When to Go

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When to Go

Few visitors make it to these southern islands, but those who do come at different times. Europeans tend to arrive in summer and stay for a month or longer. Sailors come through on their way to the Caribbean in fall and return to the Bahamas in spring on trips back to the United States. Fishermen arrive all year and divers like the calm seas in summer. Those looking for a winter warm-up visit from December to April, when temperatures are in the 70s. These months have the lowest rainfall of the year, but the ocean is chilly and rough for divers and boaters. Christmas and New Year's are usually booked, so reserve rooms months in advance.

Many inns and resorts are closed September and October for hurricane season, which technically runs from June through November. Mosquito repellent is usually needed year-round, but is imperative in summer and fall, especially after a period of rain when both mosquitoes and no-see-ums come out in full force. Note that they remain in the sand on your feet and towels even after you leave the beach, so make sure to rinse or leave your towel outside your room.

The southern islands are generally warmer than Nassau, but you may need a windbreaker in winter, particularly on a boat. If possible, time your visit for Junkanoo, sailing regattas, and special events such as the Cat Island's Rake ’N' Scrape Festival.

Air Travel

All of the southern out island have at least one airport, and several have multiple airports. Flights are primarily on charters on local carriers, but there also a handful of flights on major carriers out of Florida (primarily Fort Lauderdale or Miami).

Boat and Ferry Travel

Mail boats link all of these islands to Nassau, but there are also a handful of ferries. See individual island sections for more details, but you can also check schedules by calling the dockmaster's office in Nassau.

Contacts

Mailboat Port/Dockmaster's Office in Nassau (New Providence Island. 242/393–1064.)

Car and Taxi Travel

You cant rent a car on all the islands. Taxi service is also available. Regardless, transportation tends to be expensive because of the isolation and cost of fuel.

Banks

Banks are generally open half days (9–2) Monday through Thursday and 9–5 on Fridays. There are no banks on Crooked and Acklins islands.

Contacts

Reva Air Ambulance & Medical Transport Services (Ft Lauderdale Executive Airport, 1745 NW 51 Place, Hangar 73. 954/730–9300 or 800/752–4195. www.flyreva.com.)

Acklins Island Clinics (242/344–3539 Mason's Bay; 242/344–3673 Salina Point; 242/344–3172 Spring Point.)

Acklins Island Police (242/344–3126 Salina Point; 242/344–3666 Spring Point.)

Cat Island Clinics (242/342–4049 Old Bight; 242/354–4050 Orange Creek; 242/342–3026 Smith Bay.)

Cat Island Police (242/354–2046 Arthur's Town; 242/342–3039 New Bight.)

Crooked Island Clinics (242/344–2166 Landrail Point; 242/344–2350 Colonel Hill.)

Crooked Island Police (242/344–2599 or.)

Inagua Hospital (242/339–1249.)

Inagua Police (242/339–1444.)

Long Island Clinics (242/338–8488 Simms; 242/337–1222 Deadman's Cay.)

Long Island Police (242/337–3919 Clarence Town; 242/337–0999 Deadman's Cay; 242/338–8555 Simms; 242/338–2222 Stella Maris.)

San Salvador Clinic ( or 242/331–2105.)

San Salvador Police (242/331–2010.)

Hotels

The inns in the southern Out Islands are small and intimate, and usually cater to a specific crowd such as anglers, divers, or those who just want a quiet beach experience. Club Med–Columbus Isle, an upscale resort on San Salvador, is the exception, with 236 rooms and a wide range of activities.

Most inns are on the beach, and many have one- and two-bedroom cottages with private verandahs. Most inns offer three meals a day for their guests, kayaks, and bikes, and will pick you up at the airport, arrange car rentals, fishing guides, and dive trips. Off-season rates usually begin in May, with some of the best deals available in October, November, and early December. Club Med–Columbus Isle offers early-bird booking bonuses and runs pricing promotions year-round.

Restaurants

Out Island restaurants are often family-run and focus on home-style dishes. You'll probably eat most of your meals at your hotel, since there aren't many other places. If you want to dine at a restaurant or another inn, it's crucial to call ahead. Dinner choices largely depend on what the fishermen and mail boats bring in; be prepared for few choices.

Don't expect gourmet food, but do anticipate fresh fish, lobster, conch, fresh-baked bread, and coconut tarts. Don't miss "flour cakes," another Cat Island specialty, which taste similar to large vanilla wafers (visit Alnor’s Bakery and Lennora will warm them up for you). A good bet for Friday or Saturday nights is an outdoor fish fry at a colorful beach shack, such as Regatta Beach on Cat Island or Kiwanis Park on Inagua.

Hotel and Restaurant Prices

Restaurant prices are based on the median main course price at dinner, excluding gratuity, typically 15%, which is often automatically added to the bill. Hotel prices are for two people in a standard double room in high season, excluding service and 6%–12% tax.

Contacts

The Out Islands of The Bahamas ( or. www.myoutislands.com.)

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (242/302–2000. www.bahamas.com.)

Sportsmen are drawn to the southern islands to outsmart the swift bonefish, and fish for marlin, black and bluefin tuna, wahoo, and swordfish. Yachties roam these islands on their way to the Caribbean, and vacationers rent Hobie Cats and kayaks. Divers and snorkelers come to see healthy reefs and abundant underwater wildlife. Romantics and honeymooners head south for the glorious sunsets viewed from the verandahs of beachside cottages, and for the lovely pink beaches. Bird-watchers arrive with binoculars in hand to see the green and red Bahama parrots, the Bahama woodstar hummingbirds, Bahama pintails, tricolored and crested night herons, and, of course, flamingos.

The friendliness of residents is well known, but visitors are often taken aback by their instant inclusion in the community. You can't walk 100 feet without someone offering a welcome ride on a hot day. Ask an islander where a certain restaurant is and they will walk with you until you see it. Express any disappointment such as not seeing a flamingo up close, and the person standing behind you at the store will get on their cell phone. (There's a big flock now at the Town Pond!) The scenery is gorgeous, but this genuine rapport is what brings regulars back time and again to these tiny communities.

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