Bahamas Dollar - BSD
You will undoubtedly have heard of several dollar currencies in the world today. This one is known as the Bahamian dollar and it is the legal currency used in the Bahamas. It uses the traditional dollar sign but has the B in front of it for the Bahamas, hence you might see it as B$.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
You will find a variety of coins available for the Bahamian dollar but not all of them are in regular use. People don’t tend to use the rather odd 15 cent coin for example; neither do they use the 50 cent coin or the one, two or five dollar coins. The main coins in use regularly that you will see are the 1, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins.
There are a couple of banknotes that aren’t often used too – these are the half dollar and the three dollar banknotes (again, somewhat odd amounts, those). The ones you will see are the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.
From past to present – the history of the dollar
Up until 1966 the Bahamas used the Bahamian pound, which was on par with the British pound. In 1966 the country changed to the Bahamian dollar. At this point the new dollar was on par with the American dollar and has been ever since.
How to get hold of Bahamian dollars
The best way to get hold of this currency is to wait until you get there to exchange your own currency. You can take some US dollar with you if you wish, as these are readily available all over the world from bureaux de change. You can also use them in the casinos in the Bahamas as well as in selected other locations. It is very difficult if not impossible to change Bahamian dollars back to your own currency when you get home, so it is best to exchange whatever you have left into your own currency before you leave to return home. Remember it doesn’t matter if you have US dollars left as these are easy to exchange. This means it is worth thinking about spending your remaining Bahamian dollars on the last few days of your holiday there and keeping your US dollars instead.
You will find cash machines located in casinos and in many places here and there throughout the tourist areas. Some will provide you with a choice of US or Bahamian dollars but it is wise to make sure you have some of both. You can also spend money in the Bahamas by using a credit card. You should take the same precautions you would at home whenever you use a credit card to pay for purchases here.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and Bahamian dollars
You can do this online, and this is actually usually the easiest way to do it. Make sure you select your own currency to begin with and the Bahamian dollar to change it into. Ideally you want to use a currency converter that is updated very often so you get the latest rate. This will change depending on where you get your dollars from, as commission will always be charged as well.
The best way to find out more about the Bahamas before you travel there is to read some of the information provided on the very useful Bahamas High Commission website. This can be found at http://www.bahamashclondon.net/.
Travelling safely with Bahamian dollars
While the Bahamas attracts a fairly small number of visitors each year from the UK (surprisingly perhaps), most visitors do not experience any trouble at all. It is good to be careful when staying in your accommodation though – don’t stray too far from it, especially not on your own or at night. There have been reports of armed robberies taking place and if you are unfortunate enough to be chosen as a target do not attempt to resist.
It should go without saying that it is wise not to carry any more cash on you than you have to. Keep your valuables in the hotel safe and don’t flash any expensive cameras or jewellery around either. Hopefully this will reduce the odds of being targeted. Remember though that most visitors to the Bahamas have a great time and are not targeted in this way, so be careful but don’t let the fear of what could happen ruin your holiday.
Where to spend your dollars in the Bahamas – and what to spend them on
The Bahamas is known as an island country. This is because it is made up of hundreds of islands in the Atlantic Ocean. If you look at a map of the US and find Miami in the southern part of the country, you will be able to look to the south east and see the largest of the islands there. Nassau is the capital of the nation and this can be found on a smaller island called New Providence.
In fact let’s choose this as our first port of call when we are considering the places you might like to visit while exploring the Bahamas. It is interesting to note that a little over two-thirds of the total number of people living in the Bahamas lives in this one city! You may well arrive in the Bahamas courtesy of a flight into Nassau, even if you then go on to travel to another island.
The downtown section of the city is arguably the section worth seeing the most. This is packed with restaurants and shops, not to mention hotels that cater for those who want to stay over here for a few days. Don’t miss a chance to see the wonderfully named Junkanoo Beach here too, if your main aim is to catch some of the rays. You should also take a closer look at the appropriately named Straw Market. This is a flea market where the stall holders weave straw into all kinds of different things. Don’t feel obliged to buy anything though – some of the vendors can be rather determined to have you part with your cash!
Of course the Bahamas has lots of islands to see so even if you go to this one you may still want to visit many others during your stay. Take San Salvador for example, which is strictly speaking the top of a mountain! The mountain was gradually submerged over the centuries to leave the island that exists today. Be sure to visit the Great Lake Preserve if you come to this island, as it is one of the great natural sights the Bahamian islands are known for. This large lake is right in the middle of San Salvador and thus is easy to reach no matter where you might be on the island. The island is also well-known among enthusiastic divers, offering dozens of potential sites to choose from.
Elsewhere you have Eleuthera Island. It boasts coral reefs and some amazing scenery, and with just 11,000 residents you won’t find it crowded. Watch out for the New England styled architecture that tends to be quite common on the island. It is quite an unusual island in that it is 100 miles long but extremely narrow. If you see it on a map you might suppose it is a rough and casual drawing of a seahorse sketched into the sea. It certainly gives you an opportunity to enjoy lots of beach locations as well as water-based activities. It is definitely unlike any other island you may have found yourself on in the past.
Alternatively perhaps the Berry Islands would be more suited to your needs. As the name suggests this relates to more than one island – about thirty or so in all. The main one is called Great Harbour Cay but in addition to the thirty main islands there are a number of much smaller ones too – more than a hundred in fact. Great Harbour Cay has some amazing beaches and they go on for miles. One of the best of the lot is Sugar Beach, which offers lots of little coves and inlets to call your own while you are there. Plenty of fish can be caught around the island, so if you go to a local restaurant you may well have the chance to eat freshly prepared tuna or mackerel among other delights.
There is no doubt that the Bahamas have plenty to offer to those who want an island holiday to remember. While some of the individual islands may be owned by private (and usually rich) citizens, many of them are there to visit and appreciate. Every island has a sense of the Bahamas and yet each has its own distinct feel and welcome as well. Nature is in abundance here and you will undoubtedly enjoy the ability to explore it during your time in the Bahamas. One island is never enough, so if you have the time to explore more, make sure you make the most of it.