The more you know about traveling to The Islands of The Bahamas, the more you'll be prepared when you arrive.


Bahamahost

Alternative TextTo experience the professional and knowledgeable Bahamian hospitality during your trip to The Bahamas, look for this sticker on Bahamahost taxis and buses. Managed by the National Association of Bahamahost, the program promotes professionalism, pride and education in the hospitality industry to ensure a warm welcome to visitors.

The training familiarizes all participants with correct and accurate information on the country's history, geography, civic education, economy, culture, flora, fauna, and places of interest. Additional emphasis is placed on attitudinal training, teamwork, and cooperation. Graduates of the program receive a Bahamahost ID badge and vehicle owners receive a Bahamahost sticker. All graduates are encouraged to post their badge or decal with pride.


Banking

Bank opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Some banks are open on Saturday; hours vary between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

In Nassau / Paradise Island, there are ATM machines at Paradise Island casinos and commercial banks. In Grand Bahama Island, they can be found in major banks, the casino, and Port Lucaya Marketplace. On the Out Islands, ATMs are installed in all major islands. Most are equipped with ATM + and Cirrus systems.

Visit the Bahamas Yellow Pages for banking locations on individual islands.


Boating

Checklist for boaters before leaving for The Bahamas:
• Bahamas maps for navigation / GPS
• Fuel (quantity appropriate for travel and additional)
• Food and supplies
• Coast Guard approved safety equipment (if required, by size / type of vessel)
• Dockliners and wings
• Engine and equipment maintained and fully operational
• Appropriate spare parts
• Quarantine flag (yellow flag)
• Portable VHF Radio / Portable Floating Spare Radio
• Separators 30/50 Amp (if necessary)
• Appropriate documentation on the ownership and registration of vessels
• Proof of Citizenship - Passport
• Wharf reservations


Changing of the Guard

Since 1958, this marching display with precision drills has been performed at Government House, just before a member of the new guard replaces a member of the old guard. It is held the second Friday of each month throughout the year and is free of charge. It is a must-see attraction for visitors and locals alike.  More information.


Clothing

Casual summer wear can be worn during the day at any time of the year; but be sure to bring a jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings from December to February. Most hotels / restaurants / casinos require jackets for men at night, especially in more cosmopolitan areas, such as Nassau / Paradise Island and Freeport / Lucaya.

Beachwear is inappropriate in churches, restaurants, and casinos. Away from the beach or the pool, you should cover your swimsuit with shorts or a long shirt when walking the city streets. In the more relaxed remote areas, the dress code is more flexible.


Communications

Visitors and business travelers will find that telecommunication services in The Bahamas are comparable to the services found in most developed countries. A 100% digital switching system allows direct dialing in more than 100 countries. The United States and Canada are accessible by a direct call and most hotels offer direct dialing from the rooms and / or the conference center. The Bahamas Telephone Company (BTC) provides a variety of services beyond the telephone: fax, telex, Internet, cellular service, private line service, satellite and radio leasing, and an enhanced VHF-FM radiotelephone service that allows you to contact vessels at sea. You can save money on long distance calls by purchasing phone cards. These have good rates to the United States and Canada and can be found at any BTC location in Nassau / Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, or The Out Islands.

For those who want to use their mobile phones, BTC also has roaming agreements with 128 companies around the world. To access BTC's GSM roaming system, simply turn on your phone and wait for it to connect to the network. To check if your home service provider is a BTC roaming partner or for country-specific roaming charges, see btcbahamas.com.


Currency

The Bahamian dollar is maintained at the same level as the U.S. dollar and both are accepted interchangeably on all islands. Credit cards and traveler's checks are accepted at most locations on Nassau / Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. ATMs + PLUS and Cirrus are in banks on Nassau / Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, and most major Out Islands.


Driving

UK rules apply in The Bahamas, so please drive on the left and be very careful on the roundabouts. Visitors can use their residence permit for up to three months and may also apply for an international driving license. Pedestrians must remember to first look right and then left before crossing streets.

It is the law that all drivers and their passengers wear seat belts while riding in a vehicle. Please note:

  1. A child weighing less than 20 pounds must be placed in a child seat, installed in the back seat and facing the rear of the vehicle.
  2. A child of 20 pounds and under 40 pounds should be in a convertible car seat adapted to the back seat.
  3. A child over 40 pounds or up to 4 feet / 9 inches tall should be fitted in a booster seat.
  4. A child over 4 feet / 9 inches tall and between 8 and 12 years old should wear a seatbelt.

Duty-free Shopping

On most large islands you can find cameras, binoculars and telescopes, porcelain and crystal, watches and clocks, jewelry, perfumes, linens and tablecloths, alcohol and leather goods. The savings on these items are usually between 25-50% below U.S. prices.

You can find local crafts in straw markets and specialty shops, or at Festival Place in Nassau, the Bahama Craft Center on Paradise Island, and at Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand Bahama Island.


Electricity

Electrical outlets in The Bahamas are 60 cycles / 120 volts, which is compatible with all American devices. British and European appliances require a two-pin flat adapter and a 220-volt converter.


Getting Around

Jitney Buses
A public transportation service (called jitneys) is available on several of the major islands, including Nassau / Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. It usually runs from early morning (around 6:30 a.m.) until around 7:00 p.m. Rates vary depending on the route and the exact change is required. Bus stops are marked. On New Providence, the basic rate is $1.25 per person; areas outside the city of Nassau could cost up to $3.50.

Taxis
Taxis are conveniently placed in most hotels and at airports. You can also call for a taxi or get one off the street in the main islands. The metered rates vary by island, but they are reasonable and set by law. Please note that surcharges often apply for more than two persons and extra luggage. Check the 'Getting Around' page for the island you are visiting to get more specific information.


Health and Security

Vaccines are not required to visit The Bahamas, unless you are traveling from an infected area.

You can have peace of mind knowing that there are facilities available to meet your health and pharmacy needs. Medical facilities on the islands, particularly Nassau / Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island, have North American and European doctors.


Pets/Plants/Fish

Importation of Pets
You can bring your pet to The Bahamas, but you must prepare before you leave home. An import permit is required from the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources (Nassau) for all animals brought into the country. The permit is valid for one year from the date of issue.

Follow the links below for important information on importing pets and to download the pet import form:

Bringing Pets to The Bahamas
Application to Import Domestic Animals
The Bahamas Humane Society
Animal Import Requirements
Application For CITES Import/Export Animal Product/By-Product
Application To Import CITES Plants (Orchids)
Application To Import Freshwater Fish
Checklist


Spring Break

Spring Break Season in The Bahamas runs from late February to mid-April. This is important information, whether you're aiming to avoid the season altogether, or you're intent upon landing right in the middle of this weeks-long youth fest.

Evenings on the beach, sports meets, and musical entertainment are some of the events usually organized for the Spring Break calendar. The front desk of your hotel will be able to provide detailed information on what's happening in their area.


Time Zone

The Bahamas falls in the Eastern Time Zone.

In March 2007, the country adopted the new Daylight Saving Time policy—the same one followed by parts of Canada and the United States. As a result, Daylight Saving Time begins each year on the second Sunday in March at 2:00 a.m. and ends on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 a.m.


Tipping

Tipping in The Bahamas should be treated just like where you come from, and you should tip according to the quality of service you receive. Bellboys and porters usually receive $1 per bag, while most other servers (waiters, taxis, etc.) receive 15%. Many establishments include the gratuity in the total, so make sure you check your bill to see if it has already been added.