Bahamas Travel FAQs

 (Frequently Asked Bahamas Travel Questions)

If you plan to visit The Islands Of The Bahamas and have questions or need information, this page of frequently asked Bahamas vacation and travel questions is a good place to start. Here, you will find answers to your most pressing questions and to some you may not have thought about yet. Many of the topics addressed here also appear in greater detail in other places on this website, so you’ll want to explore those pages too!

What type of travel documents do we need?

As of January 23, 2007, new United States government regulations will require all US citizens, adults and children, to have a valid passport for all international travel.

Do I need to obtain vaccinations prior to going to The Bahamas?

No, you are not required to get shots to travel to the Islands of The Bahamas. Due to recent outbreaks of Tuberculosis and Malaria, however, some people are getting vaccinations anyway.

What time zone is The Bahamas on?

Eastern Standard Time, the same time zone as New York City, is used on all islands. April to October is Eastern Daylight Time, in conjunction with U.S. summer hours.

What language is spoken in The Bahamas?

The official language of The Islands Of The Bahamas is English, more British than American, and generally intertwined with a unique Bahamian dialect. Some words from the original Indian inhabitants, like “cassava” and “guava”, have been retained in the language. Due to the influx of immigrants from Haiti over the past 30 years, there are certain islands where one can detect a Haitian accent. In areas heavily populated by Haitian-Bahamians Creole is spoken also.

What is the currency in the The Bahamas and do I need to exchange my money?

The legal tender is the Bahamian dollar (B$1), which is equivalent in value to the U.S. dollar. Both U.S. and Bahamian dollars are accepted interchangeably throughout the islands. Some Bahamian currency and coins are are considered novelties and make good souvenirs such as the square 15¢ coin and the $3.00 bill.  Note: The casinos and most shopkeepers will not exchange currency.  If you pay in US dollars, you will usually get US change.  If you pay in Bahamian dollars, you will get Bahamian currency in return. If you have a large amount of Bahamian money near the end of your stay it would be wise to exchange it at a local bank, or your hotel.

What is the appropriate dress code?

Casual summer wear can be worn during the day, any time of the year, but be sure to bring a jacket or sweater for cooler evenings from December to February. Most hotels, fine restaurants and casinos require jackets for men in the evening, especially in cosmopolitan Nassau and Grand Bahama Island. Though walking the streets in swim trunks in mid-January might sound irresistible, beach clothing is, for the most part, considered tacky and inappropriate on the streets of downtown Nassau, in churches, restaurants and casinos. On the more laid-back Out Islands, dress codes are more flexible.

What is the weather in The Bahamas?

In the winter we are warmed by the Gulf Stream and in the summer cooled by the trade winds, giving us a temperate climate. Consult’s Weather Page for more details on our weather.

What kind of sun protection do I need?

It gets hot beneath the Bahamian sun, so we recommend you come prepared. Be sure to bring strong protection against the sun:
sun screen
suntan lotion
sun glasses
hats & visors
Whatever you need can be purchased locally if you happen to leave them at home.

Is nude or topless sunbathing allowed?

Generally no, it is not legal to be nude in public. However those who wish to do so will find that there are certain unfrequented beaches they may go to and privately sunbathe as they prefer.

What is the legal age for drinking and gambling?

18 years of age.

What are the banking hours and are there ATM’s?

Banks are open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. through 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. and on Fridays most banks are open from 9:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. Many banks now offer ATM’s that tender Bahamian dollars however there are a few, located in areas of tourism on the larger islands, which will advance US currency. ATM’s are scarce in the out-islands.

What taxes will I pay?

Those guests at hotels will pay a government tax of 4% and a resort levy of 4%. There is also a maid service charge on the hotel room, usually a few dollars a day, per person. Departure tax is $20.00 throughout The Bahamas however, in Grand Bahama (Freeport) there is an additional $3.00 airport security fee for a total of $18.00. This is usually added to your airfare. Small children are exempt of the departure tax. There is a fee of $2.00 for motorized vehicles to cross the Paradise Island Bridge and $1.25 for all others.

How much should I tip?

15% is the acceptable amount to tip wait staff, taxi drivers and others offering personal services. Many restaurants automatically add the gratuities to the guest’s bill, so be sure and look to see if the establishment has that policy or has already added the tip to the bill. If you are uncertain of the policy, or if the charge has been added erroneously, simply ask your waitperson. For bell boys and porters it is customary to tip $1.00 per bag.

What about ground transportation?

Buses, rental cars, motor bikes, bicycles, tour cars and limousines are readily available for hire. Taxis are accessible from all areas at all times. Jitney buses run from downtown and Cable Beach in Nassau/Paradise Island and from several depots at Freeport/Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island at ten minute intervals for 75 cents per ride.

What are driving and walking rules?

British rules apply, so please drive on the left and watch those roundabouts! Persons entering a roundabout (traffic circle) must give way to traffic coming from the right that is already in the roundabout. Visitors may use their home license for up to three months and may also apply for an international driver’s license. Pedestrians should remember to look right before crossing streets.

What are the laws concerning possession of illegal drugs?

It is a serious criminal offense to be in possession of illegal drugs.

Can I camp in The Bahamas?

The Bahamas does not cater to campers and does not offer any formal camp grounds. It is not advisable to camp on the beaches. To camp on privately owned property it is required that you obtain the permission of the land owner.

What is the electrical service?

Our electricity is standard US, 120 volt AC, 60 hz. American appliances will work just fine.

Can I drink the water?

The tap water is fine for drinking but most folks prefer bottled water purely based on flavour. A variety of local and imported water is is readily available for purchase.

What are the business hours?

For shops in Nassau normal weekday business hours are from 9am to 5pm and on Grand Bahama they tend to vary but mainly operate from 10am to 6pm. Many businesses make choices to open early or stay open later. They are usually open the same hours on Saturdays although some business reduce the open hours. On Sundays nearly all shops are closed but you may find some straw vendors still open. Grocery stores open at 7:30am and close at 9:00pm Monday through Saturday and on Sunday most are only open from 7:30am and close at 3:00pm.

Is it possible to work in The Bahamas if I am not a Bahamian citizen?

Generally no. There are exceptions for those having skills not available from a Bahamian. The employer must show proof of exhaustive searching for a suitable Bahamian prior to applying for a work permit for the foreign candidate. Work permits can be costly and are assessed based on the value of skills. The field of teaching is an area of need and many teachers enter on work permits. For more detailed information on working or conducting business in The Bahamas, please visit Bahamas B2B.

How can I send mail from The Bahamas?

If you are sending letters or postcards from The Islands Of The Bahamas, be sure to use only Bahamian stamps. Mail travelling to The Out Islands will arrive a bit more slowly than to Nassau and Grand Bahama Island since it goes by mailboat.

Can I use my cell phone in The Bahamas?

You can purchase a a “Cybercell” Bahamas Prepaid SIM Card from BTC (The Bahamas Telecommunications Company). The SIM card, together with a tri-band unlocked GSM cell phone, will allow you to have a local cell phone number for the Bahamas while paying local rates – no roaming charges and no service contract. Many shops will unlock your US cell phone for a small fee and without much of a wait

About 75% of US cell phone plans have roaming in Nassau and Grand Bahama. Fewer are operational in the Family Islands.  Most other foreign cell phone service plans will not usually work within The Bahamas.

You can conveniently recharge your phone (purchase airtime vouchers) at a wide variety of vendors displaying the Cybercell sign. Ask for the Rockit airtime vouchers at one of these points of sale which include many gas stations, the post office and local shops.

Note: GSM service is available only on Grand Bahama and Nassau/New Providence islands. The following requirements must be met for the phone to work properly: 1900mhz.

How do I make overseas calls from The Bahamas?

You will find that most pay telephones in The Bahamas have discontinued accepting quarters. To use these pay phones you require a prepaid phone card issued by BTC (The Bahamas Telecommunications Company). The cards are readily for sale from vending machines, many stores and restaurants, and from BTC offices. They come in denominations starting at $5.00. If you use a pay phone you can access the following long distance carriers toll free (but you will need the card to initiate the call). To use your service from The Bahamas or you can simply use a regular phone.

AT&T Canada Country Direct 1-800-389-0004
Canada Direct (Stentor) 1-800-463-0501
MCI Call USA 1-800-888-8000
Sprint Express 1-800-389-2111
USA Direct 1-800-872-2881 (AT&T)
U.K. Direct 1-800-389-4444

Blocked phones and prepaid cards: many local phones do not offer long distance service as they lack the ability to dial beyond seven (7) digits. In this case you may not use the above 800 numbers to access your service without first initiating the call using a Bahamas Direct Prepaid Card. These cards differ in appearance and usage and must be purchased from BTC. At the time of purchase you pay the full amount of the card value (you can choose denomination from $10 and up). The card renders a local access number that is only seven (7) digits enabling you to place long distance calls against your Bahamas Prepaid Card or by dialing one of the above services at the numbers listed.

Please note that the majority of toll free numbers available in the US, Canada and other locations are usually not toll free from The Bahamas. This is the choice of the business setting up the toll free service as they must designate which countries, regions etc. that they are willing to incur the charges from.

Get the Bahamas vacation info you need to plan your trip.

Read the Bahamas Visitors Guidefor more Bahamas vacation information., the place to go before a Bahamas vacation., the place to go before a Bahamas vacation.

Find plenty more information to plan your Bahamas vacation by selecting one of our thirty different resource guides with directory listings, maps & photos. There are island destination and hotel guides for Nassau, Paradise Island, New Providence, Grand Bahama Island,  Freeport / Lucaya plus the Out Islands; including Harbour Island, Abaco, Andros, Exuma, Long Island, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Bimini, Acklins, Spanish Wells, Mayaguana, Crooked Island, the Berry Islands plus San Salvador.

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