Cruise and Beach Destinations
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Bahamas Beach Vacation Visitor Tips

Atlantis Nassau
Atlantis is a popular tourist attraction in Nassau. Copyright: Bahamas Tourism Board
Hotel and resort visitors to the Bahamas can choose between busy and crowded or quiet and serene.

That’s because the Bahamas consist of multiple islands that offer hotels and resorts. New Providence is the most popular hotel island because it has the large city and cruise port at Nassau. But others include Grand Bahama, Andros, Eleuthera, Great Abaco and others.

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.

The islands -- there are more than 700 of them -- lie just to the north of the Caribbean Sea. They attract more tourists than any other destination in the Caribbean region.

They are an overwhelming first among all cruise destinations and sixth among overnight 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.

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.

Hotel and Resort Visitor Tips

The largest hotels and resorts are on Nassau while many others are small or not much more than villas on the rest of the islands.

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.

Hotel and resort visitors most likely will fly into Lynden Pindling International Airport on Nassau. Anyone who isn’t staying on New Providence will either take a boat or a smaller plane to the outlying islands.

Anyone who plans to stay on Providence Island to take advantage of Nassau and the attractions there will likely stay at one of the hotels and resorts that mostly line the north coast of the island. The north coast is where most of the beaches are available.

Bahamas Tourist Attractions

Port Lucaya Marketplace © Big Stock Photo
Nassau has a large shopping and dining district that will fill an afternoon. Nassau and Providence Island have more attractions than any other Bahama islands.

Atlantis Water Park is one of the most famous attractions in Nassau. Atlantis is a massive hotel, dining and waterpark complex that is easily visible from the cruise docks.

Other attractions on Providence Island include Nassau Straw Market, Fort Fincastle and the Queen's Staircase.

Hotel and resort visitors to the islands are stuck on their island. They can easily take quick flights or boats to other island attractions.

Freeport is known for Port Lucaya Marketplace. 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.

Bahamas Weather

Bahamas temperatures
Nassau monthly average temperatures
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 the Gulf Stream. Hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage.

Like most Caribbean destinations, the most popular time to visit is March followed by April. July is a close third. The least popular time to visit is September followed by October because of the risk of heavy rains.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nassau Hotel Map

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October 19, 2019
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