Ours is a nation of islands and cays blessed with sunny skies, powder-white and pink- sand beaches and incredibly clear aqua-blue waters. These constitute The Islands of The Bahamas which lie scattered across 100,000 square miles of the southwest Atlantic Ocean, from the tip of Florida to the edge of the Caribbean near Haiti. Some, such as Eleuthera and Andros, are quite large, while others are small enough for two people to reach by boat and find themselves delightfully alone on an uninhabited island in paradise. We invite you to share in these riches, guaranteed to soothe your body and restore your soul. We offer you the calm and excitement of water sports - whether beneath the surface or at water's edge. And when you've had your fill of swimming, boating, fishing, diving and more, we have championship golf and tennis, and many other ways to entice you on land.
We have the dazzle and glitter of cabarets and casinos; we have the peace and quiet of a tiny cay rarely visited by man. And whether you spend the days parasailing and snorkeling or just nurturing a suntan, our star-studded Bahamian nights are undeniably romantic, no matter how you decide to spend them. While all our sunny islands share sun-swept beaches and magnificent waters, some are action-oriented, others are informal and relaxed - each offering a unique combination of features all its own. Vacation on the one that suits you best, but remember, that whichever golden island you choose, you'll be only a short hop from another of our captivating islands.
Located in the lower left-hand corner of the Atlantic Ocean is a 70,000-square-mile area of shoals and banks, where the waters are warm and clear. These are the Bahama Banks... and out of them rise more than 700 islands and islets covered with greenery and blossoms fringed with inviting beaches. This is The Bahamas. The islands are strewn in a generally northwest-southeast array, along a 750-mile stretch from just off Florida, to just off Haiti. Some of the islands are relatively large - Abaco, Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and Long Island, for example. Many are tiny enough to provide a romantic hideaway for two people, with a picnic lunch tucked into their small sailing vessel for an all-day rendezvous away from the world. The Islands of The Bahamas are low-lying. Cat Island's Mount Alvernia, just over 200-feet above sea level, is the highest point in the nation. Sometimes the water is so shallow you can wade from one island to its neighbour. But there are also passes and cuts that range much deeper. Between Andros and the Exumas, the Tongue of the Ocean suddenly plunges down more than five miles.
The Islands of The Bahamas enjoy the idyllic climate most people associated with tropic seas. The temperatures seldom drop below 60 degrees (F), or rise above 90 degrees (F). Most of the rain comes in brief summer showers. The surrounding sea normally ranges from the low 80's in the summer, to about 74 degrees (F) in midwinter.
The largest concentration of Bahamians dwell on New Providence Island, site of Nassau, the capital. Some families have been Bahamian for more than two centuries. They can claim descent from early English colonists, loyalists who fled North America during the American Revolution, and Southerners, who came during and after the American Civil War. With the colonists, loyalists and transplanted southerners came their slaves, who worked the early plantations. After Emancipation in 1834, they became diligent farmers and seamen.
With the gaining of independence in 1973 and the adoption of a new Constitution, The Bahamas became part of the Commonwealth of Nations. The British Monarch is our sovereign and appoints the Governor General. In the British tradition, The Bahamas has a two-house Parliament, a ministerial Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister and an independent judiciary.
Authorities believe the Arawak Indians moved up from the Caribbean into The Bahamas about the turn of the Ninth Century. These were the native people Christopher Columbus first met when he landed here October 12, 1492, when he planted the Spanish flag in the Bahamian soil of one of the islands and named it San Salvador. Columbus sailed on.
The history of today's Bahamas begins with the arrival of the Eleutheran Adventurers who founded a colony on the island of Eleuthera. The Bahamas also became a home base for pirateers, who found the country suitable because of its many islets, cays and complex shoals and channels, all which provided adequate hiding places from which the Buccaneers could dash out to sea, attack a Spanish treasure ship and cargo vessels and return to the hiding places with their loot. With the American Revolution and the War Between States, the colonists came. First were the Loyalists who left the United States out of faithfulness to their king. Then came Southerners, often with the slaves, who did not wish to live under the victorious Union. Americans again took note of The Bahamas during the years of Prohibition, when speedy rum-runners paraded the waters between the Islands and the southeastern United States. During World War II, The Bahamas served as an air and sea way-station in the Atlantic. Since then, the islands have found a new and flourishing role as one of the world's most favoured year-round tourist playgroundS.
Language & Culture
Our language is English, generally intertwined with a special Bahamian dialect. Some Indian words have maintained their use. For example: cassava and guava. Many aspects of daily life, including the music, suggests a strong religious background and way of life. Music carries echos of African rhythms, Caribbean Calypso, English folk songs, and our own Goombay beat.
Customs Duty - Baggage declaration by temporary visitors is oral, but the baggage is subject to Customs inspections. In case there are dutiable articles, the visitor will be required to complete a Baggage Declaration Form. Each adult is allowed 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or one pound of tobacco and one quart of spirits free of Customs Duty, in addition to personal effects. In addition, purchases up to a value of one hundred dollars ($100.00) are permitted by all arriving passengers. Household effects, such as china, furniture, linens and appliances are dutiable. All new purchases should be accompanied by valid certificate invoices and used household effects are subject to assessment by Customs Officers. Customs Departure - Duty Free Allowance - United States residents, including minors may take home duty-free purchases up to $600 in retail value, if they have been out of the United States more than 48 hours, and have not taken the exemption in 30 days. The exemption may include up to one US quart (32 US oz.) of liquor per person over 21. A family may pool exemptions (if living in the same house). animals, birds, certain articles derived from rare species; e.g. ivory, reptile leather, and all goods made from it. No animal can be landed unless the owners have in their possession a valid rabies licence by the British Government department.
Yellow -Fever - a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Travellers arriving in The Bahamas within seven days from the following countries are required to have a valid certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Zaire, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru.
Each adult leaving The Bahamas must pay B$15 departure tax. Children under the age of 6 years are exempt. Visitors departing from Nassau and Freeport International Airports for most United States destinations, clear US Customs prior to departure. No further US Customs formalities are required on arrival in the US. European passengers clear customs upon arrival at their destination, i.e., Luxembourg, Frankfurt, London, etc.).
Passports & Visas
British Subjects from the United Kingdom and colonies and Canadian citizens may enter The Bahamas as vistors without passports or visas, for periods not exceeding three weeks. For longer stays, passports are required. United States citizens travelling on regularly scheduled airlines are pre-cleared through US Customs and Immigration at Nassau International Airport. Proof of citizenship is required. Transit without visas is allowed to nationals of the Dominican Republic. Citizens of the following countries require passports but no visas: Belgium, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lichtenstien, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Turkey. Citizens of the following countries require passports, but no visas for stays of three months or less: Austria, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. For longer stays, visas are required. Citizens of the following countries require passports, but no visas for stays not exceeding 14 days: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, South Africa,Republic of Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Uruguay, and Venezuela. For longer stays, visas are required. Citizens of the following countries require passaports and visas to enter The Bahamas for any purpose: Dominican Republic (except in transit), Haiti, and all Communist countries. Nationals of all other countries are asked to check entry requirements with the Immigration Department, P. O. Box N-831, Nassau, The Bahamas. Tel. (242) 322-7530.
Cars can be rented from Nassau International Airport or from downtown. Driving is on the left in The Bahamas. A visitor may drive on his/her home licence for up to three (3) months. Bahamians or visitors may apply for an international licence at a cost of $50.
Zoned Taxi Fares
Airport to Cable Beach $12; Airport to downtown $18; Airport to Paradise Island $21 (does not include $2 for bridge toll); Cable Beach to downtown $8; taxi fares are fixed by the government of The Bahamas at $2 for the first 1/4 mile and 30 cents for each additional 1/4 mile.
The jitney buses run throughout the day normally until dusk. In a westerly direction they depart from the corner between British Colonial Best Western on Bay Street. In an easterly direction from Frederick Street, downtown. If you're not sure of the bus route that you are taking, feel free to ask the driver. Bus fares - Adults 75 cents and children 50 cents.
Rentals are possible from most hotels. Prices: $28 - $32, including insurance. Call 326-8329 or 327-6000 ext. 6374 for information on scooters.
Mailboats travel to the Islands weekly. Passengers may rent a cabin for the journey. Contact the Dockmaster's Office at telephone (242) 393-1064.
Telephone service on all the islands is controlled by the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation, an agency of the Government. Direct Distance Dialing services are available between North America, Europe, United Kingdom, other countries and The Bahamas (Nassau and most of the Family Islands). Cables to The Bahamas are usually delivered by phone or by citizen's band radio.
The Bahamas Postal Department offers first class, second class letters services as well as postcards, air letters and high-speed mail between the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South and Central America, Bermuda, Falkland Islands and Islands of the Mediteranean, Africa, Asia, Australia, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the West Indies and within the Bahama Islands.
Postcards to the United States, the U.K. & Canada require a 40 cents stamp. Airmal letters cost 55 cents per half ounce to the US & Canada, 60 cents for Europe.
Should non-residents wish to be married in The Bahamas, both parties must spend 15 days in the country and submit proof of presence. The Registrar may use his/her discretion and may allow the parties to marry provided they can prove their stay in The Bahamas for a minimum of 3 days. If either party has been divorced, proof of divorce must be produced. Applications for marriage licences cost $40.00 and are obtainable in New Providence at the Registrar General's Office, Rodney E. Bain Building, Parliament Street. No blood test is required. Minimum age without parental consent is 18 years. For further information call: (242) 326-5371,328-7810, 326-9772.
Taxes & Tolls
Departure tax leaving The Bahamas is $15 payable at the airports. There is a Government tax of 4% and a Resort Levy of 4% along with a Maid Service Charge levied on all hotel rooms in The Bahamas. Paradise Island Bridge Toll is $2 for rental cars and taxis, 25 cents for bicycles. Pedestrians free.
Tipping Standard tip is 15%. Many resorts and hotels automatically add a service charge to cover gratituities. Ask your waitress if you are unsure whether this charge has been added to your bill.
|DiveGuide.com Scuba Diving Vacations & Dive Holidays - Book direct dive travel with scuba diving operators, resorts, dive liveaboard yachts and dive travel representatives worldwide. We provide free scuba diving information for the traveling diver on vacation and holiday in and to scuba diver destinations around the world.|