3 reasons now is the best time to visit the Bahamas
Earlier this month, the Bahamas were hit very hard by Hurricane Dorian with winds up to 185 miles per hour at landfall — the destruction was deadly. Weeks later, at least 50 people have been confirmed dead and 1,300 remain missing.
The northern part of the archipelago, including the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, endured the brunt of the hit while destinations such as Nassau, the capital, were fairly unscathed. However, many residents who were displaced have been forced to seek refuge in the less-affected parts of the Bahamas, so all areas of the island nation are in need of resources, whether it's food, water, money or help with the cleanup efforts.
When it comes to getting there, you've got your pick of airports — Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in Nassau, Exuma International (GGT) on Great Exuma, South Bimini Airport (BIM), North Eleuthera Airport (ELH), Stella Maris Airport (SML) and Deadman’s Cay Airport (LGI) in Long Island are all up and running on their regular schedule. The only airports that remain closed until further notice are Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) and Leonard Thompson International Airport (MHH) in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
The same goes for hotels. You can expect all of the hotels outside of the affected Grand Bahama and the Abacos to be open for business.
The Bahamas are also a popular cruise stop and that hasn't changed. The only port that isn't open is Freeport in Grand Bahama, but cruise lines are still stopping in Nassau and the Out Islands.
And while a natural disaster may deter tourists from visiting, here are three reasons you should visit now, more than ever before.
You can help rebuild the Bahamas
If you're reading TPG, you clearly love to travel and are all about learning how to maximize your points and miles. What better way to do that than putting them toward a trip for good? Now that's what we call a good redemption.
There are two ways your points and miles can help the country. First, you can donate them through airline programs, like Delta's SkyWish charity arm, that uses those miles to send volunteers for relief efforts. Or, you can actually use your points and miles to fly there yourself and lend a hand or bring supplies.
Here's an example of a Delta Air Lines flight from New York (JFK) to Nassau (NAS) from 18,000 miles round-trip :
Before you book a flight, be sure to sign-up to volunteer through an official organization. Here are a few chose from:
- Bahamas Red Cross
- All Hands and Hearts Smart Response
- Caring for The Bahamas
- Crossroads Alliance & Ministries
And, if you're visiting the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, you're invited to "pack comfort items such as clothing, shoes, baby items, books and educational supplies, stuffed animals and small toys. These items will be delivered to those affected by Dorian" as part of the resort's Pack With Love initiative.
The Bahamian economy relies on tourism
The Bahamas, especially the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, need help rebuilding their communities. As we mentioned earlier, this is where the storm hit the hardest. To put that into perspective, Hurricane Dorian is tied to be one of the strongest recorded hurricanes in the Atlantic. What's more, 70% of Bahamians are either directly or indirectly employed in the tourism industry. That's a majority of the country's residents who rely on tourism dollars and jobs to support themselves and their families — that's why the Bahamas still needs you to visit. To help you pick an island that was unaffected by the storm, The Bahamas tourism ministry created this fun "find your island" tool.
Resorts are still open for business
Popular resorts like Atlantis are still up and running, and they're offering some great deals to encourage travelers to visit. For example, the Atlantis is offering rates from $179 a night with a complimentary fourth night free and up to $300 in resort credits. And, here are tips for visiting Atlantis on a budget.
If you're looking for a Marriott property, you have your pick of French Leave, Autograph Collection on Eleuthera, Courtyard Nassau Downtown/Junkanoo Beach or The Cove at Atlantis. Also on Nassau, visit the British Colonial Hilton Nassau or check out the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini.
In a recent article by The New York Times, one guest shared how she felt guilty lounging by the pool and not helping, so she spent some of her free time making sandwiches for evacuees in the Atlantis kitchen with World Center Kitchen. Not only was she helping Bahamians by giving them her business at Atlantis, but she was also able to help feed those displaced and struggling firsthand.
In total, there are about 16,000 hotels in the Bahamas. According to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, about 3,000 or 19% of the islands' hotels have been closed down as they are located on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands. The other 81% of the hotels are still open and welcoming guests.
The Bahamas could really use our help, whether it's lending a hand in the rebuilding or supporting local businesses while on vacation. Bahamians have been warm and welcoming hosts to millions of travelers. Last year alone they welcomed more than 6.5 million tourists, so let's show them some love and help them restore their beautiful home.
Before you make any plans, be sure to check out our guide to what every traveler should know before visiting a destination hit by a natural disaster. This isn't your typical, pleasure-seeking type of trip, so you'll want to be sure to prepare accordingly.
(Featured image by Matt Anderson Photography.)