Bahamas beach vacation tips
There is nowhere on Earth where the water is more clear than at this unique archipelago. Aside from providing a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean, a Bahamas getaway has even more to offer. Some like the friendly vibe here, while others value the natural attractions and historic towns, not speaking about the fun things-to-do like swimming with pigs which is a special sight no matter where in the world you traveled to. Are you ready for a journey you will remember for a lifetime? Let’s see together how to make the most of a Bahamas beach vacation!
Bahamas quick info guide
Language: English (official language) Bahamian Creole (vernacular language)
Capital City: Nassau
Currency: Bahamian Dollar B$ (equivalent in value to USD)
Visa: the requirements to enter The Bahamas differ depending on the country of the visitor’s residence. Americans and Canadians can stay visa-free up to 8 months but they need to present a valid passport (or compliant document) and a return ticket.
Other nationals have to obtain a visa except those who come from one of the 120 visa-exempt countries who can visit the archipelago without a visa for maximum 3 months (some even for 8 months). Onward journey ticket, hotel confirmation and proof of funds to support the stay might also be checked. For more information on the current conditions and to learn if you need a visa, visit The Bahamas Government website.
Safety: According to the US Department of State, The Bahamas have a Level 2 Advisory, meaning that tourists are advised to exercise caution. As everywhere in the world, safety depends on which area you will visit. Crimes including robberies and burglaries usually occur in the most-visited tourist areas such as New Providence, Grand Bahama and Nassau. But the outlying regions, knowns as Out Islands or Family Islands are considered safe to visit and have low crime rates.
Water sports companies are poorly regulated, so be careful when signing up for such tours. Make sure that the operator is registered, has an insurance cover and meets the safety criteria.
Also note that Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas in 2019 September. Grand Bahama and the Abaco suffered the worst damage, the others remain almost unaffected. Although these two islands are still rebuilding, a number of hotels and businesses are already operating as normal. Should you plan to spend your Bahama beach vacation on these islands, make sure to arrange everything in advance.
Why is The Bahamas perfect for a beach vacation?
Have you ever been wondering why thousands of tourists choose The Bahamas as their vacation destination each year? This is obvious when you consider the fact that this archipelago spans over 100,000 miles nestled in the planet’s clearest water, fringed by spectacular corals topped up with a special vibe.
This tropical beach paradise that stretches from East Florida to the northwest of Haiti has 700 islands and 2,400 cays and rocks offering the perfect place to explore for all types of visitors, whether you are taking a family holiday or a romantic honeymoon. The Bahamas beaches ensure total relaxation to escape the pressure of the everyday life, while underwater sights including breath-taking reefs and rich marine life make this destination a hotspot for snorkelers, divers and fisherman.
Each island -of which 40 are inhabited- has its own ways of embracing the local culture, making a Bahamas beach vacation certainly unforgettable. No matter what types of attractions you look for, city bustle, an array of mangroves, pink sandy beaches or authentic towns, there is certainly a Bahamian island that will match your needs!
The Bahamas Best 5 Beaches
Of all the attractions The Bahamas is known for, none is more synonymous with this getaway destination than its beaches. They are the reason why so many vacationers choose this island group to spend their holiday. Given hundreds of wonderful Bahamas beaches, it is not easy to decide which one is the most beautiful, but here are five to start with:
Found on Paradise Island, Cabbage Beach is located within walking distance of the famous Atlantis Bahamas Resort. While it is usually packed with tourists, but this is the place where you are most likely to spot celebrities on vacation. Cabbage Beach is fun for couples but also for families with children. Things to do at this beach are numerous including snorkeling, swimming and other water-based activities.
Cape Santa Maria Beach
Of all the romantic locations in the Bahamas, Cape Santa Maria Beach is said to be one of the best. Found on the Out Islands, it got its unique name in honor of the main boat used by Christopher Columbus in his travels. Lying at the base of the Bahamas’ Long Island, the beach is a great place for scuba divers and fishermen.
Gold Rock Beach
A visit to the Lucayan National Park also means you can lounge on the Gold Rock Beach. As one of the Bahamas more secluded beaches, it is perfect for couples on their honeymoon. Gold Rock is considered the welcome mat to the Bahamas. At low tide, locals report that the ocean stretches for as far as the eye can see.
Treasure Cay Beach
Of all Bahamas beaches, the most well-known is Treasure Cay. It is part of the Abacos Islands. The 3.5 mile beach got its name due to its location, which was one of the cays of the Great Abaco Island. Located near two resorts, it is a bustling place commonly included in a Bahamas holiday itinerary.
Pink Sands Beach
Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island is certainly a not-to-be-missed spot when vacationing in the Bahamas! Though getting there takes two hours on the ferry departing Nassau, many visitors report that it’s worth it. The beach is the most distinct in the Bahamas, due to its powdery soft sand, which stretches for five miles. The pink sand is a result of the presence of pieces of coral as well as shells that cover three of the beach’s five miles of space.
Beach Activities in The Bahamas
A Bahamas beach vacation isn’t just about lounging in the sun. There are plenty of activities you can participate in, here are the five best ones that you will find offered:
Beach yoga: can you imagine a more relaxing activity than doing your favorite yoga poses at one of the best Bahama beaches? Then join a beach yoga class! Classes are held at several places, but the best place to do yoga in the Bahamas is definitely Treasure Cay Beach.
Parasailing: When visiting The Bahamas, one of the world’s most impressive destinations, the best option to take in all of its beauty is from the sky while parasailing! You can enjoy this experience with the help of a water sports team. The five to seven-minute ride puts you 500 feet over the water to enjoy the breathtaking view!
Bonfires: There is nothing quite like a Bahamas bonfire party that can be enjoyed by young and old. The most popular one is held at Taino Beach. The party includes a fully stocked buffet with beach dishes such as coleslaw, chicken, peas & rice, corn, and ribs and also Bahama Mama cocktails are served as the signature drink. After the buffet dinner, party activities start with fire dancing, a live DJ, and more.
Snorkeling: the crystal-clear Bahamas waters are teeming with life and provide you with the world’s best snorkeling. Most Bahamas islands are located in close proximity to reefs, so you can see a lot while just snorkeling from the beach, but you can take a boat tour too for the best experience. If you don’t feel like putting on a mask, there is still a lot to see! Head to the waters of Stocking Island Beach to swim with sting rays or visit Pig Beach to hang around with the famous Bahama swimming pigs!
Kayaking: it is a great way of spending your vacation actively while exploring your destination. Although almost all islands are excellent for such trips, but probably the most mesmerizing spot for kayaking is The Exuma Cays. This marine conservation park consists of over 365 islands offering endless opportunities to discover The Bahamas natural attractions.
Best time for a Bahamas beach vacation
The Bahamas enjoys a temperate tropical climate with warm winters thanks to the Gulf Stream and pleasant summers due to the trade winds. However, it is a year-round destination, there are a lot of things to keep in mind when deciding when is the best time to visit The Bahamas.
The peak season falls for the winter months between December and April. This is the time when the weather is mostly sunny, the chance of rain is low, but the evenings can be chilly and also the ocean is a bit colder. (To enjoy the winter sun, the best is to choose one of the southernmost islands like Inagua.) This is also the best period if it comes to activities, because there are a lot of festivals and things to do, but of course, the prices are the highest too.
For those who wish to avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting between the months of April (which is the sunniest months with more than 9 hours of sunshine per day) and July when the Bahamas weather is the most comfortable but the islands are not too busy.
The off-season runs from July to November, which is considered the wet/hurricane season. It is a good time if you are looking to save money on accommodations. This is also when it is the easiest to get a taste of the culture of The Bahamas and enjoy warm ocean water, but keep your eyes on the weather forecast and prepare for rainy, stormy days.
To check the current water temperatures, visit seatemperature.org.
Average sea temperature:
Dec – June
July – November
Bahamas beach vacation costs
Frankly, a Bahamas holiday is never a cheap one but there are ways to enjoy yourself, even if you are on a budget. A backpacker-style budget is approx. 70-80 USD that allows you to stay in a hostel or basic hotel, eating fast food and maybe visiting some attractions. An average traveler needs approx. 200 USD per day that includes the cost of a hotel room, eating at some affordable restaurants and signing up for a few activities. If it comes to the luxury end, the sky is limit, but calculate with at least 400 USD per day if you wish to stay at one of the best Bahamas resorts and enjoy the islands on a top-level.
Booking through a local travel agent is often the best way to get a reasonable price. Also, if you are traveling with a family, it is worth check all-inclusive Bahamas vacation packages. Keep in mind that if you are traveling in the peak season and want to stay in a specific resort or hotel, you need to book it in advance.
See here a rough guide on the daily average budget per person (including accommodation and meals, excluding flights):
Places to stay in The Bahamas
Lodging is expensive in The Bahamas, but it is not possible to find accommodation that fits your vacation budget. There are few cheap hostels, but the most common places to stay are hotels, Airbnb’s, beach houses, besides some good resorts including the most popular Atlantis Bahamas with its famous water park on Paradise Island.
If you are visiting with your family you will likely find that Melia Nassau Beach resort makes for an affordable vacation. But if you’re embarking on a romantic getaway, Sandals Royal Bahamian is honeymoon worthy. A Bahamas beach vacation is the most comfortable when you book an all-inclusive resort, but staying in an apartment so you can save a lot by cooking your food.
Average accommodation prices per night in Bahamas:
Hostel or simple hotel: 30-50 USD
3-star hotel or apartment: 70-150 USD
4 and 5-star hotels and resorts: 400-550 USD
To reserve your accommodation, choose a trusted booking site that offers 24/7 customer support in case you would need any help before or during your stay. Most of the time we use Booking.com and so far we are very pleased with their service.
Beach etiquette in the Bahamas
While on a Bahamas beach vacation it is important to comply with the local rules of etiquette. One of them is that bathing suits are only worn on the beach. If you don’t want to go directly back to your hotel, bring a coverup to wear when you leave the beach. Dress codes are more flexible on the laid-back Out Islands. Casual summer clothing is accepted during the day, but bring a sweater or cardigan for the cooler evenings if you travel during the winter months.
Nudity is against the law in the Bahamas. However, some secluded places tolerate topless sunbathing, but if a beach has a few people who think clothing is an option it doesn’t mean that such behaviour is accepted, so we recommend respecting the local rules.
Bahamian specialties to eat and drink
The authentic Bahamian cuisine includes a lot of seafood. Favorites among locals are those that their fishermen catch every day. But they aren’t the only foods the islands are known for, so let’s see what are the must-try dishes and beverages when in the Bahamas!
Cracked Conch: this flavourful and filling deep-fried dish is a popular meal for lunch or dinner. The conches are prepared similarly to a veal cutlet. It can be served with rice or fries, and a side of creole sauce or even curry.
Bahamian stew fish: in this local delicacy, the fish (most often snapper or grouper) is covered in a red sauce made of onion, tomatoes, celery and various spices.
Souse: this heartier stew choice includes a select type of meat along with onions, bay leaves, celery, carrots, peppers and potatoes. Locals often prefer this dish over many others the Bahamas is known for.
Johnnycake: the Bahamas answer to cornbread! This comfort food is baked in a pan and made with sugar, milk, butter, and flour. In most cases it acts as a side dish for various curries and stews.
Rock Lobsters: a popular food choice on a Bahamas beach vacation. They can be boiled or steamed, and are used in sauces, salads and other dishes.
Bahama Mama: no Bahama vacation is complete without trying the islands’ most popular cocktail, Bahama Mama. This delicious (yet strong) drink consists of 3 different types of rum, coffee liqueur, lemon and pineapple juices that are all shaken together and served with ice.
The Yellow Bird: when it comes to drinks, locals have a few tried and true favorites. One of them is this rum-based drink that includes pineapple and orange juice, as well as apricot flavored brandy, and Galliano, with the option to ass banana liqueur as well.
Fun and useful Bahamian phrases
Although English is the official language in the Bahamas, but you will quickly realize here that the locals speak a sometimes hardly understandable but certainly vibrant dialect. The Bahamian slang is a combination of British English and African languages. Learning a few of the below words and phrases will not only help to break the ice when starting a conversation, but also makes your Bahama vacation much more fun!
Switcha – this is the name of the local lemonade which is made of water, sugar and lime
Jam up – when you wish to go to a restaurant or bar and you are told ‘we are jam up’ it means that the place is crowded, full
What da wybe is? – a popular Bahamian greeting meaning ‘what’s up?’
Ha it go? – a slang greeting, ‘How is it going?’
I straight – when you are asked ‘Ha it go’ just tell ‘I straight’ that means ‘all good’
Dem – when referring to a group of people, Bahamian people say dem. For example, saying that I’m going out with Joe dem means that I’m going out with Joe and others.
Jitney – take the jitney to travel around the island! Jitney is a slang for the local bus. Don’t be surprised, jitneys don’t have any schedule, they run every few minutes usually from 6am to 6pm.
Pot cake – this expression has two meanings. Originally it refers to the food that is burnt at the bottom of a pot, but nowadays it is the common name of mixed stray dogs.
Muddasick – to express shock or excitement, the Bahamian word to say is: ‘Well, muddasick!’
Sip sip – or tote news means in the Bahamas gossip.