The Bahamas offers an idyllic getaway with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and a slew of relaxing activities. It’s no surprise, then, that this is one of the Caribbean‘s most popular vacation destinations.
This is a tough one because there can be some great prices, low crowds and potentially fantastic weather in the off-season.
Travellers should also get insurance during these months to protect their trip investment. Travel insurance provides reimbursement for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses, if you need to cancel a trip for a covered reason, such as damage to your resort from a recent hurricane.
Whether you need to get to your hotel from the airport or want to explore Nassau, you should always avoid taxis that appear unlicensed.
And while you’re at it, don’t hop in any licensed taxi without negotiating a fare first.
Instead of getting yourself into a sticky situation with your taxi driver, make sure to negotiate a rate upfront, especially when you’re out on the town drinking and enjoying the nightlife. Your best bet: Ask the front door staff at your hotel or resort, or the restaurant or club you’re visiting, to arrange a licensed taxi for you.
Sure, stopping at Nassau port for the day will give you a taste of the capital (and perhaps the Atlantis if you choose to take a day trip there), but you will miss out on the country’s staggering array of white- and pink-sand beaches, coral reefs, activities and historic sites.
It’s called Paradise Island for a reason.
Known for having two of the world’s best white-sand beaches – Cabbage Beach and Paradise Beach – this dazzling place sits just offshore from the island of New Providence (two bridges over Nassau Harbour connect the two).
It’s also known for the sprawling Atlantis resort – the biggest mega-resort complex in the Caribbean – featuring a water park with multiple pools, slides, and aquatic attractions, plus a massive casino and ample shopping, dining and recreation offerings.
It’s arguably one of the best places to stay, if you want all of your activities at your doorstep and are willing to pay the price for the convenience.
However, if Paradise Island is on your list, there are other accommodations to choose from, including budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts, furnished short-term rentals, and the incredibly posh Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas.
You should also find time to explore Nassau, perhaps by taking a guided food tour.
Nassau is known for its delicious seafood, with Bahamas-specific spins on classic Caribbean specialties such as conch fritters, peas and rice, and refreshing limeade, as well as Greek treats from a wave of immigrants that arrived in the 19th century. At the very least, try some fried conch at a seafood shack, like Twin Brothers.
5. EXPECTING PUNCTUALITY ON THE ISLAND
This relaxed local lifestyle helps put tourists into the vacation spirit, but travellers expecting promptness and punctuality may be thrown off at first. Island time means restaurants are often slow to take orders and serve food, and guided tours and transportation options may depart later than the specified time.
Rather than finding fault with this, embrace the slower pace (you are on vacation, after all) and simply book earlier transportation times or dinner reservations, if needed.
While on the subject, Bahamians may not always be a reliable source for providing driving directions.
Locals use buildings, coconut trees and distinct colours as road markers. If you’re seeking precise directions, consult with your hotel staff to avoid having to use your phone and accruing expensive roaming fees.
Before handing over cash, consider these precautions.
In the Bahamas, water sports are not regulated, and some of the rental equipment might not be in proper working condition. Many of the vendors also don’t have the proper knowledge or training to come to your rescue if things go wrong out in the ocean.
As of March 2019, the US State Department travel advisory for the Bahamas stated that “activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas.
If you are offered anything for sale or as a gift, it’s best to not accept it. You can be arrested for possession or trafficking of drugs, which can result in a fine, deportation or potential jail time.
That being said, Bahamians are friendly and enjoy interacting with tourists. If nothing else, say a polite “no thank you” and start conversing about something else.
Locals respect visitors who are kind and humble, plus they consider joking and light teasing as a form of affection, so enjoy the humorous exchanges.
Like everywhere else in the world, it’s wise to take proper precautions while out at night. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly in Nassau, as the risk of crime increases after dark.
Avoid walking alone after sunset, especially around poorly-lit and deserted locations, such as streets and beaches. Nightclubs and music venues provide a chance to experience local culture, though tourists should stick to heavily populated areas and walk in a group.
While the Bahamian islands are generally considered safe for female travellers overall, it’s a good idea to dress modestly, as this is still a conservative country in many areas. This also means covering up when leaving beach areas during the day, especially since many spots away from the sand require a certain standard of dress.
Women have also reported some incidents of verbal (mostly non-threatening) and sexual harassment while travelling around the Bahamas. Drink-spiking has also been reported here, so beware of friendly strangers who may want to buy you a drink, and never leave your beverage unattended.
Pickpocketing, snatch-and-grab, and other petty crimes are also possible. As a result, heightened police presence and check points can be expected.
Keep your valuables hidden, take only what you need with you for the day, and don’t leave your belongings unattended, even at the beach. Credit card fraud can also occur in the Bahamas, so keep an eye on your card at all times, and let your bank know when you are travelling, in case of suspicious transactions.
If you stock up on a few cases of bottled water and snacks (plus any additional food items if your accommodations include a kitchen), you’ll be able to avoid shocking prices, like US$9 for a one-litre bottle of water.