The country's official language is English and the climate is tropical. Hurricane season can be risky so it is best to plan ahead if you will be in the area during this time. Nassau is the capital of the country and is a popular stop for cruise ships. There is an interesting Old Town area that caters heavily to tourists and has some interesting colonial buildings. There are plenty of shopping opportunities and a variety of restaurants that serve both local and international cuisines. On nearby Paradise Island, a popular day trip is to visit the hotel of Atlantis.
The culture in the Bahamas is welcoming and fun. There are many different festivals and events worth visiting, and music and dance have heavily influenced the entertainment options around the islands. If you're traveling to the country as part of a cruise, make sure you take some time to get away from the area immediately surrounding the port. The country has a lot to offer if you take time to venture out on your own and explore a little bit independently.
At A Glance
- Festivals are popular throughout the Bahamas. One of the biggest is "Junkanoo," which is a street parade that is held on both the day after Christmas as well as New Year's Day. The largest parade is in Nassau, where people flock to the streets in costumes made of crepe paper. Junkanoo music is played throughout the event.
- The Bahamas weather is very similar to that of South Florida. It is usually warm and humid but can have cold spells during the winter months. On occasion the lows at night can drop into the 40s and 50s during the coldest season.
- The Bahamas currency is the Bahamian dollar, which is locked to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio. US dollars are accepted everywhere so there is no need to exchange money if you are carrying US dollars. Many vendors in the touristy areas will even give US dollars as change if you request this.
- The national beer of the country is Kalik. This beer is always served at all-inclusive resorts. There are three versions of the beer, Kalik regular, Kalik Light and Kalik Gold. Guinness can also be found in many places around the islands.
- The islands of the Bahamas are generally made from flat coral formations and include some low rounded hills. Mount Alvernia is the highest point in the country at 63 meters. It is found on Cat Island. On Grand Bahama Island there are many white sandy beaches and beautiful blue waters
- Music is an important part of the Bahamian culture. The for most common forms of music found throughout the country are Calypso, Soca, Junkanoo, and Rake and Scrape. Each type of music has a distinctive sound and its own region of origin.
Top Tourist AttractionsOutdoor Aquarium at the Atlantis Resort (Paradise Island): Many people choose to spend a day, or at least a few hours at the Atlantis Resort near Nassau. The hotel has become more dated, but remains a top attraction in the area. The water park includes water slides and pools, but the underwater habitat is the biggest attraction.
Lucayan National Park: This national park is located east of Freeport, Grand Bahama. Its a forty acre park that has the longest known underwater cave system in the world. There are currently over six miles of caves and tunnels that have been charted. During a visit you can take a kayak or cave tour through some of the island's most interesting vegetation and scenery.
Dolphin Encounters (Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau): Adults and children alike will enjoy this opportunity to swim with dolphins first hand. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience to interact with a dolphin one on one.
Popular FoodsFood in the Bahamas, predictably, is centered around seafood. Many dishes are served with a side of "rice and peas." Casual restaurants often deep fry the seafood and many items are breaded and fried before being served with rice and peas. International cuisine is also readily available, particularly in the more touristy areas.
Conch: Conch is the national dish of the Bahamas. It is generally breaded, deep fried and served with lemon. It is readily available in many different restaurants can be found throughout the country. It is often prepared as an appetizer but can also be made into a sandwich or an entree.
Boiled Fish and Grits: This dish is a staple in the Bahamas and is commonly prepared for breakfast. The fish is usually cooked in a broth with onions, lime juice and hot peppers and served alongside of grits. Most restaurants that serve the dish use grouper.
Bahamian Fish Stew: This dish is a hearty stew that is made with fish, spices, celery, onions and tomatoes. It's rich in flavor and is available in most restaurants around the country.