Common Scams and Local Customs in The Bahamas

Watch out for hectic traffic, drug dealers, rogue taxi drivers and these other common tourist scams in The Bahamas.


A small island near Nassau, Bahamas Photo © Getty Images/Francisco Martinez / EyeEm

Heavy Traffic in The Bahamas

Traffic is very bad in the capital city of Nassau, so you should plan ahead if you need to get to a certain place by a certain time.

Alcohol & Drugs in The Bahamas

You must be 18 years-of-age to drink alcohol in the Bahamas. However, laws are largely unenforced, so underage drinking is common. Penalties may apply for supplying alcohol to someone under the age of 18.

It's possible you'll be offered drugs outright when you're in the Bahamas, whether it's out on the street or in the bar or club.

Drug dealers have started moving closer to tourist areas of the islands to profit off visitors. As a result, police presence has increased in the traveler hubs.

Drug possession and use are heavily-punished offenses in the Bahamas, and the convicted can sit in jail for a while, and pay large fines.

It's also possible someone could plant drugs in your luggage at the airport, so keep an eye on all bags, and carry only your own belongings through customs.

Safety for Women & LGBT Travelers in The Bahamas

Women traveling alone, or with other women, should prepare themselves for aggressive come-on tactics by local men.

They will often pursue females unless you make it clear you have no interest. Some female travelers even reported men coming back to find them every day on the beach after they'd been friendly initially.

Gay and lesbian travelers have also reported harassment related to their sexual orientation.

Gun Laws

Unsurprisingly, it's illegal to bring a gun or ammunition into the country, or have one in your possession without permission. Anyone coming by boat must leave firearms on their vessel when coming on land and declare them to Customs.

Punishment for breaking these laws is as strict as those applied to drug offenses.

Timeshare Scams, Sun Safety & High Prices

Be aware of the local business practice scams. For example, if pricing timeshares, tourists should prepare themselves for very pushy sales people. If you've been hastily persuaded into a deal and change your mind, buyers can usually get all their money back if they cancel the contract within five days. Anything cancelled after will take lots of time, money and legal hassle to fix.

Food costs can be high, with some travelers reporting entrees costing as much as US$50. Basic items from the supermarket, like milk, can also be expensive. Also, be prepared for pushy vendors trying to sell souveniers as you walk through market stalls.

Taxi drivers may try to overcharge you, and can drive recklessly. Cabs in The Bahamas are not metered, always agree on the price before getting in, and avoid unlicensed cabs.

Some tour guides, including boat operators, may ask for a tip on top of the agreed price.

You'll need to slap on plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting burned on the beaches. In Coco Cay, there are wild roosters and chickens that may waltz up to you and crow as you're trying to relax.

Some travelers suggested bringing your room key everywhere, as security staff might check if you are actually staying there.

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  • Becky Forman said

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  • [email protected] said

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