Diving in The Bahamas
Diving in the Bahamas is all about diversity. Tens of thousands of new divers have made their first submersions on the near shore reefs of New Providence and Grand Bahama, but these same waters attract treasure hunters, adventurers and cave explorers, and have been the subject of hundreds of nature documentaries and feature films. The vast majority of the 700 significant islands of the Bahamas sit atop a pair of shallow limestone banks: Little Bahama Bank and Great Bahama Bank, which together encompass tens of thousands of square miles of submerged habitat. Many islands are surrounded by vast landscapes of shallow coral heads that are home to grouper, lobster and a wealth of colorful tropical species. Wrecks from Spanish treasure galleons to smuggler's yachts ran afoul on these reefs, and have since been joined by purpose-sunk wrecks. Beyond the shallows lie steep underwater walls, offshore pinnacles and blue water where big fish swim. The hand feeding of Caribbean reef sharks has long been a hallmark of the Bahamas diving scene, and each year thousands of divers earn bragging rights for swimming with the sharks, secure in the knowledge that these interactions have a stellar safety record. Emboldened divers seeking a less scripted encounter with apex predators can meet up with everything from hammerheads and lemon sharks to tigers, bulls and oceanic white tips. Even more compelling for some is the opportunity to interact with pods of wild dolphins in the sand flats near Bimini and north of West End. Island substrates are riddled with water-filled caverns that come to the surface in the form of blue holes. Cave divers have mapped miles of spectacular passages beneath the islands of Grand Bahama, Great Abaco and Andros, while Long Island is home to the world's deepest known saltwater blue hole, which plunges to a depth of 663 feet.
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
Though still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Bahama's English heritage is obvious only in the historic architecture of Nassau, a love for the Queen, and the nation's parliamentary system of government. The cosmopolitan resorts of Paradise Island and Grand Bahama may be more spiritually aligned with Miami or Las Vegas, but move into the Out Islands and you transition to island time, where the phrase “soon come” is the mantra for a relaxed, welcoming way of life. The big event on the calendar is Junkanoo, which is celebrated from December's Boxing Day to New Years Day. Every islands stages a celebration, but the big show happens in Nassau, when thousands of lavishly costumed revelers march through the streets to the accompaniment of horns, goombay drums and cowbells. Come March, the island sailboats are packed with passengers headed for the National Family Island Regatta in Georgetown. Here, crews from across the archipelago race traditional island sloops by day, then party the night away at Regatta Village. Cricket season lasts from March to November, and ongoing commentary of the matches fills the local airwaves.
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, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in the Bahamas is 120 volts/60 cycles, which is the same as the U.S. and all U.S. appliances are compatible. the country code/area code
for the Bahamas is 242. The local phone company BTC (Bahamas Telephone Company) should be available on your cell phone, so check with your carrier for costs for calls and data while in the Bahamas on roaming. There are many public hotspots, and you will find most hotels offer WiFi, as well as many bars, restaurants and shops.
Tap water is safe to drink on the main islands of the Bahamas. Bottled water is available for purchase.
Language & Currency
English is the official language, however you may hear locals speaking "Bahamian English" which has a mixture of African influence, island dialect and the Queen's diction. The H is often dropped so thanks sounds like tanks. 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. Credit cards are accepted at most locations on Nassau, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. Cirrus and +PLUS ATMs can be found on Nassau, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama and most of the major Out Islands.
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).
Location, Size and Population
The Bahamas are located in the North Atlantic Ocean on the eastern edge of the Caribbean. They are approximately 45 miles Southeast of Florida. The Bahamian Islands are made up of approximately 700 islands and 2,000 cayes of which about only 30 are inhabited. The islands are north of Cuba, northwest of the Turks and Caicos, and Southeast of the Florida Keys. The size of the Bahamas is approximately 5,382 square miles with a coastline of 1,368 square miles. The capital city of the Bahamas is Nassau, located on New Providence and is appoximately 80 square miles. The population of the Bahamas is 392,575 (2016).