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.

Popular Right Now

To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Open Letter To The Friend Feeling Left Out...You Will Find Your Place

It may not feel like it now, but eventually you will find the people that make you happy.


When I first came to college, I was most excited to make new friends, people that I could make new memories with for the next four years of my life. The first couple of weeks of school I met many new people. I made a bunch of new friends, all of them with their own unique and lovable personalities. I even thought I had found a group I belonged in.

But as the semester went by, I started to feel myself beginning to be isolated. Trips to the dining hall were being made without me, and I stopped receiving invites to the movie nights. I would try and tag along if I could, but I still couldn't help feeling like I wasn't wanted there.

I immediately began thinking I had done something. Did I say something mean? Did I do something to upset them? I couldn't stop thinking about it. I then decided to do the adult thing and ask if there was something that was wrong. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding in communication.

When I finally mustered up the courage to ask them, they responded back with, "We're not mad at you. We just feel like our personalities don't go well together."

At first, I was kind of hurt. I had finally thought I had found a group, only to be pushed away because they didn't like my personality. But then I started thinking… why would I want to be friends with a group of people like that?

I began spending more time with my other friends and got even closer with them. They started inviting me to dinner and to different events around campus. I began to feel like I had found my place again.

As I look back, I wonder why I spent so much time with people who never seemed to want me there. The entire time, I could have been spending time with the people who wanted me around. From here on forward, I plan to only surround myself with the people who make me feel happy.

So, to the person out there who feels like the forgotten friend, get out there and start looking for new ones. Wasting your time and energy on people who don't want to be with you won't get you anywhere. Invest your time into finding new people. You will find your place with the right friends.

And as for me...

GIF Credit:

Related Content

Facebook Comments