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Telephones

Though some of the Out Islands are still difficult to reach by telephone, direct long-distance dialing is available between North America and Nassau (New Providence Island), Grand Bahama Island, the Abacos, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, the Exumas, and Stella Maris on Long Island.

To call The Bahamas:

1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.

2. Dial the country code: 242.

3. Dial the seven-digit local number.

To make international calls from The Bahamas: First dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next, dial the area code and local number. For example, if you wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial 00-1-202-588-7800.

For local calls within The Bahamas: Simply dial the seven-digit number. To call from one island to another within The Bahamas, dial 1-242 and then the seven-digit number.

For directory assistance: Dial tel. 916 if you're looking for a number inside The Bahamas, 0 for numbers to all other countries.

For operator assistance: To reach an international or domestic operator within The Bahamas, dial tel. 0.

Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 881 within The Bahamas are toll-free. However, calling a normally toll-free number within the U.S. (that is, one beginning with 800, 866, 887, or 888) usually involves a charge if made from The Bahamas. In fact, it usually costs the same as an overseas call unless the merchant has made arrangements with local telephone authorities. Note: Major airlines generally maintain toll-free 800, 866, 887, or 888 provisions for calls made to them within The Bahamas. If you dial what you think is a toll-free phone number and it ends up costing the long-distance rate, an automated recording will inform you of this fact. In some cases, the recording will suggest a local toll-free alternative -- usually one beginning with 881.

To reach the major international services of AT&T, dial tel. 800/CALL-ATT (225-5288), or head for any phone with AT&T or USA Direct marked on the side of the booth. Picking up the handset will connect you with an AT&T operator. These phones are often positioned beside cruise-ship docks for disembarking passengers. MCI can be reached at tel. 800/888-8000.

Note that the old coin-operated phones are still prevalent in The Bahamas and do still swallow coins. Those old phones, however, are gradually being replaced by phones that use calling cards (debit cards) that come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, and $50. They can be bought from any office of BATELCO (Bahamas Telephone Co.). BATELCO's main branch is on Kennedy Drive, Nassau (tel. 242/302-7102; www2.btcbahamas.com), although a popular local branch lies in the heart of Nassau, on East Street off Bay Street.

Mobile Phones

The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobiles), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use in countries worldwide. In general, reception is good. In the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Microcell and some Rogers customers use GSM; and all Europeans and most Australians use GSM.

For many, renting a phone is a good idea. While you can rent a phone from any number of overseas sites, including kiosks at airports and at car-rental agencies, we suggest renting the phone before you leave home. North Americans can rent one before leaving home from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626 or 703/222-7161; www.intouchglobal.com) or Roadpost (tel. 888/290-1616 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work overseas.

Buying a phone can be economically attractive, as many nations have cheap prepaid phone systems. Once you arrive at your destination, stop by a local cellphone shop and get the cheapest package; you'll probably pay less than $100 for a phone and a starter calling card. Local calls may be as low as 10¢ per minute, and in many countries incoming calls are free.

Wilderness adventurers might consider renting a satellite phone ("satphone"). It's different from a cellphone in that it connects to satellites and works where there's no cellular signal or ground-based tower. You can rent satellite phones from Roadpost . InTouch USA offers a wider range of satphones but at higher rates. Per-minute call charges can be even cheaper than roaming charges with a regular cellphone, but the phone itself is more expensive. Satphones are outrageously expensive to buy, so don't even think about it.

Internet & Wi-Fi

Internet cafes are not common on the islands, but in Nassau you can try Cybercafe, in the Mall at Marathon (tel. 242/394-6254). In the Out Islands, your hotel may have a computer with Internet access for guest use.

If you're traveling with your own computer, Web access via Wi-Fi hot spots is increasingly common at hotels, even in the Out Islands. But if this issue is especially important to you, see our hotel reviews and check with specific accommodations before booking.

More and more hotels, cafes, and retailers are signing on as Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) "hot spots." Mac owners have their own networking technology: Apple AirPort. T-Mobile Hotspot (tel. 877/822-SPOT [7768]; hotspot.t-mobile.com or www.t-mobile.co.uk) serves up wireless connections at coffee shops nationwide. Boingo (www.boingo.com) and Wayport (www.wayport.com) have set up networks in airports and high-class hotel lobbies. iPass providers also give you access to a few hundred wireless hotel lobby setups.

For wired access, most business-class hotels offer dataports for laptop modems. In addition, major Internet service providers (ISPs) have local access numbers around the world, allowing you to go online by placing a local call. The iPass network also has dial-up numbers around the world. You'll have to sign up with an iPass provider, who will then tell you how to set up your computer for your destination(s). For a list of iPass providers, go to www.ipass.com and click on "Individuals Buy Now." One solid provider is i2Roam (tel. 866/811-6209 or 920/233-5863; www.i2roam.com).

Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable -- or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.

To find cybercafes, check www.cybercaptive.com and www.cybercafe.com.

Aside from formal cybercafes, most public libraries have Internet access. Avoid hotel business centers unless you're willing to pay exorbitant rates.

Most major airports now have Internet kiosks scattered throughout their gates. These give you basic Web access for a per-minute fee that's usually higher than cybercafe prices.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.