Diving in The Bahamas
With over 700 islands big and small, The Bahamas
offers complete diversity and 100,000 square miles of bright blue ocean. You will encounter dolphins, sharks and stingrays and experience one of the least explored walls in the world located off of Andros Island. Diving in the Bahamas includes historic shipwrecks, blue holes, intricate underwater cave systems, caverns, pass diving and the third largest barrier reef in the world. The water is clear and generally current-free making the Bahamas an ideal destination for underwater photographers.
Picture an impenetrable wall of groupers or lobsters marching in line; these events don’t happen all the time yet are more common here then anywhere else in the world. According to the Bahamas Diving Association, grouper spawns and lobster marches reached incredible proportions in the past. However, commercial fishermen took advantage of these gatherings, racking up tremendous catches. Pioneered by the Bahamas National Trust, several important areas of the archipelago are now under protection.
With its proximity to the United States, the Bahamas offer an easily accessible diver’s paradise. Water temperatures average a warm 78-80°F, with visibility averaging 80 to 100 feet. A few favorite dive sites are: Andros Blue Holes, Conception Island Wall, Edge of the Ledge (Grand Bahama) and the renowned Shark Dive at Stuart Cove’s.
Besides diving, the Bahamas offers a plethora of activities such as birding, fishing, boating, harbor tours, hiking, biking, live music, historical sites, botanical gardens and much more.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
All U.S. Citizens are required to present a valid passport. No visa is required for American citizens. All persons, six years and over leaving the Bahamas, pay a Government Departure Tax of 29.00 which should be included in your international airline ticket taxes.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into the Bahamas. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Traveler's Health CDC The Bahamas.
Culture and Customs
Uniquely Bahamian and existing nowhere else is, Junkanoo
- an incredibly energetic, colorful parade made up of costumed Bahamians dancing to music that utilizes cowbells, drums, horns and whistles. It is believed that Junkanoo was created by John Canoe, an African tribal chief forced into slavery, who wanted the right to celebrate with his people.
Celebrated since the 17th century, Junkanoo has grown into a large, organized event with groups that compete for cash prizes for best music, best costume, best dancing, etc. Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, Boxing Day and Independence Day, parades are also held during the annual “Junkanoo Summer Festival” and the “Just Rush” competition. Many hotels also offer Junkanoo shows for their guests throughout the year.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in the Bahamas is the same as the U.S. so all electronics are compatible. The international access code
for the Bahamas is 242 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Also most U.S. cell phone plans have roaming in Nassau and Grand Bahama Island, check with your service provider. Internet service is widely available in the Bahamas and most hotels offer it to their guests, usually free of charge.
The water is safe to drink.
Language & Currency
English is the official language. The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (BSD) but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. The Bahamian and the U.S. dollar are equivalent so as a visitor you don’t need to exchange any money.
The Bahamas are in the Eastern Time Zone. The Bahamian Islands do observe Daylight Savings Time. They are 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-5 during Eastern Standard Time) and 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time during Daylight Savings Time (-4 Eastern Daylight Time).
History, Art, and Culture
In 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the Western Hemisphere in The Bahamas. Spanish slave traders later captured native Lucayan Indians to work in gold mines in Hispaniola, and within 25 years, all Lucayans perished. In 1647, a group of English and Bermudan religious refugees, the Eleutheran Adventurers, founded the first permanent European settlement in The Bahamas and gave Eleuthera Island its name. Similar groups of settlers formed governments in The Bahamas until the islands became a British Crown Colony in 1717.
The late 1600s to the early 1700s were the golden age for pirates and privateers. Many famous pirates and privateers--including Sir Francis Drake and Blackbeard--used the islands of The Bahamas as a base. The numerous islands and islets with their complex shoals and channels provided excellent hiding places for the plundering ships near well-traveled shipping lanes. During the American Revolution, American colonists loyal to the British flag settled in The Bahamas. These Loyalists and new settlers from Britain brought Colonial building skills and agricultural expertise. Until 1834, when Britain abolished slavery, they also brought slaves, importing the ancestors of many modern Bahamians from Western Africa.
Bahamians achieved self-government through a series of constitutional and political steps, attaining internal self-government in 1964 and full independence within the Commonwealth on July 10, 1973. Since independence, The Bahamas has continued to develop into a major tourist and financial services center. Read more about the history of The Bahamas, here.
Location and Size
The Bahamas are located in the Caribbean, north of Cuba, northwest of the Turks and Caicos, and Southeast of the Florida Keys. The Bahamas is a group of about 700 islands and 2,000 cayes and approximately 5,369 square miles. Nassau, the capital city is located on New Providence and approximately 80 square miles. Grand Bahama Island is approximately 530 square miles.
The population of the Bahamas is 392,575 (2016).