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By No owner — last modified Jun 05, 2018 11:43 AM

 Bahamas - Profile


  • The Bahama Islands are a low-lying limestone archipelago in the North Atlantic southeast of Florida and north of Cuba and Hispaniola, covering 150,000 square miles of tropical sea with approximately 5,000 square miles of land. Of the 700 islands and many more rocks and small cays, some 25 are inhabited with communities. Many more have private homes and some whole islands are privately owned.
  • Very deep off-sounding trenches and shallow banks make the area an interesting cruising ground. Much navigation is by "eyeball" as, in good light and using polaroid sunglasses, depth is easily read by colour through the crystal clear water. Several new publications are now available to assist with safe navigation. Coral reefs provide excellent snorkelling and diving.
  • Most islands and cays are low lying and flat, with ridges that rise no more than 15 to 20 meters (50-60 feet) above sea level. Most are covered in dense scrubby bush amidst and surrounded by shallow reefs and sandbars, forming mangrove forests in between. The highest point of the Bahamas can be found on the eastern side on Cat Island, Mount Alvernia or Como Hill with an altitude of 63 m (210 ft).
  • In the last decade, since a change of government in 1992, much development has occurred throughout The Bahamas, bringing better facilities to many islands and the advent of GPS has encouraged many more yachts to visit the area.
  • Facilities are good in Nassau on New Providence, which has several marinas, chandlers and repair facilities. Fuel, marine supplies and provisions are easily available. Freeport on Grand Bahama also has good facilities and the Marsh Harbour area on Abaco and George Town on Great Exuma are growing as yachting destinations.
  • The Bahamas were used in the past as a transit point for drugs destined for the USA. A concerted effort by all countries in the region has reduced this activity considerably. Occasionally cruising boats may be stopped for inspection by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force but this is normally a simple and stress-free exercise.
  • The Bahamian society is a laid-back one. Enjoying life is the most important rule. On Sundays they go to church and the overwhelming majority of Bahamian people are Christians.


Based on reports to Noonsite from cruisers, petty theft from yachts is on the rise in the Caribbean in general. Cruisers should take basic safety precautions and use common sense when leaving the boat or going ashore at night. Dinghy thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight.

Dinghy theft seems particulary on the rise in George Town.

Street crime is prevalent in Nassau and Freeport, and as with many places in the Caribbean it is recommended to leave your gold/expensive jewelry and articles of any value safely secured on board. March 2014 saw reports of boats being broken into and burgled while the skippers were asleep in Nassau.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net ( provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported. Also cruisers can subscribe to e-mail alerts, follow on facebook and twitter and listen to the SSB Voice Service.

Also be sure to check the noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages

Last updated April 2017.


The Bahamian climate is very pleasant, lying on the edge of the anticyclone belt. The weather is particularly pleasant in summer, between June and October, when it is cooler than the Eastern seaboard of the USA or in the Eastern Caribbean islands. Unfortunately this is also the rainy season and the hurricane season, which lasts from July to November. Although several years can go by without a hurricane affecting The Bahamas, occasionally one might hit, such as Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which caused extensive damage to some of the islands. In winter, cold fronts bring a greater variety of wind directions but it is still pleasantly warm and dry.

The prevailing winds are from NE to SE, with the most Northern islands lying on the edge of the trade wind belt. As the islands are low there is no regular land breeze.

Winter Weather
Northers interrupt thet NE trades with regularity during the winter and typically start with the wind veering to the S and SW. When the cold front arrives, the wind suddenly shifts to the NW then N and usually blows itself out in the NE. After a while, the normal winds take over from more or less their usual direction. In mid-winter the cycle can take several days, in spring only 24 hours.

Most Northers are dry, although on occasions they can be accompanied by rain and thunder squalls. However, they very rarely bring winds over 30 knots and mainly the more Northerly Bahamas are the most affected by these Northers.

Summer Weather
Starts around May, after the last Norther has blown itself out, and lasts until November. The trades are more SE in the summer and most winds during these months are from the E or SE. During August and September there can be periods of calms, especially at night. The balmy summer weather can be interrupted occasionally by an Easterly Wave, a trough of low pressure found in the trade wind belt. This is usually accompanied by showers and high hummidity. Sometimes Easterly Waves can degenerate into tropical depressions and even hurricanes. May to October are the wettest months and rainy squalls occur during this season.

Bahamas, Florida coastal and tropical weather information can be obtained daily as follows, all times local: On SSB freq 4003 USB at 07.00; on amateur radio, freq 7096 or 3696 LSB at 07.20; on the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club daily net, including S.W. North Atlantic offshore weather on freq 7268 at 07.45. Weather information on VHF is available in various places at different times and on different channels, ask locally for details. Available daily in Nassau area on channel 72 at 07.15.

Bahamas weather is also available on local AM radio, freq 1540 at 06.15 and 06.45 from the Nassau Met Office.

See the Caribbean National, Regional and Island Weather Websites report for more.

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Other sources of weather information:-

Marv's Weather Service
Fort Myers, FL 33902
Tel:+1 (239) 560-1166
A daily free email service, virtual buoy reports and weather forecasting. Offers multiple regions, covering the entire Bahamas.

Main Ports

Abaco Islands: Black Sound (Green Turtle Cay) , Coopers Town (Abaco) , Fox Town (Little Abaco Island) , Grand Cay (Little Grand Cay) * , Guana Cay , Hope Town (Elbow Cay) , Man-O-War Cay , Marsh Harbour (Great Abaco Island) * , New Plymouth (Green Turtle Cay) * , Schooner Bay (Great Abaco Island) , Spanish Cay * , Treasure Cay * , Walker's Cay , White Sound (Green Turtle Cay)

Andros: Congo Town (South Andros) * , Fresh Creek (North Andros) * , Morgans Bluff (North Andros) *

Berry Islands: Chub Cay * , Frazer's Hog Cay * , Great Harbour Cay *

Bimini Islands: Alice Town (North Bimini) * , Cat Cay * , South Bimini *

Cat Island: Hawks Nest * , Port Howe

Conception Island: Conception Island

Crooked Island District: Acklins Island , Crooked Island

Eleuthera: Alice Town , Cape Eleuthera * , Governors Harbour * , Harbour Island * , Rock Sound * , Spanish Wells *

Exuma: Compass Cay , Great Exuma: George Town * , Highborne Cay , Little Farmer's Cay , Norman's Cay , Sampson Cay , Staniel Cay , Warderick Wells

Grand Bahama Island: Freeport * , Port Lucaya * , West End *

Great Inagua: Matthew Town *

Half Moon Cay: Little San Salvador

Long Island: Cape Santa Maria * , Clarence Town * , Thompson Bay

Mayaguana: Mayaguana *

New Providence: Lyford Cay , Nassau *

Out Islands: Rum Cay , San Salvador *

* indicates port of entry

Feb 27, 2019 01:17 PM

We were just on Grand Bahama, Lucaya Port, where everyone was fantastic except our taxi driver. We found out afterwards if you negotiate a deal for the driver to wait for you (for provisioning)....for an should only cost $25.00 US/hr. We later found locals who would drive us around for far less.

Phisher says:
Mar 08, 2019 02:54 PM

Thats awesome!Less people over here the better.

Curtis Spacek
Curtis Spacek says:
Dec 19, 2018 03:34 AM

My cousin just returned from the Bahamas and could not believe how expensive everything was. They will never go back. It's now on the "no go" list for all of us.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 06, 2018 12:41 PM

As far as we are aware, no overtime is charged in the Bahamas. Perhaps the rules have changed. I am in contact with Bahamas Customs and will let you know what they come back with. Thank you for reporting this.

Blades Robinson
Blades Robinson says:
Oct 27, 2018 03:31 PM

I was hit with an unexpected fee when I went to clear customs in Marsh Harbour (Abaco). The $150 fee for the 27’ center console was anticipated but the $100 fee for clearing on a weekend (Saturday, 3pm) was not. I’ve cleared customs many times but I’m guessing this is the first time I did it on a weekend. I was surprised and was also given a receipt when I asked for one. Has anyone else paid this $100 or was I ripped off?

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 05, 2018 11:43 AM

This news posted on Bahamas Chatter:
Effective July 1, 2018, the Bahamas VAT will increase to 12%. This increase will be devastating! If you search on-line, you can read much more about the controversy. The only concession they’ve made for the residents is that some “breadbasket” food items will be VAT free, but the list is VERY specific & VERY short. This will hurt businesses too, especially restaurants – this new VAT along with a 18% gratuity will result in 30% onto a restaurant bill – Yikes!

We cruisers aren’t going to like this either. Also announced were a slew of various other increases including immigration fees – unknown yet if that will include Cruising Permit fees…

Christophe Alter
Christophe Alter says:
Apr 24, 2018 02:12 AM

I’ve just paid 150 $ for clearing in my 32 feet sailing boat in Georgetown. Apparently this fee is for boats up to 35 feet. I was ready to pay 300 $ so it was a good surprise. And I was able to pay with my Visa card (that is in Georgetown - Mayaguana wanted only cash).

Eve & Tom
Eve & Tom says:
Apr 19, 2018 05:03 PM

We visited Nassau in the Bahamas in April 2018, mainly to apply for a US visa. There aren’t any good websites about the visa process, so here are a few tips!

- Fill in the DS160 form online and make an interview appointment. Fill out the form with great care and detail, especially your financial & work situation is important. It took us half a day to fill in our forms, they even want to know where you went to kindergarten.

- Make an official US passport photo at a photo store in Nassau, there are a few, you will run into them. It is important that the photo is recent and square, other ways you have to reschedule your appointment (and don’t even get into the building). It cost us just under 4,5 dollars per two-fold printed picture.

- Arrive early for your appointment, you will be checked outside for your printed DS160 form, picture and passport. You have to sit on a long bench according to interview date.

- Once you’re up to enter the building, you will be checked for electrical equipment, brushes, liquids, etc just like at an airport. We had a steel ruler with us, which we left outside the door. Don’t do this, it almost got us arrested for terrorist activity! Guess they thought that ruler was some kind of spying equipment.. Just bring your DS160 confirmation, passport, proof of payment, bank balance overview and nothing else. If you forget to leave your phone on the boat you can bring it to a shop around the corner, they will keep it for you if you pay a fee.

- Bring proof of your financial situation. If you are self-employed or freelancer, give the average income of the previous year with proof. If you are unemployed and living off savings, print your bank balance. In our case that helped, and they didn’t take it but just looked at it and gave it back.

- Bring proof of payment of the 160 dollar visa fee. We weren’t asked for it, but others were.

- If you are sent back to re-edit your form or bring more proof, you have to reschedule and redo the interview, but you don’t have to pay the 160 dollars again. Make sure you’re not in an enormous hurry to get to the US. We scheduled our interview 2 weeks in advance, and it will take 3-5 working days until we can collect our visa. It is possible to have it sent to Freeport, which is closer to the US already.

Hope this helps all of you non-US citizens!

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Feb 11, 2018 10:32 AM

Posted on behalf of Monty Lewis

We have a first-hand report on two navigational lights; one of which is crucial to navigation in an open area and the other one entering Nassau Harbour from the east.

The first, the Northwest Channel Light, is still not lighted. There is a pole (approximately 30′) with a rope trailing from the top. This crucial light has not yet been replaced (for several years).

The second, the light on Porgee Rock, has been rebuilt and is working. The irony of this is that we just took that light off all of the Explorer charts of the area and published the new data last summer, and now it is working again! Oh well! So make a correction on your charts: The Porgee Rock Light is now working (for now).

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 08, 2018 09:15 PM

Changes in Bimini Entrance Buoys

Posted: 03 Feb 2018 on Bahamas Chatter:

The 2017 hurricanes brought changes to the entrance buoys of the channel to Bimini. The waypoint in Explorer Chartbook Near Bahamas 8th edition remains the same, but some of the buoys are off station as originally plotted on the chart.

* The first red buoy on the chart is now off station, having moved northward off the southern tip of North Bimini right in the middle of a very shallow sandbar. Don’t go there!

* The first red buoy you see approaching South Bimini is actually the second one on the chart. It is in the correct position.

* There is a green buoy beyond that and it is off station near the entrance to Bimini Sands Marina on South Bimini.

* There are four small buoys along the shore of South Bimini leading into North Bimini. They are in correct position. The lighted pole at the entrance also remains.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 01, 2017 09:56 AM

Posted on
The pet thing . . .
Published November 28, 2017

To those that have pets on board. I sent in my International moneys order, and the proper form on the 16th of Sept, 2017. We left for the Bahamas / Bimini on the 24th of November. Without having received any formal paper work back. To this day, my mail delivery/receive service has not received any paper work. Tis the Bahamas…

With that in mind, I cleared into Bimini. The very nice lady at Customs went through the usual paperwork and questions. When she asked if I had any pets on board, I said yes and then I went through the above paragraph with her. I showed her the receipts for the money orders, the Nassau form, the health certificate for the dog, etc.

She looked at everything, shook her head and pushed all the papers back to me. So, on my cruising permit, next to the dingy and motor, the skiff and motor that I tow, the fishing poles on board, and the slings, is listed…………..ready for this……… (1) dog….

What a great country… not tied up in red tape at all!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 21, 2017 01:01 PM

From Bahamas Chatter: Ragged Island was devastated by Hurricane Irma. Apparently, the seven people who were not evacuated from the island survived, but the town itself has been deemed “uninhabitable” by government authorities. Most of the buildings are leveled, except for the Silvertail Lodge and a few others, and no government structures were left standing. The oil depot at Gun Point was also wiped out. The folks that survived the hurricane have also left the island. This is sad news for the many cruising boats that visit the Ragged Islands during the winter season. There will be none of the already limited facilities available. Boats cruising to the Ragged Islands are truly on their own.

Sailress says:
Apr 26, 2017 02:03 PM

We are in the Bahamas right now and our draft is 220cm (or about 7.3 feet) and we have had NO problems sailing in the shallows on the west side of the Exhumas and crossing over to Nassau.
Just keep looking on your plotter and plot a course that can fit your boat, otherwise just try and move on high tide.
You have to go here - the Bahamas is so much more beautiful than the rest of the Caribbean!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Apr 18, 2017 08:11 AM

Posted on Bahamas Chatter (Explorer Chartbooks) on 10 April 2017:

We spent 8 weeks sailing our boat in the Bahamas; have a 6 1/2 foot draft. Did not have a problem. Pay close attention to tides when you plan on entering “skinny water”, study the charts closely and don’t fixate on your chart plotter – learn to read the water (color changes).

Don’t let the shallow water keep you from going. People run their sailboats up and down the ICW with little more that a foot of water under their keel and can’t see the bottom, but they worry about the depths in the Bahamas. You can see the bottom there and it’s gorgeous! Go! Enjoy the trip.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 29, 2017 03:54 PM

Posted on, 17 March, 2017

This past month we travelled from Green Turtle Cay to Glass Window Eleuthera Bahamas. Most of the time we spent at anchor, but we did spend a couple of days at Green Turtle and 6 days at Great Guna Cay in marinas for weather issues (we have spent at least half the time we have been in the Bahamas hiding from fronts).
We dined out some for dinner and some just for lunch/snack stops. Our dining money doesn’t go as far here as in the States.
Marsh Harbour has about anything you want and the prices are much better than in the out islands, but still not cheap. A case of beer at Green Turtle was $62 and at Great Guna it was $71, but in Marsh Harbour it was $41. So, if you are going to drink beer stock up.
We don’t have a water maker, so now there are water costs. However, when it rains here it POURS and it wouldn’t take much work to be able to fill up the tanks during it.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 26, 2017 10:30 PM

From Active Captain Facebook Page:
Pay as you go data (prepaid) in the Bahamas has gotten cheaper. It's only $ 10 for 2GB. And they text you occasionally with deals that are even cheaper. It costs $ 5 to get a sim at any BTC office. Buy data as you need it online. I put the sim in an old iphone 5 then use it as a hotspot for the other devices on the boat. We find this is almost always faster and more reliable than wifi. While it has good days and bad days, speed is usually above 2 MB / s. It's easy to find an anchorage in range of an antenna. It's often fast enough to stream TV or movies.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 16, 2016 12:42 PM

This quote from the Bahamian Vet who passed on this info.:
This change in rules has come about as a direct result of the distemper outbreak and some other factors. The feeling is that there will always be a level of infection in Nassau as the epidemic is still ongoing at that location. What is interesting is the fact that neither Abaco nor Grand Bahama had distemper outbreaks. The focus of infection seems to be localized to New Providence. The chances of your animals contracting the virus are small. Keep their vaccinations current.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 11, 2016 08:31 PM

Dog Distemper In The Bahamas
This information came from Joan Conover aboard the S/V Growl Tiger, and broadcast to vessels via SSCA Radio Station “KPK” on SSB frequency 8.104 at 1215 hrs UTC or 0815 hrs EDT.
Because of a recent outbreak of dog distemper in the Bahamas, new rules have been put into place regarding the exit of pets from the Bahamas. It now takes 5 or more days for a health certificate for your dog to exit the Bahamas, as all paperwork must be sent to Nassau, and approved by the Bahamian Department of Agriculture.
This is a result of a litter of puppies from one of the out islands, which were adopted out from the Nassau SPCA to other islands and to the USA. The puppies became ill with distemper, making all dogs from the islands suspect of the disease.
If you are in the Bahamas, make sure your dogs are current with all shots, and have your distemper records/certificates in hand. Both USA and Bahamas officials are concerned, making the paperwork a more lengthy process for ALL pets.

Zach Shipley
Zach Shipley says:
Apr 14, 2017 03:41 PM

I cruise extensively in the Bahamas, using Nobeltec TimeZero Navigator software for navigation. For TimeZero, I have both the Explorer Charts (raster charts, in digital form) and Jeppesen (C-map) vector charts of the Bahamas. The Jeppesen charts incorporate the Explorer chart information fairly completely, although the digital versions (Explorer raster and Jeppesen vector) do not display all the helpful text that one gets in the Explorer Charts paper books. I find the Jeppesen charts (in part because of Explorer charts) are more accurate than Navionics charts.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 29, 2016 11:47 AM

Bahamas Chatter: Praise for Explorer Charts
In response to some recent criticism of Explorer Charts, I’d like to report that my wife and I used them extensively on a recent 9 month cruise and we have nothing but praise. We crossed to West End, then up to the Walkers Cay area, then down through the rest of the Abacos. Next was Eleuthera. Then on down throughout the Exuma chain to Georgetown, and on the return trip north we skirted by Nassau, then over to the Berries, then Cat Cay, then back to Florida. The Explorer Charts are great. I am a land surveyor with 30+ years experience in surveying and mapping. On this trip we routinely used both electronic and paper copies, constantly checking one against the other, and comparing that with our own real-time depth soundings and visual observations. We found the horizontal mapping to be dead-on accurate, and the charted depths a little on the conservative side, as they should be. We had a great time exploring and taking some shoal draft routes, carefully nosing into skinny water while dutifully using visual piloting and minding the tide. The Explorer Charts never let us down.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 28, 2016 03:02 PM

Farmers Cay Update
Farmers Cay Yacht Club has announced that its nine moorings in the Harbour have been redone with all new stainless steel chain and line. Also, the dock has been replanked and braced. The restaurant is open from 9 am to midnight.

Steve says:
May 06, 2015 03:03 PM

Forgot to mention that on 2/2015 Palm Cay marina prices were $1.75 a foot for dockage, $0.65 a kwh for electric, $3.58 for diesel and $4.00 for gas; making them very attractive for fill ups.

sallybrodrick says:
Dec 10, 2014 02:43 AM

After reading one blog site that it can take 4 months to get the dog liscence from Bahamas I called them. They are not receptive to checking and I was told faxing the forms and bankers receipt that I had mailed 1 month ago would not help if they had not received the money. As it was clear they weren't checking either, I did fax and I got the form faxed the next day. The woman did tell me that if I had couriered it I could have had the form the next day if there is time sensitivity to the date of departure. Make sure you out your fax and contact details in addition to the form as it forgets to ask for that!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 27, 2014 09:24 PM

This report picked up on "Women who Sail" Facebook Group:
There were 3 boat robberies in Nassau earlier this week. Two of the boats were yachts at Nassau Yacht Haven and the other was a sailboat that was anchored out just up the harbour. The sailboat that was anchored out had the dinghy untied with the motor that was locked onto it. While he was at the police station they returned the dinghy but the motor was gone. The yachts were broken into and the robbers only stole cash. Both yachts had the captains on board and were asleep while it happened. These robbers seem to be very brave to rob boats while people are on board sleeping, so if you are in the area lock your boat and be careful. They even went into the cabin where one of the captains was sleeping, took his shorts off the floor, went to the main salon and took the wallet out. Took the cash out of the wallet and left. This is not a rumour, it actually happened.

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Hurricane Kate becomes the fourth Atlantic hurricane of the 2015 season

Hurricane Kate becomes the fourth Atlantic hurricane of the 2015 season  (11 Nov 2015)

Bahamas: Hurricane Joaquin Blasting the Central Bahamas

Bahamas: Hurricane Joaquin Blasting the Central Bahamas  (30 Sep 2015)

Bahamas: British Man Shot Dead After Armed Robbers Board His Sailboat - Update

Bahamas: British Man Shot Dead After Armed Robbers Board His Sailboat - Update  (11 May 2015)

25th ARC Caribbean 1500 Wraps up at Nanny Cay Marina in the BVI

25th ARC Caribbean 1500 Wraps up at Nanny Cay Marina in the BVI  (28 Nov 2014)

Bahamas, San Salvador: Bahamas National Trust seeks to establish a National Park system

Bahamas, San Salvador: Bahamas National Trust seeks to establish a National Park system  (16 Jun 2014)

Bahamas, Exumas: Sampson Cay Marina will not reopen

Bahamas, Exumas: Sampson Cay Marina will not reopen  (08 Oct 2013)

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A Thinking Mans Guide to Voyages South - the many facets of Caribbean Cruising  (10 Jan 2013)

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Bahamas: Cruising Boat Harassment   (25 Jun 2012)

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Bahamas, Family Islands: Ravaged by Hurricane Irene  (02 Sep 2011)

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Bahamas: Caribbean 1500 Yacht on Reef and Crew Member Missing - Update  (24 Nov 2010)

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Bahamas - Good News if Importing Spare Parts  (18 Jun 2009)

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Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Sailor off the Bahamas  (30 May 2008)