For day-to-day use a car is not essential, but consider renting one if you are staying in a vacation rental home far from the tourist zones and if you want to explore the local parts of town on your own. Be aware that Bahamians drive on the left, and watch out for potholes (lots of them!). American rental companies are available at the Nassau airport. In the Out Islands, where options are limited, your hotel is the best resource to find a local rental agency.
Ways to save: You can save on rental rates with a local company like Virgo Car Rental.
Rented golf carts are a fun and easy way to get around many of the Out Islands, especially Bimini, Harbour Island, the Abacos (Green Turtle Cay, Elbow Cay, Treasure Cay, Guana Cay), Spanish Wells and Staniel Cay, Exuma. Your hotel can help you secure one.
Public transport is not one of the country’s best features. Buses in Nassau, called “jitneys” by locals, are chaotic, noisy and sometimes dingy. To travel within the tourist zone from downtown to Cable Beach, flag down a No. 10 or 10a bus whenever or wherever you see one approaching. To get off the bus, call out, “Bus stop!” The driver collects the $1.25 fare as you leave (exact change required). There are no public buses in the Out Islands.
The formal way to hail a cab in Nassau or Freeport is at a taxi stand, located outside large hotels, popular restaurants and major attractions. You can also call an individual cab for pickup, which is the only way to do it in the Out Islands. Consult your Out Island hotel for recommended companies, and get advice on negotiating fares. In Nassau, forget about figuring out zone rates — they are complicated — and don’t expect to see meters, either. Instead, negotiate the rate at the start of the trip. Courteous Transfers and Tours provides taxis for disabled/handicapped passengers and Majestic Tours has wheelchair-accessible vans.
Ways to save: Taxi drivers are all independent operators, so ask the driver for his name and number and hold on to it. If you use the same taxi repeatedly, you can negotiate a lower rate.
Water taxis and ferries offer a handy, inexpensive way to get around. Jump on the Paradise Island Ferry for just $3 to go from Paradise Island to downtown Nassau. Albury’s Ferry Service will get you from mainland Great Abaco to the many nearby cays. With rates starting at $12, Elvis Water Taxi has several stops within Elizabeth Harbour, Great Exuma. A free, twice-daily ferry connects Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay. To get from the international airport on South Bimini, hop on a water taxi to the resort town.
The Bahamas doesn’t have bike lanes, and drivers don’t defer to riders. So cycle only as a tour activity or to explore the Out Islands, where many hotels provide complimentary bikes or rent them for a nominal fee. Among rental agenciesthroughout the Bahamas, BowcarBahamas and Cycles Unlimited serve Nassau/Paradise Island.
While the Bahamas has disability laws (enacted only in 2014), they are not always enforced and not all businesses comply. Sidewalks in Nassau, for example, are littered with potholes, especially downtown — a challenge for those in wheelchairs or using walkers or canes. This is less true on Paradise Island and around Nassau’s Cable Beach. Most medium and large hotels provide accessibility ramps and other handicap amenities. The cruise port in Nassau has a step-free exit from the dock to the cruise terminal.The Bahamas National Council for Disability and the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled may be able to provide more accessibility information.