Bahamas Check Out General Information
Flying the Bahamas in a small general aviation aircraft is a spectacular event. In my 48+ years of flying the many flights that I have made to the Bahamas are some of my most memorable.
Whether it be for fishing, diving, snorkeling, beaching, a stay at Atlantis, it is always just the flight getting there and back that is my favorite part of trip.
For those of you new to this type of flying I offer a 3 and 1/2 day Bahamas check out where I personally fly with you to the Bahamas and help you set up the various components of the flight planning, eAPIS, Customs, survival equipment, etc. We will land at various islands, challenging air strips and visit places that you might not otherwise find on your own. For those of you who are comfortable to go it alone your first time, you are welcome to use the below information as guide and reference of where to find the necessary information needed.
The basic Bahamas check out is 3 and 1/2 days depending on were you might be departing from. Option one is to fly to my home base of Apalachicola, FL (KAAF) the day before departing to the Bahamas. We will have an approximately 3 hour briefing there. You will spend the night in Apalachicola and we will depart early the next day, spend two nights in the Bahamas and return to Apalachicola in time for you to return home the same day.
You can select what airports in the Bahamas that you might be interested in or I can recommend them. The Southern Bahamas are my personal favorite so that’s the area that I tend to recommend. You can bring your spouse, significant other, children, friends, etc. You also can extend the check out to include fishing, diving, sight seeing, or any other special interest that you might have.
My fee for the 3 and 1/2 day check out is $2,000.00 plus $500.00 per day there after.
Plan about a week of preparation prior to arriving in Apalachicola to review and complete the items listed below:
1- Watch AOPA’s video and read through the associated information located HERE.
2- Order AOPA’s Bahamas Guide book, also available as an APP. Link is HERE. This site also has the following free downloadable forms: Arrival Report, Transire, Cruising Permit (C7A) and General Declaration.
3- Order a US Customs sticker for your aircraft. Available at a cost of $27.50. Link is HERE.
4- You will need to set up an eAPIS account. CBP publishes “CBP Private Air APIS Guide” available HERE. Do not let this document confuse you as there are several private companies that offer eAPIS services for a small fee. I highly recommend FLTPLAN.com for this service. It is listed on their sight under “Premium Services”. The advantage with FLTPLAN.com is that the eAPIS is integrated with your flight plan. Once you have completed your flight plan you will get a notice that an eAPIS manifest is required. Once completed FLTPLAN.com will file the eAPIS manifest and automatically compute the applicable FIR crossing times and which CBP office to notify. The service is currently offered for $250.00 per year.
5- Note that a FCC radio license for your aircraft is technically required. In thirty plus years of flying to the Bahamas I have never been ask for this but you can get this license quickly on line with the FCC. Link is HERE.
6- You are only required to have life jackets on board for a Bahamas flight but I highly recommend a raft. Both can be rented from APP Jet Center at Fort Pearce, FL (KFPR), Banyan Air Service at Ft. Lauderdale Executive (KFXE), many other FBOs and also directly from several of the survival equipment manufactures. We will stop at one of these airports on our way to the Bahamas and pick these items up.
7- Banyan Air Services offers several free handy items for Bahamas flying: Requirements and Checklists, Phone Numbers & Frequencies, a free Bahamas Kit and also a link to download the “The Islands of the Bahamas Private Pilot Guide” published by the Bahamas Government tourist office. Link is HERE.
8- Fuel: Generally, 100 oct. avgas is available throughout the Bahamas. At the more remote islands it is a good idea to check ahead as the smaller islands that offer fuel do not carry a lot of inventory. Fuel is expensive, $7.00 a gallon might be an average and 3% is usually added for using a credit card. I have never had any problems with contaminated fuel but you for sure want to check you sumps.
9- Custom fees: Bahamas Customs is currently charging a $50.00 arrival fee and $29.00 per passenger departure fee. Cash only. US Customs does not charge a fee.
10- Cash: bring lots of it. I recommend using a credit card as little as possible for several reasons. If possible we will leave KFPR/KFXE with full fuel so depending on the number of stops only one fuel purchase in the Bahamas will be necessary. 60 gallons at $7.00 would be $420.00, custom fees for two people would be $108.00, two hotel rooms for one night would be approximately $400.00, if we go through Nassau there is a $29.00 facility fee, meals, beers, etc. Approximately $1,500.00 cash not including a fill up at KFPR/KFXE and the survival equipment rental which could be placed on a credit card.
11- The checkout procedure:
- Read though the material listed above and the associated links.
- Order your US Customs sticker.
- Setup your eAPIS account, highly recommend FLTPLAN.com for this service.
- Plan to arrive in Apalachicola, FL (KAAF) around 15:00 local time and spend the night in Apalachicola. We will have a 3 hour briefing when you arrive at my office.
- We will depart KAAF early the next morning for either Ft. Pearce (KFPR) or Ft Lauderdale Executive (KFXE). Prior to your arrival at KAAF we would have discussed possible airports and one over night in the Bahamas and will end up back in Apalachicola approximately 15:00 the next day.
- The Garmin Nav Data subscription needs to be “Americas” in order to cover the Bahamas.
Please call or email with any questions.
Look forward to flying with you!