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The Abacos Planning Tips and Fast Facts

Bask on Powder White Beaches - That’s Just the Beginning of the Bahamas Bliss

Our Expert Opinion

The Bahamas are so close to the U.S., but once you leave Nassau, they feel miles away. The destination is for people whose idea of nightlife is sipping a Bahama Mama at a barefoot in the sand local bar or unwinding onboard your yacht under a star-flooded sky. The reefs are teeming with fish making snorkeling, scuba and catching your own dinner a highlight. Charter a catamaran or a motor yacht with a shallow draft so that you can anchor close to the islands. If you charter a superyacht, look for one with a large “towed tender” that will zoom you where the big yacht cannot go.

What is Destination Known For?

!! The Bahamas are one of the most preferred getaways on the planet. Credited with having the clearest water on earth, this archipelago is known for its pristine white sand beaches. The mesmerizing waters host a variety of water-sports besides boating, swimming and diving. It is a world-class destination for sport fishing and scuba diving. This tropical paradise enjoys very pleasant weather and tranquility throughout the year, which makes it an ideal place to depart from the chaos of city life and get away from it all.

Location and Size

The Bahamas are a group of 700 islands and over 2000 cays in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Yet, only around 30 of them are inhabited. It is located 50 miles (80 kilometers) south-east of the coast of Florida and 244 miles (392 kilometers) to the north of Cuba. The total area of the territory is 5383 square miles (13940 square kilometers) which is comparable to the size of Connecticut. It has a coastline of 2,201 miles (3,542 kilometers). The capital city Nassau is located in the central and most populated island of the region – New Providence.

History

The first instances of human presence in the Bahamas can be traced back to 300 to 400 AD. The next occupants were the Lucayans who migrated here from the present day Cuba between 900 and 1500 AD.

Baja Mar, from which the name Bahamas is derived, meaning shallow sea in Spanish, was used by Christopher Columbus to describe the low waters of the region when he arrived here in 1492. The 40,000-odd peaceful Lucayans who lived here then were enslaved and within 25 years, the entire race perished.

Around the 1640s, Bermuda was deep in a religious conflict with a group of English Puritans opposed the protocols of the Anglican Church. The group headed to the Bahamas with their religious ambitions. They arrived at a small island when their boat hit a reef and all of their provisions were lost. A starving William Sayle sailed in a small boat to Virginia and returned back with food and a ship. The English Puritans managed to sustain life on the island, which they named as 'Eleuthera', meaning 'freedom' in Greek. In the 1670s, new migrants arrived on what is now known as New Providence island.. home to the famous city of Nassau.

The islands also had their stints with pirates - Blackbeard and Calico Jack being the most infamous. Urban legends also claim that the treasures of William Cat and Sir Henry Morgan are still hidden here.

In 1718, the King of England appointed Woodes Rogers as the Royal Governor. He led a successful mission to bring law and order to the region which had been dominated by lawless buccaneers. During the American Civil War, British Loyalists fled the United States and brought slaves, agriculture, and shipbuilding to the islands.

The Bahamas benefited greatly from the American Civil War during 1861-1865. Since British ships were forbidden from entering the southern ports, traders met in the Bahamas and made huge profits from their shipment. This prosperity spiraled downward at the end of the war. The islands further declined in the 1930s when the U.S.Prohibition ended, and the sponge harvesting industry was on the decline.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Bahamas has relied on its continuously growing tourism industry. On July 10, 1973, the Bahamas attained freedom from 325 years of peaceful British rule and became a sovereign country.


Getting There

The Bahamas Express Ferry connects Freeport to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) on Nassau is the country's gateway to the world which connects the region to important cities in the US and Canada. Several direct flights are available from London to Nassau as well as connecting flights from other major UK airports.

Best Time to Go

Since the weather in the Bahamas always remains pleasant, the islands can be visited any time of the year. Winter months of December through February can be cool if a cold front descends from the North. The ideal months are best time to visit the Bahamas is from April through July and November. The official hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, with late August, September and October being the active months.

The gentle trade winds add a touch of magic to the weather of the Bahamas this place and keep it the Bahamas temperatures neither too hot high nor too cold low throughout the year. The Bahamas water temperature is averages around 79°F(26°C) during summers and 75°F(24°C) during winters.


Local Customs to Observe

Bahamians are perceived as warm, affectionate and easy-going people. Their culture is largely influenced by their British hierarchy and their American proximity. Hospitality is in the soul of Bahamians, and Good Morning, Good Day, Good Evening is the way to start all conversations. Casual dressing complements the islands laid-back lifestyle, and beachwear is best reserved for the beaches. Formal dressing while attending Church services is recommended.

Helpful Fast Facts

Currency: Bahamian Dollar with US Dollars being accepted in most places.

Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone(UTC-05:00)

Local language: English

Population: 386,524

Airport: Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) at Nassau.

Entry Requirements: US and Canadian citizens holding a valid passport do not need a visa to enter the Bahamas, provided the stay is for a maximum of 8 months. Latin American citizens may also enter the Bahamas without a visa but their permissible stay is limited to 3 months. Citizens of other countries may require a visa along with a valid passport to enter the region. Children below 18 years of age are required by Bahamian law to carry a notarized letter from a guardian or non-accompanying parent granting permission for the travel.

Departure Tax: BS$15 per person (6 years and older)

Legal Drinking Age: 18 years.

Smoking Regulations: Smoking laws are liberal in the Bahamas. However some entities may forbid smoking in enclosed spaces.

Staying in touch: GSM services are available in Grand Bahamas, New Providence and other main islands where most US services are on roaming. Staying connected on some of the Out Islands could be a little difficult so check how your yacht is equipped.

Medical Information: Doctor's Hospital at Nassau gives primary specialty & subspecialty care both on an in-patient and out-patient basis.

Ambulance and rescue squads have their presence across the Bahamas. '919' is the emergency number on the islands.

Medevac is readily obtainable.

Public Holidays: New Year Day (January 1); Majority Rule Day (January 10); Good Friday; Easter Monday, Whit Monday (7th Monday after Easter); Randol Fawkes Labor Day (1st Friday in June); Bahamas Independence Day (July 10); Emancipation Day (1st Monday in August); National Heroes day (October 12); Christmas Day & Boxing Day(December 25 and 26 respectively).

Tourist Office: The official web address for tourist information on Bahamas is www.bahamas.com

Shopping Information: Jewelry, local crafts and authentic Bahamian items are the best selling products. Andros is famous for its local, colorful batik – Androsia. Port Lucaya Marketplace and the one on Grand Bahama Island are great places for indigenous crafts and cuisine. Straw creations of late Miss Ivy Simms at Long Island and hotel boutiques in the Exumas make a complete shopping itinerary in the Bahamas.

Shopping is duty-free on perfumes, leather goods, jewelry, fine linens, watches, photographic equipment and table accessories. Duty-free shops are identified with the 'DFS' logo.

Top Ten "Must Do's"

  • Listen to nature whisper on the pink beaches of Harbour Island.
  • Land the biggest fish ever in deep-sea fishing tournaments on Bimini.
  • Appreciate the rich bird life in Andros' mangroves.
  • Swim with the dolphins at Atlantis on Providence Island.
  • Discover serenity at Green Turtle Cay.
  • Get a crystal clear view of the amazing marine life and iguanas at Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park.
  • Bask on the creamy shore at Treasure Cay.
  • Enjoy some belly roll laughter watching the swimming pigs at Big Major Cay.
  • Swim with the nurse sharks at Compass Cay.
  • Snorkel Thunderball Cave a la James Bond fame.

Major Local and Regional Events

  • Junkanoo – a parade, dance contest, masquerade party from 2am to dawn on December 26 and January.
  • Bahamas International Film Festival – a week-long event in early December.
  • Abaco Christmas Festival – an event featuring wine-tasting, live entertainment and boat parade in December.
  • New Years Sailing Regatta – a boat-racing event on January 1 and 2.
  • Beer Festival – on Exuma in July.
  • Conch Festival – a food festival with music and dance in October.

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