When you think of the Bahamas, you usually imagine picturesque beaches and sunshine and palm trees, right?
While we did find some beautiful beaches, we also found some downsides to the island. I’m not saying it’s awful, but just be aware when visiting Nassau.
Don’t expect to have phone service. Our phone plan includes international service, but what we weren’t planning on was our phones not connecting to the network for several hours after landing. This meant we were left struggling to find food, our Airbnb, and basically everything, with 5 tired and grumpy kids in tow. Plan to buy at least 1 local SIM card, or at least make all your arrangements ahead of time and don’t rely on service (which isn’t great service either way). Also learn to read a map.
Don’t expect great service. Tax and tip is automatically included on pretty much every restaurant bill. This means that the servers don’t have to work to get their tips. It may be even worse because the Bahamas is a tourist destination and they are just worn out dealing with us, but only one place treated us like we weren’t an annoyance to them. Thank you, Curlys! Island time is also strong here and no one is ever in a hurry, come prepared to spend at least a couple hours for each sit down meal.
Don’t waste your money in the straw market. It’s interesting for the experience, because you get to haggle pricing, but most items can be found elsewhere on the island, for cheaper. We spent way more than we needed to there, for stuff we didn’t need.
Don’t expect clean beaches, especially after a weekend. The beaches on the main island weren’t bad, but did have some junk. And going back to the exact same beach after the weekend, it was gross with garbage, and we ended up moving to a different beach. I would guess that the beaches on Paradise Island are cleaner, because they are the main tourist beaches and get cleaned, but I can’t vouch for that as we only went once.
Don’t forget a water bottle and HYDRATE. Seems obvious, but the humidity here makes it feel brutally hot, and it’s hard to stay hydrated. You don’t think about drinking water when you are soaking wet from sweat. Plus the tap water on the island has a funky taste to it, so I would recommend a filter bottle. Fill it up as much as possible when you find a place, because bottled water is $2-3 per bottle.
Do expect rain, especially in spring time. It usually passes quickly, so if you can wait it out, you’ll still have plenty of beach time.
Do bring sunscreen, or plan to buy it ASAP after arrival. You will burn, and fast, especially when you are fair skinned Irish decent like Tyson and his kids.
Do visit Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island. It’s gorgeous. And if you aren’t afraid to walk east down the beach, you won’t be overwhelmed with sales people and other tourists. It’s worth it. I also recommend bringing goggles if you have them. There are fish you can see right by the beach.
Do check out the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo when you get tired of the beach. It’s not a huge zoo, but had some amazing interactive options that the kids really liked.
Do take it all with a grain of salt. Parts of the island are gorgeous, but like any place, it has its rough edges. If you can see it for the beauty, it’s a wonderful place to visit.