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The Bahamas is an island paradise located off the coast of Florida. This island nation is made up of more than 700 coral islands, 30 of which are inhabited. Bimini, the westernmost island district of the Bahamas, is just 50 miles (80 kilometres) from Miami.
Known for its beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, the Bahamas is a popular tourist destination. With many of the islands being located so close to Florida, it’s possible to visit the Bahamas on a boat trip from Miami.
If you have limited time, you can even visit the Bahamas on a day trip from Miami. Longer cruises from Miami are a great way to visit more destinations in the Bahamas.
If you’re wondering how to get from Miami to the Bahamas by boat, here are the top ways to explore this island destination.
Taking a ferry from Miami is one of the easiest ways to visit the Bahamas. If you’re extremely limited on time, you can do this in a day trip, but to make the most of your time in the Bahamas, it’s recommended to spend at least a night or two there.
Balearia Caribbean is the name of the ferry company that operates fast ferries connecting Florida and the Bahamas. Ferries depart from Fort Lauderdale, which is located about 35 minutes north of Miami by car.
You can visit two destinations in the Bahamas via ferry service.
You can take the ferry from Fort Lauderdale to Bimini, which is the closest island of the Bahamas located just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. This is the fastest journey time, taking just 2 hours.
It’s also possible to take the ferry from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Bahama Island, the northernmost island of the Bahamas which is located 85 miles off the coast of Florida. This ferry trip takes 3 hours from Fort Lauderdale.
Tickets start at $180 round trip and can be purchased on the Balearia Caribbean website.
It’s important to note that the ferry schedule can change depending on the season. Typically, there are around four departures per week for Bimini and two departures per week for Grand Bahama from Fort Lauderdale.
While it may be possible to visit the Bahamas on a day trip by ferry, you will need to consult the ferry schedules to see if there are return trips to Florida on the same day. Otherwise, you will need to plan on spending one or two nights in the Bahamas.
The ferries to the Bahamas are comfortable, modern boats with indoor seating, a snack bar, and WiFi access available for purchase.
Taking a cruise from the Miami Cruise Port is a popular way to explore the beautiful islands of the Bahamas. It can also be one of the most cost-effective ways to visit the Bahamas from Miami, with the price of a two-night cruise as low as $199 per person.
Cruises are a great option for getting from Miami to the Bahamas, because they offer an all-inclusive vacation with your accommodation on the cruise ship, all meals and snacks, and entertainment included in your cruise fare.
You’ll get to visit several ports of call in the Bahamas as well, “island hopping” in a way that is not practical or affordable if you’re travelling independently.
A number of major cruise lines offer cruises from Miami to the Bahamas. Some of the best cruise lines for your Bahamas cruise are Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, and MSC.
All of these cruise lines sail large passenger cruise ships equipped with amenities like multiple restaurants and dining venues, swimming pools and hot tubs, recreation areas, nightly entertainment and shows, and world-class casinos.
During the day, you’ll have free time to relax on the white sandy beaches of the Bahamas or visit popular tourist attractions like Pig Beach, an island in Exuma known for its wild pigs that roam around.
Popular ports of call on Bahamas cruises from Miami include Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay, and Bimini. Some cruises also visit Key West, which is part of the Florida Keys.
Being the most popular cruise port in the world, and the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau has a lot of fantastic things to do.
Most cruises from Miami to the Bahamas are short, typically offering two- to four-night itineraries. However, this gives you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the best beaches of the Bahamas or try fun excursions like water sports and boat trips while in your ports of call.
It’s also possible to take a private boat from Miami to the Bahamas, although this is one of the most difficult and cost-prohibitive methods of travel.
Navigating from Miami to the Bahamas is difficult due to shallow waters and coral reefs which can cause damage to boats. Only highly-skilled boat captains should attempt to make the journey independently.
Although Bimini, the westernmost island district of the Bahamas, is located just 50 miles off the coast of Miami, you have to navigate across the Gulf Stream to get there, which can make the crossing treacherous.
It’s possible to charter a boat or a yacht to the Bahamas from Miami, but it can cost $2,000 to $5,000 to charter a small boat for a Bahamas day trip to Bimini, with prices only going up from there if you want to do a multi-day trip or visit other islands.
Tips For Visiting The Bahamas By Boat
If you want to visit the Bahamas from Miami by boat, these are some important tips to know.
First of all, while it may seem obvious, you do need a valid passport in order to visit the Bahamas.
Even though the Bahamas is located just 50 miles from the United States, all travellers will need to present their passports and go through customs and immigration in order to enter the Bahamas.
The best time of year to visit the Bahamas is during the winter months of December through March. Late November and April are also good months to visit the Bahamas for good weather and fewer crowds.
During the winter, the weather in the Bahamas is very pleasant, with temperatures in the mid-seventies Fahrenheit (23 to 25 degrees Celsius.) There’s also less precipitation.
In the summer, the weather conditions can be more unpredictable, with hotter temperatures, high winds, and heavy precipitation. Hurricane season can also affect the Bahamas from early June through late November.
Finally, some people may suffer from seasickness when travelling from Miami to the Bahamas by boat. This can happen on a small fast ferry or on a large cruise ship.
Dramamine is one of the most effective medications for seasickness. If you tend to suffer from motion sickness, you may want to stock up on some Dramamine before your boat trip.
Sipping a carbonated beverage like ginger ale or drinking cool water can also help the nausea associated with seasickness. Skip caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as these can exacerbate your symptoms and make you feel worse.
Aside from taking a boat from Miami to the Bahamas, you can also fly. This is the fastest way to get from Miami to the Bahamas, especially the further out islands. For the islands closest to Florida, like Bimini, it’s a very short trip by plane.
Here are the approximate flight times for flights from Miami International Airport to popular destinations in the Bahamas:
- Miami to Bimini: 45 minutes
- Miami to Freeport: 50 minutes
- Miami to Nassau: 1 hour
- Miami to Marsh Harbour: 1 hour and 15 minutes
- Miami to North Eleuthera: 1 hour and 20 minutes
- Miami to George Town: 1 hour and 40 minutes
A number of airlines offer nonstop flights from Miami to the Bahamas, including American Airlines, JetBlue, Bahamasair, and Silver Airways.
Flights can cost as little as $200 round trip from Miami. Flying is the most practical way to get to the Bahamas for a multi-night vacation, although it’s even possible to fly from Miami to the Bahamas for a day trip if you have limited time.