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Bahamas Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated February 2024

Bahamas Visitors Guide: How To Get There & The Best Things To Do In Bahamas
Bahamas Visitors Guide: How To Get There & The Best Things To Do In Bahamas

Welcome to The Bahamas

The Bahamas has something for everyone. Whether you’re a single wanting to get away, a couple looking for quality time, or a family seeking adventure, the Bahamas is the ultimate island destination. Swim in the blue waters, explore vibrant markets and visit historic cultural sites in this tropical paradise. With 700 islands and 2,500 cays, the opportunities are endless! This guide will help you better explore, relax and enjoy your next Bahamas vacation.

The Bahamas has something for everyone. Whether you’re a single wanting to get away, a couple looking for quality time, or a family seeking adventure, the Bahamas is the ultimate island destination. Swim in the blue waters, explore vibrant markets and visit historic cultural sites in this tropical paradise. With 700 islands and 2,500 cays, the opportunities are endless! This guide will help you better explore, relax and enjoy your next Bahamas vacation.

Bahamas Map

Bahamas Map

Contents

Bahamas Visitors Guide: Paradise Island
Bahamas Visitors Guide: The Best Things to Do in Bahamas

A Bit Of History

Some of the earliest settlers to The Bahamas were the Lucayan people who thrived on the islands for hundreds of years until Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. In 1649, puritan English colonists from Bermuda known as Eleutheran Adventurers arrived and settled on the island of Eleuthera.

The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, and it was around this time that pirates began to use many of smaller islands as hideouts for raiding European ships in the area, especially around Nassau. The British eventually put an end to piracy, and over the following centuries, the Bahamas flourished.

American settlers soon arrived as well, and the islands became a hotspot for trade during the Civil War and Prohibition era. In 1973, the Bahamas became a free country, ending over 300 years of British rule.

Bahamas Visitors Guide: The Best Things to Do in Bahamas

The Bahamas Today

The Bahamas have been a thriving tourist destination since 1898. The tourist economy actually began during the Prohibition era when wealthy Americans sought out the islands as an escape from the government’s restrictions. Today, thousands of people travel from all over the world to experience the countless attractions the island nation has to offer. Though the capital city Nassau on the island of New Providence has the highest population, there are numerous islands with substantial populations, tourism infrastructure, and wonderful hotel and resort options.

Bahamas Visitors Guide: The Best Things to Do in Bahamas

Is The Bahamas Safe?

The Bahamas are very attractive when it comes to having beautiful white sand beaches, but it is not the safest country in the region to travel to.

Violent crimes, assaults, and thefts have risen a bit in recent years but seldom target tourists. While the majority of crimes are due to drug or gang-related incidents, it is advised to use caution still and avoid non-touristic areas when alone or after dark.

Where are The Bahamas?

Bahamas Caribbean Map

click map to enlarge

The Bahamas are an archipelago of more than 3,000 islands, cays, and islets that stretch over 500 miles in the West Indies area of the Atlantic Ocean.

The island nation is located north of Cuba, northwest of the Dominican Republic and the Turks & Caicos, and southeast of Florida.

Bahamas Visitors Guide: Abaco Island
Bahamas Visitors Guide: Abaco Island

The Best Time to Visit The Bahamas

Looking for the best time to go to The Bahamas? The temperatures in The Bahamas range from the high 70s to high 80s year-round. However, there are dry and wet seasons. The Atlantic hurricane season is something all travelers should be aware of.

Looking for the best time to go to The Bahamas? The temperatures in The Bahamas range from the high 70s to high 80s year-round. However, there are dry and wet seasons. The Atlantic hurricane season is something all travelers should be aware of.

December to April

Mid-December to mid-April is widely considered the best time to travel to The Bahamas. The weather is perfect during this time, but this also means more tourists and higher prices on flights, hotels and tours. March to mid-April is Spring Break season in America, so popular beaches can be overrun with college kids.

May to November

This is technically the offseason and as such, you may be able to find great deals during the months of May to November. However, this is also the “rainy” season. Though the weather is still quite nice most of the time, you do risk having your trip canceled or cut short as this is also the region’s hurricane season.

December to April

Mid-December to mid-April is widely considered the best time to travel to The Bahamas. The weather is perfect during this time, but this also means more tourists and higher prices on flights, hotels and tours. March to mid-April is Spring Break season in America, so popular beaches can be overrun with college kids.

May to November

This is technically the offseason and as such, you may be able to find great deals during the months of May to November. However, this is also the “rainy” season. Though the weather is still quite nice most of the time, you do risk having your trip canceled or cut short as this is also the region’s hurricane season.

  When Is The Bahamas Hurricane Season?

The Bahamas hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with peak months being August, September, and October. The risk of hurricanes hitting the Bahamas has increased in the past few years, but they are unpredictable and not a guarantee even during peak season. Hurricanes are infrequent in the Bahamas, and when one does come, satellite forecasts generally give adequate advance warning. Be sure to check weather reports before your trip, and we always recommend getting travel insurance during these months just in case of inclement weather.

Bahamas Visitors Guide: Nassau
Bahamas Visitors Guide: Nassau

How to Get to The Bahamas & Around

There are a few ways to get to and around The Bahamas.

Arrival by Air

With 20 international airports the Bahamas welcome flights from around the world. If you want to get to the outer islands you will fly through Nassau first.

The main airport in the Bahamas is the Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS). Many American and Canadian airlines have direct flights to this airport from major cities.

If you are connecting to one of the Out Islands from Nassau, it’s a good idea to allow at least 1½ hours to clear Immigration and Customs. Then simply proceed to the domestic terminal to check-in for your departing flight.

  Search for great deals on flights here.

Arrival By Cruise

The Bahamas are a huge destination for cruise ships, and there are many ports of call within the islands. Many of the major cruise lines sail here, including Norwegian Sky, Mariner of the Seas and Disney Dream.

The top cruise ship ports in the Bahamas are Nassau on New Providence Island and Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. Each port offers visitors a different experience.

  Search for great deals on cruises here.

Shuttles in The Bahamas

While it’s easy to find airport transfers at many international airports, that’s not the case in the Bahamas. If you are interested in airport transfers, both shuttles and private transportation can be pre-arranged to pick you up and take you from the airport to your accommodation.

Private transportation transfers typically cost around $88 for a 4 passenger sedan and $160 for a 10 passenger van. Keep in mind that many of the hotels in Nassau have their own complimentary shuttles, so make sure to check with your accommodations while booking.

  You can easily book ground transportation from the airport to your hotel here.

Jitney Buses in The Bahamas

The local public transportation, known as Jitney Buses, travel to select parts of some of the islands. While they are not known for being the most punctual, they are known for being the most budget friendly way to travel around the islands.

One-way rides on Jitney Buses cost around $1.25 to $3.50 per person, and only exact change is accepted. The Jitneys operate from about 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m, however they don’t have set timetables.  

You’ll have to wave a Jitney down to get it to stop, and to get off the bus just say “stop” and the driver will pull over to let you off.

Rental Cars in The Bahamas

Many people get around the larger islands by renting a car or taxi. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, then renting a car may be worth it. 

You can rent a car upon arrival at all of the major airports in the Bahamas. Rental cars cost about $47 per day for economy cars and $62 per day for standard SUVs. You’ll need to drive on the left side of the road, and a U.S. driver’s license is valid for driving in the Bahamas for up to 3 months.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here.

Water Taxis & Ferries in The Bahamas

Island hopping can be a bit difficult in the Bahamas. However, water taxis can be used as transport from Nassau to Paradise Island.  They are also common throughout the Out Islands.

Visitors can also use inter-island ferries that go from Nassau to Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Islands, the Abacos, Long Island, Andros and the Exumas.

Ferries cost around $81-$110 for a one-way trip and $143-$199 for a round trip.

Bahamas Visitors Guide: Reff

Things to Do in The Bahamas

Bahamas's Top Highlights

The Bahamas really do have something for everyone.  Here are just a few of the activities to enjoy in The Bahamas.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Hit The Beach
The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Hit The Beach

Visit the World-Famous Beaches

The Bahamas have some of the most amazing beaches in the world. Two of the most notable are Cable Beach in Nassau and the pink beaches of Harbour Island. The pink beaches get their pink color from an organism with a reddish-pink shell, known as foraminifera.

Cable Beach, on the other hand, has white sand, turquoise waters, and an abundance of colorful fish. Many islands have incredible secluded beaches like the one in North Exuma pictured above.

  Take a look at this Oasis Ocean Rose Island Charter.

  Check out more in our Best Bahamas Beaches Guide.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Go Boating
The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Go Boating

Go Boating!

Sail. Catamaran. Kayak. There are so many ways to get out on the water in The Bahamas. Hire a private charter to go snorkeling at Pearl Island, do some private beaching at Rose Island, or take a swim with native sea turtles at Green Cay.

Join a sunset dinner cruise and enjoy a Caribbean cruise ON the Caribbean! Or head out for a day of sport fishing. There is a wide variety of tours for visitors to enjoy.

  Take a look at this highly rated sunset dinner cruise from Nassau.

  Charter a fishing boat for the day!

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Standard health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country so travel insurance will cover any emergency medical needs as well as trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), flight delays, missed connections and more. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Diving & Snorkeling

Enjoy the Epic Diving and Snorkeling

There are numerous islands that offer fantastic diving and snorkeling in The Bahamas. Grand Bahama Island is one of the best, with glassy blue waters and unique coral reefs. Paradise Cove is a great option if you are looking to snorkel directly off the beach.

The small and secluded Rose Island is also renowned for its bustling reef, abundant with tropical fish and shipwrecks. Rose island has no formal infrastructure, but can be easily accessed from Nassau or Paradise Island. There are also several guided snorkeling tours available throughout the islands, such as this Pear Island Snorkeling Tour.

  Snorkeling options abound in the Bahamas. Book one of these amazing snorkeling tours to swim with turtles, sharks, or the famous Bahamian swimming pigs!

  Take a look at these great scuba diving tours in the Bahamas.

  Check out this Snorkeling The Spanish Well tour or this Swimming With Turtles on Rose Island tour.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Explore National Parks

Explore the National Parks

There are over 30 National Parks in The Bahamas. Abaco National Park is a birdwatcher’s delight, known to be an ideal location to spot the Bahama parrot or white-crowned pigeon (pictured above). One of the most frequented and unique national parks is the Lucayan National Park, where visitors can explore six miles of underwater caves and tunnels.

Another popular location is the Clifton Heritage National Park, which features hiking trails, caves, old plantations, and beaches for snorkeling. For the true nature-lover seeking a rustic outdoor adventure, Primeval Forest National Park offers an undisturbed forest featuring caverns and sinkholes that are accessed by boardwalks, steps, and bridges.

  Take a look at this amazing ATV National Park Tour or this awesome Bonefish National Park Kayaking tour.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Visit Glass Window Bridge

Visit the Glass Window Bridge on Eleuthera Island

The Glass Window Bridge is fondly referred to as the “narrowest place on earth”. This man-made bridge got its name from an 1895 painting by the artist Winslow Homer. Here, visitors can see the deep Atlantic Ocean meet the calm turquoise waters of the Bahamas.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Eat At Arawak Cay
The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Eat At Arawak Cay

Dine at Arawak Cay for a Foodie’s Delight

Arawak Cay, located on West Bay Street in Nassau, is one of the most popular Bahamian restaurants in the region. The establishment has been nicknamed “The Fish Fry” and offers many seafood delicacies such as shrimp, lobster, fried snapper (pictured above), and conch. Make sure to wash your food down with some Kalik, “the beer of The Bahamas.”

  There are several great food tour options in the Bahamas. Check out this Nassau Food Tasting and Cultural walking tour.

  Take a look at this great Nassau Rum and Food walking tour perfect for those wanting to taste their way around Nassau.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Island Hooping
The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Island Hooping

Island Hop to Blue Lagoon Island or Harbour Island

Make sure you enjoy all that The Bahamas has to offer by island hopping! Some great locations outside of Nassau are Blue Lagoon Island and Harbour Island. Blue Lagoon Island is famous for its playful dolphins that often interact with their visitors by pushing them through the water with their snouts.

Harbour Island, on the other hand, is famous for its pink sand beach (pictured above), which many say is one of the best beaches in the world.

  Check out this amazing Pearl Island Private Ocean View Cabana.

  Take a look at these great Blue Lagoon Segway tour or this Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day tour.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Visit Farmers Markets & Distillery

Browse the Farmers' Markets and John Waltings Distillery

A great place to meet some locals is at one of Bahama’s famous farmer’s markets! A popular option is Nassau’s Straw Market which has been around since the 1940s and offers food, woven straw goods, and souvenirs.

The Doongalik Farmer’s Market is also highly recommended, offering local fruits, veggies, and even sorbets. After enjoying the farmer’s markets, you can walk over to John Watling’s Distillery which produces small-batch rum and is located in an 18th century estate.

  Check out this fun Rum Reggae and Rhythm Tour that takes you to John Watling’s Distillery.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: See Some Art
The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: See Some Art

Tour the Art Galleries

There are many highly acclaimed art galleries throughout The Bahamas for visitors to enjoy. Some of the most popular are Leo’s Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (pictured above), and Sandpiper Arts and Crafts. Window shop and enjoy the craftsmanship, or purchase a one-of-a-kind piece as a keepsake.

The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Eat Conch
The Best Things To Do In Bahamas: Eat Conch

Eat Conch!

You can’t visit The Bahamas without trying the national food: conch. This shellfish has a texture similar to squid and can be steamed, fried, or served raw. Visitors can enjoy this tropical delicacy in a conch salad (pictured above), fritter, chowder, and even a sandwich. If you’re interested in sampling the best foods Bahamas has to offer, consider booking the Nassau Bites and Sites Food and Cultural Tour or Nassau’s Island Food Tour.

  Take a look at this amazing Conch Cooking Lesson and Tasting.

Where to Stay in The Bahamas

There are all types of accommodations in The Bahamas. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For great hotel info and recommendations, check out our Bahamas Hotel Guide or our Bahamas All Inclusive Resort Guide.

Bahamas Hotel Guide: Ocean West Boutique Hotel, Nassau

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Bahamas Hotel Guide

What to Eat in The Bahamas

You can find a wide range of wonderful bites to eat in the Bahamas. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, check out our Bahamas Restaurant Guide.

The Best Bahamas Restaurants: Brigadier’s Restaurant, Andros

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Bahamas Restaurant Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a checklist to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Trip Guide.

What to Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our guide for what to bring on your Caribbean vacation!

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Wilson Family says:

    Are the bars currently open in Nassau?

    1. Daniel says:

      Yes, they are. Enjoy!

  2. Zepp says:

    Excellent guide, thank you for putting it together. Much appreciated.

    1. Daniel says:

      You bet. So happy you enjoy it. More to come!

  3. Leslie Anne and Mark says:

    Which is better to visit? Grand Bahama or Nassau? Thanks!

  4. Taylor H. says:

    Thank you for the great guide! This was my first time visiting the Bahamas outside of a cruise and I couldn’t have planned a better itinerary without your help.

    1. Daniel says:

      We’re glad you enjoyed it! We will be adding more content soon.

  5. Harriet says:

    Thank you for all the great tips! 🙂

    1. Daniel says:

      Happy to help Samantha!

  6. Lily & Braxton says:

    The Rum, Reggae, and Rhythm tour was the coolest experience on our trip, and we would have never known about it without your guide. Thanks!

  7. Caleb Waugh says:

    Thank you for recommending the Pear Island Snorkeling Tour. It was the high-light of our trip and some of the best snorkeling we’ve had in the Bahamas.

    1. Daniel says:

      Awesome!

  8. Annette Hale says:

    Would you recommend visiting the Bahamas on its own, or arriving by cruise ship for a day or two?

    1. Daniel says:

      Definitely on its own. Too much to see in a day or two!

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