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Bahamas travel guide

About Bahamas

The quiet coves and crowd-free beaches of the Bahamas offer visitors the intimacy of a secluded retreat within a paradisiacal expanse of some 700 palm-fringed isles.

Christened baja mar (meaning 'shallow sea') by Christopher Columbus, these islands, with their astonishing hues of sand and sea spanning the colour spectrum from twinkling turquoise to rose pink, are the personification of paradise.

Crystalline waters secrete ancient shipwrecks and a rainbow of coral reefs, while pastel-coloured seashells and vibrant clapboard houses perch atop a tropical landscape that resonates with exotic birdsong.

There’s the over-riding feeling that the Bahamas has got tourism just right: a range of resorts cater for holidaymakers, including a growing range of eco-hotels, yet their impact on the islands’ natural beauty remains, by in large, minimal.

The full gauntlet of watersports beckon for the active holidaymaker: from scuba diving and snorkelling to parasailing and sailing, there’s more than enough to get the pulse racing here. Then there are the glitzy golf courses, designed by the game’s best, whose vistas are enough to compensate for a bad day on the fairways.

Pack your hiking shoes and explore the clutch of nature reserves that are scattered across the archipelago. Pack your binoculars too and look out for the myriad of bird species that call the Bahamas home: from bright pink flamingos to multicolored parrots, you can’t miss some of the more flamboyant species.

Come sundown, Bahamian bars and clubs pulsate with island rhythms; discover riotous dance festivals that mix African slave-trade rituals with Bahamian tempo and American hip-hop twists, or head to one of the archipelago’s bustling straw markets to haggle over spices, and ceramics.

If it all gets too much, recharge your batteries at one of the wonderful seafood restaurants or with an infamous rum cocktail. Whatever you do, the vividness of the Bahamas never ceases to assault your senses.

Key facts


13,939 sq km (5,382 sq miles).


392,718 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

23.3 per sq km.




Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state:

HM King Charles III since 2022, represented locally by Governor-General Cynthia Pratt since 2023.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Philip Davis since 2021.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.  

Before you travel 

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics. 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated. 

Travel insurance 

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency. 

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in The Bahamas set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact The Bahamas High Commission in the UK

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering The Bahamas. 

Passport validity requirements 

To enter The Bahamas, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you plan to leave. 

Visa requirements 

You can usually stay in The Bahamas for up to 30 days without a visa. You can get extensions up to a maximum of 8 months. Penalties for overstaying include a fine, detention and deportation. The Bahamas High Commission lists more information about visas

If you arrive in The Bahamas from the USA, and you have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), the time you spend in The Bahamas counts towards the 90 days you have on your ESTA. If you are in any doubt about your US visa status, ask the US Immigration and Naturalization Service or any US diplomatic mission before starting your return journey. 

Vaccination requirements  

You must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country listed as a transmission risk

For full details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Bahamas guide

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of The Bahamas. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. 


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.     

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad

Terrorism in The Bahamas 

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in The Bahamas, attacks cannot be ruled out. 

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.  


Violent crime 

There have been violent crimes and armed robberies, sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence and Grand Bahama.  

To reduce your risk, do not go on foot outside the main tourist areas and beaches, especially if you are alone. Stay in downtown Nassau, where there are regular police patrols. Avoid unlit areas, and travel in groups after dusk.  

Take care if travelling on local bus services at night away from the main tourist areas. If you are attacked, do not resist and comply with any demands. Robbers may have concealed weapons.  

Protecting your belongings 

There is an increase in reported break-ins and thefts. The outlying islands of The Bahamas (known as the Family or Out Islands) have lower crime rates.  

The risk of petty theft and pickpocketing increases during regattas and festivals. You can take precautions by keeping valuables in a safe place. Take care to lock doors and windows when staying at short-term vacation rental properties, especially if there are no security guards.      

Drink spiking and sexual assault 

The risk of sexual assault increases during regattas and festivals. Do not leave your drinks unattended.  

There have been reports of sexual assaults on foreign nationals by jet ski operators in Nassau. 

Laws and cultural differences  

Illegal drugs and prison sentences 

Penalties for possessing or trafficking drugs are severe. Tourists may encounter drugs in pubs and bars. Police are vigilant and you could face a substantial fine, deportation or imprisonment. 

LGBT+ travellers 

Local attitudes towards the LGBT+ community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. In The Bahamas, same-sex sexual relations have been legal since 1991, with an age of consent of 18. However, LGBT+ travellers should be aware that showing affection in public may attract unwanted and negative attention. Showing affection in public, especially for same-sex couples, is uncommon. 

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism  

Swimming safety 

Fatal shark attacks can happen without warning. Night swimming (including at dusk), puts you at a higher risk, even in shallow waters close to resorts. Paddle boards in deeper water could be at risk. The Bahamian authorities warn of a particular threat in New Providence and nearby islands and cays.  

Some organisers of day excursions use bait to attract marine life, which can also increase the risk of sharks attacking. Never go into water that has been baited. Several attacks in wider Bahamian waters have been linked to tour operators offering shark encounters too close to where fishermen have been gutting fish.   

Beware of jet skis when swimming. Most swimming areas are marked by buoys, but these are not always respected by jet ski operators or tourists.  

Water sports 

The water sports industry in The Bahamas is poorly regulated. Be careful when renting jet skis and other water sports equipment, as many companies and individuals offering water sports activities are unregistered or use poor quality equipment. People have been killed and seriously injured, or killed others, when using jet skis and other watercraft recklessly.  

Transport risks  

Road travel  

If you are planning to drive a hire car or a UK vehicle, see information on driving abroad

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in The Bahamas for up to 3 months. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the 1968 version of the international driving permit (IDP).  

If you’re staying longer or living in The Bahamas, you’ll need to get a Bahamian driving licence. 

Although traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road, most vehicles, including hire cars, are imported from the USA and are left-hand drive. 

The legal alcohol limit when driving is the same as in England, but this law is not always enforced – so driving in the evening and on rural roads may be dangerous. 

Extreme weather and natural disasters 


The hurricane season in The Bahamas normally runs from 1 June to 30 November. Hurricanes and resulting floods in The Bahamas can be deadly. The department of meteorology advises residents and visitors in north-west and central Bahamas (including Nassau) to make hurricane preparations. Due to the risk of flight cancellation, local residents tend to make departure plans well in advance of a possible evacuation order. 

In preparation for a hurricane, make sure your residence is secure, you have sufficient drinking water and access to life jackets in case there is a tidal surge. 

Follow local weather updates and monitor approaching storms on the US National Hurricane Center website.  

Find out more about how to respond to hurricane warnings

Before you travel check that: 

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need 
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation 

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant. 

Emergency medical number 

Call 911 or 919 and ask for an ambulance. 

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Vaccinations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip check: 

Go to TravelHealthPro to see what health risks you’ll face in The Bahamas, including:  

  • Zika virus 
  • dengue 


It’s estimated that at least 7,600 adults aged 15 or over in The Bahamas are living with HIV – around 3.2% of the adult population. This compares to around 0.3% in the UK. Take normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV. 


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. 

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad

Healthcare facilities in The Bahamas  

FCDO has a list of doctors in The Bahamas.  

Medical treatment is of a good standard but can be expensive. Emergency medical facilities are limited on all the Family Islands. Serious cases are transferred to Nassau or Freeport – or Miami, USA – by air ambulance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. 

Travel and mental health 

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel. 

Emergency services in The Bahamas  

Telephone: 911 or 919 (ambulance, fire, police) 

Contact your travel provider and insurer 

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do. 

Refunds and changes to travel 

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first. 

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including: 

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider 
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim 

Support from FCDO 

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including: 

Contacting FCDO 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. 

You can also contact FCDO online

Help abroad in an emergency 

If you’re in The Bahamas and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the Bahamas High Commission in Nassau

FCDO in London 

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad. 

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours) 

Find out about call charges

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