Bahamas Travel Guide
- Daily flights from most major East Coast cities to Freeport International Airport or Nassau International Airport
- Bahamian dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, so there's no need to exchange currency.
- Just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, Grand Bahama Island is accessible by both ferry boat and frequent puddle jumpers.
- Pleasant weather year round: Rainy season runs from May to October, when temperatures average in the upper 80s, while November through April is quite dry with temperatures in the 70s.
- Bahamian seafood specialties conch and grouper cooked every way imaginable: grilled, fried, boiled, in stews, in salads....
- World-class scuba diving destination (UNEXSO is headquartered here)
- Unparalleled bonefish sportfishing and other deep-sea fishing pursuits
- Championship golf courses
- Legal casino gambling
- Small local population is welcoming and friendly; tourists are encouraged to participate in events like community fish fries, parades, and festivals.
- Has American creature comforts like Subway, Domino's Pizza, Quiznos, and Burger King
- Islands are mostly flat and well paved (ideal for scooter rentals).
- Cruise ship crowds on many resort beaches in Nassau and Lucaya
- Cars drive on the left; bad for U.S. drivers (but, obviously, good for visitors from the U.K.).
- Erratic public bus
- Temperatures can be quite cool (60 to 70 degrees) in December to March, i.e. too cold for swimming or other water pursuits.
What It's Like
An English-speaking archipelago that begins about 50 miles off the south coast of Florida, the 29 islands, 661 cays, and a few thousand rocks that make up the Bahamas differ dramatically from one to the next -- from bustling, modern business centers in Nassau, to flashy casinos packed with thousands of docked cruise ship passengers, to Americanized shopping centers that house a McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, Tony Roma's, and five-star outposts from Food Network denizens like Bobby Flay, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (all at Atlantis), to entirely isolated beaches far removed from an airport, a bank, a grocery store, or anything else. But, uniformly, you'll find a pleasantly infectious culture focused on conch, beer, and slow-paced good times.
Where to Stay
The great majority of hotels and resorts are concentrated in Nassau (on the island of New Providence) and on Grand Bahama Island, which also have the two most prominent international airports.
In Nassau, the hotels here tend to be grouped in two areas, either on Cable Beach (where there's the Melia Nassau Beach Resortand Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort) about 1.5 miles west of historic downtown Nassau, or across the port from downtown on resort-saturated Paradise Island, a small enclave that feels a bit like a giant golf community and includes one of the largest, more elaborate mega-resorts in the world, Atlantis, which has, among other features, a world-class casino, a dolphin habitat, a massive water park, couture designer shops, high-profile concert venue, and some 40 bars and restaurants.
On Grand Bahama, most hotels are concentrated in the Port Lucaya area, a bustling shopping and dining area that's popular among cruise ship passengers for its gorgeous beaches. The largest and nicest is the Grand Lucayan Hotel, which has more than 1,300 rooms, four pools, a handful of upscale restaurants, and the popular Isle of Capri Casino. For a little more remote luxury, and a lot more quiet relaxation, there's also Old Bahama Bay, about a 45-minute drive from the airport on the western tip of the island.)