The Bahamian islands lure millions of visitors to their white-washed shores, duty-free shops, fishing and scuba diving excursions and luxurious accommodations each year. The families that flock here tend to indulge in the diversions of the mega resorts, but this diverse island chain also offers a range of activities away from the hotel zone. Nature enthusiasts can explore the offshore reefs and wildlife preserves and golf lovers can tee up on the numerous par-72 courses. Bargain-hunters enjoy patrolling the marketplaces for the best duty-free deals. No wonder the Bahamas has become a popular destination in the Caribbean.
Though the area consists of more than 700 islands and cays, this first stop for most visitors is New Providence Island's Nassau. Here, the twinkling casinos and upscale resorts are intertwined with American Civil War history and pirate lore. The second most popular island is also the most northwest: Grand Bahama, home to bustling Freeport and a center of ecotourism with its underwater limestone caves and botanical gardens. When you need a break from all the crowds, head east from Nassau to the Outer Islands, where you can easily drop off the grid and enjoy a simpler way of life.
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Bahamians are friendly and humorous people. They're usually very humble, and many maintain simple lifestyles that revolve around fishing or farming. Residents speak English, although visitors might come across a few Bahamians who speak a Creole dialect.
The Bahamian dollar's value is roughly equivalent to the U.S. dollar, and there is little need to exchange money. Tipping in restaurants is customarily 15 percent, and in most cases, it's already included on the bill.
Bahamas' first-class hotels have a number of gourmet restaurants, but the fine dining is not Bahamian (nor is it reasonably priced). To eat well — and like a resident — you'll have to venture outside the hotel district. The islands are renowned for their johnnycake, fish chowders, deep-fried conch or the beloved Graycliff Restaurant's Bahamian lobster.
The best way to get around the Bahamas is by jitney minibuses. They are the most common form of transport from the country's many airports, including Nassau's Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS), Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) and Exuma International Airport (GGT) on Great Exuma Island. You can also travel to other Bahamian Islands from Nassau's Airport using the inter-island air service, Bahamasair, or pricey water taxis. Once you're on your chosen island, the aforementioned jitneys and taxis will get you to where you need to go.See details for Getting Around
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A valid travel document is required for all citizens of the United States traveling to the Bahamas by air or sea, as well as for U.S. citizens trying to re-enter the country. The preferred form of documentation is a U.S. passport; however, if you travel on a cruise that departs from and returns to a U.S. port, a passport card might be permissible. You won't need a travel visa to visit the Bahamas, but immigration authorities may ask for proof of a return trip if you're staying for several months. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State's website .