The Bahamas is a country of 700 different islands, stretching southeast off the Florida coast. The islands differ physically: pine forests, white sandy beaches, limestone caves, lush plantations, bonefishing flats and the world's third largest barrier reef. They differ historically: Indigenous Arawak Indians, Seminole Indians from Florida, Eleutheran Adventurers from England, post-Revolutionary planters from Carolina and pirates all settled here.
Even Columbus paid a visit in 1492.
Because each island retains its individual character, each has something unique and unexpected to contribute to an island vacation. There are islands so secluded, only the lighthouse keeper has a telephone. Islands with everything from casino to golf course. Islands for the country-club set, where tennis overlooks mile-long beaches. Islands bustling with colonial charm. Islands for frogman and islands for fisherman.
Even islands have islands- a sail from nearly any beach can become a voyage of discovery.
All U.S. citizens must have a passport when traveling by air to or from Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico.
Citizens of Canada, Mexico and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda also must have a passport or other designated secure document to enter the U.S. Passports are required for land crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders with the U.S. and for cruise passengers returning to the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada or Bermuda. Reconfirm travel-document requirements with your carrier prior to departure.
Languages: English, some Creole (among Haitian immigrant population).
Predominant Religions: Christian (Protestant, Roman Catholic); some Obeah (African-based religion) in the Out Islands.
Time Zone: 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-5 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is observed early April-late October.
Voltage Requirements: 120 volts.
Telephone Codes: 242, country code;
Nassau: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, P.O. Box N-3701, Nassau, Bahamas. Phone 242-302-2000. Toll-free 800-224-2627. Fax 242-302-2098. http://www.bahamas.com.
Grand Bahama: Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board, P.O. Box F-40251, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. Phone 242-352-8044. Fax 242-352-2714.
Canada: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, 6725 Airport Road, Suite 202, Mississauga, ON L4V 1V2. Phone 905-672-9017. Toll-free 800-677-3777. Fax 905-672-2092.
U.S.: Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board, 210 N. University Drive, Suite 300, Coral Springs, FL 33071. Phone 954-796-3555. Toll-free 800-422-7466. Fax 954-796-3250.
U.S.: Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board, 1200 S. Pine Island Road, Suite 700, Plantation, FL 33324. Phone 954-888-5907. Fax 954-236-0733
Canada: High Commission for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, 50 O'Connor St., Suite 1313, Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2. Phone 613-232-1724. Fax 613-232-0097.
U.S.: Embassy of the Commonwealth of Bahamas, 2220 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20008. Phone 202-319-2667. Fax 202-319-2668.
Foreign Embassies serving the BahamasCanada: Canadian Consulate, Shirley Street Shopping Plaza, P.O. Box SS-6371, Nassau, Bahamas. Phone 242-393-2123. Fax 242-393-1305.
U.S.: U.S. Embassy, Mosmar Building, Queen Street, P.O. Box N-8197, Nassau, Bahamas. Phone 242-322-1181. http://nassau.usembassy.gov.
What to wear
Although many locations are generally informal, Queen Victoria's influence is still felt. Unless you're at the beach or the pool, walking around in a swimsuit isn't appropriate. Casual, summer-weight clothing should be worn.
Make sure you take comfortable footwear for walking—the sidewalks get hot enough to make you uncomfortable in thin-soled shoes. Don't forget a hat or sunscreen to protect against sun exposure. A jacket or sweater may be needed on cooler winter nights (December-February).Dress conservatively if you plan to attend church: Shorts for men are frowned upon, and women should cover their shoulders. Wear a jacket and tie or a suit when attending a business meeting. Jackets for men and dresses or nice slacks for women are typical attire in the casinos and some better restaurants, especially in Nassau and Lucaya.
When you make dinner reservations, ask about the dress code.