Moving to the Bahamas?
Local Transportation and Safety
Traveling by Sea: Boats, Ships, Ferries
Traveling by sea is very popular and springs from a long-standing tradition in the Bahamas. Nassau and Grand Bahama are popular destinations for cruise ships, with many tourists wanting to see the beautiful wildlife of the Bahamas. The entire archipelago attracts yachters who appreciate the sheltered waters there. Many expats and tourists like to travel to the Bahamas by ship, for example by taking a ferry from Florida . These ferries can offer all the luxury and comfort their passengers would want, with restaurants and even Las Vegas-style casinos to ensure no one’s ever bored.
A little less glamorous, but just as convenient, are the local ferries which operate between the islands, operated by Bahamas Ferries. Most of them leave from Nassau and travel to one of the “family islands”, like Abacos, Eleuthera, Exumas, or Andros. In addition, there are private water taxis which connect Nassau to Paradise Island and other offshore islands.
Traveling by Air? Only If You Have Time
The major airports of the Bahamas are located in Nassau and on Grand Bahama Island, where most flights land and depart. The national airline, Bahamasair, has an excellent reputation in terms of safety, however, it is notorious for flights being delayed or cancelled without prior warning, so bear that in mind when booking.
For inter-island travels, national and private airlines are your best bet as flying is by far the most convenient way to commute within the archipelago, although it is undoubtedly a more expensive one. Bahamasair only operates from Nassau, which requires you to return to the capital each time to travel between individual islands. You could try smaller airlines or use private charter planes to reach the Out Islands.
Getting Around: Bus, Taxi, and Bicycle
Jitneys (private minibuses) operate in Nassau and Freeport. The Out Islands, however, do not have any kind of public transportation system, with most people instead hailing taxis on the street. They are the main source of public transportation on the Out Islands as well as in in the bigger cities. All taxi operators in the Bahamas are licensed and offer fixed prices which are based on the distance traveled.
You can also explore the islands by bike, which is a cheap, convenient, and eco-friendly alternative, although be aware that not all the bicycles available for hire are of good quality, so be careful in your choice. Not all the streets are paved, either, so it’s important to be comfortable!
Staying Safe: Keep Your Eyes Open
As a tourist hotspot, incidents of pick pocketing and theft are very common, especially in busy areas like Nassau or Paradise Island. The crime rate has gone up significantly in the last few years, and, although it showed signs of decline in 2017, it is important to take care when you are out in public. More serious crimes such as physical or sexual assault also take place predominantly in the cities, especially in the tourist areas.
The Bahamas have always been a strategic destination for smugglers and pirates and are still favored for drug trafficking purposes today. Expats should therefore be aware, for instance when boarding private sea vessels. Try to use common sense when walking the streets and report any crime to the Royal Bahamian Police Force and to your embassy, if available. While the police take any threat or crime towards expats very seriously, the lack of resources as well as the infrastructure of individual islands often make for a somewhat slow response.
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