Not all ATMs in the Caribbean operate like those in your home country. Some may only accept a four digit PIN number, so if yours is longer you may want to change it before your trip. Ensure you keep your travel money in your primary chequing account as some ATMs default to this account and will not allow you to choose another. Withdrawal fees are generally much higher outside your home country.
The main banks are FirstCaribbean International Bank (tel 242/394-8472), RBC Royal Bank of Canada (tel 242/356-8500) and Scotiabank (tel 242/356-1400).
FirstCaribbean ATMs accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and any bank card on the Plus or Cirrus networks and dispense Bahamian dollars. ATMs are located at their branches throughout New Providence and Paradise Island, as well as the Mall at Marathon, Super Saver Drug Store at Village and Bernard rds, Olde Towne at Sandyport, the corner of Bay and Parliament sts, and in the Shell service stations at Golden Gates Shopping Centre and Harrold Rd at Sir Milo Butler Hwy.
RBC ATMs accept MasterCard, Visa and any bank card on the Cirrus, Plus and Maestro networks and dispense Bahamian dollars. The ATM at the Lyford Cay Club also dispenses US dollars. Additional ATMs are located at their branches throughout the island, Royal Bank House, Kelly's Home Centre in the Mall at Marathon, Princess Margaret Hospital, Solomon's SuperCentre on Old Trail Rd and at seven Esso service stations - Village and Soldier rds roundabout, East St and Soldier Rd, Baillou Hill and Harrold rds, Carmichael Rd and Faith Ave, Prince Charles Dr and Fox Hill Rd, JFK Dr at Farrington Rd and on East Bay St at Fowler St.
Scotiabank ATMs accept MasterCard, Visa and any bank card on the Plus or Cirrus networks and dispense Bahamian dollars. ATMs downtown on Bay St, at the Welcome Centre at Prince George Dock, at Cable Beach and in the Casino at Atlantis also dispense US dollars. Additional ATMs are located at Texaco service stations throughout Nassau, including Faith Ave, East/West Hwy, South Beach, Robinson Rd, Carmichael Rd and Harbour Bay Shopping Centre on East Bay St.
Mostly Protestant, including Anglican, Baptist, Episcopalian, Evangelical, Jehovah's Witness, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist. Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Mormon and non-denominational are also represented.
CURRENCY AND CREDIT CARDS
The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (B$ or BSD), which is divided into 100 cents. Paper money runs in denominations of $1, $3 (rare), $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills, and coins in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 15¢ (rare) and 25¢ pieces. Although US dollars are accepted everywhere, you'll receive your change in Bahamian dollars. Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept major credit cards. The Bahamian dollar is on par with the US dollar; however, expect to pay a small commission when exchanging traveller's cheques for local currency and when converting local currency into US dollars.
To ensure hassle-free purchases during your trip, you may want to contact your credit card company and let them know you will be travelling abroad.
EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS
American Express: lost or stolen card, 800/327-1267; lost or stolen cheques or cheque cards, 800/452-0713
Discover Card: 801/902-3100
Western Union: 394-1429
Air: A $15 departure tax must be paid by every traveller six years and older upon departure. It is included in the cost of your ticket. Additionally, effective July 1, 2007, all passengers must pay a security fee of $7.50 ($5 at airports in the Out Islands).
Sea: Passengers travelling by ship pay a built-in $15 departure tax. One-day excursion passengers pay a built-in $13 departure tax. Children under six years are exempt. The departure tax, included in your ticket, is paid by the shipping line with which you are travelling.
All visitors require a passport valid for six months past the date of their departure from The Bahamas. Citizens of Canada may also present, instead of a passport, an official birth certificate or an original naturalization/citizenship certificate, as well as official photo identification, such as a driver's license. All visitors must also have an onward or return ticket and proof of funds to support the duration of their stay.
Nationals of countries other than Canada, the UK and US may require a visa. For more information contact your nearest Bahamas consulate/embassy or the Bahamas Immigration Department at 242/322-7530.
When you travel to The Bahamas you are given an immigration card to fill in. The immigration officer at the point of entry pulls the card and leaves you with the stub. Be sure to return this portion to the ticket agent upon departure.
As of January 23, 2007, all persons travelling by air, and as of January 1, 2008, all person travelling by land or sea (including ferries) to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and Bermuda will require a valid passport or other documents as determined by the US Department of Homeland Security to enter and/or re-enter the United States in accordance with the US Government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. For more information visit the US Government's Bureau of Consular Affairs website at www.travel.state.gov.
Some countries require single/lone parents or other adults travelling alone with children to provide documents showing evidence of parental/custodial and/or access rights, and/or documents authorizing consent from the parents, legal guardian, and/or the court for the children to travel. Parents of adopted children, particularly those of a different nationality, should carry the proper documents.
NEAREST FOREIGN REPRESENTATION
British representation: 327-5309 or 357-9005 (emergency consular assistance only), 876/510-0700 (High Commission in Jamaica)
Consulate of Canada: 242/393-2123 or 393-2124 (Nassau), 876/926-1500 (High Commission in Jamaica), 800/387-3124 (toll free to Ottawa)
US Embassy: 242/322-1181 (Nassau) or 242/328-2206 (after hours)
As of June 8, 2007 US$ B$/BSD
British pound sterling 1.98813 2.02354
Canadian dollar 0.94443 0.96125
European Union euro 1.34826 1.37228
Japanese yen 0.008252 0.008399
Swiss franc 0.81957 0.83417
US dollar -- 1.01781
High-quality medical care is available. Princess Margaret Hospital (tel 322-2861), located on Shirley St, and the privately operated Doctors Hospital (tel 322-8411), on the corner of Shirley St and Collins Ave, are both located in Nassau. A hyperbaric chamber is located at the small Lyford Cay Hospital/Bahamas Heart Institute (tel 362-4400) on the western end of the island. There are also a number of public and private clinics, including the Walk-in Medical Clinic (tel 328-0783 or 327-5483).
Doctors and medical facilities often require immediate payment for services. Serious cases may be transferred to Florida in the US. Your home medical program may not provide payment for medical services outside your home country. Obtaining adequate medical/travel insurance, including air ambulance coverage, and consulting a physician or travel medicine specialist six to eight weeks prior to your trip to determine health risks and necessary vaccinations is recommended.
There are numerous pharmacies around the island. The following pharmacies offer after-hours/emergency services at the phone numbers indicated: Heaven Sent Pharmacy (tel 380-2436), The Prescription Parlour Pharmacy (tel 356-3973) and Wilmac's Pharmacies #1 (tel 323-5404).
Emergency phone numbers:
- Ambulance/fire/police, 911 or 919
- Air Ambulance Services, 362-1606 or (executive charters) 362-1618
- DHHS (ambulance), 302-4747
- EMS (ambulance), 323-2597 or 919
- Med-Evac (ambulance), 322-2881
- Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Assoc (BASRA), 325-8864
- The Crisis Centre, 328-0922
Strict laws and penalties apply for possession of dangerous drugs and firearms. Any drugs considered dangerous, including marijuana, bring stiff fines and even jail terms if found in the possession of unauthorized persons. Licences for firearms for sporting purposes are available. Handgun licences are issued only in special circumstances.
For more information call the Bahamas Customs Department at 242/326-4401.
The main post office (tel 322-3025) is located on East Hill St. Additional post offices are located at Festival Plaza on Prince George Wharf (tel 325-0701), Cable Beach (tel 327-7642), Nassau International Airport (tel 377-6500) and on Shirley St (tel 393-1632). They are generally open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. The branch on Prince George Wharf is also open Sat 8am-1pm. Airmail to North America can take one to two weeks and to the UK, two to three weeks. Courier service is also available.
Postcards: Airmail to the US (including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands), Canada, the UK, Europe, Bermuda, the West Indies, Central and South America, Africa and Australia - 65¢
Letters: First-class airmail rates (per 1/2 oz):
- 75¢ to Canada, the US (including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands) and the West Indies
- 80¢ to Bermuda, Central and South America, the UK, Europe, the Falkland Islands and the islands of the Mediterranean
- 90¢ to Africa (all countries), Asia, Australia, the islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans and New Zealand
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Mar/Apr (varies) Good Friday
Mar/Apr (varies) Easter Monday
May/June (seven weeks after Easter) Whit Monday
June (first Fri) Labour Day
Jul 10 Independence Day
Aug (first Mon) Emancipation Day
Oct 21 Discovery Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day
Note: When a designated holiday falls on a Sat or Sun the public holiday is observed on the previous Fri or the following Mon.
Store hours vary. Most stores on Bay St are open Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pm. Some are open on Sun. Most stores in malls and on Paradise Island are open Mon-Fri 9/10am-8pm, on Sat until anytime between 6-11pm and on Sun until anytime between 1-5pm. If you plan to shop outside the hours of 10am-5pm or on Sun it's a good idea to call ahead for store hours. Supermarkets, wholesale clubs and building supply stores must close by 12 noon on Sun.
Hotels charge a 6-12% tax on your room rate, which is added to your bill on check-out. There is a $7 Bahamas government ticket tax and a $5-$25 travel agency service fee on the price of each airline or cruise ship ticket bought in The Bahamas. The ticket tax is included in the price of your ticket. There is no sales tax in The Bahamas.
The phone system in The Bahamas is modern and Internet and cellular services are available.
The country code is 242. Local phone numbers have seven digits. For local directory assistance dial 916 and for the international operator dial 0.
BTC or BaTelCo (Bahamas Telecommunications Company) is the national telecommunications provider. Public coin phones only accept US25¢ coins. Many public phones also accept prepaid BaTelCo Phone Cards, which you insert into the slot. BaTelCo also sells Bahamas Direct Prepaid Cards, which can be used with any Touch-Tone, cellular or public phone in The Bahamas, Canada, Switzerland, the UK and the US. Both cards are available at BaTelCo offices (tel 302-7008) and vendors throughout The Bahamas.
For more information see the section in FAQs: Can I use my calling card from here?
BaTelCo (tel 302-7008) offers cellular services. Check with your service provider to see if they have a roaming agreement with them.
BaTelCo also operates a Communications Center (tel 322-9000), which is located at the main entrance of the Welcome Center on Prince George Wharf, where they sell phone cards and offer paid phones, Internet kiosks, Wi-Fi and operator, fax and telegram services.
Temperatures vary between the low 70s to low 80s with a monthly mean of 77°F. The rainy season runs May-Oct.
Dial 915 for the weather forecast.
The Bahamas are on Eastern Standard Time, which is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight savings time commences at 2am on the second Sunday in March and continues until 2am on the first Sunday in November.
Dial 917 for the time.