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Bahamas - Health

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Health standards are much improved throughout the Bahamas, particularly in Nassau and Grand Bahama where there are new hospitals and healthcare facilities which provide high quality care. Smaller islands usually just have a clinic with a nurse practitioner.

Medical care can be expensive. Emergency medical facilities are limited on all the Family Islands, and serious cases are airlifted to Nassau, Freeport or Miami.

Travel insurance is recommended.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases:

Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccinations.

Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are recommended.

Yellow Fever vaccinations are required if you are traveling from a country with a risk of Yellow Fever virus transmission.

Food and Water Concerns:

Tap water is generally safe to drink although, bottled water is readily accessible throughout the island.

Avoid contaminated water as there is a risk of Leptospirosis.

Mosquito-borne Diseases:

Avoid getting bitten as there is a risk of Dengue and Zika.

Because of the risks to pregnancy, travelers should consult the CDC Travelers’ Health website for the most current recommendations for Zika.


  • Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin. Re-apply according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Wear neutral-coloured (beige, light grey) long-sleeved clothing.
  • Pre-soak or spray outer layer clothing and gear with permethrin.
  • Ensure that hatch and window screens work properly.

Other Diseases:

While there has been a notable decrease in AIDS infections in the Bahamas in the past ten years, travelers should still take standard precautions to prevent HIV/AIDS exposure.

Prescription Drugs:

Always carry your prescription medication in its original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Common medications such as cough medicine, pain relievers, and allergy medication can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. However, prescription medications require a valid prescription from a licensed doctor in the Bahamas.

Pharmacies can be found throughout the islands, with larger ones in the main cities such as Nassau and Freeport.

Emergency Numbers:
See Emergencies.

Useful links:

Last updated:  December 2023


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  1. March 28, 2024 at 12:11 PM
    profile photo
    Elpelegrino says:

    We have been traveling as a family on our catamaran for 7 years, my wife Philippine, my 3 children and myself, 66 years old retired. We are currently in the Dominican Republic. Wishing to go to the Bahamas, I applied for a visa for my wife, I was asked for numerous documents which I sent, I paid the sum of 100 dollars, this request was refused because I had not provided a bank letter proving my solvency, I specify that my catamaran is a Catana 44s and it is worth 350,000 dollars. I made a request again, with the obligation to pay another 100 dollars, this time with a letter from my bank, my French children’s passes and a letter explaining that my wife was not working, she has enough work on the job. boat to take care of cooking, cleaning and schooling our children. Once again the request was returned with a request for an employment letter from my wife. I called and with great difficulty I managed to get a contact to whom I explained the problem, he replied that he would study the file and respond to me. We are a month and a half into the process. Today, 200 dollars spent, still nothing. We abandon our plan to visit this country because we have to go down to Curaçaos to leave the boat there and return to France so that my children can take their exams. If by chance I were to receive this visa I hope that it will be valid for the next season. Hoping that my letter is read and will help other people in my situation to avoid spending money unnecessarily.

  2. January 2, 2023 at 5:07 PM
    dfpatti says:

    Hello, can anyone confirm what caliber size handgun is allowed in the Bahamas? I understand the firearm and ammunition needs to be declared however on the customs website there is a limitation of .308 caliber. Does anyone have any confirmed information that a 9mm (.38 cal) is allowed in the Bahamas?

    1. June 4, 2023 at 6:06 PM
      Swagman57 says:

      9mm is definetly allowed.

  3. May 1, 2022 at 4:03 PM
    sailormalaika says:

    May 1, 2022
    Marsh Harbor Abaco Bahamas
    S/V Malaika
    I left my 10′ AB rib with Yamaha 15hp tied to the Union Jack dock at 0830. I returned 2 hrs later, it was gone. 1 hour later, with the help of another cruiser, the dinghy was found. It was hauled onto a rocky shore and the large bar lock had been pried off the outboard which was stolen. The dinghy, fuel tank and anchor were left. 2 handles were torn from dinghy and the fiberglass hull is cracked in 2 places.

  4. October 22, 2021 at 2:25 PM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    From “Bahamas Land and Sea Facebook Page”:
    Boats traveling between Bimini and Great Harbour Cay should be vigilant when transiting the area near
    N25°48.3’, W078°54.1’.
    There is the wreck of a partially submerged +100’ motor vessel that is sitting in the bottom in ~20’ of water. In the 6 months since the wreck occurred it has drifted ~15nm to the WNW of its original position moving it further way from the “magenta line” between North Rock, Bimini and Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands. With the start of cold front season however the strong northerly winds will likely blow this wreck southward.
    Exercise extreme caution, especially when crossing the banks at night.

  5. May 4, 2020 at 2:44 PM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    Reported by Gary Church:

    There seems to be a great deal of ignorance and confusion concerning the Bahamian Government Protocols for Boats…During the COVID-19 Shutdown issued on April 14. Details can be found at . Please note Paragraphs 15, 16, and 17.

    I have been granted transit by the Bahamian Government for the first two weeks of May from the Dominican Republic to the US to accommodate weather. I have also be approved to anchor along the way for crew rest. Also the proximate route through the Bahamas I requested was approved with the proviso that I must notify the Bahamian Government of any changes to the approved route.

    The ignorance is that many boaters in the Caribbean wishing to return to the US are under the mis-impression that the Bahamas are closed to transit. The second misconception is that there are all kinds of restrictions for transit. For instance you can only make one stop. What is not understood and is provided for is the boater needs to make a request based on their needs. I requested my approval April 14 and received an approval on April 17.

    Thanks, if you verified and published this information it would no doubt be very helpful to those currently stuck in the Caribbean and wanting to head back to the US before hurricane season.

    Gary Church

  6. May 5, 2019 at 11:52 PM
    naryllek says:

    If you have a relatively deep draft — do NOT use Navionics! We draw 6’7″ and ran soft aground near Spanish Wells. We got C-Map Embark which showed the correct approach with plenty of water to spare.

  7. April 23, 2019 at 10:56 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Mar 08, 2019 02:54 PM

    Thats awesome!Less people over here the better.

  8. February 27, 2019 at 1:17 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 hour…it should only cost $25.00 US/hr. We later found locals who would drive us around for far less.

  9. December 19, 2018 at 3:34 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

    1. June 14, 2019 at 2:33 PM
      cbelschner1 says:

      Agreed, the Bahamas have gotten very expensive, on one of the small cays I bought 1/2 gallon of milk and one quart of ice cream and it was 16$. The Bahamian government is trying to get into the IMF, which forbids them charging to Duty in anything. (something about free trade) They have recently added a 12% sales tax (vat) to take over the Duty for government income. This has happened over the last year or so. Right now it feels like the duty is still in place and the Vat tax of 12% at the same time. Government’s in general don’t do very well in adding a Tax and dropping another Tax. (its the dropping part that’s a problem) Also the Bahamian dollar is pegged at 1 to 1 with the US. dollar, joining the IMF would change this, but the government claims it will still be on par.

  10. November 6, 2018 at 12:41 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

  11. October 27, 2018 at 3:31 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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, 3 pm) 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?

  12. June 5, 2018 at 11:43 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 online, 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 an 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…

  13. April 24, 2018 at 2:12 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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).

  14. April 19, 2018 at 5:03 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 the 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 for 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!

  15. February 11, 2018 at 10:32 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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).

  16. February 8, 2018 at 9:15 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 the correct position. The lighted pole at the entrance also remains.

  17. December 1, 2017 at 9:56 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

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

    To those that have pets on board. I sent in my International money 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 paperwork back. To this day, my mail delivery/receive service has not received any paperwork. 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 are listed…………..ready for this……… (1) dog….

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

  18. September 21, 2017 at 1:01 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 levelled, 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.

  19. April 26, 2017 at 2:03 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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!

  20. April 18, 2017 at 8:11 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

  21. March 29, 2017 at 3:54 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

  22. January 26, 2017 at 10:30 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

  23. May 16, 2016 at 12:42 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

  24. May 11, 2016 at 8:31 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

    1. April 14, 2017 at 3:41 PM
      Data Entry5 says:

      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.

  25. January 29, 2016 at 11:47 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 of 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.

  26. January 28, 2016 at 3:02 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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 replanted and braced. The restaurant is open from 9 am to midnight.

  27. May 6, 2015 at 3:03 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.

  28. December 10, 2014 at 2:43 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    After reading one blog site that it can take 4 months to get the dog license 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!

  29. March 27, 2014 at 9:24 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    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.