Don’t worry — you don’t have to know how to swim to study abroad in the Bahamas! But even if your program does not require you to pack a swimsuit, let’s face it: You’re choosing to study abroad in the Bahamas, at least in part, because its beaches are nothing less than perfection. Whether you’re going to the islands to learn about underwater formations, ogle tidal caves and reefs, get up close to marine wildlife, study the ocean, or simply bask on the pristine sands next to it — your study abroad in the Bahamas promises to be a truly enviable experience.
Best Places to Study in the Bahamas
The Bahamas are home to a wide variety of marine life (including the huge sea snail known as the Queen Conch) that thrive in waters surrounding its more than 700 islands, islets, and cays. Located between the shores of Florida in the U.S. to the north and Cuba to the south, this is a tropical island paradise teeming with wildlife that makes up the rich and diverse ecology of the Atlantic Ocean’s western reaches.
San Salvador. Widely believed as Christopher Columbus’ first land he sighted and visited, this island holds its name thanks to him. With plentiful sandy beaches, the Pleistocene Cockburk Town Fossil Reef, and the Dixon Hill lighthouse, it makes for a beautiful location for your studies. Almost all of the study abroad programs are located here, so you’re in for a fun time in this location brimming with tropical views.
Nassau. The capital of the Bahamas is located on New Providence Island. With a tropical climate and colorful architecture, it’s no wonder that this is a popular tourist hotspot. You might also recognize areas that were in the James Bond films. Nassau also holds the honor of being one of three cities of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the Caribbean, and you don’t want to miss out on Junkanoo, its festive street parade!
Andros — an island located in the western area, and it’s the largest of the Bahamian Islands. Home to several marine features and ecosystems, such as the Tongue of the Ocean, the Andros Barrier Reef, and the largest collection of blue holes, you won’t resist wanting to learn how to scuba dive here. Celebrate with the locals at one of their festivals throughout the year, such as the Conch Festival, the Pirates’ Festival, and the Crabfest at Fresh Creek.
Popular Subjects to Study in the Bahamas
For the budding marine biologist, zoologist, oceanographer, or similar naturalist, studying abroad in the Bahamas makes perfect academic sense. Get your flippers out and suit up for an underwater study abroad adventure here at one of the universities in the Bahamas!
Marine Biology. Why not get hands-on experience and learn about the marine organisms and environments near a tropical island?! You’ll conduct field research, collect data, and identify the behavior of creatures in the habitats of the coral reefs. Some of the programs are during spring break, so it’s a quick and amazing way to earn three credits.
Environmental Science. Learn new skills and gain firsthand experience in an environment that will immerse yourself in discoveries and challenges. You’ll learn about appreciating the culture and wildlife and the balance between humans and environmental habitats. Not to mention that many of these programs are full of adventurous activities like snorkeling and rafting.
You can also earn credits in geology and earth sciences that coincide with other marine fields while you’re studying abroad in the Bahamas. Some of the programs are in the summer and some are during spring break, so no worries missing out on the regular school year back home.
Costs of Studying in the Bahamas
While the Bahamas is a picturesque spot for studying abroad in one of the universities in the Bahamas, its popularity with tourism has elevated the prices. If you’re looking to save some money while here, try some local dishes in the markets instead of visiting traditional American chain restaurants.
The cost of airfare and program fees might be a bit high, but it’s worth it to swim in world-class reefs and build sandcastles on a foreign beach! The program fees usually cover the cost of tuition, accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and some excursions. If you’re looking for additional underwater excursions, then expect to spend more than you’d like — in the hundreds of dollars. Don’t forget to look into scholarships and using FundMyTravel to help cover these expenses.
Accommodation in the Bahamas
While the housing depends on the program and placement, you can expect to share your living space with other students. In most cases, programs will arrange housing for you in a cabin or a dorm, but hey, you’ll be close to a beach wherever you are, so you’ll have ample space to get some air and splash on the beach! Living with other students is a great way to work together on research projects, visit the local landmarks, and make lifelong friends. Who can say no to that?
Students Visas in the Bahamas
Because most of the programs are less than 90 days, U.S. citizens won’t need a visa (all other citizens will need a visa), but you will need a valid passport upon entry. Program coordinators usually assist with the visa application process, which can take several weeks, so apply early. Visit GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to locate consulates near you and to reach out for help on the visa application process.
Benefits & Challenges
The Bahamas are a real-world water park for anyone who’s into sea kayaking, boating, diving and snorkeling, fishing, or parasailing. Here you can swim with pigs, colorful animals, and stingrays in your free time. Time spent on land can be devoted to biking, birding, or visiting fascinating museums such as the Pirates of Nassau Museum, the Museum of Slavery and Emancipation, and the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.
You might run into a bit of culture shock, homesickness, and semi-language barriers while you’re here. While English is the national language and classes at the universities in the Bahamas are in English, you’ll discover that you might not understand their slang and accents right away. Just keep chatting to locals while you go out and learn some of their mannerisms, and you’ll pick it up before you know it.
From tasting some conch (mollusk) and warm johnny cakes to exploring pink-sand beaches and mysterious shipwrecks, you’ll feel like Captain Jack Sparrow’s got nothing on you after you leave here. Get your sunglasses out and slather on some sunscreen for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, setting sail to study abroad in the Bahamas!