Being so close the United States has made the Bahamas one of the easiest of the “island paradises” to visit. From its sprawling capitol Nassau, to its many smaller islands, the Bahamas have everything other Caribbean islands have and more. The Bahamas are made up of 700 islands and 2500 cays, which make it a wonderful place for sailing and diving, and with so many locations, you’ll never get bored.
The islands are very different from one another as some have been “built up” while others still have a more West Indies-like style. If you have been to one island you shouldn’t judge all of the Bahamas by what you found there; inter-island cultures often seem like night and day. Only a true local could tell you about all the hidden gems in this island chain, but travel there just once and you can find some of them on your own.
Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas on his first voyage to the Americas, in 1492. His landfall was made on the island of San Salvador. At that time the islands were inhabited by the Lucayan indians; sadly the indians were enslaved by the Spanish and, within 25 years, the entire population of 50,000 indians was gone.
Traveling in Bahamas
You can travel to the Bahamas by either plane or boat: there are regular flights from many airports in Florida, as well as ferries leaving from Miami and Fort Lauderdale (most of these travel to the more popular ports, such as Nassau or Freeport).
Traveling between the islands is easier on a plane than a ferry, as there are few commercial boats connecting the islands, and those that do are not on regular schedules. There are water taxis between many of the closer islands, but if you’re looking to travel farther down the chain a plane may be your best bet.
U.S. citizens do not need a passport or visa for stays of less than eight months in the Bahamas, but must show proof of citizenship. Citizens of Canada or the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries do not need a visa for stays of three weeks or less. Visitors from most other European countries need passports but not visas for stays up to three months. Air passengers must have a return or ongoing airline ticket.
Weather in Bahamas
The weather in the Bahamas is some of the nicest in the world. Temperatures rarely drop below 60°F (16°C) and don’t usually go above 90°F (32°C). The sun shines on average 320 days a year and the islands, being right in the path of the trade winds, normally have a nice cooling breeze. The rainy season is between May and November, but with an average of only 45 days of rain a year you can bet that you’ll see plenty of sun during this period as well. This time of year is also the hurricane season, but the islands seem to generally escape the damage caused by many of these storms.
Government: Independent state within the British Commonwealth
Square Miles: 5380 sq miles (13,940 sq km)
Capitol: Nassau (pop 190,000)
Official Language: English
People: African descent (85%), European descent (12%), Asian & Hispanic (3%)
Religion: Baptist (32%), Anglican (20%), Roman Catholic (19%)
Major products/industries: Tourism, finance/banking