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Bahamas vacation travel guide

Why choose the Bahamas?

The Bahamas is renowned for its pristine, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. From the famous Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island to the secluded shores of the Exumas, there’s a beach for every type of traveler.

 

The clear waters of the Bahamas are perfect for snorkeling, diving, and swimming. The archipelago is home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world, offering breathtaking underwater experiences.

 

But the Bahamas is not just about beaches; it’s also home to exotic wildlife, including the famous swimming pigs of the Exumas, the endangered Bahama parrots, and the world’s deepest blue hole.

 

Located just off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas is easily accessible for many travelers, offering a quick escape to paradise. With over 700 islands and cays, the Bahamas is a versatile destination that promises unforgettable experiences.

bahamas vacation

Planning your Bahamas vacation

• Visa: Many visitors, including those from the United States, Canada, and several European countries, do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. However, requirements can change, so it’s essential to check the latest visa requirements for your nationality.

• Vaccinations: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines for most travelers to the Bahamas due to the risks of these diseases in the region.

• Flight Booking: Check out our flight booking tips to make sure you get the best value for your money.

• Currency: The official currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar (BSD), which is pegged to the US Dollar (USD) at a 1:1 ratio. US dollars are widely accepted throughout the islands, making it unnecessary to exchange currency for most visitors.

 

bahamas vacation

Suggested 5-day itinerary for the Bahamas

Day 1: Arrival in Nassau: Visit the Straw Market for some local shopping, where you can find Bahamian crafts and souvenirs. Enjoy a traditional Bahamian dinner at Arawak Cay, also known as the Fish Fry, where you can sample local delicacies like conch salad and fried fish.

Day 2: Exploring Nassau: Explore the historic sites of Nassau, including the Queen’s Staircase, Fort Fincastle, and the Government House. Visit the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Even if you’re not staying there, you can purchase a day pass to enjoy the water park and aquarium.

Day 3: Exuma Cays Adventure: Take a guided day trip to the Exuma Cays. This usually includes swimming with the famous pigs at Big Major Cay, snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto, and relaxing at one of the pristine beaches.

Day 4: Cultural Immersion: Attend a Junkanoo workshop to learn about this unique Bahamian festival. Visit the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas to view contemporary and historical Bahamian art.

Day 5: Harbour Island: Take a ferry to Harbour Island. Spend the day relaxing on the famous Pink Sands Beach and explore the charming architecture of Dunmore Town.

 

bahamas vacation

Can't-miss Bahamas attractions

• Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park: This is the first of its kind in the world, a protected marine park where you can see an array of marine life in crystal-clear waters. It’s a haven for snorkelers and divers, offering breathtaking underwater landscapes.

• The Blue Hole: Dean’s Blue Hole near Long Island is the second deepest blue hole in the world and a marvel for divers. It plunges 202 meters (663 ft) into the ocean and is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and stunning natural beauty.

• Andros Barrier Reef: As the third-largest barrier reef in the world, Andros Barrier Reef is a diver’s paradise. It’s teeming with vibrant marine life and offers some of the best diving spots, including wall dives, wrecks, and blue holes.

• Lucayan National Park: Located on Grand Bahama Island, this park features one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. It’s a fantastic place for eco-tourists and adventurers, with opportunities to kayak, hike, and explore the caves.

• The Abacos: The Abacos are known for their calm waters, making them perfect for boating and sailing. The area is dotted with small islands, secluded beaches, and quaint colonial towns, offering a more laid-back experience compared to the bustling Nassau.

bahamas vacation

Our favorite food in the Bahamas

• Bahamian Stew Fish: This hearty stew features local fish (commonly grouper, snapper, or turbot) seasoned with spices, tomatoes, onions, celery, and bell peppers. It’s slow-cooked to perfection and often served with a side of Johnny cake or white rice.

• Peas ‘n Rice: A staple side dish in the Bahamas, peas ‘n rice is made with pigeon peas, rice, spices, tomatoes, and sometimes pork or bacon for added flavor. It complements almost any main dish and is a true taste of Bahamian home cooking.

• Conch Salad: This refreshing ceviche-style dish is made with raw conch, diced and mixed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, citrus juice (usually lime or orange), and sometimes spicy peppers. It’s a must-try for seafood lovers.

• Johnny Cake: A versatile Bahamian bread, Johnny cakes are slightly sweet, dense, and baked until they have a golden crust. They can accompany meals or be enjoyed as a snack with butter or jam.

• Guanábana (Soursop) Ice Cream: For those with a sweet tooth, trying guanábana (or soursop) ice cream is a must. This tropical fruit offers a creamy, citrusy flavor that’s both refreshing and unique.

Bahamas why eSIM

Cultural experiences in the Bahamas

• Visit the Straw Market: The Straw Market in Nassau is a great place to experience Bahamian craftsmanship. Here, you can find handmade items such as straw hats, bags, dolls, and baskets. Bargaining is part of the fun and helps you engage with local artisans.

• Bahamian Cuisine: Sampling traditional Bahamian dishes is a cultural experience in itself. From conch salad to Bahamian stew fish, the flavors of the Bahamas tell the story of the islands’ history and diversity. Participating in a cooking class or food tour can deepen your appreciation for Bahamian cuisine.

• Rake and Scrape Music: Experience the unique sounds of rake and scrape music, a traditional Bahamian music genre that uses improvised instruments like saws, goatskin drums, and accordions. Attending a live performance or a local rake and scrape band can be a memorable experience.

• Bahama Village Market: In Key West, the Bahama Village Market offers a glimpse into the cultural and historical ties between the Bahamas and Florida. It’s a great place to explore Bahamian culture through food, music, and crafts.

• Tea Party at the Government House: In Nassau, the Governor General’s wife hosts a monthly tea party at the Government House, offering a unique opportunity to experience British colonial traditions mixed with Bahamian hospitality.

bahamas vacation

Unique facts about the Bahamas

• The Blue Holes: The Bahamas has the highest concentration of blue holes in the world. These underwater sinkholes offer a unique and challenging environment for divers. The most famous, Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island, is the second deepest blue hole in the world and a popular site for freediving competitions.

• Rich History of Piracy: In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the Bahamas served as a stronghold for pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard. Nassau was known as a pirate republic due to its lawless and strategic location, which allowed pirates to easily capture passing ships. Today, visitors can explore pirate history in museums and forts throughout the islands.

• The Bahama Bank: The Great Bahama Bank is one of the largest underwater limestone platforms in the world, creating shallow waters that glow in shades of blue and turquoise. These shallow seas are not only beautiful but also rich in marine life, making them perfect for fishing, snorkeling, and exploring.

• Underwater Cave Systems: The Bahamas hosts an extensive network of underwater caves, providing unique opportunities for advanced divers. These caves are significant both scientifically and historically, with some containing ancient Lucayan Indian artifacts.

• The Swimming Pigs of Exuma: Big Major Cay (Pig Beach) in the Exumas is uninhabited by humans but famous for its swimming pigs. No one is entirely sure how the pigs got there, but they’ve become a major tourist attraction, swimming out to greet boatloads of visitors.

 

bahamas vacation

How do I avoid Bahamas roaming charges?

Before international travel, you should always make a plan for how you’ll use your phone.

Bahamas roaming charges can add up quickly, and you don’t want to get stuck with a huge phone bill after an amazing vacation.

Carrier travel data packages are often expensive, with limited data and a lot of restrictions.

A budget-friendly way to avoid Bahamas roaming charges is to download a Bahamas eSIM that comes with a prepaid Bahamas data package.

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Travel tips for your Bahamas vacation

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Famous festivals in the Bahamas

Junkanoo Festival: Perhaps the most famous Bahamian cultural event, Junkanoo is a street parade with roots in the days of slavery, celebrated on Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day (January 1). Revelers dress in elaborate costumes and dance to the rhythm of cowbells, drums, and whistles.

Pineapple Festival: Held in Eleuthera, this festival celebrates the island’s history of pineapple farming. Taking place in early June, it features pineapple-themed events, culinary competitions, cultural performances, and music.

Regattas: The Bahamas is famous for its sailing regattas, which are competitive sailing events combined with onshore festivals. Notable regattas include the National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma, and the Long Island Regatta. These events showcase traditional Bahamian sloop sailing and are accompanied by parties, music, and food.

Andros Crab Fest: Celebrated in June in Andros, the largest island of the Bahamas, this festival honors the local crab-catching and cooking traditions. Visitors can enjoy crab races, crab culinary competitions, and traditional music and dancing.

Conchman Triathlon: For sports enthusiasts, the Conchman Triathlon in Grand Bahama in November offers a unique blend of competition and celebration, featuring swimming, biking, and running events.

bahamas vacation

Famous local markets in the Bahamas

The Straw Market in Nassau: The most famous market in the Bahamas, located on Bay Street in Nassau. Here, local artisans sell handmade straw and sisal items, including hats, bags, baskets, and dolls. Beyond straw goods, you’ll find Bahamian crafts, wood carvings, jewelry, and souvenirs. Bargaining is part of the experience, so don’t hesitate to negotiate prices.

Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport, Grand Bahama: This market is a mix of shops, restaurants, and stalls selling a wide variety of Bahamian crafts and international goods. It’s an excellent place for finding authentic Bahamian art, music, and clothing.

Bahama Art and Handicraft in Nassau: Although not a market in the traditional sense, this establishment offers a wide range of authentic Bahamian crafts and art pieces from local artisans. It’s an excellent place to find unique gifts and souvenirs that support local artists.

The Craft Centre at Cable Beach: Situated near many of the resorts on Cable Beach, this market is smaller but offers a variety of Bahamian-made goods, including jewelry, ceramics, and textiles. It’s a convenient option for tourists staying in the area.

Festival Place at Prince George Wharf in Nassau: Located at the Nassau cruise port, Festival Place is a colorful and welcoming shopping center designed to resemble a traditional Bahamian village. It hosts over 40 local vendors selling handmade crafts, souvenirs, and Bahamian music, making it an easily accessible spot for cruise visitors to purchase local goods.

 

bahamas vacation

Famous beaches in the Bahamas

Pig Beach (Big Major Cay): This uninhabited island is famous for its swimming pigs, making it a unique and popular spot for tourists. The pigs are friendly and have become one of the Bahamas’ most unexpected attractions.

Pink Sands Beach (Harbour Island): Renowned for its three-mile-long pink sand beach, this is one of the most photographed and famous beaches in the world. The pink hue comes from microscopic coral insects, known as Foraminifera, which have a bright pink or red shell.

Treasure Cay Beach (Abaco Islands): Often listed among the top beaches in the world, Treasure Cay Beach offers miles of powdery white sand and calm, clear waters, making it perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park: While not a single beach, this protected area in the Exumas consists of an array of islands with some of the most pristine and untouched beaches in the Bahamas, offering incredible snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Cape Santa Maria Beach (Long Island): Named after one of Christopher Columbus’s ships, this beach features incredibly clear waters and soft, white sand. It’s often ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas.

bahamas vacation

Go on a Bahamas shopping spree!

Authentic Bahamian Products: Look for authentic Bahamian products like Bahama Hand Prints, Androsia Batik, rum cakes, and locally produced rum. These items make great gifts and help you bring a taste of the Bahamas home with you.

Check for Events and Festivals: Keep an eye out for local events and festivals where vendors sell unique goods that may not be available in shops or markets. These are great opportunities to find something special.

Bahamian Spices and Cuisines: Visit local grocery stores or specialty shops for Bahamian spices, sauces, and teas. These items can be a great way to recreate Bahamian flavors at home.

Beachwear and Resort Fashion: The Bahamas is known for its beach lifestyle, so you’ll find plenty of shops offering stylish beachwear, from swimsuits to light summer dresses and sandals.

Sunday Shopping: Keep in mind that many shops in the Bahamas close on Sundays, so plan your shopping excursions accordingly.

Plan the perfect Bahamas vacation

  • The Bahamas in January

    January in the Bahamas is a warm escape with temperatures around 21-25°C (70-77°F), ideal for beach and water activities. It’s a popular month, so book early to enjoy this sunny paradise.

  • The Bahamas in February

    Similar to January, February offers comfortable temperatures ranging from 21-25°C (70-77°F). It’s perfect for outdoor activities, with slightly fewer crowds post-holiday season.

  • The Bahamas in March

    As spring arrives, temperatures slightly increase to 22-26°C (72-79°F). March marks the beginning of the warmer season, ideal for water sports and exploring the islands.

  • The Bahamas in April

    With temperatures between 23-27°C (73-81°F), April sees warmer days and is the last month before the rainy season begins. It’s an excellent time for snorkeling and diving.

  • The Bahamas in May

    Temperatures climb to 24-29°C (75-84°F). May introduces the start of the rainy season, but you’ll still enjoy many sunny days, perfect for beach-going before the summer humidity sets in.

  • The Bahamas in June

    Kicking off the summer, June temperatures range from 26-31°C (79-88°F). Expect more frequent showers but also plenty of sunshine, making it great for tropical adventures.

  • The Bahamas in July

    One of the hottest months, with temperatures around 27-32°C (81-90°F). July is also part of the hurricane season, so while outdoor activities are plentiful, stay informed about the weather.

  • The Bahamas in August

    Similar to July, temperatures are between 27-32°C (81-90°F). It’s peak hurricane season, so consider travel insurance, but don’t miss the chance for water activities in the warm sea.

  • The Bahamas in September

    September sees temperatures of 26-31°C (79-88°F) and is within the hurricane season. It’s a quieter month for tourism, offering a more relaxed atmosphere for those who venture.

  • The Bahamas in October

    Temperatures cool slightly to 25-30°C (77-86°F). The rainy season winds down, making it a good time for those looking to avoid the peak season crowds but still enjoy warm weather.

  • The Bahamas in November

    Marking the transition to cooler weather, November offers temperatures of 23-28°C (73-82°F). It’s an ideal month for exploring the islands with less humidity and fewer rain showers.

  • The Bahamas in December

    December brings cooler temperatures of 21-26°C (70-79°F), offering a festive and comfortable climate for holiday travelers. It’s a popular month, so plan ahead for a festive Bahamian vacation.

How do I use my phone in Bahamas?

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Choose a data package

Start by deciding how much data you’ll need. Then choose a prepaid data package for your Bahamas vacation. If you need more, it’s easy to buy more Bahamas data.

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Install your eSIM

An eSIM is a downloadable SIM card, so you’ll install your eSIM on your phone or tablet. It takes less than two minutes, and then you will have a Bahamas eSIM on your phone.

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Activate your package

When you’re ready to start using your Bahamas eSIM you’ll activate your data package and make sure your device knows to use your Bahamas eSIM for all mobile data.

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