Once synonymous with the pirates of yesteryear, the Bahamas have grown over time to become one of the premiere tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Besides the resorts and cities that first greet you, there are undiscovered beaches and pristine coastline. We’ll cover where to travel in the Bahamas, how to get around, when to go, and how much it’s likely to cost.
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How do I get around?
How you get around the Bahamas will generally depend on what type of experience you want. Resort goers usually won’t have to stray too far while cruisers will have just enough time to walk around and explore the immediate surroundings before returning to the docks. If you’re here for a more extended, mobile stay you can look into renting a car or hopping between islands by way of a boat or plane.
When should I go?
Whenever you like. This is the Caribbean after all where the seasons seemingly blend together and the weather is sunny and warm year-round. Late winter to April will often be busy with students on spring break (make of that what you will) while late summer and early fall are at the highest risk of a hurricane (though the country generally deals well with these storms).
Where to travel in the Bahamas
The first stop for travelers to the Bahamas is often the capital – Nassau. A mega travel hub for cruises; you can expect loads of day-trippers at any given time mixing with an abundance of locals selling trinkets, souvenirs, and local products on the dock. It can be a bit overwhelming and tacky at first glance, but take some time to explore this energetic city and you’ll soon find a variety of activates and sights to pique your interest. Check out the local shopping scene, take a trip to Fort Charlotte, and sample the cuisine (especially around Arawak Bay). Nassau’s energy is evident from the first glance, and you might just be swept up in it.
Situated near Nassau is the massive luxury resort known as Atlantis. It’s an imposing fixture on the landscape including a mile long water ride, pools, state of the art rooms, and everything else you would associate with one of the most renowned resorts in the hemisphere. While not everyone can afford to stay there, you can still pay a visit and have fun. It may not be the most ‘authentic’ Bahamian experience, but it is undeniably impressive.
Grand Bahama is the closest island to the US and is home to some of the country’s best and most intriguing excursions from parks to top-class resorts. The cities of Freeport and Lucaya are worth a look with enough tourist amenities and authentic cultural sights. You can also visit the Lucayan National Park, which offers hiking trails for everyone and fantastic cave diving for the advanced. The mix of touristy resorts and nature is more pronounced here than on New Providence, making this island a must-see.
If you really want to take some time and get away from the sometimes overwhelming, busier islands, Eleuthera is just the ticket. Relaxing on a beach may be the only reason to come here for many but…well that’s actually a great reason to visit. Beyond that you can find gorgeous pink sands, cliffs, coves, diving, great food on nearby Harbour Island, and much, much more. In the end though, Eleuthera has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean – so that should be more than enough to sell you on it.
For those who like a bit of excitement in their lives, the collection of hundreds of cays (small islands) known as Exumas serves as the perfect hangout. Kayaking, boarding, sailing – no matter what watersport piques your interest you’ll find a place to participate in it. While there are certainly towns and resorts to call home for a time, there’s a joy to be discovered wandering the quiet isles and coves without the noise and bustle of other parts of the Bahamas.
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been following a bit of a pattern here – from the busy to the more remote. So where better to end our journey than Andros – the largest and least densely populated island in the country. Swamps, palm savannas, creepy forests, and an abundance of interesting wildlife call Andros home while small villages can be found intermittently up and down the coast. Once again, divers will find a lot to love here – especially in the so called ‘blue holes’. Unlike the busier islands, expect to expend a lot of effort staying here – from getting around to finding food. If you put in the time however, it might just be the most memorable part of your trip.
How much does it cost?
Flights between Pearson and Nassau are generally pretty cheap, often starting around $400 Canadian and going up slightly from there. You can find deals almost year round, so be sure to shop around to get the best price possible.
It’s important to remember that the Bahamian dollar is exchangeable on par with the US dollar (which is accepted throughout the islands). Once you arrive in the Bahamas, you’ll find that it isn’t the cheapest of countries (particularly in major tourist centres like Nassau), with an average daily expense of about $161 with a budget of $84 for accommodation and $50 for food. Thrifty travelers could get by with closer to $71 per day while the higher end lifestyle will run you about $310 per day. These values could fluctuate wildly depending on whether you’re at a resort or further off the beaten path.
Health and Safety
While there is no nationwide advisory for the Bahamas according to the government of Canada, a high degree of caution is recommended throughout. This is down to a high crime rate, which is especially true in Nassau. Armed robberies on tourists have been reported in Nassau and Freeport at various times throughout the day. Try not to advertise wealth or carry around a lot of cash. Generally, it is not recommended to wander alone, especially after dark. Lastly, you should be aware that traffic drives on the left and the hazards associated with bikes, mopeds, and pedestrians.
For more information, visit the official Canadian government travel advisory.
These are just a few examples of where to travel in the Bahamas, there’s tons more to see and do. If you think somewhere else should be on the list, let us know in the comments. Check out our Country of the Week for more general information about Bahamian history and culture, as well as our Currency Spotlight for a breakdown of the Bahamian dollar.
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