Some people like to research their vacation destination prior to leaving home like their vacation is a military expedition where all travel contingencies have been considered, plotted and preplanned.
I don’t travel that way. Instead, I ask lots of questions when I get there.
My first research into the Bahamas was sitting in Charlotte Airport and wondering if I should pick up some foreign currency.
1. Money – My smartphone told me that the US dollar is just like money over there on those drops of emerald isles across the sea from Florida. There is a Bahamian dollar and Bahamian currency notes. The U.S. dollar is the more widely used currency. In fact, you do not want to have any Bahamian currency notes since they are instantly devalued once you leave the islands and no longer worth the same as U.S. dollars.
I never saw any Bahamian currency during the week I was on the islands. All transactions were paid in US dollars and all change I received was US dollars.
2. Hotel Taxis – New Providence, the island name for Nassau in the Bahamas is loaded with taxis at the hotel resorts. The good news is the rate for a taxi is relatively fixed on point to point locations. This means you will not watch the meter roll by dollar after dollar as you sit in the notorious traffic of Nassau at rush hour trying to get from the airport to Paradise Island.
I left Atlantis on Paradise Island on a Friday afternoon heading to the Cable Beach hotel area where the Sheraton, Wyndham and Sandals resorts are located. The set fare is $20. The taxi ride was nearly an hour to travel ten miles. I gave the woman $25 since she was so informative about life on the island. She also avoided a head-on crash when we rounded a bend next to the seawall and only heard the fire engine siren at the last second as it was passing traffic in our lane. She drove off the road to avoid a head-on collision and didn’t flip the van into a ditch.
I rode four taxis on the island and none had a working seatbelt.
Airport to/from Paradise Island (Atlantis, One&Only Ocean Club, Comfort Suites, Best Western, Riu) = $32 + $1 bridge toll for two passengers. Additional passengers are $3 each.
Airport to/from downtown Nassau (Hilton) = $27.
Airport to/from Cable Beach (Sheraton, Wyndham, Sandals) = $18.
Cable Beach to/from Downtown Nassau = $15.
Cable Beach to/from Paradise Island = $20 + $1 bridge toll.
3. Hotel Taxes – The hotel taxes and fees in the Bahamas are among the highest I have seen in the world. I can’t figure out exactly what all the hotel taxes and fees are since I was master billed at the Atlantis Resort and did not get a receipt and I stayed on Cash & Points at the Sheraton Nassau.
Let me just show you an example of the taxes from a hotel booking at the Comfort Suites, Paradise Island.
The room rate for six nights is $1,218.
The taxes and fees associated with the six night stay is $434.64.
That is a 35.68% add-on in taxes and fees to the Comfort Suites room rate.
Atlantis sample bookings show a 25.35% tax and fees rate in addition to the room rate.
I heard many tourists complaining about the additional fees associated with hotel stays.
Insider Tip: Atlantis has the Aquaventure water park and guests staying at Atlantis receive complimentary admission to the rides and pools. Day passes are $120/adult and $80/child up to 12 years. Guests of the Comfort Suites Paradise Island, literally across the street from the Atlantis Resort, also receive complimentary admission to Aquaventure. A couple can stay at Comfort Suites and possibly have a room and waterpark admission for less than the cost of day passes to the park.
4. The Cost of Food – eating is expensive in the Bahamas. Plan on spending $100 per day per adult if you are eating and drinking three meals a day. Grocery shopping at a local market can cut the food expense considerably.
Atlantis does not have access to free water aside from tap water and bottles of water add up at $5 to $8 each.
Buffets are popular at the island hotels. There is a 15% tax on restaurant meals.
Alcohol drinks are typically $8 to $12.
Typical prices per adult after tax with low-end being Wyndham and Sheraton Nassau and Atlantis at high-end price:
- Breakfast buffet $20 – $30.
- Lunch buffet $28-$40.
- Dinner buffet $32 – $50.
5. Graycliff Airport Lounge, Nassau
The Diners Club sign caught my eye as I walked to my airport departure gate.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the Graycliff Lounge just outside my departure gate 41 at the Nassau Airport. The lounge is a $10 admission fee or $15 includes a drink.
I asked about Diners Club and I was told that I had a $20 credit. I spent 90 minutes in the lounge working on my computer and I finally got to try a Kalik Gold brand beer (7%) before leaving the Bahamas. Best of all was my Diners Club card membership provided lounge access and one free beer.
Graycliff Lounge provided the perfect end to my first vacation in the Bahamas.
Update: July 7, 2014 Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas is joining Marriott Autograph Collection.