The Islands Travel Information
Local time in the Bahamas is GMT -5 (GMT -4 during daylight saving).
Electrical current in the Bahamas is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade plugs and flat blade plugs with round grounding are standard.
English is the official language of the Bahamas.
All travellers should remain up to date with their routine vaccinations when travelling abroad. These vacinnes would include those for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and flu. Travellers to the Bahamas should ensure that they are vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid, as there is a risk of contracting this from water supplies and contaminated food. Whether visitors will need to take other vaccines will depend on their length of stay and the areas which they will be visiting. Additional shots may include Hepatitus B and rabies, while a yellow fever vaccination is required by travellers aged more than one year, arriving only from areas with yellow fever risk.
However, many of these vaccinations are considered cautionary measures, as food and water sources are typically safe and well managed in the Bahamas. Visitors should steer clear of fruit or vegetables unless peeled or cooked, and note that some types of fish, including tropical reef fish, are poisonous to eat even when cooked. Visitors should also use mosquito repellent to avoid bites. Medical facilities are good in Nassau and Freeport, but expensive, and usually require payment in cash on treatment; as a result, comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
Many hotel and restaurant bills in the Bahamas automatically include a service charge of about 15 percent; if this is not included a 15 percent tip is expected for most services, including taxi journeys. Hotel bellboys and porters usually receive about BSD 1 per bag.
Most visits to the Bahamas are trouble-free, though care should be taken in the major cities of Nassau and Freeport. Visitors should take sensible precautions and not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery on their person or wander away from the main tourist areas, especially after dark. In light of several fatal accidents and serious injuries that have occurred using rented watersports equipment, it is advisable that only those experienced on jet skis consider renting them on New Providence and Paradise Island. The watersports industry in the Bahamas is poorly regulated and visitors should only rent equipment from reputable operators and make sure that they have received adequate training before going out onto the water. Hurricane season is from June to the end of November and visitors should monitor weather forecasts before making travel plans.
A vital part of Bahamian custom is their dialect of English which is characterful and descriptive, and, while it may take some time to come to grips with, it will only add more colour to travellers' experiences of the Bahamas. Handshakes are the norm for greeting people and visitors should default to addressing locals by their surnames, as the use of first names is reserved for incredibly close firends. Visitors should also act in a humble and accepting manner while in the Bahamas, as the locals will treat you in this way; however, Bahamians also have a wicked sense of humour and they have great fun teasing others as a sign of affection. Visitors should note that some of the islands and resorts are very upmarket and require a certain standard of dress. Beachwear should be confined to the beach and smart-casual dress is usually expected in the evenings.
Nassau is the business centre of the Bahamas, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Business protocol is fairly relaxed, although appropriate business attire is expected. Meetings are usually held in conference rooms, they begin punctually, and business cards are customarily exchanged and should be treated respectfully by being placed in a card case. Handshakes on introduction are the norm between both men and women and women are treated as equals in the business environment. Moreover, colleauges and business acquantainces should be addressed by their professional or academic title and surname. Always be punctual for meetings and do not try to hurry others in an effort to end meetings more quickly as this is perceived as rude. Office hours are generally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The international access code for the Bahamas is +1, in common with the US, Canada and most of the Caribbean, followed by 242. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom). Calls from the Bahamas can be expensive, so use a calling card when and where possible. VOIP services are a much cheaper and more popular means of communication. Mobile networks operate on the GSM 1900 band and internet cafes are widely available.
Travellers to the Bahamas over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars or 454g of tobacco; 1 litre spirits and 1 litre wine (all imported beer is subject to duties); and other goods to the value of US$100. Prohibited items include firearms and ammunition without a police permit. Pets and dogs from countries with rabies infections are strictly prohibited from entering the country.
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