Visiting the Bahamas

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The Bahamas are really very safe.  There is some smuggling that happens on the islands, both of illegal immigrants (when I was there I saw some Haitians that were dropped off in the forest, thinking they had been taken to the U.S.) and drugs.  It’s nowhere near as dangerous as Jamaica though and a tourist can walk around, especially rural areas with little to no fear.  I hitchhiked short distances pretty regularly and had no trouble at all.  The ocean is gorgeous, the reefs are teeming with life, including interesting organisms like reef squid.  I would highly recommend the diving but I would also say, don’t forget to visit the forest, for Cuban Amazons (Amazona leucocephala), Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribaea) and lots of other life.  Also, if you get a chance, it’s a great place to see dolphins or whales from a boat.  Caves in the Bahamas are pretty impressive as well, the islands are mostly old reef systems, and thus mainly limestone.  Caves in the Bahamas are host to bats and small pockets in the limestone are great nest sites for the local parrots.  The culture is also vibrant, with lots of fishing and a seasonal harvest of spiny lobster.  Unfortunately fisheries in the Bahamas don’t seem to be managed very well at the moment, especially for things like conch.  So, as I’m sure the seafood is delicious, the conscientious tourist may opt for the local baked macaroni and cheese instead.  Although lion fish, an invasive species is delicious and becoming more and more popular as a menu item.  You can eat lion fish knowing you’re only helping the local marine ecosystem.

The Bahamas are roughly equivalent to the mainland U.S. in prices and there’s nothing too exotic about grocery stores except perhaps a greater amount of tropical fruit than someone from Colorado is used to.  If a fun time on the beach or exploring marine life or a sub-tropical forest is what you’re looking for the Bahamas are great, just don’t expect things to be as cheap as in Mexico.  The upside is the Bahamas are incredibly easy to get around for English speakers and U.S. currency is readily accessible.  It’s also very common to travel to the Bahamas by boat from the U.S. and be prepared to meet plenty of Canadians and Americans on vacation or enjoying their winter homes.

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