The Bahamas is an island nation off the coast of North America, known primarily for its beautiful islands and beaches. It is one of the paradisiacal places on Earth, where a lot of tourists always seek. It has its own nature, its own animals and plants. And here live people different from other nations, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to the Bahamas, the country is waiting for you!
The Bahamas on the map
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the official name of this state, is located in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean, south-east of the Florida peninsula. In fact, these islands stretch from Florida to the island of Haiti, parallel to the coast of Cuba.
The archipelago includes approximately 700 islands and coral reefs, most of which are uninhabited. The Bimini Islands are only 80 kilometres from Florida, the extreme southeastern point of the country is Great Inagua Island.
The largest island of the state is Andros. Its area is almost 6 thousand square kilometres. The most densely populated of the islands is New Providence, where the capital of Nassau is located. With an area of 207 square kilometres, New Providence is home to 250 thousand people.
The Bahamas are composed mainly of coral and limestone. There are no mountains or even hills on them. The highest point of the archipelago on Cat Island rises only 65 metres above sea level.
The flora and fauna of most of the islands are poor. There are few animals, and evergreen broad-leaved forests are found only on the islands of Andros and Great Abaco. The rest of the islands have only coconut palms and shrubs.
There are no rivers in the Bahamas, and the lakes are salt lagoons that communicate with the ocean. But there are many karst formations – caves.
Safety for tourists
The Bahamas is not included in the global index of peacefulness, which takes into account the calmness of the situation, attitude to tourists and many other factors, but in fact it is one of the safest places for holidays on the planet.
Crime on the islands exists only in the cities, which are very few. In fact – it is the capital of the archipelago Nassau and Freeport. Not only pickpockets operate in these cities, but armed robberies are also becoming more frequent. The southern districts of Nassau, the so-called «neighbourhoods behind the hill», are known as the most criminal place in the country. Tourists should not go there even during the day. The area where casinos and gambling establishments are located is also considered dangerous.
Car traffic in the country is left-handed, which may be unusual for many tourists. At the same time, traffic rules are poorly observed, and drivers can be aggressive and inattentive to pedestrians.
It is only possible to get urgent medical assistance on the larger islands. On the others there are only small first aid centres.
Natural hazards include an increase in shark attacks in recent years. These predatory fish have always been abundant in the waters surrounding the islands. There are other poisonous fish and shellfish, and the bottom is often strewn with sharp coral fragments.
And the sun itself in the Bahamas is very bright and can be dangerous for tourists. You should not overestimate your strength and spend too much time under its scorching rays.
In general, if you observe the usual caution and avoid visiting hot spots, the risk of trouble can be minimized.
Bahamians are famous for their love of noisy holidays and festivals, which is typical of any country in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
The country has a number of national public holidays, which include both secular and religious holidays. Of the latter, Easter and Christmas are official holidays. Secular holidays include New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Slave Emancipation Day, Labour Day and a number of others.
The Bahamas’ major holiday and festival is Junkanoo, which takes place at the end of December, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is a period of colourful costumed processions, dancing, music and general merriment.
Junkanoo can only be compared to Independence Day, which also features parades and processions, fireworks and fireworks.
A variety of smaller local festivals are included among the festivities popular with tourists. These include the Rum Festival in February, the Coconut Festival in April, the Cigar Festival and the Cha Cha Dance Festival.
Almost every month there is some entertaining holiday that attracts the attention of tourists.
What fun there is in the Bahamas
The Bahamas are considered one of the favourite holiday destinations for Americans, but European tourists do not neglect the archipelago. For tourists there is a developed infrastructure and a lot of entertainment, primarily related to the sea.
- Beach holidays. The islands of the Bahamian archipelago have a huge number of beaches, from tiny and secluded to huge and filled with holidaymakers. One of the most popular among tourists’ beaches is on Harbour Island. This is Pink Beach, famous for its soft pink coloured sand.
- Snorkelling. The coral reefs surrounding the islands of the archipelago provide ideal opportunities for snorkelling. The corals are home to an abundance of colourful fish and algae, turtles and crustaceans.
- Diving. Diving enthusiasts also often seek out the islands, not only because of the rich underwater world, but also because of the shipwrecks and even statues. In addition, it is here that the famous Blue Abyss on Long Island is located. Its depth is 202 metres.
- Surfing. This sport is less popular here because of the large number of reefs and shallow waters, but there are several spots where you can catch a great wave.
- Yachting. The peculiarity of the archipelago is many uninhabited islands, which can be reached only by yacht or boat. It is popular among tourists to rent small yachts or catamarans and sail along the coast of secluded islands.
- Fishing. Many fishing enthusiasts specifically go to the Bahamas to enjoy this activity. Ernest Hemingway himself liked to fish in these places. In the waters of the archipelago there are tuna, barracuda, dorado, marlin and wahoo – local mackerel, catching which turns into a real competition.
- Golf. Golf is another popular pastime in the Bahamas. There are many beautiful world-class courses where you can not only play, but also enjoy marvellous views of the ocean.
- Ecotourism. Many of the archipelago’s islands are uninhabited and unspoilt, which also attracts many tourists. In a number of places on the coast are arranged eco-hotels – small houses-bungalows, which are almost absent the usual amenities of civilization.
- Cycling and trekking. Despite the tiny size of most islands, the Bahamas has plenty of places to go hiking or cycling. For example, on Andros Island there are dense broadleaf forests, through which there are specially laid trails and paths.
- Casinos. Gambling is officially allowed in the country, which attracts many tourists from countries where such entertainment is prohibited. The most prestigious casinos are located in the capital of Nassau, which is considered one of the world centres of gambling.
What is important to know about the Bahamas
If you are planning to visit this state, here are some of the most important things to know:
The official language in the Bahamas is English. It is spoken fluently by almost 100 per cent of the population. But people from neighbouring Haiti use Creole, which is based on French, to communicate.
Currently, the country is home to just over 400,000 people, with most of them concentrated on the island of New Providence and in the capital of Nassau.
Ethnically, almost 80 per cent of the population is of African descent and descendants of mixed marriages. About 12 per cent are white, mostly of European descent. Another 3% or so are Asian immigrants.
- More interesting facts about the people of the Bahamas, their character and local colour can be found in this article.
The national currency is the Bahamian dollar, consisting of 100 cents.
In circulation now are banknotes in 1/2, 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 dollars, as well as coins in 1, 5, 10, 15, 25 cents.
Exchange of foreign currency for local dollars is carried out both in banks and in hotels, shopping centres and other exchange offices. Also, almost everywhere in the country, you can pay with American dollars.
Approximate exchange rate: 1 Bahamian dollar for 1 American dollar.
The majority of the country’s population is Christian. Followers of this religion make up 92% of the island’s population. The most common are Baptism, Catholicism and Pentecostalism.
About 6 per cent of the population identify themselves as agnostics and atheists.
African cults, such as voodoo, are practised on some of the southern islands.
There are small Jewish and Hindu communities in the Bahamas.
The Bahamas is located in a tropical trade wind climate zone. The so-called Tropic of Cancer runs through the archipelago, dividing it roughly into two halves.
This type of climate is characterised by the division of the year into two seasons – wet and dry, and a low gradient of average annual temperatures. In addition, the climate of the islands is strongly influenced by the warm Gulf Stream current.
The average air temperature is +30-+31 degrees in summer and +25 degrees in winter.
The rainy season is summer. The period of heavy precipitation lasts from May to October. At this time can fall up to 200 millimetres of precipitation per month. In winter there is much less rain, with only 40 millimetres of rainfall per month from December to March.
The average sea water temperature in the Bahamas does not fluctuate much from year to year and always remains suitable for swimming. Much of the credit for this is due to the Gulf Stream Current, which moderates temperature fluctuations. Therefore, the bathing season here lasts all year round, although the ideal time for tourism is winter, from September to May.
- Water temperature in winter, December-January: from +20 to +24 degrees Celsius. The coldest month is January.
- Water temperature in spring, March-May: from +25 to +27 degrees in May.
- Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +28 to +29 degrees. The warmest water is in July.
- Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +26 degrees in early autumn to +23 degrees in November.
The main natural hazard in the Bahamas is cyclones. Every year, several major hurricanes hit the archipelago, causing great destruction. The peak of the hurricane season is between May and September, but storms occur at other times as well.
For example, in early September 2019, the Bahamas was hit by the most powerful hurricane in its history, named Dorian. The wind speed in gusts reached 300 kilometres per hour. As a result, 13 thousand houses were flooded on the islands, and the international airport went underwater by 2 metres. About 80 people died.
But, except for cyclones, other natural disasters practically do not happen in the Bahamas. There are no volcanoes here, almost no earthquakes, no forests burn. Therefore, holidaying on the archipelago in winter, you can not be afraid of natural disasters.
- About the most devastating disasters in the history of the Bahamas, you can read in this article.
The Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy. The formal head of state is considered to be the English king. In fact, the country is governed by the Governor-General, who appoints the Prime Minister. Legislative power is represented by a bicameral parliament consisting of the House of Assembly and the Senate.
Administratively, the country is divided into 31 districts.
The capital of the country is Nassau.
The largest cities and resorts
Nassau is the capital of the country and its most populous city. It is home to 270 thousand people, that is almost 2/3 of the entire population of the archipelago. Tourists are attracted here by the buildings of colonial architecture, including Parliament Square, Royal Gardens, beaches and luxury hotels, shopping street, casinos.
Freeport is the second most populous city in the country. It is located on the island of Grand Bahama and is home to 26,000 people. It is a duty-free zone, which attracts both tourists and businessmen. It also has beautiful beaches and music parties are organized for tourists in the evenings.
Andros is the largest and wildest island of the archipelago. It attracts tourists not only with its beaches, but also with wonderful forests: mangroves, century-old pines and palm trees. Fishing villages are scattered all along the coast.
Long Island is a narrow and very long coral island. It is attractive both for lovers of traditional beach holidays and for divers, because it is here that the famous Blue Abyss is located. There are many eco-hotels here, allowing you to relax away from civilization.
Eluthera is a place for elite holidays, where the most prestigious and expensive hotels are located. Nearby lies Harbour Island, known for its pink sands.
Symbols of the Bahamas
The flamingo is the national bird. Huge flocks of these birds nest on the islands.
Marlin is the national fish of the archipelago. It is the most coveted and difficult prey for fishermen.
Tecoma is a perennial shrub with bright and large yellow flowers. It is also considered a symbol of the Bahamas.
Rum is a strong alcoholic drink made popular by pirates.
How to get to the Bahamas
A European or Asian tourist can get to the country almost exclusively by plane. There are two international airports in the Bahamas. The largest is located on the island of New Providence and serves the capital of Nassau. It is named after Lynden Pindling and operates flights to the USA, Canada, Great Britain and France. More than 4 million travellers pass through the airport terminals each year.
The second international airport is located near Freeport and is called Grand Bahama. It only provides connections to US cities.
There is a ferry connection between the islands of the archipelago itself, but only cruise ship passengers get to the Bahamas by sea.
How much money to take with you
The cost of holidays in the Bahamas can vary greatly, depending on whether you plan to holiday on your own at your own risk, or use the services of a travel company and trusted guides.
The Bahamas is located off the east coast of the USA, which is quite far from Europe. Therefore, for tourists from the EU, the flight here will not be cheap. For example, a round-trip ticket to Nassau from Paris will cost at least 600 euros.
The most inexpensive tours to the country start from 1 thousand euros for 7 days including flight. It is important to pay attention to the availability of transfer from the airport to the island of residence. Otherwise, such a move can cost a couple of hundred dollars.
In the country itself, tourists are waiting for the following expenses:
- Food: prices for food here are slightly lower than in Europe, but quite high. For example, lunch in an average restaurant will cost 50–100 dollars for two people. Fast-food is cheaper, you can eat there for 7–8 dollars. A cup of cappuccino costs about $3.
- Accommodation: the average price of a double room in a hotel is $100-200, but you can get a room in a hostel for as little as $60. Five-star hotels offer rooms starting at $600.
- Visiting attractions: beach facilities will be free when staying in a hotel, except for extras such as diving. Visiting many historic buildings and churches is free, but you’ll have to pay to enter a museum. The usual price of a visit to the Bahamas is $15-$30 per person. The price of various excursions depends on their duration and the composition of the group. For example, a catamaran cruise will cost $120, and rum tasting – $80.
- Souvenirs: from the Bahamas, tourists bring local T-shirts and shirts with bright prints, the price of which is from 10 to 30 dollars. Buy here and goods of world brands, which are cheaper, thanks to the duty-free zone. From food products, tourists bring rum, cigars and rum muffins. Costs for souvenirs are individual and can vary significantly.
- Transport: there are almost no towns on the islands where you can use public transport. If the price of the trip does not include transfer from the airport, you can get to the city by bus. A ticket costs $1.5. A popular means of transport for tourists is a scooter. It can be rented for $40-60 per day. The cost of boarding a taxi is $3 and then 50 cents for each mile. Movement between islands is carried out on ferries and yachts.
Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday for two people will cost in the Bahamas from 2000 to 4000 thousand euros for 7 days including flight. And of course, the maximum amount of holiday can be much higher.
If you have already visited the Bahamas, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!