COVID-19 travel restrictions in The Bahamas – 31 March, 2020: A strict curfew is in place in The Bahamas, which will last until 8 April. The Bahamas have closed all airports and ports to incoming flights and vessels until further notice. Only essential services remain open (including grocery stores) between the hours of 6am to 5pm, with measures in place around who is allowed to shop on which day.
The Bahamas is a picturesque archipelago of more than 700 islands and cays in the Caribbean and is where I spent some of my childhood, developing a quirky local accent that I couldn’t shake. It’s also where I learned of the existence of pink sandy beaches, and that Bahamians have an unrivaled love for conch meat. The islands are world-renowned for their beaches, seafood, eco-friendliness and adventure activities.
Here are my top safety tips for travelers who are going to visit The Bahamas.
Your safety needs will vary across the islands and largely depends on where you visit.
Nassau is where 70% of locals live, and the best place to learn the customs and history of the country. While in downtown Nassau, you need to be alert and on the lookout for pickpockets and ATM scammers. However, across the bridge on Nassau Paradise Island, this resort-filled town is home to safe hotels, like the Atlantis hotel.
Be cautious when visiting the ‘Over-the-Hill’ community (south of Shirley Street) in Nassau. The community has cultural significance as the birthplace of the national festival of Junkanoo, but much of the violent crime in The Bahamas is concentrated ‘over the hill’. Avoid walking there at night, especially alone, and visit in groups if you can.
The other islands (such as like Abacos, Andros, Eleuthera, Exumas – locally called Family Islands or Out Islands) are generally safer than Nassau or New Providence, with little violent crime occurring. However, here a few things to look out for:
Something to consider when traveling to The Bahamas is the hurricane season, which runs from June to November, when the islands can get hit by storms. The islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama were particularly badly damaged by Hurricane Dorian in August 2019, which was the most intense tropical cyclone on record to hit The Bahamas.
Health concerns after a lot of wet weather include Chikungunya virus and Dengue Fever, the two main mosquito-borne illnesses. Pack insect repellant and apply at dawn and dusk liberally to avoid mosquitoes at their most active time.
You should prioritize booking organized tours that are run by reputable companies, which will help your family stay safe while exploring The Bahamas. Other safety tips include:
The Bahamas is slowly becoming LGBTQ-friendly. Limit public displays of affection, regardless of your sexual orientation. You'll find plenty of accommodation options that are generally known for their tolerance of LGBTQ couples.
There are so many beaches to discover in The Bahamas, offering different activities on each island. If you’re a woman traveling alone, here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
It’s easy to get distracted wandering around a new place, soaking up the sights and making sure you maximize the hours in a day. Travelers love going drinking and clubbing in The Bahamas, and the addition of alcohol and lowered awareness can reduce your alertness substantially. Especially at night, be aware of your surroundings and your belongings.
Don’t keep your valuables all in one place. Snatch-and-grab crimes involving travelers’ bags, jewelry, smartphones or cash are some of the most popular petty crimes that happen to visitors in The Bahamas. If anyone tries to rob you, hand over whatever it is they are asking for. It is not worth getting hurt.
Most of the serious crimes committed in The Bahamas center largely in Nassau (New Providence). Violent crime, such as sexual assault, robberies and gang violence, tends to happen most in Nassau’s “Over-the-Hill” neighborhoods and are mainly targeted to Bahamians. If, however, you find yourself the victim of a violent crime, report it to the nearest police station.
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 ashore and declare their firearms to Customs. Punishment for breaking these laws is strict.
The Bahamas gets about 340 sunny days per year and average temperatures of 83ºF (28ºC). You'll need to slap on plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting a sunburn. Ensure you use reef-safe sunscreen to protect the islands’ natural coral reefs.
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Avoid all the crafty con artists in The Bahamas with these tips from Diedre McLeod, who has navigated all the scams herself and now shares her advice.