If you want to swim in the ocean, you have to make sure you stay beyond the buoy. There are also currents you have to be aware of. All the beaches have flags that show you how safe it is to swim in the ocean: Red Flag = dangerous conditions; Yellow Flag = be careful; Green Flag = go and enjoy swimming in the ocean
As a former British colony, the traffic drives on the LEFT side of the road in the Bahamas. When you arrive in Nassau, this is not immediately obvious, since almost all cars have the steering wheel on the left, plus many streets are one-way. I almost walked right in front of a bus on a 2 way traffic road, not paying attention, and not looking in the right direction!!
Also, there are many holes in the roads and sidewalks ( but they were working on them) so pay attention where you walk.
We noticed some people renting scooters and having problems with them. One woman ran into a wall ( she was ok) and the scooter people did not get to the beach any faster than we did walking. It certainly did not look safe to me and I would probably take a taxi instead. There is a lot of traffic in Nassau , too much for such a small island.
When I recently visited The Bahamas I brought along my young nephew to experience the place. Upon visiting we got situated into our room and chilled out for the night. The next morning before we went out to sea we cleaned up and got ready to leave when I released my little nephew had opened and brushed his teeth with Bulmax chafing cream. When I looked on the back of the tube it read "If consumed, contact poison will occur immediately. If consumed contact poison control at once." Obviously I was concerned and then It hit me that staying on this Island nation I did not know the protocol for Bahamian medical assistance. Upon calling several people I got connected to a hospital in Nassau which then patched me into a doctor in New Jersey who then told me that all is fine and that even if he swallowed it he would be fine. But the lesson from this is not what to do when you brush your teeth with Bulmax but what do you do when something bad happens.
1. Know who to call and where to go in the Bahamas. Remember people are laid back in the Bahamas and will be in no particular hurry to accommodate you when they could be chilling out.
2. Also, don't expect much medical help when you go there as the people I called where not concerned at all that my nephew was in danger (or so I thought). There seemed to be no poison control and what medical help there was did not even respond. With the exception of Nassau and Freeport medical attention to Western standards is to be desired. Be cognizant of the fact that if something happens a medical (and for that matter fire) staff will not be there front and center with the latest technology ready to help you out at the drop of a hat. So if your someone with allergies. Be sure to bring your medicine as people at Bahamian restaurants are not used to American style protocol when it comes to food.
This in mind, don't have a heart attack if something bad happens because you can easily be medically evacuated out of there by helicopter if the severity warrants it. And your never more than a stones throw from Miami. So put your mind at ease and enjoy.
Ciguatera is a poison that can occur in all fish with high mercury levels, predatory status, or lives upon a tropical reef in general.
5. Parrot Fish
7. And many more fish
The rule of thumb is, if the fish has a metallic look or is a predatory feeder on other fish that feed off the reef, then this fish would be a good candidate for Ciguatera. With the exception of Barracuda (which I do not recommend you eat unless your away from a real reef and on a steel one) many of these fish are excellent and usually safe to eat (especially grouper). But it may be advisable to stick with smaller fish rather than the large ones. But in accordance with that information, there is an old trick that's used to tell wether your fish contains this poison or not (though this is not FDA approved). Drop a little peice of the meat in an ant bed, and if the ants eat it (which they probablly will) fire up the grill and eat some fish. Chow!
For more detailed information on detection, symptoms, and treatment. Go to the website I have provided below which gives a general Q & A for the poison. But this is not the only web site. Just type in Ciguatera and you should find some useful information. Also the number below is a hotline for Aquatic Poison Control in Miami. If you get the symptoms of this poison (witch occur form 6-24 hours) get on a plane and head over to Miami. If you can get a dose of Mannitol within 2-3 days of your exposure. Then it will most likely flush out the toxins and will relieve you of all long term symptoms.
If you go with an experienced guide then you should have no problem with this, because they can sense when it's time to leave the water, or if you can stay. And, if you are familiar with water and its aquatic creatures, then this doesn't apply to you. But if this is your first time, then take the following precautions. (Of course those of you with kids added to the equation can prescribe these safety tips to your discretion.)
1. Nurse Sharks and Barracuda are common in these waters. If you go to The Bahamas and dive amongst its shores, then you are sure to bump into these creatures (Pictures 1 & 2). But please do not be afraid. These fish are scary and intimidating but it is very rare for people to be attacked by these creatures. Just use your intuition. You can usually find Nurse Sharks lazily sun bathing on the bottom of the sea floor or tucked up under a reef. As for Barracuda, they are very curious fish. They will usually follow anything metallic looking and will flock to you if you've got some tasty lobster on a spear. A Barracuda has a menacing face and is very, very, intimidating to look at on your first encounter. Just remember, stay calm and mind your own business. These fish will most likely move along when they get bored with you. And if you really get worried just remember, you can always get out of the water.
2. As for the other sharks, it's a different story. Once again every thing I say is circumstantial but for the most part, if you don't know much about sharks, then get out of the water or out of that area. When going snorkeling for fish and lobster, it's important for you to locate your fish, but not to get them when you first arrive to your reef (unless you're real good you shouldn't even consider fish, they are HARD to spear). Search for lobster which leave a less pungent blood trail and then go for the fish. I will be honest with you. You can get as many lobster as you like and no shark will usually come. But you just spear one Nassau Grouper and Blaaam! they are there (as you can deduce from this sentence shark encounters [excluding Nurse Sharks] are rare unless you're caught in this situation). Keep the fish on your spear not in your hand so the sharks won't bite your hand, and fend them from your catch with the point of your spear. Just remember the blood rule with sharks. 7 out of 10 times, if there is a lot of blood pouring out, the sharks will be there. But also remember this, take this warning only at face value. Certain circumstances call for certain actions. Just because you speared a fish doesn't mean all hell's broke loose. Just be vigilant.
It is important for you to realize that in The Bahamas' corral reefs are a real danger to your water vessel. If you go out on your own, make sure that you are well informed of the area, have sufficient charts, and are an experienced captain. I have grown up on the water and have been on the seas many times and still there are places in the bahamas that still can raise the hair on the back of my neck. Now I don't want you to be scared by this warning. For the most part you will have no problem boating through the Bahamian water ways. But it is advisable to follow these criteria I have set before you.
1. Have a guide show you around the first couple of days. Bahamian guides are some of the most friendly and laid back people around, and your almost guaranteed a good catch.
2. Have some nautical experience under your belt. You will not want to be a green horn at boating when you arrive to this place. The areas of The Bahamas are poorly marked and so sight navigation and memorization are crucial to a successful ride.
3. Under no circumstances should you drive out at night unless you are 100% familiar with the area. The difference between night driving and day driving are major. Though you may be coaxed into a night drive because of the great nightlife on the islands, it's best to party back on your home island.
Now that I have thoroughly convinced you not to boat in The Bahamas. I would now like to say that like everything, warnings can be blown out of proportion and out of context. In actuality, I sitting in my armchair thinking of how fond my memories are of The Bahamas. Don't let this detour you from going to The Bahamas. All you have to do, is take it slow 'till your familiar with the area, look for the brown spots (indicates a corral reef) and breaking water, and have fun.
THE DIAMOND CENTER
PURCHASING ANY JEWELRY FROM THE DIAMOND CENTER IS NOT RECOMMENDED !! THEY HAVE AT LEAST 2 LOCATIONS IN THE BAHAMAS, AND ARE NOT HONORABLE BUSINESS PEOPLE.
BASICALLY THEY IGNORE / ERASE YOU AFTER YOU BUY JEWELRY FROM THEM. THE STONE FELL OUT OF MY RING AFTER 3 SHORT DAYS. MANY EMAILS & PHONE CALLS MADE TO THE DIAMOND CENTER UPON RETURN BACK TO THE US, DUE TO THEIR LACK OF FOLLOWUP AND/OR CONCERN. THE RING WAS SHIPPED BACK TO THEM FOR REPAIR. THEY GAVE A BIG STORY ABOUT HOW A NEW MOLD WOULD NEED TO BE MADE TO REPAIR THE RING (??) & ACTED AS IF THEY WERE DOING ME A BIG FAVOR TO HONORABLY REPAIR AND/OR REPLACE IT. ULTIMATELY, AFTER WEEKS PASSED THEY ANNOUCED THEY LOST MY RING & REFUSED TO OFFER A REPLACEMENT RING OF EQUAL VALUE. THEY MADE THE DECISION TO JUST OUTRIGHT ISSUE ME A CREDIT.
TO THIS DAY, I WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MY RING.
The weather was bad when we tried the sub aquanauts trip. Many got sick afterwards. The rain made the buoys go up and down rapidly which affected the current of the water. This in turn affected the movement of the underwater scooter and the boat. Another person who was doing regular scuba diving in the same place got vertigo (sp). Try to avoid the month of June for trips like this.
If you are on a tight schedule like we were... build extra time in your outing because if there is a traffic accident on the only road that we found...it can take hours to clean up. Locals can be very creative with their driving skills.
Riding mopeds allowed us to manoeuvre around the cars.
One thing I must say about Nassau... there is no lack of access to marijuana. As soon as we stepped off our cruise ship, we were greeted by a local offering us a baggie of pot. It nearly scared me to death, but my husband just said, "Nah, man"
Everywhere we went, it seems there was someone offering drugs. (I don't really think we look like druggies, either... go figure)
Most cell phones will not work in the Bahamas. I heard from someone who was at a convention on Paradise Island and they said none of the 200 people there could use any of their cellphones with various different providers. OTOH, I sometimes hear that Verizon phones will work.
In any case, since 2002 no phone cards will work in the Bahamas except for BATELCO cards. You can't get any kind of rebate on the BATELCO card if you don't use it up.
Use the internet cafes and communicate that way - it's WAY, WAY cheaper.
When you see TONS of black folks on your cruise disembarking in Nassau, and not a ONE of them stop to get their hair braided by the dozen or so Bahama Mama Official Hair Braiders -- wouldn't that make you think , WHY!?!? White folks kill me some times! ; )
Check places where you are going to see the best places to walk or park. There has been people jumped getting out of their cars and robbed. Some people love to walk like me! Check the safest places if your planning a long walk. You might find yourself in not so good company along the path.
If you go snorkeling, WEAR LOTS OF SUNSCREEN, WEAR A T-SHIRT, AND DON'T STAY OUT TOO LONG! Despite my bouyance problems (I don't float, even with floatation devices), the fish and coral were so beautiful that I stayed out for two hours in only a swimsuit. Even with waterproof SPF 50 I ended up with a second degree sunburn over my entire back. NO FUN. I've since lost the picture taken of my bare back, but I'll just tell you that I looked like Elmo in a white bikini. By all means, if you get a chance to snorkel, do it, but be very careful. See my Hawaii page for my near-drowning snorkel experience.:-)
Bare Boating is a wonderful way to dive the Bahamas if the captain knows the waters. The hazard is do it with a people who are compatible since 4 to 10 days aboard a small boat with uncompatible persons is pure hell.
I stopped off at the Compass Point restaurant for lunch on 10/4/2011 and ordered the grilled fish of...more
PO Box N7550, Paradise Island, Caribbean
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I have stayed at Old Bahama Bay several times and I fall I fall in love every time! The place is...more