Bahamas: Simply Stunning But So Overpriced & Overrated
When you think of the Bahamas you might conjure up a Bounty bar or Bacardi advert of soft white sand beaches with stunning aquamarine water; perhaps identify with it as a backdrop location for many of the James Bond films. It might also feature in your conversation down the pub on a Saturday night as a place where you wish you were if you won the lottery. You wouldn’t be wrong on any of those thoughts – but score extra points with the lottery win as that would be most welcome by any of us before visiting the Bahamas!
While the background beauty of the Bahamas is abundant; around some of the islands, especially in the Exumas, it’s the water colour that wins the prize for being so stunning. The sea is absolutely mesmerising with a whole pantone selection of blues, greens and turquoise to be witnessed while sailing from bay to bay.
However, for us, the cost of cruising and general living was so exorbitant, it put a dampener on the whole experience.
To cruise the Bahamas you need to buy a permit, which lasts three months at a cost of $300 for a 30ft plus boat with up to three passengers on board. Permits are valid for two visits within a 90-day period and include a fishing licence. And then there’s the small print…to check-in at some marina’s you may need to pay extra for the customs officer to visit and, while a departure tax isn’t quoted, we had to pay $75 when we checked-out. Extortionate!
Go to a bar or restaurant and you’re looking at an average of $7 for a local beer; visit during happy hour and you’ll get a couple of dollars off the price if you’re lucky. Want to drink at home? Buy a case of local beer in a liquor store and you’re still looking at $2 a can (that’s about four times the price of a can of local beer in the Med)!
We don’t eat expensively and in most places like to sample a local dish, usually from the ‘special’s’ menu which isn’t normally overly priced. But a meal out for us in the Bahamas, with one meal often being a simple burger, there was little change from $100.
And the price hikes don’t stop there. In the Exumas, expect to pay $5 per bag of rubbish that you wish to get rid of. While, in the Abacos the larger towns will happily avail you of your garbage without charge. Whoop whoop. Oh and don’t bother about recycling; like many Caribbean islands they just don’t seem to care.
For those not on a boat. If you want to have that holiday-of-a-lifetime in the Bahamas, you’d be wise to opt for an all-inclusive resort. It would pay to spend a little bit more up front and to know you can eat and drink to excess rather than scrimp and save on it.
While there are many villas with private pools to rent in stunning locations across the islands, even a self-catering holiday will set you reeling as the food costs in supermarkets are exorbitant. Water comes in at an average £3 a gallon (the most we were quoted was $10 a gallon!); prepare to pay $1 an egg, $6 for a small bag of salad, $4 each for bread and milk, while a packet of Oreo biscuits is a mega $10.
On Two Drifters, we set about making the most of what we could create on board and the likes of loaves and baguettes of bread, wraps, muffins, scones and cakes were all homemade for a fraction of the price. We’re most thankful for the cooking skillset we developed from our Atlantic crossing. And with a few self-caught lobster or grouper and Skipper’s own recipe rum punch we soon realised that we could enjoy a better meal at a fraction of the price while anchored up in the most fabulous surroundings. Now that was where we did do well.
The only other fly in the ointment…literally, was the staggering amount of mosquitos and ‘no-see-em’ bugs which came out in the hot, humid weather to take a bite out of us. That and that fact that we were regularly hunted down by stingrays while swimming and also the occasional nurse shark. Oh and not forgetting the swimming pigs at Staniel Cay!
So am I selling the Bahamas to you yet? Don’t get me wrong, we stayed for seven weeks and thoroughly enjoyed our exploration of the Exumas and Abacos. Although would give Nassau an extra wide berth next time!
Navigating in such shallow waters has been a somewhat neve racking, but exhilarating sailing experience. You really need to know your boat and what you draw down to the very last inch. Running aground was a common occurrence for us and our sailing friends. On one occasion we ended up on a sand bank that had us high and dry for nine hours, reinforcing the old adage of ‘never attempt a shallow cut on a falling tide with the sun in your eyes’.
We have relished the abundance of paddle-boarding opportunities as the bays were so calm to explore on our boards. Molly has loved, loved, loved, all the wonderful beaches and it’s done wonders for her swimming ability scampering off the beach into the crystal-clear waters. Skipper has snorkelled to his heart’s content and is never happier than when in water skulking after a fish or looking for lobster for our supper. Personally, I have felt like my wings were clipped, so much gorgeous warm water to swim in, but so many dangers lurking around the corner, and I had to learn not to swim alone and never first thing in the morning when the sharks are at their most prevalent.
Would we go back? Yes, if we won the lottery! As far as visiting again on the boat, we may pass through en route and use it as a pit stop, but we think there’s far better islands out there to explore that are just as beautiful for a fraction of the cost.
© Two Drifters Travel