With its enchanting beaches and delicious cuisine, the Bahamas is an American tourist favorite, but do you know how far is the Bahamas from Miami by boat?
Although it’s only a little over 100 miles east of Miami (184 miles to Nassau and 110 miles to Freeport), you need a day to reach The Bahamas on a private boat or three hours on a ferry.
Read on to learn more about the ride from Miami to the Bahamas by boat.
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Distance from Miami to Bahamas by Boat
The distance from Florida to Bahamas varies on where you start and arrive at. It’s worth pointing out that The Bahamas comprises about 700 islands, although only 30 are thriving communities. Hence, the Miami to Bahamas distance depends on references.
- For example, the distance from Miami to Bahamas by boat at Freeport in the Grand Bahamas is 110 miles.
- If you go to the country’s capital Nassau, the Bahamas distance from Florida (starting in Miami) is 184 miles.
- On the other hand, The Bahamas’ westernmost island, Bimini, is the closest to Miami at 55.6 miles. That’s how close this popular tourist destination is, making it a haven for Americans seeking a day trip to the island’s famed beaches.
Now, maybe you’re wondering, can you see Bahamas from Florida? Although our visual range is infinite, we can only see about three miles or five kilometers near the horizon because of the Earth’s natural curvature.
However, experts say you can only see about two-thirds of the way to Bimini if you stand on the topmost floor of Panorama Tower in Miami. How many miles is that? That’s about 35 miles of the island.
Miami’s approximate distance to The Bahamas should give you a clue about how long of a boat ride you need to bridge the gap.
Travel Time from Miami to the Bahamas
The Bahamas lies about 55 to 184 miles east of Miami (depending on the reference location). Its proximity makes the archipelago the ideal destination for American travelers who want a paradise-like setting for rest and recreation. So, how far is Miami to Bahamas by boat time?
1. Estimated Travel Time
Let’s assume we have a boat with an average speed of 20 miles per hour (MPH). The boat trip from Miami to Bahamas should take two hours and 45 minutes (to Bimini) or a little over nine hours (heading to Nassau).
Now, suppose you have a 60-MPH cigarette boat. You could cover Miami to Nassau by boat in less than four hours. Bimini is within reach in less than an hour.
Meanwhile, a Miami to Bahamas ferry boat can cover the distance in three to four hours.
If you choose the Fort Lauderdale route, a Florida to Bahamas ferry can bring you to Freeport in the Grand Bahama in about three and a half hours. If Bimini is your target, expect the travel time to be about two hours.
Please note the length of the boat ride from Miami to Bahamas is an estimate and is susceptible to changes depending on several factors discussed in the section below.
2. Factors Influencing Travel Duration
The boat ride to Bahamas from Miami varies in duration because of the following factors.
- Weather conditions and sea state – Fair weather and calm waters can make the boat from Miami to Bahamas
It’s worth noting you’re treading the Atlantic Ocean, where rough waves can be unforgiving, which usually result in a longer-than-expected trip.
- Time of year – Most tourists take a ferry from Miami to Bahamas during the summer. Hence, you can expect heavy traffic in the sea lanes, which can impact travel duration.
- Boater’s experience – The route from Miami to The Bahamas by boat features shifting sandbars and shallow waters. These “obstacles” can be devastating to boats with skippers unfamiliar with the course.
Best Time to Sail from Miami to the Bahamas
So, when is the best time to go on a 3 day trip to Bahamas from Miami? The archipelago’s proximity to Florida makes it an all-year-round travel destination.
However, most American boaters and tourists visit The Bahamas from December to April because of more favorable weather, wind, and water conditions.
Sailing from Miami to the Bahamas
You have two options for sailing from Miami to The Bahamas.
1. Traveling by Boat
You can take a watercraft, pilot it yourself or hire a captain. After all, the distance is only about 55 miles from Miami to Bahamas (if arriving at Bimini).
The most exciting part about piloting a boat to The Bahamas is you’re in charge of your itinerary. You can go island hopping without time constraints. On the downside, you might be unfamiliar with the safest boating routes.
One question we often get about this mode of transportation is, “Is going from The Bahamas to Miami by boat illegal?” Boating is legal with the proper documentation and other legal requirements for crossing between nations.
Please note The Bahamas is an independent country, although a member of the United Kingdom’s Commonwealth of Nations. Hence, you’ll need a valid passport, customs clearance, and other immigration-related documents.
2. Group Crossing
Many boaters join an organized group crossing between June and July to address the issue of route uncertainty. It’s like piloting your vessel, except you have 29 or so other watercraft sailing with you toward Bimini.
The trip involves a minimal fee. However, greenhorn boaters will appreciate the insights and wisdom of seasoned sailors who have navigated the route countless times. It’s one of the best ways to learn the ropes of a Miami to Bahamas boat route.
If you don’t have a boat, you can always take a Miami to Bahamas ferry service from Fort Lauderdale, about half an hour’s ride from Miami.
These large vessels should take your car across the body of water and into Freeport in the Grand Bahama within three to four hours. Alternatively, you can take a ferry day trip to Bimini for only two hours.
Please note there’s no ferry from Miami to Nassau, the archipelago’s capital. Hence, you can take the ferry to Bahamas from Miami and arrive at Bimini, before taking a 45-minute domestic flight to Nassau.
The ferry cost is about $100 for a one-way ticket (Miami to Bimini). The one-way ferry price for the Miami-Freeport route is about $160. Some ferry operators might offer discounts, so it’s best to check with them.
Tips for a Smooth Boat Trip from Miami to the Bahamas
If you sail to The Bahamas in your vessel, here are some tips to observe to ensure a smooth and safe trip.
1. Boating Safety Tips
- Consider your boat choice because you’ll cross a 55-mile-wide stretch of open waters.
Excellent options are offshore fishing boats, blue-water fishing center consoles, and vessels with a minimum speed of 25 knots and at least 24 feet long.
- Bring at least two different anchors to account for varying sea bottoms.
- Ensure the following safety gear and navigational tools in the boat.
- Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon
- Communications devices (i.e., at least two VHF radios)
- Type 1 flotation device (i.e., life jacket) for every crew and passenger
- Personal Location Beacon
- GPS chart plotters
- Medical and first aid kit
- Bring spare boat parts (i.e., belts, starters, gaskets, and alternators).
- Bring repair equipment.
- Don’t secure the anchor near or on coral, as the act is illegal.
- Stay up-to-date with the weather report.
2. Safety and Preparation Tips for the Journey
- Create a float plan and leave it to a trustworthy person who’ll remain at home. You can also save the plan online or leave it at the marina.
- Learn the different boating routes (i.e., Miami-Freeport and Miami-Bimini) and focus on the underwater topography.
- Prepare the boating regulatory requirements, including the following.
- The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form
- The Bahamas Immigration Card
- Valid Passport
- Vessel Registration – boat title
- Apply for a Cruising Permit detailing the vessel’s registration, crew and passenger identification, pets, etc.
- Pay the Cruising Permit fee, ranging from $150 to $1,000 for three months (depending on vessel size).
Can I bring my own boat, or do I need to rent one for the trip from Miami to the Bahamas?
You can bring your watercraft to The Bahamas, provided the vessel meets the nation’s minimum boating and cruising requirements. Alternatively, you can rent a boat to take you to The Bahamas.
Can you go to the Bahamas without a passport?
No, you cannot go to The Bahamas without a passport. The Bahamas is a country distinct from the United States. Hence, immigration documents are necessary.
What can you not bring into The Bahamas?
You cannot bring illegal items (i.e., illicit drugs, marijuana, cocaine, and other controlled substances), fruits, and vegetables into The Bahamas.
How far is The Bahamas from Miami by Boat? The closest Bahamas destination is Bimini, about 55 miles off the Miami coast. The capital is about 184 miles farther to the east, while Freeport is about 110 miles from Miami.
A private watercraft can reach the pristine beaches of the Caribbean island nation in about a day or two, depending on the vessel. A ferry service from Miami to Freeport or Bimini only takes about three to four hours (two for Bimini).
Ten years of enjoying countless trips on boats never made me love them any less! So I am here to put all those experiences into good use for other boaters who want to have a safe and fun trip with their friends and families.