What I Did: A seven night liveaboard trip to the Exuma Cays and Eluethera as well as three nights in Nassau (New Providence Island)
Overall: The Bahamas might not be the most exotic or exciting destination I’ve traveled to, but the friendly people, the beautiful islands and the amazing accessibility make for one great vacation. The trip was prompted by Mark’s new job on a diving boat, so I also got my first taste of liveaboard life. While I loved the experience, it does remove you from the local experience as you are sleeping, eating, and socializing on the boat. I was happy to balance out the week at sea with a few nights on land exploring Nassau.
Getting Around: Travel between islands is by private boat or by plane on Air Bahamas. I did read that it is possible to take cheap cargo ferries from Potter’s Cay to the outer island but as it is not meant for passengers there is no set schedule. Taxis in Nassau are pricey and usually charge per person, making cab sharing useless. I recommend walking when possible.
Food and Drink: It’s hard for me to rate this category as I spent the majority of the trip eating meals on the boat prepared by the liveaboard’s chef. However as expected the Bahamas excels in seafood and in Nassau I would recommend Potter’s Cay for super fresh fish and conch and cheap local beer.
People: The people of the Bahamas blew me away. I am not exaggerating when I say every person I came into contact with was friendlier than the one before, from the taxi driver who scooped me up at the airport to the grounds keeper who gave me an impromptu tour of Nassau’s oldest church. I admit that after spending a summer with the highly-guarded Caymanian people I assumed all Caribbean islanders would be similarly cold. I was so glad to be proved wrong, and if I ever make it back to the Bahamas I will go out of my way to meet more local people.
I also learned that taking a liveaboard trip is an amazing way to meet fellow travelers. While the majority of our boat was taken up by a large dive group, there were two couples and a solo diver on their own and everyone mixed in fabulously. The close proximity forces mingling and friendship. I’ve never made friends so fast!
Money: Many young travelers rule out the Caribbean all together, assuming it is an unattainable expense. I concede that when compared to Southeast Asia and Central America, the cost of a trip to any Caribbean isle is a huge undertaking, yet for ease of travel and proximity to the US there are great deals to be found. Passengers on the Blackbeard’s Cruises liveaboard trip I went on paid $899 for a week long trip that included accommodation, all meals, booze, and of course diving. I think that’s a pretty amazing deal! In Nassau, if you are willing to stay in town there are hotels for less than $100 a night in walking distance to beautiful beaches. I believe what you lose in convenience of not staying directly in the beach you gain in cultural experience of staying in town.
Safety: Another category I feel somewhat unqualified to rate based on the circumstances. I did find myself instinctively clutching camera a bit tighter walking around Nassau at night, but that may have been due to the many warnings I read before arrival about how unsafe it is. As I said above, I found every single person I interacted with to be so pleasant its hard to imagine who is out committing all these crimes.
Good to know: I did not fully grasp how cold the water would be in January! I admit I’m a bit of a wuss but if you like warm warm water and boiling hot sun, I suggest you go further south for a winter month’s trip.
To see my full set of photos from the Bahamas, go to my Flickr collection here.