If you’ve got your heart set on a trip to the Caribbean complete with a luxury vacation in the Bahamas, the next question is, can you afford it? That doesn’t mean however that the islands of this coral-based archipelago don’t cater to visitors desirous of a more budget conscious holiday experience; if you want to spend less and still enjoy a holiday in the Bahamas, you’ll just need to do a bit more planning to avoid spending more than you intended.
Before setting off to the Bahamas, know that it is the third most expensive country in the world to live in, according to a survey by Numbeo. If you’re not staying at an all-inclusive resort, expect to be paying up to US$10 for a beer and $US18 for a cocktail.
In this article, we’ll discuss what the high cost of living in the Bahamas means to visitors to this territory, how the Bahamas is compared to other Caribbean islands, and what you can do to save money on your Bahamas vacation.
How expensive is the Bahamas?
Most Caribbean islands tend to be more expensive than the United States for things like shopping, dining, accommodation, and more. Many visitors to the region consider vacations to this part of the world a once in a lifetime opportunity, or a once in a while endeavor, especially a luxury vacation in the Bahamas, with experiences to be gained that are not likely to be forgotten anytime soon. You’re in paradise after all!
If you choose to vacation in the Bahamas, you’ll likely notice right away how much more expensive it is to eat out, and even to pick up select items from the store. This is exactly why many visitors who vacation in the Bahamas choose to go on an all-inclusive vacation, which includes unlimited food and (alcoholic) beverages as part of your booking. Sandals Resorts for instance, offer couples looking for a romantic getaway in the Bahamas unlimited soft drinks, beers, amazing wines, exotic cocktails and premium liquors. Even the mini fridge in the room is stocked and free to use! Considering the fact, you can expect to pay as much as 10 USD for a beer and 18 USD for a cocktail at regular resorts/hotels in the Bahamas, going all-inclusive might not be such a bad deal after all! Even gourmet breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between snacks are all included at the restaurants on-property (Sandals Royal Bahamian features 10 restaurants, Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma features 11 restaurants).
How expensive is the Bahamas compared to the US?
The higher cost of living in the Bahamas are due to the fact that most goods need to be imported, and all of these items are taxed, when they arrive and clear customs. Unlike the US, there is no income tax in the Bahamas. Instead the government makes its money by taxing imported goods, as well as charging value added tax (VAT) for goods and services when they are sold by vendors.
Eating out for example, tends to be at least 20-25% more expensive in the Bahamas than in the US. In fact, the prices for decent breakfast and lunch options may shock you; in some instances, you may pay double for the same sort of meal you’d find for breakfast or lunch in the US. In addition, most restaurants charge 15% gratuity (automatically by law), making all of these good reasons to venture out on an all-inclusive vacation in the Bahamas. Judge for yourself:
Love to drink a beer on the beach or at the swimming pool? Enjoy a local Kalik or Sands beer or try the Pirate Republic craft beer. You’re unlikely to be disappointed on a luxury vacation in the Bahamas!
How expensive is the Bahamas compared to other Caribbean destinations?
The Bahamas offer a tropical paradise that is hard to match. The islands boast incredible white sand beaches, tropical palm trees and turquoise waters. Snorkeling and scuba diving are amazing, and you can expect a variety of tropical fish and turtles to pass your path. Looking for an alternative Caribbean paradise with a lower cost of living?
Going on a tropical getaway in Jamaica can be up to 40-50% less expensive than in the Bahamas. For that reason, Jamaica is a great alternative for vacationers who like to spend a bit less while traveling. The Bahamas beats out Jamaica for its closeness to the United States (45 minutes from Miami), but keep in mind Montego Bay in Jamaica is only 1 hour and 30 minutes away from US shores.
Like to know how Jamaica matches up with the Bahamas? Read our ‘Jamaica vs Bahamas’ article for a comprehensive overview!
Islands like Saint Lucia and Grenada are also good alternatives where the Dollar goes a longer way than in the Bahamas. Saint Lucia and Grenada match Jamaica in having prices that are about 40-50% lower than that of the Bahamas, but there’s a little more travel time (and costs) associated with these islands. Saint Lucia is 3 hours and 29 minutes away from Miami by plane, and it takes 3 hours and 34 minutes to get to Grenada.
Do these destinations live up to what the luxury vacation in the Bahamas has on offer? It’s up to you to decide!
How to keep down expenditures while in the Bahamas?
The Bahamas on a mid-range budget
- Go for an all-inclusive resort which gives you the most bang for your buck. While the common perception is that all-inclusive resorts can be costly, not so much when you take into account all the things that are included with your stay! Things to look out for: Are airport transfers included? How many restaurants and bars are available on-property? Does the resort include high-quality premium brand liquors? Are water sports included? Is golf included? Are snorkeling trips and scuba diving trips included? Is entertainment included in the evenings? Does the resort give you access to private offshore islands?
What can you expect to be included at an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas? Read ‘What Does All-Inclusive Mean? Answering All Your Questions.’.
- Use the amenities provided by your accommodation and take full advantage of watersports equipment use (e.g. stand-up paddle boards, snorkeling gear and kayaks). This can help you save money as opposed to searching for the same things elsewhere.
- Ask about joining other groups when heading out on excursions to save on transportation cost. The resort staff will likely be able to help you plan.
The Bahamas on a low budget
- Do your research so you find the best spots to go to, and don’t waste money trying ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ attractions or restaurants. There are some decent takeaway restaurants on the islands with lower prices and good food. The fish fry restaurants like the ones in Arawak Cay in Nassau are also a great option.
- Local buses in the Bahamas are known as jitneys, and you can use them to get around in the daytime if you’re not heading too far out. This can save you from spending on a taxi or rental. You can also alternate taxi and jitney, depending on where you’re headed.
The Bahamas on a shoestring budget
The Bahamas can be expensive, but you’ll have the time of your life!
- If you’ve saved up enough to make it to the Bahamas (but barely) and want to stick to your budget, try to make use of your contacts in the islands if you have any. People with friends or acquaintances living in the islands may consider a bit of ‘Couch Surfing’. If that isn’t possible, opt for an economical guest house, preferably one that includes at least one meal a day.
- Go grocery shopping and cook your own meals. Check out one of the Supervalue supermarkets, where you’ll be able to find most things you need. Solomon’s Freshmarket is a bit more varied than other local grocery stores, but it’s also a bit more expensive. Keep in mind though, that no matter where you go, grocery shopping in the Bahamas is not cheap.
- If you’re a drinker, buy beers by the pack or buy a bottle of local rum and chasers, rather than spending all your money at a bar.
- If you don’t mind the occasional unhealthy option, pick one of the fast-food options. You’ll find options like MacDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC and others in the Bahamas, offering a cheaper meal than most other restaurants.
The luxury vacation in the Bahamas might be more expensive than the US but considering the experiences you can gain on the island during your tropical getaway, the cost of living there shouldn’t sway you from visiting this slice of paradise. Worst case scenario, you can save a bit more, and visit later, or travel to alternative Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Grenada, where things cost a little less. Just like in the Bahamas, these islands all offer all-inclusive resorts, which will help ensure your Caribbean vacation is everything you’ve ever imagined, and more.