What To Know About Traveling To The Bahamas Right Now

Tips for travel to the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma.

On September 6, Hurricane Irma—at that point a Category 5 storm—hit the Caribbean, causing widespread destruction and leaving at least 36 dead. The storm went on to hit the Southeastern United States in downgraded form, and hurricane recovery efforts continue on all fronts across both regions.

As countries take stock of the extent of the damage, from Irma and Maria, and how to best rebuild people around the world are left wondering which countries have been hardest hit. And, of course, they’re wondering about the storm’s implications for travel to these destinations in the future.

The Caribbean and Mexico are among the most popular destinations for U.S. travelers, according to Equifax U.S. Outbound Travel in 2016. On top of that, some six million people visit The Bahamas each year, and the majority of them are from the U.S. If you are wondering if travel to The Bahamas is possible this year, here is what you need to know about how Irma (and Maria) affected the islands.

Irma and The Bahamas

The Bahamas is huge—some 700 islands distributed over 100,000 square miles of western Atlantic Ocean. In the case of Irma, the storm passed through The Bahamas without impacting all of it. Unfortunately, the southern islands of Acklins and Crooked Island were damaged by the storm, and Ragged Island was devastated. By contrast Nassau and Paradise Island (a.k.a. New Providence), the capital of the country and main tourism hub, saw only tropical storm wind and rain. Maria brushed the southeastern islands but fortunately passed The Bahamas by.

What’s Operating On The Bahamas

Hotels, airports and marinas throughout The Bahamas reopened quickly after Irma, and now are operating normally. Hotels still welcome and care for guests, including Atlantis, Paradise Island and the newly opened Baha Mar in Nassau.

Even smaller, more boutique-leaning properties like Squires Estate on Eleuthera and Bahama House Inn on Harbour Island are just fine. Similarly, beach destinations like Harbour Island, Gold Rock Beach on Grand Bahama Island, or the beaches of Nassau, remain intact. Diving, snorkeling and fishing excursions are operating from marinas across the islands.

Getting to The Bahamas

Direct flights from New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Toronto into Nassau continue to operate on regular schedules.

Multiple regional carriers are operating directly from Miami to Abaco, The Exumas, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama.

Safety

Nassau and Paradise Island, Abaco, Andros, The Exumas, Long Island, Cat Island and others felt only a glancing blow from Irma. There was cosmetic clean-up only—no major debris or flooding that would cause health concerns.

Bahamian residents are quick to point out that hurricanes are a fact of life in the Caribbean; people prepare for them and appreciate their good fortune when they remain in the clear. The Bahamas was lucky that the impact of Irma was limited to the smaller islands in the south, and getting back to the country’s biggest business—tourism—will help them to rebuild these islands and their neighbors.