Bahamas Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Eat Bahamian Skip the expensive resort restaurants -- head to the local eateries for a more authentic experience. Don't miss out on the johnnycakes, deep-fried conch fritters, and Bahamian lobster.
- Live simple Bahamians are very laid-back and friendly, and they rarely rush. So follow their lead and relax -- you're on island time.
- Bring your beach cover-up Bahamians are modest, especially older generations, so cover up as you head off the beach.
The Bahamian islands have blossomed into a tropical Eden, alluring throngs of visitors to their white-washed shores, duty-free shops, fishing and scuba diving excursions and luxurious resort lifestyle. The families that flock here tend to indulge in the extensive diversions of the lavish mega resorts, but this diverse island chain also offer a range of activities away from the hotel zone: Nature enthusiasts explore the offshore reefs and wildlife preserves; golf lovers tee up on the numerous par-72 courses; even bargain hunters patrol the marketplaces for the best duty-free deals. No wonder the Bahamas islands have become popular destinations in the Caribbean.
Though the area consists of more than 700 islands and cays, most visitors' first stop is New Providence Island's Nassau, the largest city of the Bahamas. Here, the twinkling casinos and upscale resorts make strange bedfellows 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.
How To Save Money in Bahamas
- Book packages Booking package tours -- flights, hotels, taxis and other logistical issues at once -- will get you great discounts overall.
- Stay put Island hopping with sea planes and water taxis is very expensive, so you could pick out the one island that's most interesting to you and stay there.
- Ladies, skip the braids Hair braiding is popular, but if you're worried about money, you should pass -- some braiders will charge $2 USD per braid, costing you upward to $100 USD for your whole head.
Bahamas Culture & Customs
The top travel sites universally describe Bahamians as a friendly and humorous people. "Contemporary Bahamian culture still revolves around family, church and the sea," says. "Though tourism is bringing change to the Out Islands, many live simple lives centered around fishing, catching conch and lobster and raising corn, bananas and other crops." Residents speak English, though visitors might come across some residents 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. Asreports, "Many claim this addition has contributed to the country's notoriously bad restaurant service."
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 Bahamian lobster, one of the most beloved dishes at Nassau's famous Graycliff Restaurant. You can also find traveler-recommended cuisine at Seafood Haven or Conch Fritters in Nassau. Finish your meal in Freeport with a local cocktail at Rum Runners bar.