Enjoying the Bahamas - Islands of Paradise
Last week we were in beautiful Cuba and this week we traveled on to paradise: the Bahamas. When you think of the Bahamas you may automatically think of beautiful beaches, swimming among fish and staying in luxurious hotels. That is also exactly what we experienced here in the ten days we stayed. Do you come along with us for ten days in paradise?
The flight from Cuba to the Bahamas was with Bahamasair. This is a small airline and our plane was also one of the smallest we have flown with. Still, it was a well-kept flight where we received free bottles of water and chips. After an hour of flying, we had already landed in Nassau. The second largest island in the Bahamas and also the most touristy. The people of the Bahamas live off tourism and it shows. The airport was nice and there were people dressed in Southern costumes welcoming us. You can feel you’re on holiday!
As easy as things were at the airport, the border control was rather strict when we arrived. The lady behind the customs desk asked us several times where we were from, where we were going and some more personal info. Quite an interrogation. It felt like we were suspected of something. She also did not understand that we did not carry cash with us. Never before have we entered a country (outside Europe) with the local currency. We always withdraw cash at the airport itself and it always works out fine. This woman had little faith in it and thought we were weird. Eventually she let us go and we, as always, just collected cash at the airport.
In the arrival hall of the airport, we immediately saw a big fancy information desk of our hotel. That only predicted luxury, luxury and more luxury. Once we arrived at the hotel after the giant driveway, it was also immediately clear that this was no ordinary hotel. Our resort was by far the largest and most imposing on the entire island. The first floor was taken up by a huge casino and some fancy restaurants and luxury brand retail chains. At the reception was a huge aquarium with exotic fish. Not to mention the impressive garden with swimming pools. But we’ll get to that later. We had imagined a beautiful hotel, but we couldn’t have dreamed of it being so beautiful.
The Bahamas attracts mostly American tourists. This is not surprising since the islands are relatively close to America. It is the ideal location for a luxurious vacation or wedding abroad. It was if we were right back in America. Certainly the large casino at our hotel reminded us of our time inLas Vegas. Also the restaurants and certain habits, reminded us of America. It was nice to imagine ourselves exactly back in America, but it’s also a shame that this place didn’t have its own vibe. We had secretly hoped for that.
It is normal but also unfortunate that this resort is only focused on money. They want your money and that’s obvious. It makes sense that they more or less take advantage of tourists on vacation, but we-and other hotel guests-felt that the resort was overpriced. The rooms were expensive, but of course you know that in advance when you book. But what really makes this hotel so expensive are the additional costs. For example, they charge $20 every day for the service of cleaning your room, even when you want the room not be cleaned.
Not only the rooms, but also the restaurants were extremely expensive. We did not manage to stay under a budget of $50 per meal for the two of us. And we certainly didn’t pick the most expensive restaurants. So we had an avarage daily budget of $100. Only for lunch and dinner, activities or drinks in between not included. We bought breakfast in the local store but this too was expensive compared to Belgium. For example, a bread costs $4. Everywhere they charge for service as well. So you certainly don’t need to tip anymore since the service charge on restaurant is $10 on average. It was already clear that this was going to be one of our most expensive trips ever.
Enjoying the Bahamas
Of course we came to The Bahamas to enjoy ourselves and worrying about money is not part of that. We agreed not to spend too much on snacks and drinks in between. And it went fine! Water was free at the hotel and you could also get fruit. And three meals a day is also quite enough of course. It was time to enjoy!
The first days
The first few days were a bit overwhelming since there is so much to see at the resort. There were about six pools, dozens of restaurants and bars, and a wide range of (water) activities. So we chose to spend the first few days testing out the different pools. Our favorites? The cave with giant aquarium where sharks swam and the large pool with jacuzzi that was surrounded by palm trees. In the evening, we ventured to the casino for a gamble. We won $30 once but immediately spent it again so we didn’t actually win anything, other than a few hours of fun!
The next few days were devoted to the beach and the sea. We tried paddle-boarding, but it was not a success. Snorkeling worked out better for us. And because we really got the hang of it, we booked a tour to go snorkeling in the ocean. We boarded a catamaran and sailed across the clear blue ocean. At a huge coral reef we went snorkeling. Crazy to think that before this trip Sigrid didn’t even dare to swim in the sea and now she was swimming in the depths of the ocean among the fish! We spotted some special colorful fish and beautiful corals. Unfortunately, there is little usable footage of this because our waterproof smartphone case did not work as planned.
What we were really looking forward to was being able to visit different islands. The island, Nassau, where our hotel was located, didn’t have much to offer outside of the cozy downtown. We had wanted to go to the island of Exuma. This is the island where there are piglets swimming. Unfortunately, the tours to this place were not only extremely expensive but also full every day. So no pigs, but a nice tour to Rose Island. An island an hour and a half sail from Nassau. You’ll also encounter some beautiful islands along the way, such as Paradise Island where the world’s richest celebrities have villas. There is nothing to do on Rose Island itself but you are really here for the view. Enjoy the pearly white beach or swim in the clear blue sea. Or find unique shells. That’s all it should be on a sunny afternoon. Life can be beautiful!
This post was written before the latest developments in the Bahamas. In the previous paragraph we tell you that we booked a trip to Rose Island and also went snorkeling. Five days after we went snorkeling here, however, a horrific event occurred. In which a young girl was attacked by a shark.
An American family went snorkeling at the exact same spot as us. They were staying at the same hotel as us, perhaps at the same time as us, and booking their tour at the same hotel. Like us, they went snorkeling near Rose Island (the island you see in the photo below). Unfortunately, things were not as peaceful as when we were here.
The family’s 21-year-old daughter was bitten by a shark and died from her injuries. The family had to witness this terrible scene. We are therefore deeply shocked by this terrible event. And we are also angry. Angry at the organization for leaving us ignorant about the shark season. They didn’t tell us anything about that at all. On the contrary, when we hesitated to go into the sea they even laughed that there are no sharks in the water. It is now also absolutely not recommended to go snorkeling at that spot anymore.
We definitely want to pass this information along because at first we were so positive about this place but now we think completely the opposite. We had fun at the time, but thinking about what happened, and what could have happened to us, we cannot help but say that it is irresponsible to go snorkeling near Rose Island. So do not do this under any circumstances!
Enjoying the Bahamas
At first we thought that ten days of “doing nothing” would bore us after a while. But at this resort there was so much to see and do that we were not bored for a minute. The various pools, water activities and excursions will keep you busy for a few days. We even spent a few hours in the gym every other day! So there is plenty to do to keep you busy, but the cost makes you unable or unwilling to stay there any longer. And that’s a shame. Consequently, many people we spoke to only stayed for a weekend or a week.
Positive or negative?
There are countless positive aspects to a vacation in the Bahamas, but we are almost certain that we will never travel here again. Especially because of the price tag. It is and always will be a luxury trip and you just can’t do it less expensive. Even if you were to stay in an Airbnb and cook for yourself. Life is expensive there. Furthermore, we found it unfortunate that everything is focused on tourism and money. Then again, a very positive aspect of the Bahamas are the people. Both locals and tourists we found pleasant and friendly. Also very helpful. Residents will immediately come to your aid if they see that you are unsure about something or could use help. We also got to know some interesting and lovely people from America who gave us additional tips about our upcoming trip. A nice extra to a beautiful trip!
Where are you from?
It was clear that they had not often, or perhaps never, met a Belgian here. In the cab, at the hotel, at the airport, everywhere we went we were asked “Where are you from?“. Many locals never heard of Belgium before. It felt like we came from a distant and tropical land. Although we felt like an outsider on several occasions, we were welcomed warmly and there were few barriers between ourselves and the locals. Both linguistically, the people here speak fluent English, and in terms of prosperity, we were on the same level. This makes traveling in a country a lot easier and perhaps more enjoyable for many. It certainly wasn’t a big adjustment or culture shock.
To go or not to go after all?
If you ask us whether you should go to the Bahamas or not, we have to say that it depends from person to person. We certainly would not do it again despite it being a wonderful destination. If you are looking for paradise, here it can be found! But that may not fully outweigh the cost. At least, that’s our opinion. If you don’t have a budget or money is not a factor, we can definitely recommend this destination. We can also highly recommend the islands of the Bahamas for a one-time luxury trip, such as a honeymoon. We realize that this is a very unique location. We thoroughly enjoyed it!