Travel Fundamentals for the Bahamas

Understanding a few basic travel tips can help you to appreciate the diversity of the Bahamas

Photo credit: © Alison Cornford-matheson |

Travelers heading to the islands of the Bahamas will find plenty of differences between the many islands that compose this country. From the urban flair of Nassau to the tropical wilderness of the Out Islands, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices. After all, more than 700 islands and 2,500 cays make up the island chain.

Island Summaries

To help you understand the differences between the many regions and islands of the Bahamas, this table categorizes and briefly describes them.

Island Or Group Hot Spots Description
New Providence and Paradise Islands Nassau;
Cable Beach;
Paradise Island
New Providence Island is the most urban of The Bahamian islands, featuring Nassau and Cable Beach, and connecting to Paradise Island. These are the major resort development areas of the Bahamas. Nassau is the main shopping city and the capital of the Bahamas, with a well-known stretch of shore lined with hotels. Colonial history also plays a part in the charm of Nassau. Cable Beach is a line of beachfront hotels matching the strip of hotels on Paradise Island. These high class resorts definitely cater to an upscale crowd
Grand Bahama Freeport;
Grand Bahama Island has a lot to offer, but is most often frequented by American tourists in the cities of Freeport and Lucaya, which are almost interchangeable as vacation locations. American investors developed the island as a tourist destination, and it is somewhat more glitzy than the tourist spots on New Providence and Paradise Islands. However, other areas of Grand Bahama offer wonderful beaches and some of the best hiking in the Bahamas. Diving is also world class off the coast of Grand Bahama. This island is extremely popular with families.
Bimini N/A The island of Bimini is extremely close to Miami, and is best known as a popular spot for famous faces such as Ernest Hemingway, Howard Hughes, and Richard Nixon. It's also known for the fine big-game fishing in its waters, which are said to have attracted these renowned visitors. Travelers interested in historical figures or underwater treasures such as fishing and diving will find something to explore on Bimini.
The Berry Islands Great Harbour Cay;
Chub Cay
Approximately 30 islands and 100 cays make up the group known as The Berry Islands. However, these islands contain only about 30 square miles of dry land among them. Here is where the most devoted sailors and anglers come to enjoy The Bahamian waters. Most of the Bahama's population lives on Great Harbour. Some visitors consider The Berry Islands to be a little more interesting and charming than Bimini.
Andros N/A Although Andros is actually two islands connected by canals and cays, it is the largest landmass in the Bahamas. Andros is also the home of the world's third largest barrier reef. A 40-square mile forest with more than 50 varieties of orchids is located in the center of the island.
The Abacos (also, Abaco) Elbow Cay;
Green Turtle Cay
Although the Abacos are often referred to as just one island, it is actually a cluster of islands and islets, many of which are uninhabited. Boaters and yachters visit this area in droves. The Abacos are known for New England charm.
Eleuthera Gregory Town;
Harbour Island;
Spanish Wells
Eleuthera is considered the most historic of the Out Islands, with its first settlers arriving in 1648. It is a string of islands, including Spanish Wells and Harbour Island. Two airports - North Eleuthera, and South Eleuthera - service the island. It is similar to the Abacos, drawing visitors for its beaches and barrier reef diving.
The Exuma Islands George Town;
Emerald Bay
The many islands and cays that make up the Exuma Islands are mostly uninhabited. This is the yachting hub of the Bahamas. Daily flights are available from Nassau and Miami to Exuma. The Exumas' claim to fame are the James Bond movies that were filmed here.
The Southern Bahamas San Salvador;
Cat Island;
Long Island;
Crooked Island
These islands are well known for their beaches, fishing, and diving. Spend a day or more at the numerous popular spots among these islands, but keep in mind that the accommodations here are generally not the resort-style lodgings you'll find elsewhere.



With the many differences among the islands of the Bahamas, you're certain to find activities and locales that suit your taste.


One thing that doesn't differ from island to island is etiquette. You're sure to receive a warm welcome if you stick to a few guidelines when it comes to behavior.

  • Before beginning a conversation, the Bahamian people greet each other and visitors with a traditional British, "Good morning," "Good afternoon," or "Good evening." Travelers are expected to do the same. No matter how much of a hurry you're in, taking the time to greet people properly will help you learn the information you need quickly. Remember to ask, "How are you?" as well.
  • Many travelers can get along with the locals through a good sense of humor, as is the case in most places. However, forced humor will elicit the same reaction in the Bahamas as it does elsewhere. So feel free to be funny, but don't feel like you need to be.
  • Churchgoing is a way of life in the islands of the Bahamas, and Bahamian people dress in their finest for the weekend services. If you plan to stop in at such a service, dress accordingly. Although you may not be the best dressed person there, it will go a long way toward fitting in.
  • Business travelers should expect American-style business dress and activities and should avoid the temptation to wear resort-style clothes to a business meeting. Suits are best for most kinds of meetings.
  • When visiting any of the islands in the Bahamas, remember that being polite is the way to go. By following basic customs, you can avoid committing a faux pas at an inopportune moment and avoid offending others accidentally. As anywhere else in the world, polite behavior is often the key to great service and friendly faces.

Many travel basics, such as customs and documentation regulations, remain the same throughout these islands; other things, such as driving conditions, will certainly vary. All in all, the Bahamas' diversity is something to be celebrated and enjoyed.


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