The Bahamas islands: A Simple (But Complete) Guide
A Vacation to the Bahamas
Already wishing you could trade in your cold weather hat and mitts for a hammock swinging softly in a warm ocean breeze, a bathing suit and maybe even a colourful fruity drink at your side this winter? Look no further than The Bahamas.
This collection of 700-plus islands, cays and islets sprinkled across the Atlantic Ocean lies just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The country welcomes about 6 million tourists a year, and it’s easy to see why. Sun, sand and miles of coastline bathed by the clearest water on the planet await you! And the archipelago is an ecological oasis – the world’s third largest fringing barrier reef (The Andros) is home to many species of exotic ocean life.
The best part: you can soak up the Bahamian sun, enjoy the tropical metropolis capital Nassau and even take some unforgettable adventures on a modest budget. Here are our best tips based on our personal experiences and research about this perfect year-round destination.
Take public transportation
Once you touch down at one of several airports or step off your cruise ship, you’ll have different transportation options depending on the island you’re headed to. There are 57 airports and airstrips across the islands, many of which have port of entry status. You could take the national Bahamas Air airline, an air-conditioned Bahamas Ferry, or perhaps a mailboat (essentially, slower ferries). You can also charter a yacht or flight.
From there, you’ll also want to consider your options for getting around the island you’re staying on. Most likely, you’ll end up on Nassau of New Providence, Paradise Island or Grand Bahama. Here, options are for the most part similar to what you’d see at home. Take a public bus (also called jitneys), taxi, or rent a car. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can even rent a scooter or take a horse carriage ride. Bermuda Attractions has a great guide to getting around the island, as does bahamas.com.
Stay in Nassau to save cash
As for where to stay in Nassau, you’ll find there are a range of options even on a budget. Rent an Airbnb to save cash on a hotel room, or find a good deal on a nearby hotel or villa. The Towne Hotel and Nassau Palm Hotel in the heart of downtown Nassau, along with Sunrise Beach Villas, are all close enough to the action that you’ll save on transportation costs.
Discover Nassau and Paradise Island
When you venture outside to explore Nassau Paradise Island, you’ll discover it lives up to its name. Whether you’re looking to dive to the water’s depths to meet some of the beautiful marine life, search for handmade treasures in locally owned shops or indulge in a decadent night out, it’s all here. Learn more about what you can do for free in Nassau.
Tip: No need to switch your US currency to the Bahamian Dollar before you take off; the two are almost the same in value.
Source: Everything Everywhere
Though Mark found The Bahamas to be Americanized, he did discover some attractions worth checking out, including the massive 141-acre Aquaventure Atlantis Waterpark. As the Caribbean’s largest water-themed attraction, it draws international attention for its grandeur; you’ll find pools and beaches galore, one of the world’s largest open-air, man-made marine mammal habitats at Dolphin Cay, luxury accommodations, restaurants, fitness and sports facilities, and much more.
You’ll probably get to see homes of a few high-profile celebrities, including Nicholas Cage and Oprah.
And the Rum Punch served onboard the island cruises is a must.
Tip: Try some Bahamian cuisine – shellfish, lobsters, crabs, and tropical fruits are popular. Pineapple tarts and fruitcake are among your delicious choices for dessert.
Source: Everything Everywhere
Craving a little taste of home? You’re in luck – there are Burger Kings all across the island to satisfy your appetite.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, you’ve got to visit The Exumas, a chain of islands that stretches just south of Nassau. You’ll be greeted by miles of soft sparkling white sand beaches, turquoise waters and wondrous aquatic life, including stingrays and pigs – yes, pigs! Wild swimming pigs can be found near Staniel Cay on Big Major Cay, and you can even jump in the water with them. More about that (and a few other things to do while you’re there, here and here).
Planning that dream trip
As we’ve discovered, The Bahamas is an unspoiled paradise of immaculately clean beaches, blue waters, sublime resorts, and an entire ecosystem of marine wildlife to experience up close – all of which you can see on a budget.
Are you about to make your first visit to The Bahamas? Returning to a favourite vacation spot? What are your best tips when it comes to saving for vacations? We’d love to hear what you’ve planned, or any tips we missed! Share your story in the comments.