The Bahamas saw over 7 million visitors in 2019, a number that has grown steadily. And for good reason!
The Bahamas’ name comes from the Spanish term "Baja Mar", meaning clear waters─perfectly fit for this paradise.
Tourists visit the Caribbean hot spot for its unreal beaches, adventure sports like cave diving, and vibrant culture.
There are around 700 islands and over 2,000 small islets in The Bahamas, but there are only 16 major islands. This Bahamas travel guide designed to help you plan the perfect trip.
- Where is the Bahamas
- When to Travel to The Bahamas
- Things to Know Before You Visit The Bahamas
- Things to Do in The Bahamas
- Where to Stay in The Bahamas
- Places to Visit in The Bahamas
- Getting Around The Bahamas
- Highlights of Traveling to The Bahamas
Where is The Bahamas?
The Bahamas is a country in the northwestern West Indies. It is located around 50 miles (80 km) south of Florida. It is also 50 miles (80 km) north of Cuba and Hispaniola.
When to Travel to The Bahamas
The sweet spot for a trip to the Bahamas starts from mid-April and lasts until July. This is the edge of high season, so hotels and resorts begin to reduce their prices, and the beaches and hot spots on the islands become less crowded.
Hurricane season starts in the late summer (usually June-November), so you’ll want to avoid traveling into the fall.
Weather in The Bahamas
The weather in the Bahamas is warm year-round.
During the summer, the temperature ranges from 80 to 90°F (26 to 32°C) and winter lows see an average of 70°F (21°C).
It gets rainier around May and June which results in lush vegetation around the islands.
Things to Know Before You Visit The Bahamas
Visiting the Bahamas soon? Read this section to learn about the passport and visa requirements up to laws you need to know.
Traveling to The Bahamas
The Bahamas are open to travellers. To ensure the safety of everyone in the country, strict protocols must be followed.
Obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR result and take no more than 5 days before the date of arrival to the Bahamas. Check out the rest of the health protocols here.
The Bahamas’ Visa & Passport Requirements
Your passport should be valid for at least 3 months from your date of departure.
Canadian citizens and U.S. citizens are both required to have a passport but not a visa.
If you're a Canadian Permanent Resident, bring your original Canadian Permanent Resident Card.
A U.S permanent resident (non-citizen) is required to have their Green Card and national passport from your birth country.
Flights to The Bahamas
Many travellers to these Caribbean islands come via cruise. In fact, about ⅔ of the 7.25 million travellers are cruise passengers[*] and only stay the day.
But of course, you can get to the Bahamas via air.
Airlines with direct flight from the U.S. to the Bahamas are:
- Silverways connects Fort Lauderdale with Bimini.
Air Canada provides flights to the Bahamas from:
Is The Bahamas Safe to Travel To?
The Bahamas is a safe place for tourists.
But wherever you travel to, of course be aware of your valuables and surroundings. Crime on the Bahamas islands tends to be petty in nature, such as pickpocketing, so keep your valuables close and practice standard safety precautions at all times.
What Language is Spoken on The Bahamas?
English is the official language of the Bahamas but they also use Bahamian Creole.
Money in The Bahamas
A Bahamian dollar is equivalent to one US dollar, making it easy for travellers coming from countries using USD since you don’t have to exchange currency.
Availability of ATMs vary on islands. For instance, New Providence Island and Paradise have accessible ATMs, but it's a struggle to find one on smaller islands, so bring cash.
The Bahamas’ Currency
The official currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar (BSD) but U.S. Dollars are widely accepted.
Is The Bahamas Expensive?
Yes. If you choose to have a vacation in the Bahamas, you'll notice that the cost of food and items at stores are expensive since most goods are imported.
Tipping Etiquette in The Bahamas
Tip according to the service. You can give a bellboy or porter around $1 per bag while waiters, taxis, and other servers often receive around 15% tip.
How to Pay for Things in The Bahamas
You can pay with cash and credit cards in most restaurants, large shops, and hotels.
Dress & What to Pack for The Bahamas
Wear casual summer clothing during the day like shorts, t-shirts, collared shirts, or dress since the weather is often warm in the Bahamas. If you're traveling from December to April, pack a sweater or jacket since nights are cooler in these months.
Only wear your rash guards, swimsuits, and other beach clothes at the beach, beach bar, or pool area. Grab a cover for your swimsuit when walking around the city. A good quick-drying shirt or extra clothing are essential to this trip. Don’t forget your flip-flops, too.
Sunhat, cap or sunglasses are also nice to bring because it’s often sunny on the islands. You can also bring your own gear for snorkelling or diving although there are rental gears available around the islands.
The Bahamas Laws to Know
- The legal drinking and gambling age in the Bahamas is 18.
- Buying and using of marijuana is illegal and has strict penalties.
Things to Do in The Bahamas
Experience what luxury vacation actually is once you’re in the Bahamas.
Relax with your family or partner until the sun sets at the beach. Snorkel on clear waters or take a plunge and swim with the dolphins. For more adventure, dive and explore the coral reefs or try kitesurfing on the calm waters.
Kids can have a non-stop aquatic thrill ride and other exciting activities at Aquaventure. Instagrammers will love having a mini photo shoot at the lush multi-terraced landscape of the Versailles Gardens of The Bahamas.
Make sure to witness the Junkanoo Festival if you’re going to the Bahamas on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. This real Caribbean party is filled with grand costumes, live music, and parades.
Island hop around the Bahamas to access what other smaller islands have to offer through boat tours. This dream destination of wanderlust has lots of pursuits, you won’t easily run out of things to do.
Where to Stay in The Bahamas
The Cove at Atlantis has everything you'll expect from a luxury 5-star oceanfront. Large outdoor pools, gaming options, private beach, delicious dining choices, and more. The Ocean Club has a laid-back Bahamian style with high-quality resort amenities especially great for families.
Couples looking for a relaxing vacation should try staying at Shannas Cove Resort. This place is perfect for honeymooners who want an intimate time at secluded white sandy beaches or get a taste of the island's specialties.
Even though the Bahamas is known for having expensive options, you can still find some affordable accommodation on the island. Check out Pelican Bay Hotel for a comfy and decent place at a lower price.
Places to Visit in The Bahamas
Create unforgettable memories in the Bahamas with your partner, friends, or family.
Take a stroll at the unique shore of the Pink Sand beach at Harbour Islands or go to a postcard-like coast of Cable Beach for jet skiing.
Water activities like stand-up paddle-board at Dolphin Cay and snorkelling or scuba diving at Andros Great Barrier Reef are something to try, too. There are also tons of secluded and private beaches around if you want a more peaceful time.
For an entertaining yet educational place, visit Pirates of Nassau Museum to learn about the rich history of pirates in the Caribbean islands. The National Art Gallery of Bahamas also gives visitors a good introduction to Bahamian arts and culture.
Be surrounded by exotic plants, flowers, and Bahamian wildlife at Garden of Groves. There's a kid's playground and zoo for families.
The Peterson Cay National Park is another geological wonder you shouldn't miss while in the Bahamas. Swim with the beautiful marine life and explore its stunning reefs.
Before leaving the Bahamas, shop at Port Lucaya Marketplace for souvenirs like jewellery or straw goods like hats, handbags, and other woven handicrafts.
Getting Around The Bahamas
The most common way to get around the Bahamas is by public buses (jitneys) and taxis. Renting a car is also a good option to explore other areas. Make sure that you have your licenses and drive on the left side.
Water taxis and ferries are also available to help you visit other islands like Nassau and Paradise Island.
Highlights of Traveling to The Bahamas
Whether you have a complete itinerary for your trip or not, here are some things you need to see and try while in the Bahamas:
Under-rated Attraction: Ocean Hole in Eleuthera is a nice spot for picnic, snorkelling, and diving. The water has lots of colourful fishes and you can enjoy swimming without the crowd of tourists. Legend says that it is bottomless and has healing properties.
Top Must-Do Activity: Swim with the pigs in the Exumas! There’s a beach on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay called Pig Beach, because there are -- you guessed it -- pigs on the beach! They’re not native to the Bahamas, but they sure are cute, and this is something you will never be able to do again.
Best Cup of Coffee: A warm cup of coffee with tasty desserts like coconut cassava cake and sugar cookies at Cafe Matisse is perfect for a chill day in the Bahamas. Another not to be missed cafe is the Louis & Steen's New Orleans Coffeehouse. Get a taste of their delicious crafted coffee and a gorgeous view of the islands.
Best Hidden Gem: Pick your spot and relax at the Lighthouse Beach in Eleuthera. Pack your climbing shoes too if you want to hike up on the dramatic limestone and witness a nice overlooking view of the ocean.
Local Favourite Restaurant: Fish Fry and McKenzie's Fresh Fish and Conch are the local's recommendation known for fresh seafood delicacies like cracked conch, conch salad conch fritters, and grilled lobsters.
Little-Known Fact: It snowed in the Bahamas once on January 17,1997 when the cold weather from southern Florida went down to the island.
Don’t Forget to Pack: A reef-safe sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from getting sunburn while the insect repellant is also must-have on your bag.