A few celebratory cocktails are part of the package for most people when they travel. But, what if you aren’t 21 yet?
Bahamas visitors between the ages of 18 and 20 are in for some good news: the Bahamas has a drinking age of 18, which means that you can enjoy an alcoholic beverage here even if you can’t back home.
How Old to Drink in the Bahamas?
The Bahamas has a drinking age of 18, meaning those 18 and up can order drinks in a bar and buy alcohol from the store.
Reports vary about how strict Bahamian bars and clubs are about carding. But, since it is the law, it’s probably best to be sure you have your ID. Your driver’s license or passport should both work.
If you’re going to be drinking in the Bahamas, consider checking out locally made offerings.
There are two widely distributed locally-made beers in the Bahamas: Kalik and Sands. Kalik (pronounced ka-lick) is brewed in Nassau and is owned by Commonwealth Brewery, the maker of Heineken. Sands is made on Grand Bahama and is locally owned.
There are also a couple of craft breweries. Rip Ty’d and Pirate Republic both get positive mentions by past visitors. There are a couple of rum distillers in the Bahamas, both somewhat recently established.
The country does not have a long history of rum making. That said, the local distilleries can be fun to visit. John Watlings has a location right downtown in Nassau.
There are free samples available, so you can taste different rums and see which you prefer. Luna Distillery has a good tour and distills their rums on site. You can try a few different styles when you visit.
Now that you can drink, what are you having?
Cocktails are more popular in the Bahamas than beer. It makes sense, as the climate throughout the Caribbean was always more friendly to distilling than to brewing. It’s only in modern times that beer’s made a lot of headway.
That said, cocktails remain more popular. There are quite a few distinctive ones to try, including some of the ones below:
- Bahama Mama
- Piña colada
- Goombay Smash
- Planter’s punch
- Sky juice
- Yellow bird
As you can probably see, the majority of these drinks are rum-based. While the Bahamas was not, historically, a huge rum distilling location, a lot of rum has passed through the country.
During the piracy era, the Bahamas was a frequent stop for ships going north from the Caribbean. And, when US Prohibition made it hard to buy liquor at home, the Bahamas was an easy, nearby source for rum runners.
A Word About Drinking in the Tropics
Even in winter, it gets hot in the Bahamas. And, any experienced drinker can tell you that bright sun and strong drinks do not mix.
Go easy on the tropical cocktails, especially if you are going for especially colorful, sugary drinks. These often have more alcohol in them than you’d expect.
Alcohol is a diuretic, and heat from the sun means sweat. The combination can lead to dehydration, which can be uncomfortable and best and dangerous at worst.
Follow up each boozy drink with a glass of water. This not only keeps you hydrated, it can keep your bar tab a little more reasonable.
Make sure you eat something.
Things to Consider
A few things to consider about the drinking age in the Bahamas:
- Cruise ships can set their own rules, and most do not serve people who are under 21. So, don’t expect to belly up to the bar as soon as you’re in Bahamian waters.
- Private islands also have their own rules. You won’t be allowed to drink under 21 in, say, CocoCay.
- If you are a new drinker, be cautious and learn your limits. Many sugary cocktails can disguise large servings of booze. Sugar, plus alcohol, plus tropical sun do not mix.
- Alcohol sales are restricted on Sundays. You can buy a drink with a meal in a restaurant starting at noon and at resorts after 7 pm on Sundays. Convenience stores and grocery stores sell no alcohol on Sundays at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Going to a country with different drinking laws means learning a bit before you go. These are some of the most common questions when it comes to the drinking age in the Bahamas:
Can you buy alcohol in the Bahamas at 18?
Yes, the drinking age throughout the Bahamas is 18. Be sure to bring your driver’s license, passport or other ID to prove you are of age. The only exception is private islands like those owned by cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay.
Can you drink at 18 in CocoCay?
Even though CocoCay is in the Bahamas, it’s an entirely privately owned island. Royal Caribbean only serves alcohol to people 21 and up, even if you are on land in CocoCay. Think of it more like a private club where you are bound by private club rules.
Can I drink on a cruise ship at 18?
Most cruise lines only allow passengers over the age of 21 to drink on board.The only exceptions are cruises that go to South America, Australia, and Europe.
Here, passengers can drink between the ages of 18 and 20 if they have a parent along with them who signs a waiver to allow it. The Bahamas is not included in the policy, so people under 21 won’t be able to drink on the ship.
Bahamas Drinking Age: Final Thoughts
The Bahamas has a drinking age of 18, which means that 18 to 20-year-olds who can’t drink in the states are welcome to tip one back here.
Take it easy if you aren’t used to drinking. There is nothing worse than missing a day of your hard-earned vacation because you’re too sick to enjoy it.
A cocktail or two in the Bahamas is a chance to enjoy some celebratory traditions and an opportunity to experience some things you wouldn’t get to do at home. Keep it in moderation and make some good memories. Happy travels!