5 Mistakes to avoid in Bahamas
Last Updated: 7th Aug, 2019
For sun deprived Canadians and Americans, the Bahamas offers an idyllic getaway with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and a slew of relaxing activities.
It’s no surprise, then, that this is one of the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destinations. However, just like any other country, there is a list of first-timer mistakes you should avoid while visiting. Here are five tips on how to stay safe and make the most of your time (and money) in the Bahamas.
1. Wandering Alone at Night in the Bahamas
Like everywhere else in the world, it’s wise to take proper precautions while out at night. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly in Nassau, as the risk of crime increases after dark., however you are pretty safe at Atlantis Bahamas. Avoid walking alone after sunset, especially around poorly-lit and deserted locations, such as streets and beaches. Nightclubs and music venues provide a chance to experience local culture, though tourists should stick to heavily populated areas and walk in a group.
While the Bahamian islands are generally considered safe for female travelers overall, it’s a good idea to dress modestly, as this is still a conservative country in many areas. This also means covering up when leaving beach areas during the day, especially since many spots away from the sand require a certain standard of dress. Women have also reported some incidents of verbal (mostly non-threatening) and sexual harassment while traveling around the Bahamas. Drink-spiking has also been reported here, so beware of friendly strangers who may want to buy you a drink, and never leave your beverage unattended. Pickpocketing, snatch-and-grab, and other petty crimes are also possible. As a result, heightened police presence and check points can be expected. Keep your valuables hidden, take only what you need with you for the day, and don’t leave your belongings unattended, even at the beach. Credit card fraud can also occur in the Bahamas, so keep an eye on your card at all times, and let your bank know when you are traveling, in case of suspicious transactions.
2. Traveling During Hurricane Season in the Bahamas
This is a tough one because there can be some great prices, low crowds, and potentially fantastic weather in the off-season. That being said, June through November is the official hurricane season in the Bahamas, so you’ll likely want to avoid this time of year, if possible. If you’re going to take your chances and visit during the storm season, monitor local reports and check with your airline to ensure your travel plans won’t experience any delays. Travelers should also get insurance during these months to protect their trip investment. Travel insurance provides reimbursement for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses, if you need to cancel a trip for a covered reason, such as damage to your resort from a recent hurricane.
3. Riding in Unmarked Taxis in the Bahamas
Whether you need to get to your hotel from the airport or want to explore Nassau, you should always avoid taxis that appear unlicensed. And while you’re at it, don’t hop in any licensed taxi without negotiating a fare first. Unlike other major cities around the world, most taxis in the Bahamas don’t use meters, which can make the payment process tricky. Instead of getting yourself into a sticky situation with your taxi driver, make sure to negotiate a rate upfront, especially when you’re out on the town drinking and enjoying the nightlife. Your best bet: Ask the front door staff at your hotel or resort, or the restaurant or club you’re visiting, to arrange a licensed taxi for you.
4. Expecting Punctuality on the Island
Like many Caribbean residents, Bahamians are extremely laid-back. This relaxed local lifestyle helps put tourists into the vacation spirit, but travelers expecting promptness and punctuality (New Yorkers, you know who you are) may be thrown off at first. Island time means restaurants are often slow to take orders and serve food, and guided tours and transportation options may depart later than the specified time. Rather than finding fault with this, embrace the slower pace (you are on vacation, after all) and simply book earlier transportation times or dinner reservations, if needed.
While on the subject, Bahamians may not always be a reliable source for providing driving directions. Locals use buildings, coconut trees, and distinct colors as road markers. If you’re seeking precise directions, consult with your hotel staff to avoid having to use your phone and accruing expensive roaming fees.
5. Transacting with Beach Vendors in the Bahamas
If you plan on frequenting the popular beaches, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter beach vendors selling everything from jet-ski rentals to water bottles and even illicit drugs. Before handing over cash, consider these precautions. In the Bahamas, water sports are not regulated, and some of the rental equipment might not be in proper working condition. Many of the vendors also don’t have the proper knowledge or training to come to your rescue if things go wrong out in the ocean. As of March 2019, the U.S. State Department travel advisory for the Bahamas stated that “activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas.”
Marijuana is illegal in many Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas. Illicit drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy, are also major no-nos, and can get you in serious trouble. If you are offered anything for sale or as a gift, it’s best to not accept it. You can be arrested for possession or trafficking of drugs, which can result in a fine, deportation, or potential jail time. That being said, Bahamians are friendly and enjoy interacting with tourists. If nothing else, say a polite “no thank you” and start conversing about something else. Locals respect visitors who are kind and humble, plus they consider joking and light teasing as a form of affection, so enjoy the humorous exchanges.
Women’s Safety Tips in Bahamas
Women have reported verbal and sexual harassment while traveling around the Bahamas. Women travelers should reject rides from strangers, avoid hitchhiking or taxi drivers who appear unlicensed.
While the islands are considered safe for women travelers overall, it’s a good idea to dress modestly, as some Bahaman men may suspect you are looking for a partner.
Always take precautions while out at night to ensure your safety, such as taking a licensed taxi to a club or restaurant rather than walking, particularly in Nassau. Avoid walking in deserted or poorly lit areas and not walking alone.