The Ugly Truth About Tourism In The Bahamas

The Ugly Truth About Tourism In The Bahamas

It reallys takes the "eco" out of ecotourism.

Last January, a girl friend and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to the Bahamas. We were sick of freezing in New England, dying to scratch our travel itch, and desperately needed some beach time. Neither of us had ever been to the Bahamas – but from all the photos we had seen and stories we had heard, it seemed like a perfect destination for a warm beach getaway.

We booked a five day vacation through CheapCaribbean, and stayed at Melia – an all-inclusive resort in Nassau. A couple weeks later, we were jetting off to embark on our tropical vacation.

But it turns out the Bahamas I had imagined in my head was not the Bahamas that I ended up at. The resort was plenty nice enough – and was definitely worth its cost. If there’s anything I’ll rave about from this trip, it’s the abundance of delicious food. Our resort was beachfront on Cable Beach – supposedly one of the best beaches in the Bahamas. But if Cable Beach is one of the tropical destination’s top-rated beaches, I’d hate to see the beaches that aren’t top-rated.

My friend and I spent much of that week walking up and down the stretch of beach, and each time, we discovered more and more trash. I don’t just mean a soda can or two – we found large, cumbersome and extremely dangerous objects. Among the most notable were a rotted mattress and a rusty knife.

Our friendly, chatty cab driver that brought us from the airport to the hotel informed us that March is their busiest season. Because most college spring breaks fall some time in March, that makes sense. Being there in January, my friend and I were there during somewhat of a lull period. The beach was by no means packed – in fact, there were very few people there at all. Maybe the beach would have been cleaned up for the coming busy season, but somehow, I doubt it. I can't even imagine the immensity of the severe impact that this kind of trash has on the abundance of aquatic life that the Bahamas boasts about to attract snorkelers and scuba divers. Fish, sea turtles and sharks can be killed by simply getting entangled in netting - so imagine the damage that a knife or metal mattress springs could do.

Much of the beach had protruding slabs of concrete from the foundations of the dozens of resorts planted along it. An abandoned, broken down resort was actually Melia’s closest neighbor.

Later in the week, we took the bus into the actual city of Nassau – a common port for cruise ships. I should mention that I’m impressed that the bus even ran – let alone made a regular trip to and from the city. Duct tape seemed to be the chosen method of fixing anything broken on the vehicle.

There is a large open market in Nassau, with dozens of merchants desperately trying to sell any kind of knick-knack or memento to tourists. Apart from the market, there are a few streets lined with expensive, luxurious shops – Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and other similar stores that obviously serve the sole purpose of catering to cruise ship passengers, and not the native people of the Bahamas.

After becoming bored of browsing through those streets, my friend and I decided to venture outside the touristy center of the city. We got halfway down a single deserted street before we quickly changed our minds and turned around. Before we had embarked on our vacation, my ultra-cautious mother made a point of asserting that Nassau is actually a pretty dangerous place with a high crime rate. Step outside the shopping center of the city, and you’ll probably start to really feel that, like we did.

All in all – the water was beautiful, the weather was warm and the food was good. But I honestly don’t know how so many tourists can still flock to the Bahamas every year, when it has fallen into such a state of disrepair. The picturesque environment that attracts so many visitors seems to be seriously threatened by the heavy tourist market. In fact, the islanders don’t seem to have much time to pay attention to the environment or the well-being of their own home at all, because all energy is put into keeping tourists happy. Many homes, parks, and entire communities are heavily dilapidated.

The economy seems to stand solely on the legs of tourism – the native people seem to have very little options for vocation other than working in one of the hundreds of resorts, peddling trinkets in the market, serving in restaurants or driving public transport. It saddened my heart to see the beautiful sandy shores cluttered with trash and overrun with gaudy resorts. I was shocked to discover that many of the native people suffer from poverty. They have to live their lives watching and catering to foreigners that filter in and out of their home. I understand that ecotourism is the backbone for many places – especially tropical ones. But the “eco” in ecotourism in the Bahamas really seems to be suffering.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.


If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.

1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.

I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

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