The official currency in the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which you’ll see written with a regular dollar sign or abbreviated to BSD. It’s often written as $B to differentiate it from other dollar currencies, which is particularly useful because of its close relationship to the US dollar.
The Bahamian dollar is tied to the US dollar in terms of value, and on a practical level, the two are interchangeable in the Bahamas. Both are accepted in shops and businesses throughout the islands. In fact, the US dollar is eagerly accepted and sometimes even preferred, and may help you to barter down a Straw Market seller who’d rather have the American note. Visitors to the Bahamas from the US often say that it’s not worth changing currency into Bahamian dollars, since US dollars are so widely received and regarded.
It’s good to know in advance that casinos on the Bahamas accept only US dollars, with the house ATMs dispensing the American currency. You’ll find ATMs dispensing the islands’ native dollar in Nassau and on most of the outlying islands, although some don’t have this facility, most notably Elbow Cay, Acklins, Crooked Island and Inagua.
It’s important to note that it’s not easy to get hold of Bahamian dollars in the UK. Your high street bureau de change definitely won’t carry them, so it’s easier to take US currency with you instead. Similarly, if you have Bahamian dollars left at the end of a trip, it’s best to try to spend them, since changing them back once you’re home is often not an option.
It’s worth knowing that travellers cheques are still accepted in most resorts, tourist restaurants and attractions in the Bahamas, so if you’ve got out of the habit of using them, they may be a good option for travel to this region. This is especially true if you can’t get your hands on Bahamian dollars prior to travelling, but want to make sure you have some currency on hand on arrival. Most hotels will change them into cash for you, usually for a small fee.
The native currency in the Bahamas is available in half-dollar notes, as well as in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. A dollar is made up of 100 cents, with the coins being similar in appearance and value to their US counterparts.
All notes used to feature Queen Elizabeth II on the front, but in recent years the Queen was swapped in favour of eminent Bahamian politicians. However, most modern notes now once again show the Queen, with the $100 note displaying the official fish of the Bahamas on the reverse. For this reason, you’ll often hear it referred to as a ‘blue marlin’.