Cheap vacation in the Bahamas – impossible?

Let’s say it out loud: the Bahamas are expensive but some islands are more than others. There are also some hacks you need to know to make sure you are spending your money wisely. Planning a cheap vacation in the Bahamas is challenging, but possible. The economy of the country is strongly based on tourism. Besides, the main way for the locals to earn some bucks is offering services to tourists as well. Don’t be surprised if the locals offer you a ride and then suggest to drop you off at their friends’ food cart.

Cheap vacation in the Bahamas – is it a yeti?!

When you realize the Bahamas get more expensive than New York City, planning the trip gets stressful. However, this shouldn’t stop you from visiting this paradise land, especially if you’ve been dreaming about it. First and foremost – beaches, sun, and views are free! Make sure you are smart at your planning game and you’re gonna rock a cheap vacation in the Bahamas for sure!

Last year I got lucky to go on a four-day long weekend getaway to Nassau, and this year I decided I must share this experience with my mom. I made a short video from last year’s trip in February. Dreamy, isn’t it?

My goal is not to come back completely broke and still enjoy the experience. Below are some of the tips that I learned last year and now, by planning my trip in advance:

1. Plan ahead.

It’s way easier to talk about controlling your expenses if you already have a plane ticket. These get really pricy if you don’t plan much ahead. I suggest that you research your flight two seasons ahead using an app such as skiplagged to find the best prices before you request your time off.

Me hanging out with a shark
Me hanging out with a shark

2. Stay with the locals.

As you may already know, New Providence is the most affordable island to seek accommodation. I found that the cheapest way to stay in the Bahamas is renting an Airbnb apartment. In my experience, it is the safest and most affordable way to stay on the island. Last year my friend and I rented a hotel room via Airbnb ($100/ double room), but this year I decided to rent an entire apartment a bit further from the downtown, which came down to approx. $65 per night for the entire apartment, which I consider a good price for Nassau. I will follow up to let you know how it was! If you’re new to Airbnb you can join it here.

A happy piggy in the Exumas

3. Commute with the locals.

This one can be a pain and if you don’t stay in the downtown you may feel a little lost. Luckily, there is a public transportation system that the locals use, which is quite inexpensive ($1.25 per person). It’s called a jitney: a small bus that travels on several routes through the city. The most popular jitney rides along Bay Street. It will typically stop if you are standing at a bus stop, and you will need to pay cash to the driver.

4. Avoid money extorting taxi drivers.

However, jitneys don’t operate after 6 pm, and if you’re planning to stay out late, you’re going to need a taxi. Rogue taxi drivers are common in Nassau and I’d suggest that you avoid them. If you really need one, look for licensed taxis and even if you find one, make sure you agree on the price before you get in the car, as the drivers typically don’t use a meter. However, the best option for you is to ask your host for a phone number to his local trusted taxi driver you can call for a ride if necessary.

Bahamas on a budget
A happy piggy in the Exumas

5. Research your activities and book ahead.

Both last year and this year I am going to want to see the swimming pigs in the Exumas, as well as the sharks, stingrays, iguanas and all that jazz. Some of you may want to take some romantic pictures on the pink sand beaches with your loved one or explore multiple other attractions that the beautiful Bahamas have to offer. Last year, I didn’t plan in advance and I agreed to the trip my friend found. We ended up paying $360 per person for a one day trip, which was, in fact, unforgettable, but I will also never forget the price. This year I did my research in advance and booked a one-day trip with a 10% discount for $220. Still a lot, but $140 is more than a half of it!

Me and an iguana 🙂

6. Don’t buy souvenirs at the Straw Market.

The silliest way to spend money on vacation is by buying souvenirs: a $30 straw hat (because you forgot one), $45 poor quality sunglasses (ditto), $10 shell necklace your child could’ve made themselves, some nicknacks you will put on your shelf and never even dust it. Definitely go to the Straw Market to admire the local creations, but take a shitload of photos as souvenirs instead.

Bahamas on a budget
Enjoy the dreamy landscapes. They are free!

7. Avoid mediocre eateries.

Trust me guys, no matter how hard the cook tries, there are some yucky food spots in the center of Nassau. Eat at your Airbnb and splurge on a dinner at a better-rated place. I recall having some really sad seviche for $15 which I didn’t end up eating at all. It may seem inexpensive, but it will add up and leave you dissatisfied – so better bring some snacks for lunch and get dinner at a place that has a good rating online. Throughout the day enjoy fresh fruit for snacks and make sure to drink tons of water.

8. Enjoy free activities.

Nassau has a lot to offer for free, and you really don’t have to pay for activities. I would avoid splurging on beach photoshoots, pricy drinks, going shopping for designer clothing on Bay Street and so on. If you’re out of ideas for free activities, see below for some examples.

  • Beaches, of course! Put the Junkanoo beach and Cabbage beach on your to-do list, bring a hat, a towel, sunscreen, some snacks and lots of water to drink, and enjoy the summer!
  • Go for a walk along Main Street in the downtown. Just make sure to avoid unnecessary purchases on souvenirs you don’t need.
  • Walk up the Queen’s Staircase.
  • Hang out by the pool with a book. Not every day has to be crazy active – after all, you’re on vacation!

I hope this list was helpful to you and I will make sure to update you when I’m back from my vacation in September! Also, check out my experience traveling to Quebec!

This piglet seemed quite happy. You will too! :)
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  • alejandra

    Hi pretty! What an amazing place:) I discovered your blog and I really like it!!!
    Do you want to follow each other?

  • Josefine

    This is so cool! I never thought about going to the Bahamas – simply because I thought it was too expensive. It’s great to see that there are ways to make it possible on a bit of a budget 🙂 It looks beautiful and fun so I might have to reconsider!!

  • Dominik Kropacek

    Ahh I’ve always wanted to go to the Bahamas! Especially seeing the pigs by the beach. I truly feel like there’s no other place in the world that offers this. I love that you said commute, eat, and travel with the locals! It’s chepaer but also gives you the true experience!

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