Bahamas Driving Guide
Bahamas is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.
Pirates, treasures, and walking on planks have filled a lot of children’s books and classical non-fictions. If you’ve ever heard of the tails of Blackbeard and Calico Jack, you’ll probably want to hear more about where they came from.
Scroll along, and welcome to the Bahamas!
How Can This Guide Help You?
This article will walk you through the basic things to do and remember when traveling and driving in the Bahamas. This includes the best road trip destinations, tips for renting a car, instructions for getting a driving permit, excerpts from the Bahamas driving manual, and driving directions in the Bahamas. All these so you can have an enjoyable staycation in this quaint archipelagic nation.
Before traveling to any destination, it is important to know a bit about the place, like where it is exactly, what the languages are, why it is a recommended destination, and more.
The Bahamas is a nation composed of about 700 islands located just off Miami, Florida, and northeast of Cuba. Due to its location, the weather in the Bahamas is characterized by two (2) seasons: the dry (winter) and the wet (hurricane season). The best time to visit the Bahamas would be during the dry season from January to May. Since the Bahamas is also along the hurricane belt, visiting the country from June to November might limit your itinerary
The official language of the Bahamas is British English. Almost all locals on every island speak the official language. Next to English, the second most widely spoken dialect is the Creole. Creole is formed from the combination of European and West African languages. Some creole words might totally be foreign, but you could always ask the locals what it means in English.
The Bahamas archipelago consists of 700 islands and 2,400 cays. The total land area (including the islets and keys) of the country is about 13,900km2. The country is surrounded by coral, rocky, and sandy reefs perfect for swimming, island hopping, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving. Topography-wise, the terrain is mostly flat, with the highest peak at 63 meters high (Mount Alvernia).
The country’s earliest settlers were collectively known as the Lucayans. They were believed to have mainly come from what is now called Cuba. The Bahamas was first opened to the western world when Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492. He named the country “Baja Mar,” which meant shallow sea, and later became The Islands of the Bahamas.
It was during the 18th century that Bahamians started to learn how to build ships and develop their agricultural skills. These were among the most empowering years of Bahamian history. In July 1973, after 325 years of British rule, the Bahamas was granted independence. To date, the country remains a member of the Commonwealth.
The Bahamas follows a Constitutional Parliamentary Democracy. The British Monarch is the Head of State, while the Prime Minister is the Head of Government. The law-making body is bicameral, and it consists of the Senate and the House of Assembly. The House of Assembly consists of 38 members who are elected single-member constituencies.
There are more than same-day visitors in the country than overnight visitors. This is because of its relatively short distance from the U.S. and other Central American countries. Even before 2010, the country has been welcoming millions of inbound visitors. Overnight visitors and same-day visitors were at 1.37 million and 3.89 million respectively in 2010. Ten years later, the numbers have doubled.
The Bahamas is well supported by an agriculture, fishing, and tourism-driven economy. To promote driving in the Bahamas, the Government continues to expand and develop its roads leading to tourism destinations and develop incentives to allure more investors.
The country has a free-trade zone wherein businesses are not required to pay taxes. This incentive started in 1955 and was extended up to 2054. If you’re interested in exploring business opportunities in the Bahamas, you can start driving around Freeport, Bahamas.
Driving permits are necessary whether you fancy city driving in Nassau, Bahamas, or crave a quieter cruise like driving in Eleuthera, Bahamas. If you don’t want law officials stopping your fun road-tripping experience, the presence of an IDP can make that possible.
Do You Need an IDP to Drive in the Bahamas?
When driving in the Bahamas, the government only requires your native license and an international driver’s permit. If you have a native driver’s license from the United States of America and the United Kingdom, you don’t need an IDP to experience driving in the Bahamas. However, if you hail from other countries outside the U.S.A and U.K., you will need to get an IDP to drive in the Bahamas.
The IDP is a United Nations–accredited travel document. It is a valid form of identification that you can use anywhere around the Bahamas. This includes renting a car, booking a hotel, joining activities that require an I.D, etc. The IDP is highly beneficial for non-English speakers as well. You won’t have a hard time explaining to the authorities if they need you to show identification documents.
You need to take your IDP with you wherever you go driving in the Bahamas. It should be carried together with your native license. If you are caught driving illegally without a license or an IDP, you may be liable to a fine of $200-$800
Who Can Apply For an IDP?
Anyone who has obtained a domestic driver’s license from their home country can apply for an IDP. Having a license means that you have reached the legal driving age of your home country, and you have mastered the basic driving rules. But do you need to take a Bahamas written driving test? The answer is no. You neither have to take a Bahamas written driving test nor a practical driving test.
When Should You Apply For an IDP?
There is no strict timeline as to when you should apply for an IDP. If you’re not sure yet whether you’d want to drive in the Bahamas and get an IDP, you can decide to get one once you’re there.
You can get an international drivers licence within two(2) hours with us as long as you can submit the requirements. You can get an IDP that is valid from one (1) to three (3) years. However, if your native driver’s license expires in less than a year from the date your IDP was issued, the validity of your IDP will also expire. If you need to get an IDP, even though your native license will expire soon, you can apply for a digital copy alone with us. This is a cheaper alternative to applying for a hard copy too.
Renting a Car in the Bahamas
In the Bahamas, driving your car is favored because you can go anywhere, anytime. With so many places to visit and explore, you would want your itinerary to be infinite and flexible.
Car Rental Companies
There are many car rental companies distributed among the different districts. These include the islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama, Great Abaco, Eleutheria, and Exuma. You can find major U.S. car-rental companies in Bahamas as well.
When you want to stay on the capital island of New Providence, you can rent a car from:
- Budget Rent A Car
Address: Lynden Pindling International Airport
Contact Number: (242) 377-9000 / (242) 377-7405
- Avis Rent A Car
Address: Nassau, Freeport, Paradise Island
Contact Number: (242) 326-6380
- RB Car Rental
Address: Carmichael Road, Nassau
Contact Number: (242) 698-1388
- Shift Enterprises Rent A Car
Address: Prince Charles Drive, Nassau
Contact Number: (242) 601-1765
- Meera’s Car and Scooter Rental
Address: Nassau St., Nassau
Facebook: Meera's Car Rental
Contact Number: (242) 326-5262
When you want to experience driving in Freeport, Bahamas, and Grand Bahama, you can rent a car from:
- Dollar Car Rental
Address: Grand Bahama International Airport
Contact Number: (242) 377-8300
- C&V Car Rental Co. Ltd.
Address: Seahorse Road, Freeport
Contact Number: (242) 442-0224
- Bullseye Car Rental
Address: Freeport, Bahamas
Contact Number: (242) 373-2277
- Hertz Car Rental
Address: Grand Bahama International Airport
Contact Number: (242) 352-9250
When you want to travel to Great Abaco, you can rent a car from:
- SG Car Rentals
Address: S.C. Bootle Highway, Marsh Harbour
Facebook: SG Car Rentals
Contact Number: (242) 577-8589
- Triple J Car Rental
Address: Treasure Cay
Contact Number: (242) 365-8761
When you want to stay on the island of Eleuthera, you can rent a car from:
- Big E’s Car Rental
Address: Queen’s Highway
Contact Number: (242) 818-1522
- Taylor and Taylor Car Rental
Address: North Palmetto Point
Contact Number: (242) 332-1665
- Cadet Car Rentals
Address: Queen's Highway
Contact Number: (242) 554-5574
- Johnson’s Car Rentals
Address: Bay and East St., Lower Bogue
Contact Number: (242) 470-8235
When you want to experience driving in Exuma, Bahamas, you can rent a car from:
- Sure to Shore Rent A Car
Address: George Town
Contact Number: (242) 336-3466
When you want to stay on the island of Andros, you can rent a car from:
- C&J’s Car Rental
Address: Nicholl’s Town, North Andros
Contact Number: (242) 471-3386 / (242) 329-2080
- Gaitor’s Car Rental
Address: Mastic Point, North Andros
Contact Number: (242) 464-3151
- Lenglo Car Rental
Address: Queen’s Highway, Long Bay, South Andros
Contact Number: (242) 369-1702 / (242) 369-1704
- WTSD Car Rental
Address: Queen’s Highway, Congo Town, South Andros
Contact Number: (242) 471-2782
An exception to the minimum age requirement to rent a car is that some car rental companies may require additional fees if the driver is between 21 - 24 years old. In addition, drivers within this age range may not be allowed to rent premium cars.
Nonetheless, the basic documents to present are:
- Native Driver’s License
- International Drivers’ Permit
- Personal Credit Card
- Booking Confirmation Voucher (if applicable)
In some car rental companies, you may be requested to present your birth certificate as a supporting document to your IDP. With this, when going to the Bahamas, your birth certificate has to match your driving license.
Since the Bahamas has a flat terrain, you can rent cars with an automatic transmission. Likewise, you can save on costs because you won’t really need to rent cars with big wheels and cars used for rugged terrain (although SUVs do provide a different level of comfort). You can find sedans, minis, larger passenger vans, and even luxury cars on the island. If you are planning on going to other islands, though, you’ll need to do a separate booking or rental for each island.
Car Rental Cost
Daily, car rentals in the Bahamas mostly average at around $76. Some companies offer lower rates if you rent a car on a long-term basis. The most expensive ones are the standard, compact, and full-size SUVs, while the sedans are the cheapest.
Economizing a portion of your car rental budget may give you more opportunities to experience the islands. Remember that you still need to pay for entrance fees, food, accommodation, and some leisure activities. Here are some points you can consider when renting a car:
- Choose economy cars
- Rent away from the airport
- Leave out the upgrades (unless they are for safety purposes)
- Consider local car rental companies
- Search for coupons and discounts
- Get a manual transmission car
- Book ahead of time
Most car rental companies in the Bahamas are strict about age requirements. The most preferred age range is between 25-69. However, some allow younger and older renters. If you are between 21-24 or 70 years old and above, some car rentals may allow you to rent, but you’ll have to pay a surcharge. The surcharge will depend on the company. Surcharges are added because younger people and senior citizens are riskier when it comes to handling a car. Younger people are presumed to be inexperienced, while senior citizens are presumed to have reduced physical reflexes already. Take note that the surcharge is still on top of the car insurance.
Car Insurance Cost
Posted rental prices often do not include insurance. You may have to pay additional for this if your car rental company requires it. The cost will depend on the coverage and the type of vehicle you are renting. Likewise, the rates that will be charged to you will be on a per-day basis. The rates below are from the Rental Cover company, but again, the rates may vary per company.
- Personal Accident Insurance: BSD10 – BSD15
- Super Collision Damage Waiver: BSD20 – BSD30
- Roadside Assistance Cover: BSD10 – BSD15
Car Insurance Policy
The minimum car insurance policy in the Bahamas is Third-Party Liability which covers your financial liability to another uninsured person in case of accidents. You won’t have to apply for this since the responsibility is given to the car owner (meaning the car rental company).
Other insurance policies are required by car rental companies, though. The most common type of insurance required by lessors is the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). If you damage your rented car, your insurance will cover your liabilities to that car. However, CDWs are limited to certain items only. Some CDWs do not cover damages on windscreens, headlights, tire punctures, and roadside assistance fees.
Renting a car in an archipelagic nation might seem like a hassle, but you have to consider other factors as well, like the quality and convenience of other transportation alternatives.
Is It Better to Rent A Car in the Bahamas?
The centers of New Providence and Great Bahama have ample public transportation. However, numbers and frequency decrease as you move away from the city. Likewise, public transport in the Bahamas does not run 24/7. Renting may be more convenient.
Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to drive yourself around the Bahamas. Concerning driving directions, the Bahamas has put up adequate quantities of them throughout the islands, even in far less crowded districts.
Do I Need to Enroll at a Local Driving School to Before I Can Rent?
No, you do not need to enroll at a driving school to rent a car. However, if you are not used to driving on the left in the Bahamas, practicing with a professional trainer will save you a ton of money and emotional stress. Plus! If you enroll in a local driving school, you may be lucky enough to get a free driving handbook of the Bahamas.
There are many driving schools in Nassau, Bahamas. So as in other Bahamian Districts. Some of the most popular are:
- Maycock Driving School, Bahamas
- T&T Driving School, Bahamas
- CC’s Driving School, Bahamas
- Munroe’s Driving School, Bahamas
- Beneby’s Driving School, Bahamas
- Comfort Driving School, Bahamas
You can also go to a driving range in Nassau. The Bahamas has a lot of golf courses that also host driving ranges for practice drives.
The Road Rules in the Bahamas
Road rules in the Bahamas are regulated by the Bahamas Highway Code and Traffic Act. With the continuously growing population and the number of road users, everyone must follow the guidelines.
Obeying traffic regulations is mandatory while operating your car on the road. Fines for traffic violations can be high, and you wouldn’t want to add surprise expenses to your budget.
Bahamas’ tourism banner for years has always been about the ultimate island escape. And what’s the beach without parties, and parties without alcohol?
Remember that alcohol and driving are never complementary. If you get caught beyond the permitted blood alcohol level while driving, you will have to pay the fine. If you drank alcohol before driving, make sure that you fall below the following limits:
- 30 micrograms of alcohol in 100 milliliters of breath
- 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood or urine
If you have plans to drink alcohol, make sure to eat a lot of food before drinking and sober down first before driving. Better yet, call a taxi and don’t drive yourself.
Everyone must wear a seatbelt at all times. Wearing of seatbelts is mandatory to the driver, front-seat passenger, and back-seat passengers. Make sure the rental car has. There are specific seating arrangement laws as well in the Bahamas for children. Only children ages 12 and above are allowed to sit in the front seat. Likewise, children who are 18 kilos and below are required to be strapped onto a special child seat. Rear-facing child seats are to be implemented for children 9 kilos and below.
Park only in designated parking areas. There are several parking lots and parking garages in the country. If you need to stop temporarily along the road, drive your vehicle to the side most lane and look for a spot where it will not cause any inconvenience to the general traffic and public.
Before leaving your vehicle, make sure that all your important personal belongings are with you. As much as possible, bring all of them when you go out. If not, place them or any bag under the seats or away from sight. Double-check that you've turned off your engine and your headlights. This probably is one of the most cringe moments among drivers. Once out, make sure that all your car doors are locked.
You should not also park along with public service areas or designated parking spaces in parking lots for emergency vehicles. These include:
- bus stops
- hospital emergency room exits
- pedestrian lanes
- junction corners
- sharp bends
- schools entrances
Wherever you go in the Bahamas, be it in the busy capital or the more secluded islands, you have to practice defensive driving at all times. This basically means that you always assume hazards in every corner to help you stay focused and prepare you for any real incident. When you’re in an area with dense traffic, always follow the three-second rule wherein you give allow three seconds before you follow the vehicle in front of you. If you have vehicles to your side, make sure to keep your distance as well. Moreover, the use of a mobile phone while driving is strictly prohibited. Avoid the use of cell phones when on the road to avoid accidents.
Speed limits in the Bahamas vary depending on the area. If you drive in Nassau City and Family Island Settlements and in urban areas, you’ll need to maintain a speed of 25mph and below. If you drive on rural roads, you can amp up your speed between 30-45mph.
Maintaining your speed below limits will help you achieve your ideal overall stopping distance. This means that when you need to stop, it will not be dangerously abrupt.
There are different types of roundabouts, depending on the number of lanes on the main roundabout and the side or approaching roads. Nonetheless, the main rule here is to give way to traffic that is already on the roundabout.
It’s important to plan your route for you to know which exit to take when you come to a roundabout. Enter the roundabout with caution. This should be complemented by your car and/or hand signals. If your exit is on the left, then keep to the left-hand side of the road. If your exit is on the right, stay on the right lane and slowly signal to the left when you are about to approach your exit.
Traffic Road Signs
Traffic signs in the Bahamas follow international standards. Regulatory signs are in circular shape, warning signs are in triangular shapes, and directional signs are in rectangular shape. In some parts of the country, you may be able to observe signs that aren’t placed in the standard shape. For example, yield signs in triangles, roundabout signs in circles, and the like. With this, do not be confused and just focus on the symbol or the words.
Right of Way
If you are on the left lane and there is a road obstruction ahead on the same lane, the right of way is given to traffic on the right lane. Likewise, if a road obstruction is present on the right lane, the left lane users have the right of way.
This means that you cannot just make a sudden turn and cut traffic from the adjacent lane. You will have to wait for them to give way.
Besides, emergency vehicles always have the right of way. If you see or hear sirens and lights coming from an ambulance, a fire truck, or a police car, you will have to drive to the side of the road until the emergency vehicles have passed.
Legal Driving Age
In order to drive legally in the Bahamas, you must be at least 18 years of age. The implementation of this regulation may be more lenient in some smaller, less crowded islands. However, you should still adhere to this because it still for your own safety. If you don’t have your native driving license yet because your country has a higher minimum driving age, it is recommended that you hire a driver instead because you cannot apply for a local driving license in the Bahamas without a native driving license and an IDP.
Laws on Overtaking
Before you overtake, you need to make sure that the road is clear. This means that:
- No vehicles are driving along on your adjacent lane.
- No vehicle behind you is attempting to overtake.
- The vehicles you’re planning to overtake are at a safe distance and running at a constant speed.
Once the road is clear, turn on your right-turn signal and give it a few seconds before maneuvering to the right. This will give the vehicle behind you time to adjust if needed.
When you’re in the right lane already, speed up just enough to pass the car in front of you. Turn on your left-turn signal, and again, give it time for the driver to see that you’re planning to overtake. When you’re ready, safely maneuver to the left and maintain your speed. It’s important not to slow down once you’ve overtaken (it’s risky for the vehicle behind you).
Driving in the Bahamas entails driving on the left side of the road. If you are used to right-hand driving, you might want to allot practice times driving on the left side of the road before heading out to major roads. You should drive carefully, calmly, and responsibly, especially if you're used to driving left-hand-drive cars.
Try to keep to the left at all times unless you’re turning or overtaking. Try to stick to one lane also so as not to confuse other fellow road users.
If you are on a road where there is less to no traffic, you will need to maintain your focus on driving in case there are road bumps and blocks. This means that you’ll have to put away your cellphone or any devices that can distract you. Concentrating will also help you drive defensively. This means that you’ll be able to prepare ahead for any potential road mishap.
Other Road Rules
Motor vehicles are dangerous machines that can be fatal if they are not handled responsibly. Part of maintaining your vehicle in a safe place is following the traffic rules. Likewise, traffic rules aren’t the only ones you see posted on physical signs, so be vigilant about recalling all the other laws.
Can I Use Hand Signals?
In case your signaling systems do not function well, you will have to use clear hand signals if you change your direction.
Police officers or traffic enforcers are sometimes designated in junctions where there are no traffic lights. It would be best if you observe the hand signals well if you ever come across one.
How Much Are The Fines For Other Traffic Violations?
Road and traffic violations in the Bahamas can be categorized as minor or a major offense. Drivers who commit minor offenses are often issued with fixed penalties. The fine is to be paid within a designated period. Failure to pay the fine will elevate the case to court.
Here are a few of the fixed penalties according to the Bahamian Highway Code:
- No car horn - $75
- No rearview mirror and windshield wipers -$75
- Driving without giving proper signals - $100
- Driving in the wrong direction in a one-way
- Street - $80
- Driving on a closed street - $80
- Driving and being asleep - $100
- Reverse driving for unreasonable distance - $80
- Failing to overtake properly - $100
- Turning improperly at an intersection - $80
- Parking in a “no parking area” - $100
- Parking on the sidewalk, footpaths, etc. - $80
- Parking on driveways - $80
- Parking on a road bend - $100
- Parking within 15ft. from a corner - $80
- Parking alongside any vehicle - $100
- Parking unlawfully in a loading zone - $80
- Parking more than 18” from the curb - $80
- Parking on a bus stop - $80
- Parking on taxi stand - $80
- Using vehicle to cause noise and annoyance - $80
- Attempting to pass a solid line - $80
- Leaving vehicle with engine running - $80
- No or incomplete headlamps - $75
Driving Etiquette in the Bahamas
The importance of having a driving etiquette is for the safety of all road users, not just you. The basic mindset to have is to be considerate of other road users. This means that you should give way, not be aggressive, not intimidate other drivers, not area race, and not harass other road users.
Bahamians are friendly and accommodating people. If your car breaks down on the road, you can approach them and ask whether there is a nearby car repair shop. Nevertheless, here are some other things you can do if this happens”
- If your car breaks down in the middle of the road, try to move it off the road
- If the car is too stuck or traffic is too heavy for you to move it by yourself, try to see if there are people nearby who can help you push your car to the side of the road
- If you can’t take your car out from the middle of the road, place a warning triangle just a couple of meters away from the back of your car. This is a common case within Nassau, Bahamas where driving within heavy traffic makes it more difficult to reposition the car
- Call your car rental company for assistance or contact either of the emergency hotlines when direly needed and;
- Before getting out of your car, in any circumstance, secure all your personal belongings and lock your car once you get out. Do not leave your things unattended inside your car and this includes placing them at the sight of any passerby.
Traffic Police are mostly concentrated in busy road sections. If police calls you over, it is most likely that you committed a traffic violation, or they are conducting random breathalyzer tests. In any case, you should talk to the police politely and calmly. If you indeed committed a violation, make sure to comply with the penalties within the given time. If you think the police officer was mistaken, politely explain the situation to him/her.
English is the native language in the Bahamas. If you ask for driving directions, Bahamas locals can converse clearly with anyone. If you don’t speak English well, though, make sure to bring along with you a Bahamas map to assist you.
To enhance the country’s traffic monitoring system, CCTVs and checkpoints are deployed in strategic locations around major islands. If you come across a checkpoint, reduce your speed and prepare your driving documents. If it isn’t an immigration checkpoint or a security checkpoint, the police will less likely check your driving documents. But just in case they ask for the documents, you’ll be able to present them right away. Expect also that they will ask questions and give reminders.
Road etiquette isn’t just limited to how you deal with another road user. It also includes how you operate your car yourself, even without the presence of other road users. For example, when it comes to reverse driving, you can’t just reverse in junctions, u-turn slots, and roundabouts. You also need to make sure that space behind you is clear of any obstruction, then signal that you are going to reverse drive even when there are no cars around.
How Should I Proceed When Approaching a Junction?
When approaching a junction, keep your eyes peeled for white pavement markings. These are usually arrows or dividers that guide vehicles which lane to line up on depending on the direction they need to turn.
If other vehicles have started to line up ahead of you, join them at the back. Do not stop in the adjacent lane just to overtake when it's time to. Overtaking when turning in junctions is dangerous.
Wait for the traffic light to signal that it's okay to turn.
In junctions where there are no traffic lights or policemen to guide you, wait for the traffic ahead to clear before turning with caution.
Again, use hand signals or signal lights before maneuvering.
What To Do If I Run Into an Accident?
Running into an accident is mostly avoidable. Always wear your seatbelt, and as much as possible, rent a car that has a functional airbag. In the rarest circumstance that you come into a road accident, do not be agitated. Be alert for any possible additional hazards like fire. If you see one, immediately get out and move away from the car. If you run into an accident with other road users, also check whether they need assistance.
You can contact either of the following the Bahamas emergency hotlines right away, especially in extreme cases:
- Police: 919
- Ambulance: 322-2221
- Hospital: 322-2862
What Should You Do Before Heading Out?
Before driving out, make sure to check all the important parts of your car as much as you can. This includes making sure you have enough fuel in your car. There are plenty of petrol stations across the country but it's best to fill your tank before heading out for a long drive. This is apart from your fuel, oil, and water.
If you’re a new driver, you can bring along a checklist to ensure that you didn’t miss anything. Here are some items that you can inspect:
- Steering wheels are secured and not deflated
- Windshield wipers are working and not stuck
- Head and tail lights are in good condition (not dimmed?
- Internal light indicators are functional
- The car horn is functional
- Engine sound is normal
- Mirrors are not damaged
- Windscreens and other glass parts are clean and clear
- Mirrors are adjusted to your height
- Seatbelts are not stuck
Apart from your car, double-check all supporting documents, including:
- Your valid driver’s license must match the class of vehicle you are driving
- Your car’s registration papers
- Your car’s insurance papers
- Your car’s valid inspection certificate
Driving Conditions in the Bahamas
Is driving in the Bahamas okay? The topography of the Bahamas is mostly flat, with the highest elevation at 206feet (Mount Alvernia, Eleutheria). Unpaved roads are generally easy to drive in due to the flat terrains.
Between 2011-2010, the number of road accident mortalities fluctuated between 26-58 deaths per year. Fast forward 7-8 years later, the number of traffic mortalities continued to exist in that range, if not greater. Fifty-four people were killed in 2017 and 69 in 2018. The majority of mortalities are composed of pedestrians, followed by drivers, passengers, then two-wheeled drivers. Road traffic accidents rank within the top 20 leading causes of death in the Bahamas. For every 100,000 individuals, about nine (9) people die from road accidents. According to the World Health Organization, common factors that lead to traffic accidents worldwide include:
- Over speeding
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol and other toxic psychoactive substances
- Using mobile phones while driving
- Unsafe road infrastructures
- Lack of safety gear
In the case of the Bahamas, multiple accounts have reported that one of the leading causes of traffic accidents is reckless and aggressive drivers that don’t exercise proper road etiquette. So if you’re on the road, drive defensively and expect that there would be a lot of these kinds of drivers.
According to Real Motor, people in the Bahamas prefer vehicles that have a high fuel efficiency and have parts that are readily available in the country. The most highly bought brand is the Honda. Other preferred cars are the Toyotas, Nissans, and Kias. The Honda Civic and Accord are also popular among younger Bahamians because of their speed. You can also find SUVs in the Bahamas. Since it is a popular tourism destination, premium cars and brands can also be found around.
The Bahamas does not have any toll roads. Likewise, almost all parking spaces are free. If a stranger asks you for road payments like toll fees, make sure to remain calm. Just ask for his valid ID, tell him that you need to confirm it first with local officials, and contact the emergency hotline right away.
Roads in built-up areas, especially in the capital, are well-paved. Road closures may occasionally be implemented on some parts of the Bahamas, mostly due to road construction and rehabilitation. But don’t worry, there are plenty of alternative roads considering the improving road network in the country.
Due to the flat terrain of the country, driving through unpaved roads is also generally less difficult and safe. Most road and traffic incidents in the Bahamas stem from irresponsible driving rather than poor road conditions. Nonetheless, caution is still to be exercised, especially during times of heavy downpour.
Some countries are used to honking their car horns and flashing their headlights to say “Hello” and “Thank you”. This is, unfortunately, highly discouraged in the Bahamas. Car horns and lights are to be used only to warn other road users. With the density of traffic in the Bahamas, you might startle and confuse a lot of road users, so be responsible when using your car horn and headlights. Surely, the locals carry this road etiquette too.
Most first-time travelers may wonder how it is driving in Nassau, Bahamas’ capital. Within Nassau, Bahamas, driving can be challenging and exhilarating at the same time. Road and street density is high within the city center. Local and tourist populations are also concentrated in Nassau. So while you’re bustling to look for that street corner to turn to, you’ll also need to keep your eyes on the road for other road users.
During the rainy months, flooding has been recorded in both Nassau and Freeport. Although traffic management is generally good in the area, have a watchful eye for potentially unmarked road construction.
How is Driving in Eleuthera, Bahamas?
Away from city fuss, driving in Eleuthera is more laid back. There is minimal to no traffic at all, and the roads are in decent condition.
If you want to master driving on the left in the Bahamas, you can kick off your practice at Eleuthera.
How is Driving in Abaco, Bahamas?
The Exumas is another tranquil district of the Bahamas and one of the most exclusive. The 365 cays and islands are mostly posh, serving only some of the most privileged. This is where you will see a lot of private properties owned by celebrities and other high-profile people.
The 365 cays and islands are divided into three (3) main groups: Great Exuma, Little Exuma, and the Exuma Cays. The island groups are connected by one (1) main highway, the Queen’s Highway. With this, it will be hard to get lost even with the district’s area size.
There is no traffic on Queen’s Highway, but there are potholes that you need to watch out for. In addition, when you drive to Little Exuma, you’ll need to cross a narrow bridge that only fits one car at a time. With this, you’ll need to be aware of any oncoming traffic and cross the bridge cautiously.
Things to Do in the Bahamas
Apart from experiencing the 36-minute scenic ride driving from Little Harbour to Crossing Rocks in Abaco, the Bahamas is a great place to become your home away from home.
Drive As A Tourist
Guided tours are a preference for many first-time travelers. However, this comes with a few disadvantages. Guided tours can be more expensive because apart from car rental and gas, you also need to pay the driver and the guide. In addition, the destinations will most likely be limited. If you have second thoughts about self-driving in the Bahamas the first time, you can join a tour at least for one or two days. After that, you should experience driving in the country, because not only will it save you money, you’ll also be able to go on a road trip on your own terms.
Work As A Driver
If you stay in the Bahamas for a long time (more than 90 days), you can consider getting a driving job. Some foreigners offer driving services not just to help them with the expenses but simply because they just enjoy going around the country.
Driving-related jobs that you can consider in the Bahamas include tourist guide, delivery vehicle driver, personal driver, and charted vehicle driver, to name a few. According to Salary Explorer, a person working in a driving-related job usually earns around 18,300 Bahamian Dollars (BSD) per year. This ranges from 12,500BSD – 57,000BSD.
Do note that you cannot just get a driving job for any vehicle type in the Bahamas. The type of vehicle you have the license to drive for is also reflected on your IDP. You must be a holder of a driver licence of the corresponding class. If you’re interested in taking on a driving job in the Bahamas, make sure to check first with the Bahamian Driving Authority.
Work As A Travel Guide
Working as a travel guide can be very exciting, especially when you are in a country where tourists are year-round. You’ll be able to meet people from different cultures and learn about them as well. Similar to getting a driving job, you have to secure a valid work permit first before officially starting your work as a guide. The work permit is renewable on an annual basis, and these are the requirements:
- Letter of Request to the Direction of Immigration
- Duly accomplished First Schedule Application Form 1
- Original Medical Certificate (taken within 30 days before application)
- Original Police Certificate (taken within the last six months)
- Two (2) passport-size photographs
- Copy of valid passport
- Copy of employer’s passport
- Labour Certificate with Notification of Vacancy
- Two (2) written references from previous employers
- Letter of Release from previous employer
- Copy of employer’s business license, Certificate of Incumbency, or Certificate of Incorporation
- Copy of employer’s National Insurance Card
- Processing fee of $200 (non-refundable)
Apply for Residency
The Bahamas is a perfect place to retire. It will be like having a vacation every day, but you get to earn as well during that vacation. Individuals who are qualified to apply for permanent residence permit in the Bahamas are the following:
- Nurses, teachers, and police officers who have been employed in government service in the country for at least ten years with a valid work permit Spouse of a Bahamian citizen
- Medical professionals and religion ministers who have been employed in the country for at least 20 years
- Investors or businessmen who are legitimate owners of a residential house in the country
- Children born outside the country to at least one (1) Bahamian parent
You can inquire about the current requirements at the Department of Immigration. Do remember that all documents issued from a foreign country should be validated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before they are submitted to the Department of Immigration. Likewise, all documents printed in the non-English language should be translated with a certificate.
Other Things To Do
If you are not sure about which visa you should apply for, you can always visit the country first as a tourist. With this, you may have to apply for a visitor’s visa.
What Are the Requirements to Get A Visitor’s Visa in the Bahamas?
The maximum number of days that a tourist can stay in the Bahamas without a visa depends upon which country you are a citizen of and which country you are a resident of. For example, if you are a citizen of Canada, you may stay in the Bahamas for up to eight (8) months without a visa. But if you are only a permanent resident of Canada, you cannot stay for more than 30 days in the Bahamas without a visa
Generally, it is recommended to get a visa regardless of your country of origin in case you want to extend your stay. These are the main requirements that you need to submit to the nearest Bahamian Embassy or Consulate:
- Visa application form
- A valid passport that’s not expiring within six months
- Return ticket
- Original bank statement
- Police clearance
- Travel itinerariesisa application form
- A valid passport that’s not expiring within six months
- Return ticket
- Original bank statement
- Police clearance
- Travel itineraries
Requirements also vary from Mission to Mission, so better inquire for the specific documents that they need.
The Top Destinations in the Bahamas
With about 700 islands, it’s quite difficult to narrow down the best places to visit. When you think of the Bahamas, you think about boats, diving, snorkeling, sailing, and watersports. But the country is much more than pink sand beaches and wide intertidal zones.
What many people fail to recognize is that the Bahamas also has several historically-important land destinations that you can drive to. And each island has its own unique set of landmarks.
Cable Beach has been a forerunner in the Bahamian Tourism Industry since the 1940s. Suppose you’re up for a more festive beach vibe, head on over to Cable Beach. This 4 km strip of white sand is mostly popular for its powdery sand, calm waters, luxury resorts, casinos, and the sought-after Bahamian nightlife
The beach is about a 12-minute drive from Nassau via the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway. From the city center:
- Drive west along the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway. Once you reach the intersection at John F. Kennedy Drive, turn left until the next roundabout.
- Then take the exit towards Baha Mar Boulevard and turn left towards West Bay Street.
- Continue driving until you reach the roundabout by the Cable Beach Post Office.
- Finally, take the exit to the right. This will take you to Cable Beach.
Things To Do
Cable Beach was named as such because this was where the first submarine cable to Florida was constructed. It is publicly accessible, or you can also stay at one of the upscale resorts fronting the beach. Apart from relaxing on the sand and swimming, here are other things you can do at Cable Beach.
- Play Golf
The golf course covers an area of 6,453 yards with at least eighteen holes. The green lawns are very spacious, with some manmade lakes in between. If you don’t want to play, you can just observe other people playing and stroll around the grounds.
- Roll the Dice at Crystal Palace Casino
Cable Beach is lined by upscale casinos and entertainment centers. One of the most popular is Crystal Palace Casino which features around 300 state-of-the-art slot machines and over 16 game tables that serve Three Card Poker, Roulette, Craps, and many more. The casino is also within the Wyndham Nassau Resort, where you can spend a very well-deserved, luxurious vacation at.
- Go SCUBA Diving
Cable Beach has plenty of dive shops. You can bring your own equipment or rent from the shops. Because the Bahamas is teeming with marine life, you can opt for a shore entry and already see vibrant marine life along the shallower areas; or you can charter a boat to explore other islets.
Lucayan National Park
If you landed and stay at Grand Bahama Island, it would be hard not to miss the Lucayan National Park. This 40-acre national park encloses one of the world’s largest underwater cave systems. You can stroll around the park through shaded boardwalks and unwind in designated resting areas.
The national park is about a 25-minute drive from the Grand Bahama Airport via the Grand Bahama Highway.
- From the airport, exit towards the Grand Bahama Highway and drive for about 31 kilometers. Then turn left onto the national park.
- As a landmark, the left turn is just right across the Gold Rock Beach Trail.
Things To Do
The Lucayan National Park is the 2nd-most visited park in the country, and it isn’t just about underwater caves. This sprawling park also hosts various natural ecosystems and historically significant sites.
- Learn About the Lucayan Indians
This group of people are the indigenous, pre-colonial settlers of the Bahamas. When you visit the park, you’ll get to see their burial grounds and some preserved remains of these people.
- Learn About the Different Bahamian Ecosystems From Ridge to Reef
What’s interesting about Lucayan National Park is that it does not only host one type of ecosystem. Instead, you’ll be able to tour around different inland and coastal ecosystems, including a forest and a mangrove area. Learning about the different ecosystems is essential for environmental conservation and protection initiatives.
- Swim At Gold Rock Beach
Gold Rock Beach is world-famous because it has a very wide intertidal area. Very wide that is often called Grand Bahamas’ “welcome mat”. This is a secluded beach area, so crowds aren’t that dense. There are picnic tables in the area and barbecue grills if you want to spend the day there.
- Go Bird-Watching
The park is internationally-renowned as an Important Bird Area. It hosts thousands of different bird species that are mostly what you’ll hear everywhere you are in the park. These birds are free-range, meaning you won’t have to go inside a bird cage to see them.
Andros is the biggest island in the Bahamas. It holds some of the most intriguing natural wonders in the world. This island alone has more than 200 blue holes, a lot of which are unexplored. It is also surrounded by the world’s third-largest fringing barrier reef and a 1.6km-deep trench that starts at 70 feet underwater.
Situated roughly 60km west of Nassau, you can book a flight to the island or ride a ferry. The island hosts both international and domestic flights from Nassau and Grand Bahama. Once there, you can rent a car to drive around the island.
Things To Do
Andros is a wonderland for nature-adventure seekers. Accommodation is sparse in the area, so visitors usually take a day-trip.
- Charter a Boat and Go SCUBA Diving
Apart from the blue holes inland, Andros is also surrounded by vibrant underwater communities. You can explore the fringing barrier reef; and if you have the correct SCUBA license, you might be able to see the opening of the trench from a distance.
- Explore the Blue Holes and Go Free-diving
If you are fond of free-diving, you can plunge into the many blue holes of Andros and delve into the interesting formations that lie beneath the surface. If you are a licensed SCUBA diver (with training in underwater cave diving), there some blue holes that are connected by an underwater cave network. You’ll need a guide, of course, if you want to experience this.
- Spot Different Species of Birds
Apart from the Lucayan National Park, Andros is also a bird-haven. This is also a more secluded island compared to Grand Bahama, so the vegetation and natural habitats here are more pristine for the birds.
Bimini is the nearest gateway to the Bahamas from Florida. The 23km2 island features a mix of recreational areas, including exotic restaurants, white sand beaches, a lighthouse, nature trips, and shipwrecks.
The South Bimini Airport is the only airport that serves travelers in and out of Bimini. Flights are available daily to and from Florida, Nassau, and Grand Bahama Island.
You can also rent a plane from certified local and international carriers. In total, there are 27 accredited carriers in Bimini. You can check out Bahamas.com for the complete list of carriers. The average flying time from Miami, Florida, to Bimini, Bahamas is about 40 minutes. On a good day, some chartered flights can reach Bimini within 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale.
You can rent a car on the island and check the different spots at your most preferred time. You won’t get lost driving around Bimini because there is only one highway and the smaller roads are relatively sparse. Lastly, if you don’t want to miss out on any other amazing destinations in Bimini (or the country in general), you can purchase different driving handbooks of the Bahamas from multiple publishers around the world!
Things To Do
Do not be fooled by the size of Bimini. It hosts multiple upscale resorts, marinas, local stores, and cafes that cater to different types of travelers. Here are some activities that you can do while in Bimini.
- Visit the Fountain of Youth
Have you ever heard of the mysterious Fountain of Youth? It is said the anyone who drinks from the Fountain of Youth will not age forever. If you want to hear more stories of its origin, drive over to South Bimini to learn as well how it is seen in the present.
- See Upcycled Masterpieces at the Dolphin House Museum
The museum was built by Ashley Saunders, an author, artist, and retired local teacher. It mostly features mosaic art depicting different events and symbols that are relevant to Bimini’s history. The structure of the museum itself is made from recycled materials, so this is a very unique spot to check out.
- Spend a Relaxing Day at the Beach
Even if Bimini is smaller than most Bahamian islands, it still has numerous white powdery-sand beaches that stretch for kilometers. What’s exciting about Bahamian beaches is that almost all of them are publicly accessible. You don’t need to stay at a resort along the beach to experience it. You can check out Radio Beach and the White and Blue Beach.
The Districts of the Bahamas cover relatively small land areas. The biggest of them, Andros, spreads to about 6,000km2. It will not take you a day to drive around each of the districts. But due to countless activities that you can do at each destination, it might take you hours to finish exploring and experiencing one. For more tips on traveling, driving, and getting an IDP in the Bahamas, contact the International Driver’s Association.
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