[9] Things To Know About Bahamas Sailing Holidays

The Bahamas was good enough to be featured in the opening line of a well-known Beach Boys song. In that case, it should make its way onto your list of sailing holiday destinations. 

Like many destinations, it has its own attributes that should be considered when planning your trip.

After taking everything on this list into consideration, it will be nothing but smooth sailing. Let’s get you as clued up as possible before you leave the port for the beautiful archipelago.

Here are nine things to know about spending some of your next sailing holidays in the Bahamas. Things like: chartering, yachts, climate, peak season, what is needed for sailing, noteworthy cays (Shroud Cay and Great Guana Cay)and paradise islands to visit, the best and cheapest time to sail, and water temperatures.

1️⃣ What Is The Best Month To Sail In The Bahamas? 

The weather is generally quite pleasant all year round, so finding the so-called best month would be heavily influenced by personal preference. Factors to consider would be; cost, crowding, and weather.

Generally speaking, December through April are the favored months, as the weather is warm but not unbearable. The humidity is also at its lowest during this time. 

If you want to be frugal, then heading down there in the off-season (May/June) is your best bet. The off-season is cheaper and quieter but also prone to hurricanes. 

While the chances of a hurricane occurring are low, it is not zero. Trip Savvy (no affiliation) Has a full breakdown of what can be expected each month. This includes weather, prices, and notable festivals.

2️⃣ Is The Bahamas Good For Sailing? 

It’s an excellent destination for any sailor. Whether you are chartering a boat yourself or planning on just being a passenger. The weather is amicable throughout the year, and its peak season (ironically) is winter.

The waters are generally relatively calm, clear, warm, and framed by almost white sandy beaches. These things aside, many renowned marinas and yacht clubs make it a sailor’s paradise.

3️⃣ Where Is The Best Place To Sail In The Bahamas?

A wide variety of desert islands (Exumas and Abacos) and cays can be visited around the area, such as The Sea of Abaco and Marsh Harbour. Each of them with its own unique features and points of interest. 

Green Turtle Cay, for example, is one of the many destinations in the Bahamas that boasts a quaint little town (New Plymouth), scenic nature, and, most famously, swimming pigs.

Yes, not sharks, but pigs. You may never see pigs fly, but you can certainly see them swim! These pigs even received a mention in an article featured on Sailing Savvy about the best Caribbean Sailing Tours.

Other highly recommended destinations within the area include:

  • Marsh Harbor
  • Elbow Cay
  • Hope Town
  • Man-O-War Cay
  • Manjack Cay

4️⃣ How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Yacht Bahamas? 

Chartering a yacht could cost upward of $1000 per person per day. This is, of course, very much a ballpark estimate. The rental price will depend on; size, season, area, type, and added features.

Another cost that may need to be considered is whether or not you plan on chartering the yacht yourself or if you require a skipper or an entire crew. For more exact prices for fully crewed luxury yacht rental, you can peruse what’s on offer at Yacht Charter Fleet.

And if you prefer a more modest boating excursion (either with or without a skipper), you will find one that suits your needs on Click And Boat

Added information featured in Nautal’s post on what to expect when chartering a yacht (weather, cost, and ports) will answer all your questions.

5️⃣ When Is The Best Time Of Year To Sail To The Bahamas? 

The ideal time of year would be during the North American winter season. Of course, this is also technically wintertime, but the climate is more agreeable.

It is cooler and drier, but a warm summer may still be too humid and hot with higher chances of rain or hurricane. Summer months are, in fact, off-season, while winter is the peak season.

Pros & Cons Of Off Season Sailing

Advantages 👍

  • Lower prices
  • Less crowded
  • Discounted tours, mooring fees, and activities

Disadvantages 👎

  • Hotels, marinas, and resorts may likely be carrying out maintenance, so facilities and services may be limited.
  • Humidity is high
  • The heat is at its peak and can be almost unbearable
  • Chance of rain and possibility of hurricanes

Pros & Cons Of Peak Season Sailing

Advantages 👍

  • More tolerable and pleasant weather conditions
  • More people so, therefore, more of a festive atmosphere
  • Lower humidity

Disadvantages 👎

  • Prices for almost everything are higher
  • Marinas and resorts may have limited space
  • Longer wait times for specific amenities due to crowds
  • Less privacy

6️⃣ How Long Can You Stay In The Bahamas On A Boat?

Technically speaking, you can stay on a boat for as long as you like. However, suppose you intend on staying on your boat for more than 12 months. In that case, arrangements will need to be made with the Bahamas Customs and Immigration department. 

If your stay is less than 12 months, you will be required to pay a monthly fee to cover your fishing and cruising permits and an entry fee. Departing and re-entry tax may also apply.

7️⃣ Is The Sea Warm In The Bahamas? 

The trade winds ensure the water is always warm enough to swim and snorkel in. The water temperatures will vary from season to season.

In winter, roughly between December and March, the water temperature will average between 75°F and 78°F. Summertime waters will reach their peak temperatures between June and September. And will range between 82°F and 85°F.

8️⃣ Is Bahamas Considered International Sailing?

Yes, it is considered international sailing. When entering the port, everyone on board must complete all the necessary documentation and present the relevant forms of identification, citizenship, and their passport.

A full description of the essential processes and paperwork required to enter by boat is available on the U.S. Embassy of the Bahamas website.

9️⃣ What Is Needed To Sail To The Bahamas? 

Hint: You’re going to need more than just a boat. Since it is considered international sailing, you will need all the relevant permits. These include:

  • Boat insurance documents
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Valid passport
  • Boat license
  • Proof of ownership of the vessel
  • Boat Registration
  • Customs clearance form 
  • Immigration card
  • Cruising permit
  • Fishing permit (if applicable)

Other general (but vital) things you would need are:

  • Bahamas courtesy flag and Q flag
  • Ham radio
  • Fuel reserves
  • Guidebooks
  • VHF radio (and license)
  • U.S. Customs decal (only applicable for boats over 30ft.)
  • GPS
  • Charts

🗣 Final Words

It’s undoubtedly one of the world’s best sailing destinations that should be on any enthusiast’s bucket list. So whether you plan on sailing there to take in the beauty and go snorkeling, scuba diving, or flying and then chartering a yacht, it is worth experiencing at least once.

Next time you need to escape the North American winter, choose the Bahamas. There is a reason that these islands are well traversed. And now that you have all the knowledge you need for your sailing holiday, what’s stopping you?

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.