Caribbean Tourism

Before Travelling in Bahamas

Climate: The sunshine and warm seas attract visitors throughout the year but winter, from December to April, is the high season. Temperatures are around 68°F. Summer temperatures average 86°F. Humidity is fairly high, particularly in the summer. The rainy season is May to October, when the showers are usually short but heavy. The weather can be pleasant in the winter season although cold fronts from the North American continent can bring strong north winds, heavy rain and surprisingly low temperatures. The summer months are hot, humid and often windless, with frequent thunderstorms. In August 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit the Bahamas, making over 1,200 homeless, killing four people and causing damage of over US$250 mn. North Eleuthera was badly damaged. In October 1996 Hurricane Lili destroyed houses and crops and cut power lines in Exuma, Long Island and other islands after passing over Cuba. In June 1997 unprecedented rainfall and a spring tide caused flooding in New Providence while a tornado struck Hope Town, damaging boats and power supplies. In August 1999 the islands were again hit, by Hurricane Floyd. Businesses soon get back to normal, however, and there is usually little evidence of storm damage by the time the tourist high season is in full swing. Jun-Nov is the official hurricane season.


  • Inagua - Mosquitoes can be a problem at some times of the year, avoid May.

Documents: All visitors to the Bahamas must have a passport valid for at least six months and a return ticket. Visitors from EU member countries and South Africa do not require a visa for stays of up to three months. Citizens of Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia may stay one month without a visa. Visas are not required by nationals of Commonwealth countries, South Korea, Israel and Japan (length of permitted stay varies between three and eight months), nor by most Latin American nationals if staying no longer than 14 days. Colombians without a US visa need a Bahamian visa. Nationals of Haiti and communist countries need a visa. You will need a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever if you are coming from an infected area. To enter the Bahamas for business purposes the permission of the Immigration Department, Nassau, must be obtained. Apply in writing to: Director of Immigration, Immigration Department, PO Box N3002, Nassau. No expatriate can be employed in a post for which a suitably qualified Bahamian is available, nor can a permit be considered if the prospective employee is in the country, having come in as a visitor.

Safety: Nassau is less dangerous than Kingston or Port of Spain. However visitors should be extremely careful, particularly at night or when venturing off the beaten track. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Vigilance is also advised in Freeport. Never leave screen doors open at night, there have been a number of armed robberies and sexual assaults where intruders have just walked in through screen doors left open.

Emergency Numbers on New Providence: Police: T3224444. Ambulance: T3222221. Hospital: T3222861. Med Evac: T3222881. BASRA: T3223877. The Police have offices at East Bay T3221275, Paradise Island T3633160, Cable Beach T3278800 and downtown T3223114.

Official Time: Bahamas time is five hours behind GMT, except in summer when Eastern Daylight Time (GMT – four hours) is adopted.

Voltage: 120 volt/60 cycles.

Money

  • Currency: The unit of currency is the Bahamian Dollar (B$) which is at par with the US dollar. Both currencies are accepted everywhere. There is no restriction on foreign currency taken in or out; Bahamian currency may be exported up to B$70 per person. Notes of B$ 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 3, 1 and 50c; coins of B$5, 2, 1, 50c, 25c, 15c, 10c, 5c and 1c.
  • Credit Cards: All major credit cards are accepted on New Providence and Grand Bahama. Not all the hotels and restaurants on the Family Islands take credit cards, although most take American Express, Mastercard and Visa.
  • Departure Tax: Airport and security tax is US$15 from Nassau and US$18 from Freeport except for children under the age of three. US immigration and customs formalities for those going to the USA are carried out at Nassau airport. Harbour departure tax is US$15.

Banks: There are several hundred banks licensed to do banking or trust business in the Bahamas. Some of the largest commercial banks are Royal Bank of Canada at Nassau, the airport, Abaco, Andros (Fresh Creek), Bimini, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, Long Island, Lyford Cay, and Spanish Wells; Lloyds Bank (Bahamas); Barclays Bank Plc, at Nassau, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Abaco; Scotiabank, at Nassau, Abaco, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Long Island; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce also at Nassau, Grand Bahama, Andros (Nicholl’s Town), Abaco; Bank of the Bahamas Ltd, Nassau, Grand Bahama, Andros and Inagua; Citibank.

Inagua - Matthew Town has a Bank of the Bahamas Ltd (open 0930-1430 Mon-Thu, 1030-1830 Fri) and 6 churches. Credit cards are not generally accepted, take plenty of cash with you.

Business Hours: Banks: In Nassau, Monday-Thursday 0930-1500, Friday 0930-1700; in Freeport, Monday-Friday 0900-1300 and Friday 1500-1700. Shops: 0900-1700 Monday-Saturday. Government Offices: 0900-1730 Monday-Friday.

Tipping: The usual tip is 15%, including for taxi drivers. Hotels and restaurants include a service charge on the bill, sometimes a flat rate per day, or a percentage.

Public Holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday (very busy at the airport), Whit Monday, Labour Day (first Friday in June, a parade is organized by the trade unions), Independence Day (10 July), Emancipation Day (first Monday in August), Discovery Day (12 October), Christmas Day, Boxing Day.

Religion: There are about 20 denominations represented in the Bahamas, of which those with the largest congregations are the Baptists, Roman Catholics and Anglicans. There is a synagogue in Nassau and Freeport and a Mosque in Nassau. The Tourist Office publishes a leaflet called Bahamas Places of Worship, with a full list of addresses and services.