If you wish to enjoy a luxurious getaway in the Bahamas on a budget and have a flexible schedule, look for last-minute deals. Several high-end resorts and hotels offer discounted rates at the last moment. So, if you're lucky, you may be vacationing in the Bahamas by staying in a lavish four/five-star facility without compromising on your budget!
With 700 scattered islands, 2,400 cays, and an adventurous history, the Bahamas is an explorer's and adventure seeker's paradise. There is no doubt that the islands have been a haven to nasty sea pirates and rum smugglers; however, there is also no denying the fact that the island offers countless options for tourists. From diving the blue holes of Andros, to kayaking the cays around the Exumas, to just sitting back and relaxing on the pristine beaches of Eleuthera, every island of the Bahamas has something or the other unique to offer to its visitors. Plus, the enormous natural bounty that the islands are blessed with will never let your spirits subside.
Bahamian Vacation on a Budget
The island boasts of being one of the most beautiful locations on earth, but it is equally true that a vacation or two to the islands can burn a big hole into your wallet. The place is definitely not one of those options, which can be considered while planning a vacation on a tight budget; however, careful planning can help save a considerable amount of money, even while having a wonderful tropical experience. Here's how you can plan an affordable vacation to the Bahamas.
Visit During the Off-season
► The islands are sunny 320 days a year; however, the peak season is between mid-December and mid-April. A large number of tourists also prefer to visit during the Christmas season.
► So, it is during this peak season that the airfares/accommodation charges are the highest, and there is not much scope of finding cheap bargains.
► The climate in the country is pleasant all through the year. However, the off-season is particularly a good time, especially for those traveling on a budget because the airfares and hotel rates are cheaper during this time.
Airlines/hotels cut down their prices in the off-season to attract more tourists, and hence, there are huge chances of finding really cheap deals, even in some of the world-class business hotels.
Tip: Browse the Internet for best bargains, and do not forget to compare prices quoted on reputed websites such as Orbitz and Travelocity. This will help you find the best possible deal, and save a substantial amount of money.
Stay at an All-inclusive Resort
► All-inclusive resorts have become popular forms of accommodations at major tourist destinations. This is because they offer extremely good deals, especially for budget-conscious people.
► The best thing about these all-inclusive facilities is that there are no "surprise" costs added to your final bill, as everything from accommodation to food and drinks to tips are already included in the price quoted.
► A number of activities such as water sports, excursions, etc., are also included in the price and so, you won't have to worry about them either. A point to note is that some of these resorts also offer some free activities for their guests. This is a big relief money-wise, as you can then indulge in activities such as sightseeing, snorkeling, jet skiing, etc., for free. So, if you are on a tight budget, look for a resort that offers free activities to make the most of your Bahamian experience.
Search the Internet, and/or consult a tour operator to find out about resorts which suit all your needs and fit exactly into your budget.
Tip: The so-called "budget hotels" are almost absent on the islands, so even if you are visiting in the peak season, it is advisable to book an all-inclusive resort, and you may crack a good deal if you book well in advance.
When and Where to Eat
► Restaurants in the Bahamas tend to tilt towards the expensive side. However, if you are determined to go to the local restaurants without busting your budget, it is advisable that you eat earlier in the day.
► Many major restaurants in the Bahamas tend to raise their prices at lunch/dinner hours, and so, if you want to eat at one of these places, do so well before the designated hours. You can, thus, save a good amount of money.
Moreover, if you are planning a daytime trip to a beach or park, it is more advisable to take your own food with you and avoid going to restaurants. Remember, the more popular the place, the pricier its facilities will be!
Tip: There are not many grocery stores on the islands; however, you can head to some of the food markets that are scattered across the neighborhoods, to buy snacks and treats for your picnic.
► If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, it is vital that you know exactly what your dining plan offers. Most Bahamian resorts offer four kinds of dining plans: (i) the European plan (only lodging and no meals); (ii) the American plan (three meals a day); (iii) the modified American plan (breakfast and either lunch or dinner); and (iv) the Continental plan (only breakfast). While the American plan is a little pricier than the others, it is still affordable for 'budget travelers' as it helps prevent spending extra bucks in restaurants.
► Transport is on an expensive side in the Bahamas, particularly if you are a budget traveler. While strolling the islands by foot is the best and the cheapest way to explore the islands, many tourists also go for bicycle rentals, which seem to be an affordable option.
► Many minibuses run across major tourists centers of the islands. Go for them, if you plan to commute between two distant locations. These are not cheap, but are still affordable. However, it is worth noting that the minibuses do not run at night.
Private transport such as taxis and car rentals are very, very expensive. So, opt for them only if it is absolutely necessary.
Tip: The Bahamian cabs are metered; however, more often than not, these are not turned on. Owing to this, the driver might demand an extravagant sum once you reach your destination. To avoid this hassle, make sure that you negotiate the fare before hiring the cab.
Tipping in the Bahamas
► All service workers in the Bahamas will expect tips from you. These include everyone from the bellboys to taxi drivers to porters.
Moreover, many major restaurants will charge you an additional 15% on your total bill amount as tip. So, make sure you consider this factor while planning your overall budget.
Tip: Because you will be charged an extra amount on your total bill, make sure that you carefully review the same before paying it.
Shopping and Taxes
► The fact is that the Bahamas is expensive. So, while you go on a shopping spree, be determined that you will stick to your budget. There are countless tourist traps on the islands, which will go on tempting you; however, self-control is the key.
► In order to stay within your budget, shop from duty-free stores. It is also vital to know the Customs' rules and regulations with regard to what and how much Bahamian liquors and luxury goods you are allowed to carry. Otherwise, you may end up paying a hefty sum as customs duty.
Furthermore, all travelers departing from here are entitled to pay the departure tax that must be paid in cash. Also, for all hotel stays, you will have to pay an extra 8% as hospitality tax while checking out. While most hotels include this in their quoted price, it is always better to ask.
Tip: The local currency is the Bahamian Dollar. However, the US Dollar is also accepted everywhere in the country. So, if you're a US citizen, you will not need to exchange your currency while paying any of the taxes mentioned above, or even while shopping.
Some More Tips
► If you are a party animal, purchase the entertainment/evening pass that will give you free access to the various high-end pubs and bars on the islands.
► Moreover, if you wish to go to a certain club, inquire in your hotel whether any discount passes for the same are available. Many such passes are often available upon request.
► If you love alcohol, sample some of the classic Bahamian rums. The bartenders will be more than happy to make you taste these drinks, for just a small sum of money.
► If you are a nature lover, do some nature trekking on the islands. While there are guided treks available, you can also do it on your own, which means that it is free of cost.
► Don't forget to take a trip in one of the Bahamian water taxis. While it may not be cheap, it is certainly a one-of-its-kind experience. You can visit several offshore islands and their neighboring cays.
So, if you still feel that a Bahamian vacation will leave you with an empty bank account, think again. A little planning and determination to stick to the budget will make your vacation an affordable and fulfilling experience!