Bahamas - Crazy crowded Caribbean country

After a slightly delayed 3-hour flight from Canada I arrived in Nassau, Bahamas. Huge temperature change from 0 degrees to 30. This is the first country on this trip in the Caribbean and around a dozen more are about to follow in the next few weeks.

My expectation about the Bamahas, it will be a crowded touristic place, especially as it was still the holiday season in the United States and the Bahamas is just next door from them.

I didn't know yet that it is even worse than expected.

There are up to 10 cruise ships docking at the port and each of them carries 1000-2000 people. I had a slight feeling that I probably won't like this country that much, but more on that later.

Arriving in the crowded 'Caribbean'

The airport itself was modern, albeit small, but the immigration counters were numerous, and the officers were hardworking. I obtained a tourist visa for 12 days via a stamp, which was free.

Fortunately, the driver of the Airbnb was waiting for me at the airport. Airbnb is a good option in the Bahamas as hotels are easily booked out at this time of the year.

The drive from the airport to my Airbnb in a suburb of Nassau Downtown took only 15 minutes. There are a few supermarkets but I noticed that even the largest supermarkets were not comparable to those in Europe or Canada. The selection was relatively sparse in most of them.

Day 2 - The crowded Nassau downtown

I did not expect everything to be so far apart. Restaurants are mostly focused on specific areas and supermarkets are not around every corner. There are very few buses, and the few minibusses only cover a very limited network of streets, mostly around the center.

Based on this  I had to walk a lot, and the streets were long.

Taking a taxi was not a viable option either, as a 1-2 km ride costs over 20 USD. The reason given was "Government." There is no Uber service in the Bahamas either.

So I already guessed I urgently need a rental car. Until I'll find one, which turns out to be difficult and expensive, I have to walk to the center.

The Bahamas is really flat compared to other island countries in the Caribbean and most hills have been covered with private properties.

Junkanoo Beach, where tourism was in full swing, as expected. A bit of tourism is always exciting, but yes....

The narrow beaches were crowded, and there was a lot of movement on the sidewalks. Most people were walking toward the cruise ships, as their departure time was at 4:00 pm.

Once the ships left, the center was eerily quiet. The buses also stopped running at the same time that the cruise ships left, or when the locals closed their shops and went home.

The Nassau center where the carnival takes place. A pre-carnival just ended yesterday and I missed it, however, I wouldn't have visited it anyway if I were here.

I walked towards Potter Cay to catch a first glimpse of the huge Atlantis Resort and its bridges leading there.

Day 3 – Finally found a rental car

My rental car was delivered to my doorstep at 11 am. Not very early as ordered, but at least they showed up. Without a car in the Bahamas, it's very difficult and expensive to get around.

Everyone drives on the left but sits on the steering wheel on the right. My plan was to make an island tour counterclockwise, as sitting on the right side of the car would allow me to see the beaches better.

The cars were mostly run-down, and the rental car I got was no exception, costing 40 dollars per day.

Visited Goodmans Bay, Cable Beach, Jaws Beach, Clifton Heritage and Beach.

When I arrived at each of those beaches, I could easily drive into the parking lot, and the security guards immediately asked me if I needed help, which more sounded like "You cannot park here! It's private and only for the multi-billionaire people".

I was quickly and briefly informed that access to the beach and cliffs was only possible with a day pass, which covered a vast area of Nassau and was not available to the public, or only accessible for a significant fee.

Most areas in the Bahamas are privatized and fenced off. Unless the locals pay the same fee as visitors, they have little to see. Sad but true.

Goodmans Bay

Cable Beach

Jaws Beach

    Clifton Heritage and Beach. There were the 'pirate stairs'.

It's not extremely exciting but it is something to do. Everything is super flat. Nothing to climb, except cliffs like these ancient stairs where the pirates came to land.

Day 4 – Diving in Nassau. Is it worth it?

Yesterday, while on my island tour, I stopped by Stuarts Cove to get details about diving. Two dives cost 179 USD without equipment and 222 USD with equipment, which is quite expensive for two dives compared to other scuba diving destinations around the globe. I even would say this was one of the most expensive diving I ever came across, especially since there were no other (cheaper) options at all on Nassau. However, everything in the Bahamas is a bit more expensive, if not overpriced.

On the way to the dive shop. It's 30 minutes from Nassau and on the south part of the island.

I had to be at the dive site by 8:30 am. I did not plan to take any photos because my camera with underwater housing was too heavy, so I couldn't fit it in the hand luggage. For such a long trip I needed the space in the bag for other things.

Six cruise ships coming for scuba diving today...

When I arrived, I noticed that there were two boats that would be taking us for the dive. One boat was for less experienced divers, and the other was for more experienced ones (at least this is what they told me). Both boats were heavily crowded, with up to 15 divers on one boat, too much. 

Personally, I felt that was too many people, but I understood why - with six cruise ships in port, many divers had come to Stuarts Cove for the day. Currently, there are only two dive operators in Nassau.

I will not go diving after seeing this

Seeing these circumstances and watching how the people were preparing their gear, I decided not to go on this expensive dive. Even on the "experienced" boat the "divers" were asking how to wear a weight belt or how to use the BCD jacket.

In addition, each boat had two dive guides only, and the dive sites were located along a wall just around a corner.

Next time I will when around the Bahamas, I definitely will go on a liveaboard trip to explore the remote dive sites and perhaps even have the opportunity to dive with tiger sharks off Freeport.

Visiting Paradise Island instead

Went to Paradise Islands instead. It's basically on the opposite of Nassau. It's accessible over a huge bridge and the first to be spotted is the Atlantis Ressort. But they even charge an entrance fees only to cross the bridge.

There are some nice parks.

The beaches are nice, but like all the nicest beaches in this country, not open to the public - except when paying an entrance fee or sneaking in.

The Atlantis hotel is like Disney land. Crowded and has its own entertainment parks. Not really sure what I should think of it - but maybe I didn't visit long enough to appreciate the art behind it.

Day 5 - Another beach-hopping day

As with the previous day, the area was filled with tourists, which made it feel a bit crowded and overwhelming at times. But no wonder with 5 cruise ships that just arrived and were still unloading the goods (passengers).

However, it was still an interesting 'show' in its own way.

So after seeing all the crowds I departed this area and went to visit Yamacrew Beach, Winton Beach, and Junkanoo Beach again to enjoy a swim and watch the cruise ship tourists.

In the evening when the crowds are gone, it looks completely different. All very calm - as the Caribbean is supposed to be.

Day 6 - Departure to Jamaica

Had to bring back the rental car in the morning and then took an expensive taxi (40 crazy USD) to the airport.

I won't miss the Bahamas (or better saying Nassau in particular) that much and was looking forward to the other countries in the Caribbean. I just hope that the following countries in the Caribbean won't be the same crowded.

While waiting for the flight I was wondering if the country Jamaica is really following its reputation where every citizen is walking around and smoking - but that I will see in a few hours.

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