Clear Waters and Warm Sun in a Paddler's Paradise
It would be hard to image a better place for a paddle. Shimmering turquoise bays are ringed in white sand beaches. Coral reefs and tropical fish are revealed as you glide through clear tropical waters. Bluewater passages lead to deserted islands that invite exploration and a stop for a swim. Tidal creeks and the quiet channels of mangrove lagoons are home to flocks of wading birds. Excursions can be as easy as grabbing a boat from the resort's water sports center for a casual run. But longer routes and guided tours are also available for those seeking bigger adventures.
- Best for: Solos, couples and families, beach lovers and adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year-round, with some areas exposed to cold fronts in winter months
- Weather: Sub-tropical climate similar to Florida, with warm water temperatures in summer, becoming cooler in winter when cold fronts pass
Paddle Sports in the Bahamas Overview
Paddlers can choose from a wide range of on-water experiences from easy jaunts along resort beaches to day-long trips to remote beaches. West and south-facing coastlines and bays are often sheltered from prevailing winds and waves. Fringing reefs and sandbars may provide protection for trips farther from shore, and open water awaits the adventurous. Inland tours typically follow mangrove channels or tidal creeks.
Paddle Sports in the Bahamas Tips
A number of resorts maintain a fleet of kayaks that are free for guest use. But rather than just grab the first boat that looks appealing, make sure it is right for your size and intended use. Larger paddlers will need higher-volume hulls that won't sink low and add drag. Long, thin boats are faster but less stable in the waves.
Best Places for Paddle Sports in the Bahamas
Grand Bahama's south shore provides calm waters inside the reefs, and inland there is a branching network of canals to explore. Kayaks give easy access to the coral-rimmed bays and shallow inland creeks of North Andros. Tours from Emerald Bay lead through mangrove channels between Great and Little Exuma Island to reach secluded Moriah Cay. The waters of Goodman Bay provide relaxed paddling conditions. Follow sea turtles in the lagoon at Long Island's Newton's Cay.
What to Pack for Paddle Sports in the Bahamas
Add a wide-brim cloth hat with chin strap for sun protection. Polarized sunglasses will reduce glare and bring out the colors of the water. Select a waterproof, long-sleeve watersports shirt, sandals and a bathing suit or shorts that can get wet. Pack valuables into a waterproof case or small dry bag.
Melia Nassau Beach All Inclusive
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Treasure Cay Beach Marina & Golf Resort
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry/Exit 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 island 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 approximately 80 square miles. The population of the Bahamas is 392,575 (2016).