Caribbean vacations
Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Bahamas Travel Tips and Visitor Information

Atlantis Nassau
Atlantis is a popular tourist attraction in Nassau. Copyright: Bahamas Tourism Board
The top Bahamas travel tip is the simple fact that the islands are the most popular cruise destination in the world.

About 1.5 million people visit the Bahamas every year for overnight stays, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. But 4.8 million people visit the islands by cruise ship.

This eastern Caribbean cruise destination ranks first in total tourism in the Caribbean region.

It is an overwhelming first among all cruise destinations and sixth among stopover vacations after Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Cancun and Puerto Rico.

Anyone looking for travel advice about the Bahamas should know that it is a convenience stop on the way to other Caribbean destinations. Nassau has a large shopping and dining district that will fill an afternoon.

Beaches are decent but not the best in the Caribbean. Golf is one of the top land activities.

Overnight visitors find the shorter and sometimes direct flights to the islands, which lie conveniently close to Florida, make it attractive as a short-term stopover. It is much quicker than flying an extra 1,000 miles more south to an island such as Aruba.

Tourists mainly flock to two main islands -- Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island -- followed by numerous outer islands. Treasure Cay Beach and Harbour Island Beach are two of the most popular and well-publicized beaches in the islands.

Duty-free shopping includes Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand Bahama Island and the Welcome Center at Festival Place on Nassau. Special events such as Junkanoo make the islands more festival oriented than most.

Bahamas Attractions

Port Lucaya Marketplace © Big Stock Photo
Cruise visitors will find that Nassau has more attractions than Freeport.

Atlantis Water Park is one of the most famous attractions in Nassau. Freeport is known for Port Lucaya Marketplace.

Atlantis is a massive hotel, dining and waterpark complex that is easily visible from the cruise docks.

Port Lucaya Marketplace is a 12-acre shopping and dining complex on the waterfront of Grand Bahama Island.

Other unique attractions in the islands include Exuma Caves, Land and Sea Park, Lucayan National Park and Hamilton's Settlement.

Land attractions include six golf courses. Watersports activities including a high number of dive operators.

Visitors also can charter fishing boats, dive boats and reef tours.

Tourism / When to Go

U.S. citizens require a valid, government issued photo ID along with the proof of passport application for entry into the destination.

Canadian citizens need a passport, official birth certificate OR original naturalization /citizenship certificate.

Cruise visitors simply need to have their ship ID cards available when leaving the ship and returning.

Like most Caribbean destinations in the hurricane path, the peak time to go is March followed by April and then July as a close third.

The least popular time to go is September followed by October because of the risk of heavy rains.

Bahamas Weather

The average temperature from September to May is 70-75 degrees, while the average from June to August is 80-85 degrees.

Beach lovers will find that summers are the best time for warm ocean waters. They get too cool for swimming from late fall through early spring.

The climate is tropical marine and moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream. Hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage.

Bahamas Map

Currency / Tipping / Taxes

The local currency is the Bahamian Dollar, which is roughly equal in value to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands.

Most hotels add a service charge. Prepare to offer 15 percent at restaurants and to taxi drivers. There is a 12 percent hotel tax. Bellboys and porters usually receive $1 per bag.

Passports / Entry Requirements

U.S. citizens do not need to obtain visas to visit the Bahamas. But a passport is required to re-enter the U.S.

Canadian citizens require either a passport, official birth certificate or original naturalization / citizenship certificate along with a return ticket and proof of funds to support the visit.

Stays for Canadian visitors cannot exceed 21 days.

Cruise visitors must show a shipboard ID to exit and re-enter the ship.

Before leaving the U.S., sea travelers must have a valid U.S. passport or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID.

Culture / Geography

English is the official language with Creole spoken among Haitian immigrants.

The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking.

The geography consists of long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills.

Sources / More information

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Travel Tips   

September 07, 2016

More Tips