10 things I wish I knew before going to Bahamas
The Bahamas must be one of the dreamiest destinations one might imagine. Pristine blue waters, great weather, cheerful locals, delicious food, and above everything - loads and loads of natural beauty. There are just so many good things about the Bahamas! Even though all of us have an image in our head that pops up whenever we hear this name, there is still much to find out. What are the things to know about the Bahamas before even planning your trip? When is the best time to travel to the Bahamas, and what should one keep in mind when going to the Bahamas? I will try to give you some valuable information in this article and who knows, maybe your next vacation will bring you exactly to this beautiful corner of the Earth!
Where is the Bahamas?
Many would say that the Bahamas are located in the Caribbean, and it would be a close call. Located about 310 km southeast of the US state of Florida, this archipelago geographically speaking is not even a part of the region. A point speaking for this argument says that these islands were not formed through a volcanic process and are physically located further from the rest of the Caribbean islands. Nevertheless, the Bahamas hold a strong Caribbean cultural identity, and one should never say they are not one of the pack due to similarities in history, climate, and many other aspects.
If you are planning your travel to Bahamas, then keep in mind - the most convenient way to get there will be to take a flight to Nassau (the capital) from one of the many airports in the world. Or alternatively, you might as well travel by water, going on a cruise, or taking a boat directly from Florida.
When is the best time to travel to the Bahamas?
Of course, you won’t imagine this piece of paradise ever getting a bad forecast. But that is false because from June to November, these islands experience a hurricane season. Avoid booking your travel to Bahamas in these months because you might risk bad weather and delayed travel plans. And who wants that, right? So when is the best time to travel to Bahamas? Even though air temperatures are good throughout the year, and technically there should be no best time to travel to Bahamas, Mid-December to mid-April should work best. Just keep in mind that the rest of the tourists are also probably going to the Bahamas around the same time. It might result in heavier crowds and higher prices!
Things to know about the Bahamas:
1. There is a lot of the Bahamas
It is an archipelago of over 2400 cays (coral reefs) and 700 islands, but the crazy thing is - just about 30 of them are inhabited! With that said - it will be slightly easier to understand which islands to choose when going to the Bahamas. Most people would first arrive in New Providence (Nassau), and the liveliness shows it. But then again the Paradise Island is connected to it with two bridges and is great for families with kids. All the rest are located slightly further and will satisfy anyone who is looking for peace and quiet.
2. Don’t spend all your time on the beach
Yes, you will say I am now telling an utter madness because you want to go to the Bahamas just for that. But believe me, there are way more reasons why you should travel to Bahamas, and here are just a few among the others. Go for a food tour, go diving in deep caves, go swimming with adorable piglets, and after all - join a joyful party with the locals. Want to know more details? Read on, because I will tell more in the following points!
3. But then again...do explore some of the best beaches in the world!
I know this is not one of the things to know about the Bahamas because you already know it. But how about if I tell you that one of the most beautiful beaches there features baby pink sand that the colour comes from a microscopic marine animal with a bright pink or red shell? It is Harbor Island with its Pink Sand Beach that you should definitely see. And there are so many more - just don’t settle for the first pretty waterfront. Do your research and knock your socks off while being bedazzled by the most beautiful views.
4. It is dangerous...sometimes
Even though it is paradise and will stun most of the visitors, throughout the years exactly tourists have become the object of assaults and crimes. There is no sugarcoating this - there are some not so good things about the Bahamas, but it is definitely safe if you know where to go and what not to do. And the first of the first is - don’t go to non-tourist areas at night! The second piece of advice is - always negotiate the fare before hopping inside the taxi. They don’t use meters, and you might get into a sticky situation. Better safe than sorry!
5. Local food is amazing
Being located on the water, these islands obviously will offer the freshest and the most delicious seafood, don’t miss the chance to experience it! Their culinary heritage is somewhat of a mix of European, African, and South American and features some seriously great flavours. Besides seafood, you will see a lot of pulses, potatoes, and pork, but the most prominent local ingredient is the conch. What is a conch? It is a medium to large size sea-snail, usually the one with a high spire. Bahamians will serve it in all the possible ways: in a salad, as fritters, in sandwiches, and even raw in a ceviche type of dish. Getting squeamish about the idea of this? Don’t fret - it tastes similar to calamari!
6. Locals are relaxed but still formal
Bahamian hospitality and joy for life are unparalleled. Nevertheless, going to the Bahamas, keep in mind that they are still somewhat formal, especially with strangers and tourists. How does it come across? Greet them with handshakes and avoid addressing them by their first names unless they do it with you. Also, keep in mind to keep the beachwear for the beach - you are expected to cover up in public places because locals view beachwear as tacky when worn outside the beach.
7. Columbus discovered the New World in the Bahamas
It is said that in his journey through the Caribbean, Christopher Columbus first landed in the Bahamas. The famous event of discovering the Americas took place in 1492, and there is still a dispute whether the place where his crew touched the ground was San Salvador or Samana Cay. Nevertheless, it somehow serves to understand where is the Bahamas and gives an impression of how long ago the Europeans set their foot in this part of the world. By the way - the local Lucayan Taino people were already there when they arrived, but due to disease and other hardships brought by Columbus, they were wiped out just 25 years later.
8. It is heaven for divers
During the glacial period, the water level here used to be about 75 meters lower than now, and the acid rain formed neverending systems of caves that lie below the islands nowadays. Besides extremely exciting underwater cave systems filled with the most diverse sea life, also the deepest blue hole is located on the coast of the Bahamas. The Dean’s Blue Hole plunges, whooping 202 meters into the sea! If you are interested in diving experiences, local driving schools can provide you with appropriate training to fulfil your wildest dreams!
9. Swimming with pigs
Need I say more? One of the most iconic attractions in the world can be found, where is the Bahamas cutest location. Head out to the Big Major Cay, also known as Pig Island, to experience one of the things you will surely not forget. Swim with those piglets, big or small. Hug them, play with them, and have the time of your life!
10. Best time to travel to Bahamas is Junkanoo
In real Caribbean spirits, Junkanoo is one of the greatest events in the Bahamas. Held every year on Christmas and New Year’s Day, it is a very big celebration for the locals. One might even describe it as the carnival! If you are willing to experience a great party, it is really the best time to travel to Bahamas. Colourful costumes, lots of music, cheerful atmosphere and loads, and loads of people everywhere. Just keep in mind - if you do decide to travel to Bahamas at this time, then you should book hotel and flight tickets at least six months in advance because they tend to fill up rather quickly!
Well, as if it was not enough to know that this is a piece of paradise on Earth, I hope you now know even more of the wonderful and good things about the Bahamas. Just don’t forget to pack sunscreen, flip flops, and a camera to capture those unforgettable views!
Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday.