Safety Tips for Adventure Travelers in The Bahamas

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Before you jet off to The Bahamas, find out how to stay safe while enjoying all the activities on water and land.

The calm and shallow turquoise waters in Exumas archipelago in The Bahamas are perfect for sailing, yachting, and island hopping in the Caribbean Photo © Getty Images/erikruthoff

There are so many activities for you to do on your vacation in the Bahamas, from snorkelling and scuba diving to boating and jet-skiing.

However, while many tour operators appear fun and safe, much of the adventure tourism here is not strictly regulated, causing a few concerns for visitors.

Watercraft Safety in the Bahamas

Tourists are hurt or killed each year because of using watercraft incorrectly or carelessly. In May 2011, an American cruise ship tourist was killed in a jet-ski accident. Another tourist was injured.

Water parks are not entirely safe, either. In 2000, a 12-year-old boy was killed when he was sucked into the drain of the Atlantis Resort lagoon. In April 2011, a 5-year-old Canadian tourist was killed in the same resort‘s water park.

Many of the tours offered on the islands are operated by independent individuals, who do not share liability with resorts or accommodations. While the resort may help you set up tours, know that its staff are not responsible for any injuries or accidents that occur. If you do decide to rent jet skis or go on another water sport adventure, ensure the company is reputable and provides liability and personal insurance coverage.

Also make sure you know how to properly use the watercraft before riding it. If you take out a travel insurance policy, make sure that you are covered for any events before you partake in them.

If taking a boat in Bahamian waters, there are a few hazards to be aware of. Coral reefs line the Bahamian shores, and you can easily damage your boat or water vessel if you get too close to them. If you find a beach to relax on, spray yourself with repellent to avoid “no-see-ums" – pestering bugs that resemble fleas.

Another issue in the waters, is crime being conducted by some watercraft. Some boats and vessels trafficking drugs may look amiss, while others will seem harmless. There have been drug smuggling and human trafficking reported on the islands, that can occur by boat.

The islands are considered by some to be ideal locations for these kinds of activities because there are remote nooks and crannies where few people are present. As a tourist, you won‘t probably have run-ins with these kinds of criminal activities, but it‘s still a risk if going out on a boat.

Fishing and Hunting in the Bahamas

There are certain fishing practices that are illegal surrounding the islands' waters. Long-line fishing, catching crawfish and bringing in other fish when they are too small, out of season or in protected areas, are all against the law.

On land, hunting certain types of birds is also illegal. They can only be hunted in season and requite a special license. Hunting of any other kind is banned in the Bahamas, as there are numerous protected animals in the area. Tourists can and have been arrested for hunting certain endangered animals.

Shark Diving in the Bahamas

One of the major draw cards of the Bahamas is diving with sharks. There are 2 places which are considered the best spots to get up close and personal with Tiger sharks and Hammerhead sharks.

A tiger shark swimming around. Photo credit: iStock/NaluPhoto

Bimini Island

Want to dive with Hammerheads? Bimini is the place to go.

The crystal clear waters allow for brilliant photos of these amazing ocean predators as they cruise around gracefully, occasionally having a look at you. Bull sharks and Nurse sharks will also come join in on the action. The Great Hammerhead sharks arrive in February and then migrate north in April.

Grand Bahama

If you want to see tiger sharks while diving, Tiger Beach, on Grand Bahama is the best destination.

Many of the tiger sharks at Tiger Beach have been frequenting the place for years and have become accustomed to having divers around. However it is important to note that these creatures are still wild animals and do deserve an element of respect. Many of the dive operators understand the sharks and will help divers learn how to interact with them without causing stress to the sharks.

The Swimming Pigs of Exumas

Pigs in the Bahamas. Photo credit: iStock/shalamov

Despite everyone flocking to the Bahamas to go swimming with pigs on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay, there are a few reasons you should skip this experience. It's a huge tourist trap, but also the pigs poop everywhere, and can bite.

These feral curly tailed pigs aren't looked after well either, so instead of going there for a few photos with the pigs, find a quiet beach to swim by yourself.

Bahamas Hurricane Season

Hurricane season, like other Caribbean islands, runs from June to November, and even far-off storms can make waters very rough for boating or swimming.

Rip currents are possible, and if you get caught in one, signal for help and swim parallel to the shore to avoid getting pulled in further. 

The Bahamas is a prime area for hurricanes to form due to its tropical location and warm waters.

Often, there will be strong winds, large swells, flooding and significant storm surges.

Hurricane Joaquin tore its way through the Carribean in 2015, and weakened just past Bermuda. It caused significant damage to many Caribbean island nations including the Bahamas, where over 500 people became trapped by flood waters, electricity services were disrupted, homes and infrastructure damaged and airport operations disabled.

It is estimated that the storm surge was up to 5.5m in height and over 7000 people were affected.

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