Frequently-Asked Questions: The Island 101

Tingum Dem

The Bahamas has always been an unusual country, by turns forgotten about and sought after.

For millennia the islands languished uninhabited until neolithic tribesmen crossed now-vanished land bridges from Central America. Arawaks who migrated through the Caribbean from South America later supplanted these early peoples. They reached the Bahamas about AD600, living in splendid isolation from the rest of the world for centuries. Then in 1492, the New World¹s isolation was shattered by the arrival of powerful gods in the form of Christopher Columbus and his three Spanish ships. This historic encounter on a small Bahamian island united the planet and changed it forever.

Within a few years the Bahamas was ruthlessly depopulated, with the Lucayans -- as the Bahamian Arawaks are known -- all dead from disease or conflict or deported for slave labour. Since the islands lacked mineral resources, the Spaniards had little interest in them and their brief moment of historic attention ended, not to be renewed for over a hundred years. It was not until the mid-1600s that Anglo settlers from Bermuda -- expressing the religious and political conflicts of the English Civil War -- became the first Europeans to establish a permanent home in the Bahamas.

What followed was a half-century of piracy and lawlessness when the Bahamian archipelago became a major base and refuge for Spanish, French and English buccaneers raiding the congested shipping lanes between the Old and New Worlds. This frontier period came to an end in the early 1700s when Britain installed Royal government and cracked down on the pirates. The Bahamas relaxed into a half-dozen fishing villages until the American Revolution propelled thousands of colonial loyalists and their African slaves to establish plantation communities on a number of islands and a commercial centre in Nassau on the island of New Providence.

Early in the 1800s, the plantations had all failed due to insects and soil exhaustion. The British abolished slavery in 1838, but the Bahamas only sank further into economic torpidity. The American Civil War revived the islands as a staging post for the Confederate war effort running the Union blockade. It was at this time that the country's first hotel, the Queen Victoria Hotel, was built.

This brief boom was followed by more years of economic somnolence until the United States banned alcohol in 1919. Bootlegging added another colourful chapter to Bahamian history, but the economic and social conditions of most communities in the islands remained hopelessly bleak until well after the Second World War.

The postwar years saw the growth of tourism and offshore capitalism, which coincided with the rapid devolution of Britain's once vast colonial empire. This led to a much-delayed political development and enfranchisement of Afro-Bahamians. Despite many years of limited social and economic opportunity, the black majority achieved political power electorally in 1967 and governed with a rare goodwill so that today's Bahamas is one of the most democratic nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Independence from Britain was achieved in 1973, and regular elections have been held ever since to a parliament which traces its history back to 1729. The former ruling elite has largely reconciled with these dramatic but peaceful changes, and the country enjoys a level of social harmony and economic achievement that is the envy of others in the region. Today, a tiny, fragmented nation that for decades was isolated on the margins of the modern world is a popular destination for millions of high-spending tourists and a sought-after location for billions of dollars in offshore funds.

The 300,000 people of the Bahamas are descended mostly from English Puritans, American loyalists of British descent, and African slaves. More recent migrants from the West Indies have included thousands of economic refugees from Haiti.

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Fishing Regulations
In order to conserve The Bahamian marine environment, fishing and diving in The Bahamas are governed by rules administered by The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Those breaking laws governing size limitation, fishing seasons, allowable fishing tools and prohibitions may face heavy fines and penalties. Following is a summary of the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Regulations, courtesy of the Bahamas Handbook.

Spearfishing using underwater breathing apparatus is illegal. Exceptions include compressors with a permit issued only to Bahamians only and used only between August 1 to March 31 and in water depths of 30 to 60 ft. Visitors may use an air compressor for observation purposes only and may not harvest any resources while using it.

It is illegal to use any device other than a hawaiian sling for the discharge of a missile underwater.

Foreign vessels intending to engage in sport fishing must have a permit and several rules apply under this permit. Fishing gear is restricted to hook and line unless otherwise authorized. Only 6 lines are allowed in the water at one time, unless otherwise authorized.

Cost of the permit is $20 per trip or $150 annually. If more than 6 reels are allowed on a party fishing boat for instance the permit is $10,000 annually. The bag limit for Kingfish, Dolphin and Wahoo is a maximum combined total of 6 fish per person on the vessel, comprising any combination of these species. Vessel bag limits for other marine products are 20lbs. of scalefish, 10 conch, and 6 crawfish per person at any time. The possession of Turtle is prohibited. The above amounts may be exported by the vessel upon leaving The Bahamas.

A $50 permit is required to conduct foreign fishing for scientific or research purposes. A licence is required to engage in foreign fishing - fishing by a non-Bahamian vessel for commercial purposes. Such permission can only be issued to foreign states which have a fishery treaty with The Bahamas.

Bahamian commercial fishing vessels 20ft in length or greater must get a valid fishing permit. "Bahamian" in relation to a fishing vessel is one bona fide owned by a citizen of The Bahamas, resident in The Bahamas or a company registered in The Bahamas under the Companies Act in which all the shares are beneficially owned by citizens of The Bahamas resident in The Bahamas. It is illegal to export any marine product for commercial purposes unless the person involved has an export licence for the product he wishes to export, or the product is inspected by a fisheries inspector at the time of export and export-duty on the product is paid. A $10 permit is required for the use of an air compressor (hookah) in fishing. Its use is restricted to Aug 1 - Mar 31, and to a water depth range of 30-60ft.

It is illegal to use: a) bleach or other noxious or poisonous substances for fishing or have such substances on a fishing vessel without written approval from the Minister; b) use firearms or explosives; c) spearfish within one mile of the coast of New Providence and the southern coast of Grand Bahama, and 200 yards off the coast of all other family islands; d) use fish nets with a minimum mesh guage of less than 2 inches; e) use a scalefish trap which does not have a self destruct panel and minimum mesh sizes less than 1 x 2in for rectangular wire mesh traps and 1.5 in for hexagonal wire mesh trap: f) take corals: g) build artificial reefs without permission from the Minister: h) sell fish in New Providence without a permit from the minister.

Closed Season for crawfish (spiny lobster) is April 1 to July 31. Minimum size limit for crawfish is a carapace length of 3 1/4 in from the base of the horns to the end of the jacket, or 5 1/2 in tail length. A $10 permit is required to trap crawfish. Traps should be wooden slat traps not more than 3 ft. in length, 2 ft. in width and 2 ft. in height with slats not less than 1 in. apart. The possession of egg-bearing female crawfish is prohibited.

Closed season for stone crabs is June 1 to October 15th. Minimum crab claw is 4 in. Possessing or selling the female stone crab is prohibited.

Long line fishing in Bahamian waters is illegal unless there is special written permission from the Governor General. Long line fishing includes fishing by means of a line or cable which extends 20 yards from the point where it is cast and to which is attached 10 hooks.

Closed season for turtles is April 1 - July 31.

Minimum size limit for a green turtle is 24 in back length and for a loggerhead turtle 30 in back length. Taking or possessing turtle eggs is prohibited. All turtles captured must be landed whole. It is illegal to catch Hawksbill Turtles in The Bahamas.

It is illegal to harvest conch which does not possess a well-formed lip or sponge less than 5.5 in. diameter for wool and grass, 1 in. diameter for hard head and reef sponge.

It is illegal to buy or sell bonefish.

It is illegal to fish for them using nets.
It is illegal to export hermit crabs.
It is illegal to export live rock or small reef fish

for commercial purposes.
It is illegal to catch grouper and rockfish weighing less than three lbs
It is illegal to fish for, export, molest or interfere

with any marine mammal.
It is illegal to uproot, destroy or take any corals.

Please remember that many of us in the islands rely on fishing for our income, and appreciate Bahamians and foreigners alike keeping to the laws provided ...

Private Pilots'

Bill of Rights

Anyone flying into North Eleuthera International Airport [ELH]

should bring the following information:

To enter the Island of The Bahamas,

Private Pilots Need:

  • Three (3) copies of the C7A Bahamas Customs form
  • One (1) Bahamas Immigration Card per person
  • Proof of Citizenship - one of the following:
  • Birth Certificate and Drivers License Pilots License and Picture ID Private

Private Pilots visiting The Islands Of The Bahamas should

expect the following:

  • No Landing fee - for single engine private planes on a pleasure trip except Freeport, Grand Bahama Island where the airport is privately owned
  • No Overtime Customs Fee - for private aircraft visiting The Island Of The Bahamas where the pilot declares that he/she does not receive any remuneration and the flight is for recreational purpose
  • No Transire - (C38) is needed for private pilot, cruising through The Islands Of The Bahamas for pleasure ( a copy of the C7A will suffice).
  • No Departure Tax - for pilot and co-pilot
  • No Tie Down Fee - except in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
  • A Flight Plan Must be filed - activate prior to entering The Island Of The Bahamas and close after landing

To leave The Islands Of The Bahamas, Private Pilots Need:

  • One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs General Declaration Outward Form (C7)
  • Turn in The Bahamas Immigration card copy
  • File a flight plan
  • All passengers, six years and over leaving The Bahamas, pay a Government Departure Tax of Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) except for Freeport, Grand Bahama Island (Private Airport), where an additional $3.00 airport security fee is applicable

Bahamas Customs
Bahamas Immigration
Bahamas Civil Aviation
Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism

For further information please call 1-800-32-SPORT

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Harbour Island & North Eleuthera
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Harbour Island, Bahamas
Town Size:
3 miles long, half-mile wide
Just off the southeast coast of Florida Latitude -
(20-27) N, Longitude - (72 - 79) W.
Average - (40" - 60") inches per year
Average monthly temperature - (80)F
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Bahamian dollars, US currency at par
North Eleuthera
Flying Time:
From Nassau: 20 minutes;From Miami: 1 hour
Governor's Harbour, Harbour Island, Rock Sound, Spanish Wells
Mailboat Service:
Eleuthera Express, Bahamas Daybreak, Bahamas Fast Ferries
Passport/Birth Certificate Departure
$15-Adults, (6 years and over)
Car Rentals:
(242) 332 - 2876
Bahamasair, Gulfstream Airlines [Continental] TwinAir, Southern Air, Pineapple Air
Taxi Service:
Available at all Ports of Entry
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (242) 332.2142/332.2480

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The Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA)

A unit of the Office of the Prime Minister, is the investor's "One-Stop Shop". The Authority "cuts the red tape and rolls out the red carpet" for investors with service that continues from the preliminary inquiry through the final implementation of the investment project. It assists with investment policy formulation, investment promotion, investment proposal review and analysis and post-approval monitoring and support. As the administrative arm of the National Economic Council (NEC), the BIA coordinates investment matters with all agencies of the Government, simplifying the process for the investor. The role of the Authority includes:

1. Administering the National Investment Policy of The Bahamas, which includes responding quickly to inquiries related to investing in The Bahamas, receiving and reviewing investment project proposals;

2. Providing assistance to international investors during the implementation of approved investment projects;

3. Arranging local and international investment promotions for investors interested in business opportunities in The Bahamas;

4. Co-ordination of investment matters with other agencies of Government;

5. Ensuring the effective administration of the range of incentives available under all Investment and Business Encouragement Legislation. The Authority also performs the role of Financial Services Secretariat, which promotes the financial services sector in The Bahamas and seeks to keep legislation and regulations competitive internationally.

Any investor, Bahamian or non-Bahamian, seeking to invest in and/or establish a business in The Bahamas must submit a proposal to the Authority for consideration by the National Economic Council (NEC), if the proposal involves any of the following:
* Non-Bahamian participants;
* The use of foreign capital;
* Application for Government concessions, particularly under the Hotels Encouragement Act, the Tariff Act and the Industries Encouragement Act;
* Long lease and/or purchase of immovable property foreign concerns; or
* Transfer of shares to non-Bahamians. Investors should be guided by the National Investment Policy, copies of which are available at The Bahamas Investment Authority. Additional information can be obtained from:

The Bahamas Investment Authority
(Financial Services Secretariat)
Office of the Prime Minister
Nassau, Bahamas

Phone: 242.327.5970/4
Fax: 242.327.5907
Royal Bank of Canada
S erving the Harbour Island and North Eleuthera Community:
Spanish Wells - 242.333.4131
Harbour Island - 242.333.2250

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Briland Accommodations

"Briland Sweet, Eh?"
Location? The island's just two miles off the northern tip of Eleuthera, and approximately sixty miles east of the capitol city of Nassau on the island of New Providence. Harbour Island is three miles long but only a half-mile wide. The east side faces the Atlantic Ocean with its beautiful pink sand beach. The equally lovely west side faces the bay, across which is the mainland of Eleuthera that you'll fly into.

[See map. Make certain that your reservations show North Eleuthera Airport, aka airport code 'ELH.' Otherwise you'll be taking a 60-mile cab ride from Governors Harbour Airpor, aka 'GHB'.]  The only town is Dunmore Town in the center of the island on the bay side, and most of the hotels are grouped in or around town.  No matter where you stay, you'll be within walking distance of town.

Bahamas Fast Ferries:
Twin Air:
Continental Connection:


Bahama House Inn:

Baretta's Seashell Inn:
The Landing:
Romora Bay:
Coral Sands:
Dunmore Beach:
Pink Sands:

Valentines Yacht Club:
The Cove:

Laughing Bird Apartments:

Rainbow Inn:

Red Apple Inn:

Surfer's Beach Manor:

Cigatoo Resort:

Royal Palm Hotel:

The Duck Inn:

Tingum Village Hotel: 242 333 2161

Unique Village Villas:

My Harbour Island:
Briland Modem:

Eleuthera Living:

Harbour Island Guide:

The hotel is directly on the beach, and you can see the ocean from some or all of the rooms ...
The ocean is within a minute's walk ...
The hotel is directly on the bay, and you can see the bay from some or all of the rooms ...
You can't see the bay or the ocean, but you're within two blocks of each of them ...
In Town:
You are in the tiny, bougainvillea-splashed village of Dunmore Town ...

E-mail/Telephone/Site Contact

Bahama House B&B

John & Joni Hirsch

In town

Baretta's Seashell Inn



Coral Sands




Dunmore Beach Club




The Landing




Ocean View


Owner/Manager, Pip Simmons

Royal Palm Hotel




Pink Sands




Romora Bay Club




Valentines Yacht Club



Tingum Village


Manager, Juanita Percentie

Rock House




Runaway Hill Club



More about the area's accommodations,

courtesy of


Reef Etiquette
By Florence Williams

Because coral takes decades or longer to regrow, damage from visitor traffic leaves a lasting mark.  Please take care to leave nothing but your footprints behind:

- Don't touch living coral, or stand on it, or take any of it. (Besides,
you'll be spared the sting of hard-to-identify fire coral.)

- Make sure your flippers don't kick sand over the coral.

- If diving, don't wear gloves. Be sure you can control your buoyancy well enough to keep from descending too fast and crashing into coral.

- If boating, don't drop anchor on the reef. Before booking with dive-boat operators, ask how they keep their boats in place at the dive sites.

- If fishing, make sure the target species exists in healthy populations.
On Andros, for example, Nassau grouper appear to be overfished.

- Ask your hotel whether it dumps effluents in the water. Resort managers should know that their guests are keeping a watch on the embattled reefs.


The Islands of The Bahamas
General Information

Located in the lower left-hand corner of the Atlantic Ocean is a 70,000
square-mile area of shoals and banks, where the waters are warm and clear.
These are the Bahama Banks... and out of them rise more than 700 islands
and islets covered with greenery and blossoms fringed with inviting
beaches. This is The Bahamas.

The islands are strewn in a generally northwest-southwest array, along a
750-mile stretch from just off Florida, to just off Haiti. Some of the
islands are relatively large - Abaco, Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Grand
Bahama and Long Island , for example. Many are tiny enough to provide a
romantic hideaway for two people, with a picnic lunch tucked into their
small sailing vessel for an all-day rendezvous away from the world.

The Islands of The Bahamas are low-lying. Cat Island's Mount Alvernia, just
over 200-feet above sea level, is the highest point in the nation.
Sometimes the water is so shallow you can wade from one island to its
neighbour. But there are also passes and cuts that range much deeper.
Between Andros and the Exumas, the Tongue of the Ocean suddenly plunges
down more than five miles.


The Islands of The Bahamas enjoy the idyllic climate most people associate
with topic seas. The temperatures seldom drop below 60 degrees (F), or rise
above 90 degrees (F). Most of the rain comes in brief summer showers. The
surrounding sea normally ranges from the low 80's in the summer, to about
74 degrees (F) in midwinter.

The largest concentration of Bahamians dwell on New Providence Island, site
of Nassau, the capital. Some families have been Bahamian for more than two
centuries. They can claim descent from early English colonists, loyalists
who fled North America during the American Revolution, and Southerers, who
came during and after the American Civil War. With the colonists, loyalists
and transplanted Southerers came their slaves, who worked the early
plantations. After Emancipation in 1834, they became diligent farmers and

With the gaining of independence in 1973 and the adoption of a new
Constitution, The Bahamas became part of the Commonwealth of Nations. The
British Monarch is our sovereign and appoints the Governor General. In the
British tradition, The Bahamas has a two-house Parliament, a ministerial
Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister and an independent judiciary.

Authorities believe the Arawak Indians moved up from the Caribbean into The
Bahamas about the turn of the Ninth Century. These were the native people
Christopher Columbus first met when he landed here October 12, 1492, when
he planted the Spanish flag in the Bahamian soil of one of the islands and
named it San Salvador. Columbus sailed on.

The history of today's Bahamas begins with the arrival of the Eleutheran
Adventurers who founded a colony on the island of Eleuthera. The Bahamas
also became a home base for pirateers, who found the coundtry suitable
because of its many islets, cays and complex shoals and channels, all which
provided adequate hiding places from which the Buccaneers could dash out to
sea, attack a Spanish treasure ship and cargo vessels and return to the
hiding places with their loot.

With the American Revolution and the War Between States, the colonists
came. First were the Loyalists who left the United States out of
faithfulness to their king. Then came Southerners, often with the slaves,
who did not wish to live under the victorious Union.

Americans again took note of The Bahamas during the years of Prohibition,
when speedy rum-runners paraded the waters between the Islands and the
southeastern United States.

During World War II, The Bahamas served as an air and sea waystation in the
Atlantic. Since then, the islands have found a new and flourishing role as
one of the world's most favoured year-round tourist playgrounds.

Language and Culture
Our language is English, generally intertwined with a special Bahamian
dialect. Some Indian words have maintained their use. For example: cassava, hammock, barbecue and guava.

Many aspects of daily life, including the music, suggests a strong
religious background and way of life. Music carries echoes of African
rhythms, Caribbean Calypso, English folk songs, and our own Goombay beat.

Customs Regulations
Customs Duty - Baggage declaration by temporary visitors is oral, but the
baggage is subject to Customs inspections. In case there are dutiable
articles, the visitor will be required to complete a Baggage Declaration Form.

Each adult is allowed 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or one pound of tobacco
and one quart of spirits free of Customs Duty, in addition to personal
effects. In addition, purchases up to a value of one hundred dollars
($100.00) are permitted by all arriving passengers.

Household effects, such as china, furniture, linens and appliances are
dutiable. All new purchases should be accompanied by valid certificate
invoices and used household effects are subject to assessment by Customs

Customs Departure & Duty Free Allowance
United States residents, including minors may take home duty-free purchases
up to $600 in retail value, if they have been out of the United States more
than 48 hours, and have not taken the exemption in 30 days. The exemption
may include up to one US quart (32 US oz.) of liquor per person over 21. A
family may pool exemptions (if living in the same house).

Canada (a) residents who have been absent from the country for 48 hours or
more may import up to $200 (Canadian) worth of duty free merchandise, which
must accompany the passenger. The exemption must be claimed through a
written declaration. (b) A person who has been outside Canada for seven
days or more may claim duty free goods valued at not more than $750, one
each calendar year. Goods acquired in The Bahamas or any area outside
continental North America may be shipped separately, but must be declared
on arrival in Canada. The $500 exemption may be claimed regardless of any
$200 exemption claimed on a previous trip, but the two cannot be combined.
The exemption under (a) and (b) may include 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes, 21
lbs of manufactured tobacco and up to 1.5 litre of liquor, if the person
meets the required limits set by the province.

United Kingdom residents returning from any country outside EEC may take
home duty free, 60ml (2 fluid ozs.) of perfume, 9 fluid ozs of toilet water
and other goods, up to a total worth of 145 pounds. In addition, persons 17
years or over may take home 25 grammes (1/2 pound) of tobacco, or 200
cigarettes or 100 cigarrillos (double the tobacco goods if you live outside
Europe), plus a litre of spirits or 2 litres of fortified sparkling wines
or 2 litres of still table wine. The importation into the United Kingdom of
some goods is prohibited or restricted. These include counterfeit coins,
copied goods, dangerous firearms, flick knives, explosives, indecent or
obscene books, magazines, films or other articles, CB radios, cordless
telephones, microphones, plants, trees, fruits, potatoes and certain
vegetables, live animals, birds, certain articles derived from rare
species; e.g. ivory, reptile leather, and all goods made from it. No animal
can be landed unless the owners have in their possession a valid rabies
licence by the British Government department.

Yellow Fever - a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required from
travelers over 1 year of age coming from the following countries: Angola,
Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina, Faso, Colombia, Cameroon, Democratic
Republic of Congo, Ecuador, French Guyana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea,
Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Peru and Sudan. Travelers are required to
be vaccinated 10 days prior to entering The Bahamas and must have a valid
certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever.

Departure Tax
Each adult leaving The Bahamas must pay B$15 departure tax, except from
Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, where travelers must pay $18, which
includes a $3.00 security fee.  This fee may be included in one's ticket purchase price, so check with your particular airline.  Children under the age of six (6) years are
exempt. Visitors departing from Nassau and Freeport International airports
for most United States destinations, clear US Customs and Immigration prior
to departure. No further US Customs formalities are required on arrival in
the US. European passengers clear customs upon arrival at their destination.

Passports and Visas
All persons entering The Bahamas require passports except National of the
United States, Canada and the United Kingdom..

British Citizens from the United Kingdom and British dependent territories
and Canadian citizens may enter The Bahamas as visitors without passports
or visas, for periods not exceeding three weeks. For longer stays,
passports are required.

United States citizens traveling to The Bahamas require proof of
citizenship such as: (1) a birth certificate (original or notarized copy)
plus an official photo ID; (2) a current passport or one that has not been
expired for more than five (5) years.

Naturalized Citizens of the United States require original naturalization
certificate (copy not accepted), No photo ID required.

Alien Residents of the United States in possession of a U.S. Alien
Registration Card may enter The Bahamas without a visa for visits not
exceeding thirty days. Presentation of National Passport would facilitate

United States citizens returning to the US, and traveling on regularly
scheduled airlines are pre-cleared through US Customs and Immigration at
Nassau and Freeport International Airports.

Citizens of the following counties require passports but no visas: Belgium,
Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lichtenstien, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, San
Marino, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland and Turkey.

Citizens of the following countries require passports, but no visas for
stays of three months or less: Austria, Denmark, France, the Federal
Republic of Germany, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Israel, Portugal,
Spain and Sweden. For longer stays, visas are required.

Citizens of the following countries require passports, but no visas for
stays not exceeding 14 days: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica,
Ecuador, Guatemals, South Africa, Republic of Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Uruguay, and Venezuela. For longer
stays, visas are required.

Citizens of the following countries require passports and visas to enter
The Bahamas for any purpose: Dominican Republic, Haiti, North Korea, Cuba,
Suriname, Pakistan, Cameroon, Mozambique, India, Nigeria, Ghana, and all
Communist countries. Nationals of all other countries are asked to check
entry requirements with the Immigration Department, P.O. Box N-831, Nassau,
The Bahamas. Tel (242)322-7530.

Local painter at work ...


Medical Services

Harbour Island Clinic:

Dunmore Town - 242 333 2227

Nurse Melony Saunders

Harbour Island
242 333 2111
Governor's Harbour
242 332 2111
242 335 1212
Spanish Wells
242 333 4030
Long Distance Operator
Directory Assistance
242 333 2375