With its breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters, The Bahamas are one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid eyes on. An estimated 5.5 million people visit the Bahamas yearly, the majority of which come from the United States.
I had the opportunity to spend the last week in Exuma, one of the many islands in the Bahamas. I cruised along the Carribean Sea, swam with the pigs, sharks, turtles and stingrays and spent some time talking with the locals. There was many things I learned during my visit. Here’s 10 things you might not know about The Bahamas.
They drive on the left side of the road. In the Bahamas they drive of the left side of the road. There are very few road signs, little to no speed signs and some of the locals seem to drive in the middle of the road. There are also one ways that aren’t very clearly marked that we encountered in Georgetown so be on the lookout.
Some tips a local gave me: Drive at your own pace and if you see a pothole and there’s another car coming don’t try to dodge it. Slow down, wait for the car to pass and then go around it.
There’s lots of potholes. The main roads are ok, however, the backroads look like someone just came through with a plow and made a pathway. The people that own that particular piece of land are in charge of keeping it up. The government is not responsible, therefore, they are not very well maintained.
There is massive pot holes on some of these roads and when it rains the potholes fill with water. Sometimes the water spans across the entire road. We drove 45 minutes to get to Coco Plum Beach only to find the road leading into it was flooded out. It takes a while to master the roads during the day and night time is a whole different story. Use caution when venturing out at night.
Almost everything is imported. Nearly everything on your dinner plate is imported to the island. Not much is grown on the island. Shipments come once or twice a week to replenish supplies. Even most of the rental cars come from Japan.
You can’t escape the bugs. They are everywhere. There’s sand flies by day and no-see-ums and mosquitoes that come out at night. Dinner is usually served with a side of flies so make sure you cover your food at restaurants. They will swarm all over it. Bring bug spray or baby oil to the beach to keep the sand flies away.
At your rental or house make sure you don’t leave food out. I recommend putting fruits and veggies in the refrigerator so you don’t leave them out on the counter exposed. And check the water in your Keurig. Gnats in our morning coffee was a regular thing.
It’s expensive. The Bahamas is one of the most expensive places to live. It’s also expensive to visit. Expect to pay $10 and up for a beer or cocktail. I found groceries to be nearly triple the price in the Bahamas compared to U.S. I paid $6 for a carton of eggs at one grocery store.
They have swimming pigs. Pig Beach is home to the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas. They live on Pig Island also known as Big Major Cay in Exuma. The pigs were brought to the island by farmers decades ago to get rid of the smell on Stanley Cay Island. The pigs began swimming to the shore to be fed by the farmers and thus the swimming pigs became a thing. They are now a major tourist attraction and even have their own veterinarian.
There’s an island full of iguanas. Located about 85 miles south of the capital of Nassau is Bitter Guana Cay otherwise known as Iguana Island. It is home to many endangered Bahamian Rock Iguanas. This endangered species has a population of less than 5,000 in the wild. They can grown to four feet in length.
These iguanas sensed the vibration of the boat and all come out of hiding as soon as it pulled up. I’m sure they were looking for food. If you visit make sure you bring bread as they will come right up to you. Use caution if you try and pet or handle them. Their claws can do some serious damage which I witness first hand.
Fun fact: Nicolas Cage bought this island only to find out it was infested with iguanas. The government now owns it and it is a major tourist attraction.
Hitchhiking is a thing here. Need a ride in Exuma? Just start walking and give a hand signal and a someone is bound to pick you up sooner or later. Locals will signal they are in need of a ride and vehicles will stop and pick them up. They’ll ride in the back of trucks too. To signal they need to be let out, they will knock on the back of the window.
Movies have been filmed at an underwater cave here. This hidden gem took us by surprise. Located about 80 miles from Nassau and close to Pig Island this island, Thunderball Grotto was made famous by the James Bond Thunderball film. It’s an underwater cave full of exotic marine life and brightly colored coral. You have to swim underwater to get to it and it even has hidden entrances. It’s one of the best places to snorkel. Never Say Never Again, Splash and Into the Blue also have scenes that were filmed here.
There’s over 700 islands. The Bahamas consists of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays. There’s 16 major islands, 30 of which are inhabited. Some are privately owned by the rich and famous. The Exumas, where we stayed is made up of more than 360 islands and cays. Great Exuma, the largest of the cays spans approximately 37 miles in length.
They rely heavily on tourism. The Bahamian economy is driven by tourism. The economic strength and growth of the country is heavily dependent on tourism.
The most popular seafood on the island is conch. If you like seafood make sure you try the conch salad. Other popular foods include conch fritters, boiled fish, peas ‘n rice and baked mac ‘n cheese. For dessert you must try the rum cake which is sold in souvenir shops and bakeries. Sky juice and rum and punch are popular drink choices.
Have you visited the Bahamas before? Let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!