With nearly 700 islands and cays, travel to the Bahamas and you’ll find that it provides something that will charm everyone.
When I think of Bahamas travel what comes to my mind is that it may involve everything from a beach chair, tropical drinks, underwater excursions, up-close experiences with native creatures, or adrenaline-causing activities.
From the gravel and buzz of trendy Nassau to the massive mangroves of Andros, here there’s an amazing range of beaches, reefs, forests and ancient towns to be uncovered, all in the scope of an hour’s flight.
I find that many tourists when they travel to the Bahamas only ever visit New Providence, home to the nation’s main metropolis of Nassau, ancient sites, huge resorts and casinos, and a range of restaurants offering up local and worldwide cuisine. But keep in mind that if you tour the outer islands you’re bound to encounter a different side of the Bahamas.
These scarcely (if at all) inhabited islands have the least amount of development, limited lodgings, and dining preferences, and not a whole lot of organized activity, but believe me when I say that on your holidays to the Bahamas, here you will get to experience gorgeous, unspoiled beaches at each turn and a variety of ecotourism pursuits for those of you who are ready to slow down and search for your adventure.
Travel Advice on the Current Situation
Now here’s what you need to know when you’re planning your holidays to the Bahamas.
Flight options in The Bahamas are restricted with the airports only permitting limited choices on both international and local flights. Future flights are restricted and not certain while the state of emergency is still in force. International commercial flights are due to be allowed to run inbound and outbound from the 1st of July. Cruise ships are not permitted to dock and come ashore. More information on local and international travel limitations are offered at the website of the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism and the COVID-19 Travel page.
On June 15th, The Bahamas formally reopened its borders to boaters and private flights — but on July 1st, the destination officially welcomed back tourists from all over the world. That means all of The Bahamas, from Grand Bahama to Nassau and Paradise Island to the far stretches of the Out Islands.
It’s the second stage of the country’s “Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan,” and The Bahamas has put in place a chain of protocols for travellers coming into the country.
So what does it all mean??
- Take your COVID-19 test: If you plan on visiting the Bahamas, you have to give a negative COVID-19 swab test on arrival. For those visiting amid July 1st and July 7th, the test results need to be no more than 10 days old. For those coming in after July 7th, the results have to be no more than seven days old.
- You’ll require a health visa: Travellers will need to complete an electronic health visa before departure and give proof of confirmation at their destination.
- Temperature checks: At airports and seaports, all travellers will go through temperature checks led by healthcare personnel. Any travellers who display COVID-19 symptoms will be relocated to a separate area for further testing and assessment.
- Masks are necessary: Visitors will have to wear face masks in “any position where it is required to impose physical distancing guidelines.” In addition to airports and sea terminals, travellers need to wear masks in taxis, while checking in at hotels, standing in line at attractions and before being seated at any restaurants. Failure to obey the country’s mask guidelines can result in a $200 fine or one-month imprisonment.
So when you pack your sunscreen and bathing suit, make sure you have your mask ready as well, better to be safe than sorry, right?
- Curfew in effect: The Bahamas will carry on its compulsory curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., so travellers have to get back to their lodgings during that time. Visitors will be permitted to travel freely through their hotel and resort properties during the curfew.
- Later stages: Starting July 13th, the Bahamas will come into Phase 3 of its reopening, which permits attractions, expeditions, and tours to recommence. Phase 4, which starts July 27th, will permit merchants and jet ski workers to reopen.
Suggested Read: 5 Great Reasons to Visit the Bahamas
The Island of Bahamas
The Bahamas, island, and country are on the northwestern brink of the West Indies. Earlier a British settlement, The Bahamas turned into an independent nation in the Commonwealth during 1973.
The name Bahamas is of Lucayan Taino (Arawakan) origin, although some historians say that it’s from the Spanish bajamar, meaning “shallow water.” The islands inhabit a spot commanding the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the whole Central American region. Their tactical position has given the history of The Bahamas a distinctive and frequently astonishing character.
Thanks to its northerly setting in the Caribbean Sea, and the predominant trade-winds (so cherished and exploited by pirates in the years gone by), there’s no bad time to travel to the Bahamas. The weather stays fairly warm throughout the year, though there is a change in rainfall and normal daily temperatures on a seasonal basis.
The total flight time from the United Kingdom to the Bahamas is 8 hours and 59 minutes.
The Culture of Bahamas
The Bahamas has a unique culture that has changed over generations, from a blend of mainly African, mixed with some British and American impacts, which grew into a distinctive and radiant style of Bahamian self-expression.
Bahamians are ideally described as relaxed, pleasant, and welcoming, and a night spent at a fish fry with a rum punch in hand is not to be missed. English is the formal dialect of The Bahamas, with a native language known as ‘Bahamianese or Bahamian Dialect’ being conversed informally. Bahamians are extremely religious and Christianity is the main religion practised in the country. But, the Bahamian Constitution promises freedom of expression.
The Bahamas has three native types of music and dance: Goombay, Rake ‘n’ Scrape, and Junkanoo. Nothing is more native and distinctive to Bahamian culture than Junkanoo. It is a music and dance style that started in The Bahamas during the days of slavery. A festive procession complete with vibrant costumes, goatskin drums, ringing cowbells, whistles, and horns, it has stayed extraordinarily constant over the years. The parade goes forward in a low, rhythmic dance known as ‘rushing’. Customarily, the festival is held during the early hours of Boxing Day (26th December) and on New Year’s Day, finishing up at sunrise. The participants ‘rush’ in organised groups and are judged on costume theme and performance in an intense competition which catches the spirit of all Bahamians at this very special time of the year.
Art is also a significant portion of Bahamian cultural life. The lively shades and dramatic themes of Junkanoo shape the foundation of this artistic expression. The lifestyle, powerful religious impacts, and the spectacular beauty of the natural surroundings also have a clear effect.
Famous Islands to Visit in the Bahamas
The Bahamas Atlantis Paradise Island
This island is famously recognized for the extensive resort Atlantis with its widespread water park rides, pools, beach, restaurants, walk-in aquarium, and casinos. Paradise Island is linked to the island of New Providence by two bridges that cross Nassau Harbour. Guests at the hotel score complimentary admission into the famous 141-acre Aquaventure, a waterscape filled with high-speed slides, almost 20 swimming areas, and a lengthy Lazy River Ride. In the aquatic habitat, hammerhead sharks and swordfish swim across glittering open-air pools. Guests will also discover numerous shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues on site. The fantasy sea theme remains throughout, seizing the imagination of young and old alike.
The Bahamas Nassau
One of the most famous cruise ship harbors in the Caribbean, Nassau is still able to charm tourists despite the crowds of camera-toting travellers. Visitors come here to relax on the white sands of Cable Beach; tour the shops, restaurants, museums, and candy-colored grand structures of downtown and Bay Street; and shop for mementos at the Nassau Straw Market. A brief catamaran ride away from Nassau, animal fans could dance with dolphins on a day tour to Blue Lagoon Island, while Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Center also provides a leisurely pace, with its threatened and endangered species amongst four acres of tropical gardens. Paradise Island, home to the regularly famous Atlantis resort, sparkles on the horizon around five kilometers offshore from Nassau.
Pretty Harbour Island, northeast of its big sister, Eleuthera, is one of the most ancient colonies in the Bahamas, and also the site of the initial Bahamian parliament; English Loyalists lived here during the 1700s. Famous for its pink sand beaches and stylish resorts, the island, which is lovingly recognized by the natives as “Briland,” has long been a sanctuary for the rich and famous. Golf carts govern the roads here, and tourists feel as though they’ve travelled back in time as they sail past the pretty, pastel-colored Loyalist cottages bordering the roads of Dunmore Town, the island’s only colony. Famous things to do consist of diving, snorkelling, fishing, and relaxing on the gorgeous pink sand beaches. Harbour Island is an exciting day trip out of Nassau on the Bahamas Fast Ferries Catamaran.
This island is popular for its Instagram-influencing swimming pigs, and there’s also no lack of tour contributions to this island of the popular pigs from the Bahamian metropolis of Nassau. Check out Powerboat Adventures or Four C’s Adventures for planning your next marine porcine encounter. For waters that don’t have swimming swine, look no further than the attractive Jolly Hall Beach. A simple 40-minute flight from Nassau, travellers can arrive in The Exumas in Staniel Cay (through BahamasAir Tour) or George Town (through BahamasAir).
This island was once adored by Ernest Hemingway, and still preserves its inheritance of sport-fishing and sightseeing. Go snorkeling beside the famous Bimini Road, or swim with sharks through Bahamas Scuba Center. For the less adventurous, East Wells Beaches and Spook Hill Beach are stunning (and tranquil substitutes) to a day spent with reef and tiger sharks. This island is the nearest off the coast of Florida and is reachable not just by plane from the U.S. but also by boat from Miami—if leaving from Nassau, we suggest reserving a Bahamasair flight.
Andros, the major continent in the Bahamas, has the third biggest barrier reef in the world, and also several freshwater blue holes and underwater caves. It’s no shock then, that this is a famous destination for divers. The island’s massive wetlands generate channels, which are leading boating and fishing areas. Fly fishing is huge here, and Andros is frequently known as “the bonefishing capital of the world.” Andros also has the biggest protected region in the Bahamas with five national parks. Nature fans will appreciate the wealthy bird life in the mudflats, mangrove marshes, and forests, and also the island’s eco-resorts. In addition to all these natural appeals, tourists can tour the Androsia Hand Made Batik Factory, which sells vibrantly-colored fabrics consisting of bold Bahamian styles.
This island is worth a visit for its appeals both by land and by sea. Go snorkeling at Current Cut, and Devil’s Backbone or Pineapple Dock—the latter to tour shipwrecks, or sunbathe at the stunning (and appropriately-named) Alabaster Beach. Surfer’s Beach is also a brilliant place to visit—this famous location for surfers is home to surf shacks and bars certain to appeal to all travellers—regardless of whether or not they’re capable of hanging ten. A fast 30-minute flight from Nassau, travellers can fly Southern Air, Bahamasair, or Pineappleair, from the Bahamian metropolis to Rock Sound or Governor’s Harbour.
The Abacos is located in the Northern Bahamas, made up of its personal 120-mile-long island chain, with Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco working as the “mainland,” and a series of barrier islands splitting them from the Atlantic. Recognized as the most reachable of the Out Islands, this family-friendly destination has white and pink sandy beaches and also the four national parks, where parrots, orchids and all kinds of exotic aquatic life can be seen. Seeing the popular swimming island pigs makes a visit to this island a particularly memorable encounter. One of the most famous appeals in this isolated region, you can see them sweetly relaxing on the beach, soaking up the Bahamian sun and walking through the clear blue waters. There are also villages that seem chained in another time, turquoise flats, remarkable coral reefs, intact forests and unoccupied cays, all waiting to be toured.
Suggested Read: The Caribbean Island: The perfect beach holiday
Reasons to visit Bahamas
- You can see the ocean bed – The Bahamas has some of the world’s bluest, purest, and warmest water, something that every traveller should encounter.
- You can tour the Pig beachwhere feral pigs have taken over an island all to themselves!
- You’re in for an underwater adventure unlike any other. The Bahamas is home to the world’s biggest underwater cave structures, the world’s third-biggest barrier reef, and several long-forgotten shipwrecks. In addition to that, this underwater world is packed with gorgeous aquatic life.
- You have lots of exceptional activities to pick from – From underwater wrecks and dolphin dives to birdwatching, fishing trips, and more, The Bahamas provide more than enough distinctive adventures for one lifetime.
- Delicious Bahamian food – Bahamian food is a diverse blend of southern American (think cornbread, peas, and rice) and Caribbean (think hot seafood) styles. Conch, a lavish shellfish, is the island’s national food, and countless Bahamians have learned how to prepare a range of conch dishes like conch soup, conch fritters, and conch pizza. All occupied islands of the Bahamas have a remarkable selection of chic restaurants, eateries, and cafés to select from.
- See the swimming pigs – The popular swimming pigs are a rising, global sensation in Exuma, Bahamas. The world’s rich and famous have gathered to Bahamian shores to encounter one of the strangest and captivating animal activities up close and you could swim with them, too.
- You’ll still be able to enjoy a one of a kind holiday experience – There are 14 Islands in Nassau, and these islands remain among the world’s top holiday destinations.
- Discover the country’s history at Pirates of Nassau.
- You can tour the Dean’s Blue Hole, one of the deepest blue holes in the world.
- Bahamian Caves underneath this island paradise provide a look into alien worlds.
The Best Time to Visit the Bahamas
Although the beaches are more packed, the best time to visit the Bahamas is during high season, which goes from mid-December to mid-April, making it a brilliant location for a warm winter getaway. Bahamian summers are usually warm and occasionally rainy, with daytime temperatures rising to about 89.7°F. The low season goes on from June to November.
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