Bahamas
 Overview
 Restaurants
 Sights & Activities
 Nightlife
 Shopping
 Smart Travel Tips  

TRAVELER TOOLS
Travel Alerts
Flight Status
Airport Information
Get deals via e-mail
Currency Converter
Driving Directions
Weather
Passport Information

Bahamas

Smart Travel Tips

Go To :
Arriving & Departing |  Contacts & Resources |  Getting Around


Arriving & Departing
 
By Air

Most international flights to the Bahamas -- to Nassau, Freeport, and the Out Islands alike -- connect through cities in Florida, New York, or Atlanta, depending on the airline. Most domestic flights make a quick stop in Miami. If you are flying to the Out Islands, you may have to make a connection in both Florida and Nassau. British Airways flies direct from London to Nassau; Alitalia has a direct route from Milan to Freeport during summer months only.

The major gateways to the Bahamas include:

Freeport (FPO) (PHONE: 242/352-4504), on Grand Bahama Island.

Nassau International Airport (NAS) (PHONE: 242/377-7281), 8 miles west of Nassau by Lake Killarney on New Providence Island.

There are also some direct flights from Florida to Out Islands airports such as Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay in the Abacos.

A direct flight from New York City to Nassau takes approximately three hours. The flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Nassau is two hours, and the flight from Miami to Governor's Harbour takes about an hour with a prop plane.

Carriers

A few major U.S. carriers fly into the Bahamas. British Airways is the only European carrier with flights into Nassau -- about 3 per week. Other European carriers get you as close as Miami.

Continental codeshare partner Gulfstream International Airways has nearly 200 flights per day in Florida and the Bahamas -- Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach to Nassau, Freeport, Treasure Cay, Paradise Island, Marsh Harbour, and North Eleuthera. Delta flies direct to Nassau from New York, Orlando, and Atlanta. US Airways flies direct from Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina, to Nassau; from Miami to North Eleuthera and Governor's Harbour; from Orlando to Treasure Cay; and from West Palm Beach to Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour. From Canada, Air Canada flies from Montréal and Toronto to Nassau and Freeport (seasonally).

There are also smaller airlines with service to the Bahamas. Air Sunshine flies out of Fort Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, New Bight on Cat Island, Governor's Harbour, and George Town. American Eagle flies to Nassau, Freeport, Governor's Harbour, Marsh Harbour, George Town, and Treasure Cay from Miami. Bahamasair, the national carrier of the Bahamas, flies from Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, with connections to George Town, Stella Maris, Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, Acklins, Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera (North Eleuthera, Governor's Harbour, and Rock Sound), George Town, Inagua, Stella Maris, and San Salvador. There's a direct flight from West Palm Beach to Marsh Harbour. Chalks Ocean Airways flies to Paradise Island, Bimini, and Walkers Cay from Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Comair flies to Nassau from Cincinnati and Orlando. Island Express flies from Fort Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, and North Eleuthera. Lynx Air International connects Fort Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour, Freeport, Cat Island, and George Town, Great Exuma. Twin Air flies out of Fort Lauderdale to Abaco, Eleuthera, Treasure Cay, and Governor's Harbour.

To reach the more remote islands, fly Bahamasair or charter a plane at Nassau International Airport through Sky Unlimited. Cherokee Air runs charters from Marsh Harbour. Major Air flies out of Freeport.

Major Airlines from the U.S. and Canada

Air Canada (PHONE: 888/247-2262, www.aircanada.ca).

Gulfstream International Airways (PHONE: 800/525-0280, www.gulfstreamair.com).

Delta (PHONE: 800/221-1212 or 800/241-4141, www.delta.com).

US Airways (PHONE: 800/428-4322, www.usair.com).

Smaller Airlines

Air Sunshine (PHONE: 800/327-8900 or 954/434-8900, www.airsunshine.com).

American Eagle (PHONE: 800/433-7300, www.aa.com).

Bahamasair (PHONE: 800/222-4262, www.bahamasair.com).

Bel Air Transport (PHONE: 954/524-9814, www.flybelair.com).

Chalks Ocean Airways (PHONE: 800/424-2557, www.chalksoceanairways.com).

Cherokee Air (PHONE: 242/367-2089, www.cherokeeair.com).

Comair (PHONE: 800/354-9822, www.comair.com).

Island Express (PHONE: 954/359-0380).

Lynx Air International (PHONE: 888/596-9247, www.lynxair.com).

Twin Air (PHONE: 954/359-8266, www.flytwinair.com).

Within the Bahamas

Bahamasair (PHONE: 242/352-8341, www.bahamasair.com).

LeAir (PHONE: 242/377-2356, www.leaircharters.com).

Major Air (PHONE: 242/352-5778).

Sky Unlimited (PHONE: 242/377-8993, www.bahamas.mall.bs).

Transfers Between the Airport and Town

By Taxi

There are taxis waiting at every airport. Upon arriving, you're likely to find that Bahamian taxi drivers are more loquacious than their U.S. counterparts, so by the time you've reached your hotel, you will already be familiar with points of interest. Taxi rates from the Nassau airport to Cable Beach are $12; from Paradise Island airport to Cable Beach, $18.

 
 
By Cruise Ship

A cruise can be one of the most pleasurable ways to see the islands. A multi-island excursion allows for plenty of land-time because of the short travel times between destinations. Be sure to shop around before booking. To learn how to plan, choose, and book a cruise-ship voyage, check out Cruise How-to's at www.fodors.com.

Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines (3655 N.W. 87th Ave., Miami, FL 33178, PHONE: 800/327-9501, www.carnival.com).

Celebrity Cruises (5201 Blue Lagoon Dr., Miami, FL 33126, PHONE: 800/437-3111, www.celebrity-cruises.com).

Costa Cruise Lines (80 S.W. 8th St., Miami, FL 33130, PHONE: 800/462-6782, www.costacruises.com).

Crystal Cruises (55 5th Ave., New York, NY 10017, PHONE: 800/528-6273, www.cruisecrystal.com).

Discovery Cruises (Box 527-544, Miami, FL 33152-7544, PHONE: 800/937-4477, www.discoverycruiseline.com).

Norwegian Cruise Line (7665 Corporate Center Dr., Miami, FL 33126, PHONE: 800/327-7030, www.ncl.com).

Royal Caribbean International (1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132, PHONE: 800/327-6700, www.rccl.com).

Seabourn Cruise Line (6100 Blue Lagoon Dr. Suite 400, Miami, FL 33126, PHONE: 800/929-9595, www.seabourn.com).

Silversea Cruises (110 E. Broward Blvd., 26th floor, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, PHONE: 800/722-6655, www.silversea-cruises.com).

 
 
Contacts & Resources
 
Business Hours

Banks and Offices

Banks are open Monday-Thursday 9:30-3 and Friday 9:30-5. Commonwealth Bank opens at 8:30. Principal banks are Bank of the Bahamas, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citibank, Commonwealth Bank, and Royal Bank of Canada. Most Bahamian offices observe bank hours.

Museums and Sights

Hours for attractions vary. Most open between 9 and 10 and close around 5.

Pharmacies

Drugstores recognize normal working hours, and some are open 24 hours.

Shops

Shops in downtown Nassau are open Monday-Saturday 9-5. Grand Bahama's International Bazaar and Port Lucaya Marketplace are open 10-6. Most stores, with the exception of straw markets and malls, close on Sunday. Shop in the morning, when streets are less crowded. Remember that when shopping in Nassau, Freeport, and Port Lucaya, you may be competing with the hordes of passengers that pour off cruise ships daily.

 
 
Customs & Duties

Arriving in the Bahamas

Customs allows you to bring in 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 1 lb of tobacco and a quart of liquor and 1 quart of wine in addition to personal effects, purchases up to $100, and all the money you wish. But don't even think of smuggling in marijuana or any kind of narcotic. Justice is swift and severe in the Bahamas.

You would be well advised to leave pets at home, unless you're considering a prolonged stay in the islands. An import permit is required from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Levy Bldg., East Bay St., Nassau, PHONE: 242/325-7502) for all animals brought into the Bahamas. The animal must be more than 6 months old. You'll also need a veterinary health certificate issued by a licensed vet. The permit is good for 90 days from the date of issue, costs $15, and the process must be completed immediately before departure.

 
 
Electricity

Electricity is 120 volts/60 cycles AC, which is compatible with all U.S. appliances.

 
 
Embassies and Consulates

United States (Mosmar Bldg., Queen St., Nassau, PHONE: 242/322-1181).

United Kingdom (8197 East St., Ansbacher House, 3rd floor, Nassau, PHONE: 242/325-7471 or 242/325-7472).

 
 
Emergencies

The emergency telephone number in the Bahamas is 911.

Emergency Air Services

Emergency airlifts can be arranged by Med Evac (4th Terrace, Centerville, Box N-3018, Nassau, PHONE: 242/322-2881).

Hospital Emergency Rooms

Princess Margaret Hospital (Shirley St., Nassau, PHONE: 242/352-2861).

Rand Memorial Hospital (East Atlantic Dr., Freeport, PHONE: 242/352-6735).

 
 
Etiquette & Behavior

Bahamians greet people with a proper British "good morning," "good afternoon," or "good evening." When approaching an islander to ask directions or information, preface your request with such a greeting, and ask "how are you?" Smile, and don't rush into a conversation, even if you're running late.

Humor is a wonderful way to relate to the islanders, but don't force it. Don't try to talk their dialect unless you are adept at it. This takes long exposure to the culture. Church is central in the lives of Bahamians. They dress up in their fanciest finery; it's a sight to behold on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. To show respect, dress accordingly if you plan to attend religious ceremonies. No doubt, you'll be outdone, but dress up regardless.

Business Etiquette

Business in the Bahamas is conducted very much like it is in the United States. Handshakes, business card swapping, and other protocols are the same. Meetings are usually held in office conference rooms, and occasionally at a local restaurant for lunch, in which case either the person who invites pays, or all pay their own tab. Islanders wear suits and typical business attire for work and meetings, so don't be tempted to wear resort dress in an office atmosphere.

 
 
Health

Hospitals and other health care facilities are readily available in Nassau, Freeport, and Grand Turk. In the Out Islands, facilities range from clinics to private practitioners. You will, however, always be able to find a local bush medicine practitioner. If you're comfortable with alternative treatments, many Bahamians have had herbal remedies passed down to them. For more serious emergencies, an airlift can be arranged from any location.

Divers' Alert

Do not fly within 24 hours of scuba diving.

Always know where your nearest decompression chamber is before you embark on a dive expedition, and how you would get there in an emergency.

Decompression Chambers

Doctors Hospital (Shirley St. and Collins Ave., Box N-3018, Nassau, PHONE: 242/322-8411).

Food and Drink

In the Bahamas, the major health risk is traveler's diarrhea, caused by ingesting fruits, shellfish, and drinks to which your body is unaccustomed. Go easy at first on new foods such as mangoes, conch, and rum punch. There are rare cases of contaminated fruit, vegetables, or drinking water. If you are susceptible to digestive problems, avoid ice, uncooked food, and unpasteurized milk and milk products, and drink bottled water. Mild digestive treatments might include Immodium (known generically as loperamide) or Pepto-Bismol, both of which can be purchased over the counter. Travelers prone to travel-related stomach disorders -- and who are comfortable with alternative medicine -- might pick up some po chai tablets from a doctor of Oriental medicine or Asian pharmacy -- it's a great stomach cure-all. Drink plenty of purified water or tea (chamomile is a good folk remedy). In severe cases, rehydrate yourself with a salt-sugar solution (½ teaspoon salt and 4 tablespoons sugar per quart of water).

Consult a doctor -- preferably your own physician, and prior to your trip -- before ingesting any medication that is new to you. And not only pack familiar digestive remedies with your belongings, but also have them on you if you're out traveling for the day.

Sunbathing

Basking in the sun is one of the great pleasures of a Bahamian vacation, but because the sun is closer to Earth the farther south you go, it will burn your skin more quickly, so take precautions against sunburn and sunstroke. On a sunny day, even people who are not normally bothered by strong sun should cover up with a long-sleeve shirt, a hat, pants, or a beach wrap while on a boat or midday at the beach. Carry UVA/UVB sunblock (with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 15) for nose, ears, and other sensitive areas. If you're engaging in water sports, be sure the sunscreen is waterproof. Wear sunglasses because eyes are particularly vulnerable to direct sun and reflected rays. Be sure to drink enough liquids -- water or fruit juice preferably -- and avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol. Above all, limit your sun time for the first few days until you become accustomed to the rays. Do not be fooled by an overcast day. Quite often you will get the worst sunburns when you least expect them. The safest hours for sunbathing are 4-6 PM, but even then it is wise to limit initial exposure.

Health Warnings

National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Quarantine, Traveler's Health Section, 1600 Clifton Rd. NE, M/S E-03, Atlanta, GA 30333, PHONE: 888/232-3228 general information; 877/394-8747 travelers' health line; 800/311-3435 public inquiries, FAX: 888/232-3299, www.cdc.gov).

 
 
Language

Islanders speak English with a lilt influenced by their Scottish, Irish, and/or African ancestry. When locals talk among themselves in local dialect, it is virtually impossible for the unaccustomed to understand them. They take all sorts of short cuts and pepper the language with words all their own. When islanders speak to visitors, they will use standard English.

 
 
Mail

Regardless of whether the term "snail mail" was coined in the Bahamas, you're likely to find that you arrive home long before your postcards do. No postal (zip) codes are used in the Bahamas -- all mail is collected from local area PO boxes.

Overnight Services

FedEx delivers to Nassau, Freeport, Andros, Eleuthera, Provo, and Grand Turk. UPS has service to numerous Bahamas locales.

Major Services

FedEx (Freeport: PHONE: 242/352-3402 or 242/352-3403; Nassau: PHONE: 242/322-5656 or 242/322-5657; U.S. international customer service: PHONE: 800/247-4747).

UPS (Abaco: PHONE: 242/367-2722; Eleuthera: PHONE: 242/332-2454; Exuma: PHONE: 242/336-2148; Freeport: PHONE: 242/352-3434; Nassau: PHONE: 242/325-8227 or 242/325-8228).

Postal Rates

First-class mail to the United States is 65¢, 70¢ to Europe, and 80¢ to Australia and New Zealand per half-ounce. Airmail postcards to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and South America require a 55¢ stamp in the Bahamas; the stamps must be Bahamian.

Receiving Mail

Mailing time to the United States from the Bahamas is five to 10 days, 10-18 days to Canada, and 20 days to the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

Shipping Parcels

U.S. citizens may increase their duty-free by mailing home up to $200 worth of goods for personal use, with a limit of one parcel per addressee per day (and no alcohol or tobacco products or perfume worth more than $5). Label the package "Personal Use" and attach a list of its contents and their retail value. Don't label the package "Unsolicited Gift," or your duty-free exemption will drop to $100.

 
 
Money

Generally, prices in the Bahamas reflect the exchange rate: they are about the same as in the United States, less expensive than in the United Kingdom. A hotel can cost anywhere from $35 a night (for cottages and apartments in downtown Nassau and in the Out Islands) to $185 and up (at the ritzier resorts on Cable Beach and Paradise Island and in Freeport and Lucaya), depending on the season. Add $35-$50 per person per day for meals. Four-day/three-night and eight-day/seven-night package stays offered by most hotels can cut costs considerably.

In the Out Islands, you'll notice that meals and simple goods can be expensive; prices are high due to the remoteness of the islands and the costs of importing.

ATMs

There are ATMs at banks and malls throughout the major islands. You'll find an ATM at Nassau International Airport and at 29 other locations on New Providence and Paradise Island. There are two at the Princess Casino, two others at banks in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, and seven throughout the Out Islands.

Currency

The U.S. dollar is on a par with the Bahamian dollar and is accepted all over the Bahamas. The U.K. pound sterling will get you 1.46 Bahamian dollars, and the Canadian dollar about.63 pence. Bahamian money runs in bills of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The rare 50¢ and $3 bills make unusual souvenirs.

Exchanging Money

In the Bahamas, only U.S. cash will be exchanged freely in hotels, stores, or restaurants, and since the U.S. currency is accepted throughout, there really is no need to change to Bahamian. Also, you won't incur any transaction fees for currency exchange, or worry about getting stuck with unspent Bahamian dollars. Carry small bills when bargaining at straw markets.

Taxes

There is no sales tax in the Bahamas. There is a $15 departure tax ($18 from Grand Bahama Island) for all travelers older than 6 years of age. Tax on your hotel room is 8%, a small service charge on your room for maid service and bellman may be about 4%. U.S. visitors can take home $600 worth of duty-free goods. The next $1,000 is taxed at 10%.

Tipping

The usual tip for service from a taxi driver or waiter is 15% and $1 a bag for porters. Many hotels and restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity to your bill.

 
 
Passports & Visas

When traveling internationally, carry your passport even if you don't need one (it's always the best form of I.D.) and make two photocopies of the data page (one for someone at home and another for you, carried separately from your passport). If you lose your passport, promptly call the nearest embassy or consulate and the local police.

Entering the Bahamas

Residents of the United States or British Commonwealth countries can stay in the Bahamas for up to 8 months. Countries whose citizens require a visa include China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

For specific entry questions, contact the Bahamas Immigration Department or the nearest consulate.

Bahamas Department of Immigration (Hawkins Hill, Nassau, Box N-831, PHONE: 242/322-7530).

Passport Offices

The best time to apply for a passport, or to renew your old one, is in fall or winter. Before any trip, check your passport's expiration date, and, if necessary, renew it as soon as possible.

Australian Citizens

Australian Passport Office (PHONE: 131-232; www.passports.gov.au).

Canadian Citizens

Passport Office (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G3, PHONE: 819/994-3500 or 800/567-6868; www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/passport).

New Zealand Citizens

New Zealand Passport Office (PHONE: 04/474-8100 or 0800/22-5050, www.passports.govt.nz).

U.K. Citizens

London Passport Office (PHONE: 0870/521-0410; www.passport.gov.uk).

U.S. Citizens

National Passport Information Center (PHONE: 900/225-5674; calls are 35¢ per minute for automated service, $1.05 per minute for operator service; travel.state.gov/passport_services.html).

 
 
Rest Rooms

Most attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas have reasonably clean, and sometimes attended, public rest rooms. Beaches away from the resorts often have no facilities. Headquarter your beach escape near a bar or restaurant for rest-room access.

 
 
Safety

In the Caribbeab, crime against tourists is rare, and, unlike some of the Caribbean countries, the Bahamas has little panhandling. But take the precautions you would in any foreign country: be aware of your wallet or handbag at all times, and keep your jewelry in the hotel safe. Be especially wary in remote areas, always lock your rental vehicle, and don't keep any valuables in the car, even in the locked trunk.

Women in the Bahamas

Women traveling alone should not go out walking unescorted at night in Nassau or in remote areas. Crime is low, but there's no need to take unnecessary risks. In general, women are safe and treated with respect. To avoid unwanted attention, dress conservatively and cover up swimsuits off the beach.

 
 
Telephones

BATELCO (Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation; PHONE: 242/302-7000) is the phone company in the Bahamas.

Most public phones require BATELCO phone cards (available at outlets throughout the islands) and also use AT&T calling cards. Check on the surcharge from your calling card provider prior to making calls, and always ask at your hotel desk if there is a charge for making card calls from your room.

Area and Country Codes

The area code for the Bahamas is 242. You can dial either number from the United States as you would make an interstate call. The country code is 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom.

Directory and Operator Assistance

Dial 916 for directory information and 0 for operator assistance.

International Calls

From outside the United States and Canada, the country code for the Bahamas is 1. After dialing the appropriate international access code (00 in the U.K.), dial 1 followed by the 242 Bahamas area code.

Local Calls

Within the Bahamas, to make a local call from your hotel room, dial 9, then the number. If your party doesn't answer before the fifth ring, hang up or you'll be charged for the call. Some 800 and 888 numbers -- particularly airline and credit card numbers -- can be called from the Bahamas. Others can be reached by substituting an 880 prefix and paying for the call.

Long-Distance Services

AT&T, MCI, and Sprint access codes make calling long distance relatively convenient, but you may find the local access number blocked in many hotel rooms. First ask the hotel operator to connect you. If the hotel operator balks, ask for an international operator, or dial the international operator yourself. One way to improve your odds of getting connected to your long-distance carrier is to travel with more than one company's calling card (a hotel may block Sprint, for example, but not MCI). If all else fails, call from a pay phone.

Phone Cards

To place a call from a public phone using your own calling card, dial 0 for the operator, who will then place the call using your card number.

Public Phones

Pay phones cost 25¢ per call; Bahamian and U.S. quarters are accepted as are BATELCO phone cards.

 
 
Visitor Information

Tourist Offices

At Home

Bahamas Tourist Office (PHONE: 800/422-4262, www.gobahamas.com; 8600 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 820, Chicago, IL 60631, PHONE: 773/693-1500, FAX: 773/693-1114; Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board, 19495 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 809, Aventura, FL 33180, PHONE: 800/688-4752, FAX: 305/359-8098; 3450 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1204, Los Angeles, CA 90010, PHONE: 213/385-0033, FAX: 213/383-3966; 121 Bloor St. E, Suite 1101, Toronto M4W 3M5, PHONE: 416/968-2999, FAX: 416/968-6711; 3, The Billings, Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey G1 4UL, U.K., PHONE: 01483/448-900, FAX: 01483/571-846).

Bahamas Tourism Center (150 E. 52nd St., 28th floor N, New York, NY 10022, PHONE: 800/823-3136 or 212/758-2777, FAX: 212/753-6531).

Caribbean Tourism Organization (80 Broad St., 32nd floor, New York, NY 10017, PHONE: 212/635-9530, FAX: 212/697-4258, www.doitbahamas.com).

Morris-Kevan International Ltd. (International House, 47 Chase Side, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 6NB, PHONE: 0181/364-5188, FAX: 0181/367-9949).

Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board (19495 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 804, Aventura, FL 33180, PHONE: 305/931-1555, FAX: 305/931-3005).

U.S. Government Advisories

U.S. Department of State (Overseas Citizens Services Office, Room 4811 N.S., 2201 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20520, PHONE: 202/647-5225 interactive hot line; 888/407-4747, www.travel.state.gov); enclose a business-size SASE.

 
 
When to Go

The islands are affected by the refreshing trade-winds generated by an area of high atmospheric pressure covering a large part of the subtropical North Atlantic. The climate varies little during the year. The most pleasant time is from December through May, when the temperature averages 70°F-75°F. It stands to reason that hotel prices during this period are at their highest -- around 30% higher than during the less popular times. The rest of the year is hot and humid and prone to tropical storms; the temperature hovers around 80°F-85°F. Hurricane season is from about June 1st through November 30th, with greatest risk for a storm from August through October.

Whether you want to join it or avoid it, be advised that Spring Break takes place between the end of February and mid-April. This means a lot of vacationing college students, beach parties, sports events, and entertainment.

Weather Chart

What follows are average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for Nassau. Freeport's temperatures are nearly the same: a degree or two cooler in the spring and fall, and a degree or two warmer in the summer.

January 62-77°F (17-25°C); February 63-78°F (17-26°C); March 64-80°F (18-27°C); April 66-82°F (19-28°C); May 70-85°F (21-29°C); June 73-87°F (23-31°C); July 75-89°F (24-32°C); August 75-89°F (24-32°C); September 74-88°F (23-31°C); October 72-85°F (22-29°C); November 68-82°F (20-28°C); December 64-79°F (18-26°C).

Holidays

The grandest holiday of all is Junkanoo, a carnival that embraces the Christmas season. Don't expect to conduct any business during the week of festivities.

During other legal holidays, most offices close. In the Bahamas, they include New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter, Whit Monday (last Monday in May), Labour Day (first Monday in June), Independence Day (July 10), Emancipation Day (first Monday in August), Discovery Day (Oct. 12), Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

 
 
Getting Around
 
Overview

"Whimsical" might best describe Bahamas addresses. Streets change names for no apparent reason, and many buildings have no numbers. In more remote locations, such as the Out Islands, street addresses often aren't used. To find your destination, you might have to ask a local. Postal codes aren't used throughout the Bahamas.

 
 
Boat and Ferry Travel

If you're feeling adventurous and have time to spare, you can revert to the mode of transportation that islanders used before the advent of air travel: ferries and the traditional mailboats, which regularly leave Nassau from Potter's Cay, under the Paradise Island bridge. You may find yourself sharing company with goats and chickens, and making your way on deck through piles of lumber. Fares vary from $20 to $70 each way, depending on the destination. Don't be concerned with punctuality; the flexible schedules can be thrown off by bad weather. Remember, too, that they operate on Bahamian time, which is a casual, unpredictable measure. You cannot book ahead, and services are extremely limited. In Nassau, check details with the dockmaster's office at Potter's Cay. You can purchase tickets from the dockmaster, or from the captain or mate, before departure.

Within the Bahamas, ferries connect Nassau to Harbour Island and North Eleuthera twice daily. Round-trip fares cost $90, and more expensive excursion rates are available. The trip from Nassau's Harbour Club to Harbour Island takes less than two hours; you can take advantage of the bar and food service on board.

Bahamas Fast Ferry connects Nassau to Harbour Island and Spanish Wells once daily departing at 8 AM, but leaves twice daily on Fridays only, at 8 AM and 1:30 PM. Boats from Nassau to Governor's Harbour (Eleuthera) sail twice weekly, on Friday at 7:30 AM and Sunday at 4:45 PM. Boats sail from Harbour Island to Nassau Monday-Thursday and Saturday at 3:55 PM, Friday at 10:25 AM and 3:55 PM, and Sunday at 2. From Governor's Harbour, boats depart Friday at 9:45 PM and Sunday at 7 PM. Travel times from Nassau to Harbour Island are 2¼ hours; from Nassau to Governor's Harbour, 2 hours. For information about mailboat service, contact the Potter's Cay dockmaster.

From Nassau, ferries are also available to North and South Cat Island (Arthur's Town, Bennett's Harbor, Bew Bight), San Salvador, Exuma (George Town), North Andros (Nicholl's Town, Mastic Point, Morgan Bluff), Harbour Island, Abaco (Sandy Point, Moore's Island, Bullock's Harbor, Berry Island), Eleuthera (Rock Sound, Davis Harbor, South Eleuthera), Mangrove Cay, Freeport, Ragged Island (Exuma Cays, Barraterre, Staniel Cay, Black Point, Farmer's Cay, Highbourne's Cay), and Central Andros (Fresh Creek, Stafford Creek, Blanket Sound, Staniard Creek, Behring Point.)

If you're setting sail yourself, note that cruising boats must clear customs at the nearest port of entry before beginning any diving or fishing (you must have a permit for sports fishing, which costs $20 per trip; $150 per year).

Boat and Ferry Information

Bahamas Fast Ferry (PHONE: 242/323-2166, FAX: 242/322-8185, www.bahamasferries.com). Potter's Cay dockmaster (PHONE: 242/393-1064).

 
 
By Bicycle

Biking in the Bahamas is fairly easy due to the flat island terrain. Some hotels offer bikes as amenities to their guests, or rent them out -- so do general stores. In the Out Islands, bikes are often the most logical way to get around on land and match the laid-back pace of life.

Bicycling Resources

Bahamas Amateur Cycling Federation has information on upcoming races, and a listing of bike shops and local contacts (Box CB-12352, Nassau, www.xtremesp.tripod.com/bacf.html).

Wolf's Extreme Cycling has information on triathlons in the Bahamas, as well as cycling (www.xtremesp.tripod.com/wolf.html).

 
 
By Bus

Buses on New Providence Island and Grand Bahama, called jitneys, are actually vans. Route numbers are clearly marked. Exact change of $1 is required, and while there are established stops, you can sometimes hail a jitney. Let the driver know where you would like to get off.

 
 
By Car

Car Rentals

Car rentals are available at Nassau International Airport, downtown, on Paradise Island, and at some resorts. Plan to pay $60-$80 a day at major firms ($350-$480 a week), depending on the type of car.

Local Agencies

Wallace's Car Rental (Marathon and Wulff Rds., Nassau, PHONE: 242/393-0650).

Zulu's Discount Rentals (Freeport International Airport, Freeport, PHONE: 242/351-5232).

At Home

Avis (PHONE: 800/331-1084; 800/879-2847 in Canada; 0870/606-0100 in the U.K.; 02/9353-9000 in Australia; 09/526-2847 in New Zealand; www.avis.com).

Budget (PHONE: 800/527-0700; 0870/156-5656 in the U.K.; www.budget.com).

Dollar (PHONE: 800/800-6000; 612-92-23-1444 in Australia).

Hertz (PHONE: 800/654-3001; 800/263-0600 in Canada; 020/8897-2072 in the U.K.; 02/9669-2444 in Australia; www.hertz.com).

Requirements

To rent a car in the Bahamas, you must be 21 years of age or older. Your own driver's license is acceptable for up to three months. An International Driver's Permit is a good idea; it's available from the American or Canadian automobile association, and, in the United Kingdom, from the Automobile Association or Royal Automobile Club. These international permits are universally recognized, and having one in your wallet may save you a problem with the local authorities.

Emergency Services

In case of road emergency, stay in your vehicle with emergency flashers engaged and wait for help, especially after dark. If someone stops to help, relay information through a small opening in the window. If it's daylight and help does not arrive, walk to the nearest phone and call for help. In the Bahamas, motorists readily stop to help drivers in distress.

Road Conditions

In and around Nassau, roads are good, although a bit crowded in high peak season. From 7-10 AM and 3-6 PM, downtown Nassau and most major arteries are congested with cars and pedestrians. When cruise ships are in, pedestrian traffic further stifles the flow. On Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands, conditions vary from the perfectly paved and manicured boulevards in Freeport to severely potholed and winding roads of the countryside. Make sure you have a spare tire in good condition and the necessary tools.

Road Maps

Bahamas Trailblazer Maps and AT&T Road Maps, which are fairly dependable (some small streets and roads are not included), are distributed free throughout the islands.

Rules of the Road

Remember, like the British, islanders drive on the left side of the road, which can be confusing because most cars are American with the steering wheel on the left. It is illegal, however, to make a left-hand turn on a red light. Many streets in downtown Nassau are one-way. Roundabouts pose further confusion to Americans. Remember to keep left and yield to oncoming traffic as you enter the roundabout and at "Give Way" signs.

 
 
By Taxi

Taxis can be foundat every airport, and in Nassau along Bay Street and outside all of the main hotels and cruise ship docks. Beware of "hackers" -- drivers who don't display their license (and may not have one). You can negotiate a fare, but you must do so before you enter the taxi.

On Grand Bahama and New Providence, taxi rates are $2.20 for two passengers for ¼ mi, 30¢ for each additional ¼ mi. Third passengers can incur a fee of $3. Cabs can also be hired by the hour for $20, and $10 for every additional half hour. In the Out Islands, rates are negotiated, and you might find that renting a car is more economical.

 
 
Expedia, Inc., not responsible for content on external Web sites. ©2004 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Guide content Copyright ©2014 by Fodors.com, a unit of Fodors LLC. All rights reserved.