Traveling Luck for Bahamas

The Bahamas is located in Caribbean, chain of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba.

Land in The Bahamas is long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills.

Bahamian land covers an area of 13940 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Connecticut

As for the Bahamian climate; tropical marine; moderated by warm waters of Gulf Stream.

Bahamian(s) speak English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants).

Bahamian National Map

Bahamian Map

Regions of Bahamas

Arawak Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World on San Salvador in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas have prospered through tourism and international banking and investment management. Because of its geography, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US.


Bahamas Country Profile

The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism together with tourism-driven construction and manufacturing accounts for approximately 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs half of the archipelago's labor force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences had led to solid GDP growth in recent years, but the slowdown in the US economy and the attacks of 11 September 2001 held back growth in these sectors in 2001-03. The current government has presided over a period of economic recovery and an upturn in large-scale private sector investments in tourism. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP. However, since December 2000, when the government enacted new regulations on the financial sector, many international businesses have left The Bahamas. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors.

Bahamian natural resources include salt, aragonite, timber, arable land

strategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain of which 30 are inhabited

Bahamian religion is Baptist 35.4%, Anglican 15.1%, Roman Catholic 13.5%, Pentecostal 8.1%, Church of God 4.8%, Methodist 4.2%, other Christian 15.2%, none or unspecified 2.9%, other 0.8% (2000 census).

Natural hazards in The Bahamas include hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage.

Travel Advice on Bahamas

Bahamas

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is no British High Commission in The Bahamas.  For emergency consular assistance, please telephone (+1 242) 327 5309 or (+1 242) 357 9005.  Alternatively contact the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica (details below).

  • The hurricane season in the Bahamas normally runs from June to November.  Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.

  • Violent crime can be a problem.  Much of this is within the local community, but tourists have been the victims of robbery, sometimes armed, particularly when alone or in isolated locations.

  • Most visits to the Bahamas are trouble-free.  However, the main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance is for replacing lost and stolen passports.

  • The water sports industry in The Bahamas is very poorly regulated.  In view of this and a number of fatal accidents, we advise you not to rent jet-skis in New Providence and Paradise Island unless you are experienced jet-ski users.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY



Local Travel
You should note that operators offering sports excursions adjacent to the major tourist hotels are usually independent entrepreneurs and that many of the hotels themselves disclaim responsibility in respect of guests using those services.  You may wish to assure yourself, before buying an excursion, that appropriate health and safety precautions are evident and that the operator has adequate insurance cover.
Road Safety
Although traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road most vehicles are imported from the United States and are left hand drive.  Drivers should therefore exercise caution, especially when overtaking.
Sea Safety
The water sports industry in the Bahamas is very poorly regulated.  Every year people are killed or seriously injured by the improper use of jet skis or other watercraft or by the careless or reckless operation of such equipment by others.  In view of a number of fatal accidents, we advise you not to rent jet-skis in New Providence and Paradise Island unless you are an experienced jet-ski user.  If you choose to rent any type of water sports equipment, you should first consider the dangers involved and satisfy yourself that adequate safety precautions are in place.  Once satisfied about this, rent only from reputable operators and insist on sufficient training before use.  Also ensure that the operator has adequate insurance cover.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Penalties for possession or trafficking of drugs are severe.  Tourists may be offered narcotics in pubs and bars.  Police are vigilant.  Substantial fines, imprisonment and deportation may result.  Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through Customs for anyone else unless you are certain of the contents.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British nationals visiting the Bahamas do not require visas for visits of up to 3 months.  Visitors wishing to extend their stay must apply to the Department of Immigration in Nassau.  Penalties for overstaying include fines and detention pending deportation.  If employment is intended or the visit is for any reason other than tourism, travellers should seek advice from the Bahamian High Commission:  Representation for the Bahamas in the UK.
The Bahamas counts as part of the “contiguous territory and islands” for US visa waiver purposes and time spent in The Bahamas counts towards the 90 day maximum permitted stay in the US under this Waiver.  British nationals travelling to The Bahamas via the USA (under US visa waiver arrangements) who then wish to return to the USA should seek advice US Immigration and Naturalisation Service or any US diplomatic mission before commencing their journey if they have any doubt about their US visa status.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Bahamian High Commission in London:  Representation for the Bahamas in the UK.
All visitors leaving the Bahamas are subject to a cash departure tax of $15.00 (US or Bahamian Dollars).


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.

Medical treatment is of a good standard but can be expensive.  Emergency medical facilities are limited on all the Family Islands and serious cases are transferred to Nassau, Freeport or Miami by air ambulance.  You should ensure that your medical insurance covers the cost of air ambulance.

Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in The Bahamas and take precautions to avoid being bitten whilst there.  You should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in country or in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  More information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre NaTHNaC website..

You should also be aware of the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS virus in The Bahamas and take precautions to avoid exposure.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health's website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.

NATURAL DISASTERS

The hurricane season in the Bahamas normally runs from June to November.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.  You can also access the National Hurricane Centre for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas please see:  What We Can Do To Help.

You should carry photocopies of your passport and travel insurance documents and keep the originals in a safe place.
Bahamas police have recently notified the public that counterfeit higher denomination notes are in circulation.  You should check for a ship watermark and metallic strip on genuine notes and not purchase any currency except at established exchange centres.
The British High Commission in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas closed in April 2005.  Please address queries to the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica.
In the event of a genuine consular emergency in The Bahamas, please telephone 1 242 327 5309 or 1 242 357 9005.  This number should not be used for passport or visa queries.