Dreaming of getting away from it all? A vacation in the Bahamas may be your fantasy come true, whether you visualize yourself in an all-inclusive luxury resort or a secluded hideaway. An astounding array of vacation options exists among the chain of 700 Bahamian islands, with attractions to appeal to all varieties of vacationers.
You’ll feel right at home in the Bahamas. English is the official language, and the currency used, the Bahamian dollar is equivalent to the U.S. dollar, which is accepted everywhere.
The main tourist islands, especially New Providence and Grand Bahama, are very Americanized. You’ll have to travel out to the Out Islands to get more of the native West Indian flavor.
Bahamian temperatures stay under 86°F (30°C), even in the hot and humid summer, which includes the rainy season of May to October.
June through November marks the official hurricane season, but storms are infrequent and satellite forecasts give adequate warning. Winter in the Bahamas simulates the U.S.’s late spring, with low rainfall, drawing flocks of North Americans.
If you’d like to take your Bahama vacation in the peak season, which is typically mid-December to mid-April, expect to pay significantly more than you would if you traveled during other months. Hotel prices rise steeply, and reservations must be made at least two to three months in advance. Some resorts require even more time for vacations in Christmas and February.
The off-season in the Bahamas, generally mid-April to mid-December, offers much better rates. Resort prices may be cut by 20 percent to 60 percent.
Although some activities are scaled back somewhat in the summer, there are fewer crowds and less waiting time for the same attractions. It may pay to put your Bahama vacation on hold until then, for dramatic savings.
Shopping around and comparing prices from tour operators and travel agents can prevent your Bahama vacation from leaving you with a hole in your pocket.
It usually pays to vacation on a package deal, which generally includes hotel, airfare and transportation to and from the airport. The price of such packages can sometimes be less than the cost of booking the hotel on its own.
Expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $300 a night for a room, with most prices falling between $120 and $180. Average meal prices are from $8 to $45, with a median span of $15 to $30.
A package tour doesn’t mean an escorted tour. You’re on your own, except for meals, if your package covers them.
Although it may be cheaper, you should pass on the meal plan or ask for a breakfast-only arrangement (known as a CP, or continental plan) if you plan on eating out a great deal. Keep in mind that service personnel usually receive a 15 percent tip.
Bahamas Vacation Variations
No matter what type of vacation experience you seek, the Bahamas are the perfect fit. For the full-blown tourist treatment, complete with glitter, gambling, clubs and partying, consider the three most developed and most frequented islands: New Providence, Paradise and Grand Bahama Islands.
If you’re more of an adventurous explorer, then the underdeveloped Out Islands are for you. Depending on your agenda, each island will appeal to varied types of vacationers:
- Paradise Island: If high-rise hotels and casinos call your number, then Paradise Island is for you. The food, accommodations, entertainment and beaches can’t be beat, but this glittering island is usually overcrowded and very pricey.
- New Providence Island:
- Cable Beach: The development of resorts on Cable Beach is second only to Paradise Island.
- Nassau: Nassau is the capital and largest city of the Bahamas. It doesn’t have as many first-class hotels, but it does have traditional British colonial charm. It’s also less expensive than some of the other islands.
- Grand Bahama Island: The resort area of Freeport/Lucaya is the second most popular tourist destination for good reason.
Although there’s lots of Americanized tourist development and huge hotels, Grand Bahama Islands isn’t as stylish as Paradise Island and, therefore, is less costly. The most family-friendly of the islands, there’s tons to do aside from gambling, cabarets, clubs, spas and shopping.
Beautiful beaches boast boating, parasailing, jet-skiing, water-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking, banana-boating, paddle-boating, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Other family-oriented water activities are underwater cruises, glass-bottomed boats, the famed UNEXSO diving school and the Dolphin Experience, which offers you a chance to interact with dolphins.
Heading back inland, there’s hiking on bush and sea safaris, biking and horseback riding and nature parks, forest trails and underwater caves to explore. There are also lots of golf courses, as Grand Bahama hosts major golf tournaments throughout the year.
- Southern Bahamas: The Southern Bahamas is a remote group of old-fashioned islands with limited transport and accommodations as well as excellent beaches, fishing and dive sites.
- The Abacos and Eleuthera: The reefs and secluded beaches, as well as old New England charm draw mainly yachters and boaters to the Abacos and Eleuthera.
- The Exumas: Yachting in the Exumas almost competes with yachting in the Abacos.
- Bimini, Andros and the Berry Islands: These islands are attractive for divers, fishermen and yachters.
Romantic Retreats in the Bahamas
Whether you seek honeymoons or hideaways, there are many secluded areas in the Out Islands to satisfy your need for privacy. There are even a couple of resorts on New Providence and Paradise Islands that will cater to your romantic side.
Travelers’ Tips to the Bahamas
Here’s a list of helpful tips for you to remember when vacationing in the Bahamas:
- Use strong sun protection, as serious sunburn can happen quickly, even through clouds.
- Take precautions against the following conditions and diseases: prickly heat rash, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, fungal infections, diarrhea, giardiasis, HIV/AIDS and tetanus.
- Tap water is drinkable, but bottled water is recommended.