and the Pink Sands resort. I have stayed at the Cove Eleuthera and it’s exactly what I would expect, elegant and intimate rooms, a spectacular private beach, fine dining and top notch service.
WHAT’S THE BEST ISLAND FOR THE BAHAMAS FOR FAMILIES
Although it’s not my personal choice of hotel, I visited Paradise Island for business and reckon that kids would absolutely love it. The place is like an amusement park, for both adults and kids alike. Atlantis, Paradise Island features the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, a 141-acre water park, including the iconic Mayan Temple’s Leap of Faith slide; 11 incredible pools; five miles of magnificent beaches; a Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole, oceanfront golf course; and the Atlantis Casino. As I said, it has it all, not to mention the incredible dining experiences, which include the world famous NOBU. When you are at the Atlantis, you might don’t want to leave but I suggest you to have a peek out and explore the rest of the island, the historical town and the local restaurants.
CAN I VISIT ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND IF I AM NOT STAYING THERE?
Yes, it is possible. There are many kinds of day pass depending on what you are interested in doing. From USD40 for just a tour to USD 200 for a full day pass, there are many different option for you and your family to enjoy the resort for just one day even if you are not staying there. You can check online your options and book directly.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP IN THE BAHAMAS?
The expected tip is 15% and it’s almost compulsory with most restaurants automatically including on the bill. So you should always check before ending up giving 30%, unless you feel super generous. 🙂
DO I NEED VACCINES TO ENTER THE BAHAMAS?
No special vaccinations are required to travel the Bahamas unless you are coming from countries where Yellow Fever is endemic or there is an outbreak. Particularly travellers coming from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela are strictly required to show proof of Yello Fever vaccination.
FOR FURTHER READING