The Bahamas are a wonderful place to visit. Whether you get there by cruise or by plane, you will undoubtedly be welcomed with enough excursions at your disposal to keep you busy non-stop.
Despite the fact that the Bahamas are in close proximity to the U.S., they still have their cultural differences that need to be respected. There are also a few things that Bahamians do differently that you should cognizant of while you are enjoying your travels. So to keep you in the loop, here are ten etiquette tips you should know before going to the Bahamas.
10 Pay Your Cab Upfront
In the Bahamas, the local cab drivers like to work on a trust etiquette. You will find that most cabs don't have a meter on their dashboard. This means that each cab drive you take is going to come at a different price. The good news is, you can negotiate your fare upfront. Make sure you do this before the cab driver takes off or you might find yourself with a hefty bill by the end of your ride.
9 Gratuities Are Included
Unlike U.S. restaurants, most restaurants in the Bahamas come gratuities already added to your bill. This saves you from having to calculate an appropriate tip from your server. However, keep in mind that not all restaurants do this. Make sure to take a good look at your receipt to see if gratuity is included. If not, an average tip should be anywhere from 15% to 18% of your total bill.
8 They Drive On The Left
If you're a seasoned traveler, you'll notice that the right side of the road is dominate in driving in most countries. Once you're in these tropical islands, you'll find that this is not the case here. Bahamians drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the left side of the vehicle. If you're used to the opposite, this can be a jarring first experience, so exercise caution if you're driving. Most roads int he Bahamas are well-lept, but there are some off-roads that may prove more difficult to navigate, especially when driving on the opposite side of the road.
7 Be Wary Of Fresh Fruits
While the Bahamas has done its due diligence in recent years to maintain an uncontaminated water supply, it's not exactly guaranteed like it is in America. That's why most visitors are warned not to eat fresh fruits and vegetables here.
Contaminated fruits washed in contaminated water is a recipe for disaster. You'll definitely see a plethora of fruit stands here, but unpeeled fruits and veggies will be your best bet. If not, use bottled water to wash your fruit so that you know it is safe to consume.
6 Bahamians Have A Great Sense Of Humor
Despite all of these "rules" about etiquette, it is important to note that Bahamians actually have a great sense of humor. Their amicable and welcoming demeanor is apparent as soon as you step foot on the island. Most of these hard-workers will have a smile on their face and they are full of quick wit to keep you entertained. This type of attitude is exactly why the Bahamas has become such a hotspot for tourism; they know all about proper hospitality and how to treat their guests.
5 Don't Use Their First Name
One mannerism that is noticeably different in the Bahamas is how they greet people. While they are always quick to greet you with a warm "hello," they stay away from a first name basis. If you pay attention, you will even notice that some of the locals will refer to each other by their surnames. First names are strictly saved for more intimate connections, so don't be confused if someone refers to you by your last name.
4 Swimsuits Are For The Beach
The Bahamas are popularized by their exquisite beaches, but remember to keep it casual around the rest of the island. While some of the beach boardwalk shops may look past someone coming in their swimwear, this is not typical attire to be worn in most public places.
To be safe, bring a coverup of some kind with you to the beach so that you can change or put on more clothes over your swimsuit. Like most places, swimsuits are meant for the beach - not a restaurant.
3 Arrive On Time
One thing that Bahamians are known for is their punctuality. The term "fashionably late" isn't a common practice because tardiness can be seen as rude. So if you have planned an excursion or have reservations for dinner, you absolutely will want to show up on time. With their top tier tourism industry, some establishments might be more forgiving if you are ten minutes late. But if you are in town visiting at a more local level, being late is not a good look to have.
2 Be Sensitive To Religion
The people of the Bahamas hold religion close to their hearts. These islands are predominately Christian, so be wary of what you say and how you act. Their faith is palpable in most places and it is not uncommon to hear people discussing their beliefs. Most Americans are taught not to discuss sensitive topics such as religion or politics, but as a general population, the people of the Bahamas take pride in their creed and don't shy away from expressing it.
1 Be Friendly
And above all else, the most important thing to remember when visiting the Bahamas is to be friendly. As mentioned, this is the default personality for the majority of Bahamians and it's common courtesy to extend your gratitude. The tourist industry has a major impact on their economy, but that doesn't mean they will bite their tongue when they're met with rude travelers. Also, keep in mind that the pace in the Bahamas is much more laid-back, so try not to get too anxious or frustrated if service moves a little slower than you're used to.