Caribbean Tourism

Getting Around in Bahamas

Air


Bahamasair operates scheduled flights between Nassau and the Family Islands. Charter flights and excursions available through them and several private companies, see Prestel for details. Seaplanes fly to those islands which have no landing strip. Inter-island travel is difficult given that nearly all flights originate in Nassau. To fly from Abaco to Eleuthera with Bahamasair, for example, you have to change planes in Nassau, often with a wait of several hours and thus waste a day. Each island has developed direct transport links with the USA rather than with each other. Bahamasair now has a scheme for multiple island destinations (Discover the Bahamas) from Miami, Orlando or Nassau, based on the number of flights you want to take, valid 21 days, for example from Miami, four flights US$180; from Orlando eight flights US$380; from Nassau six flights US$125.

  • Abaco - There are airstrips at Marsh Harbour (MHH), Treasure Cay (TCB) and Walker’s Cay (WKR). American (T800-4337300), Island Express (T3673597). Several airlines fly to Marsh Harbour and/or Treasure Cay from Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach in Florida. Bahamasair provides domestic air services to Nassau, Freeport and on to other islands. Walker’s Cay is served by Pan Am Air Bridge from Fort Lauderdale. Look out for package deals to the various resorts with Bahamasair. Charter planes including Abaco Air, T3672266, 3672205, PO Box 492, Marsh Harbour, VHF 74; Cherokee Air, T3672089, 3672613, 3672530, PO Box 485, Marsh Harbour; Zig Zag Airplane Charter, T3672889, Marsh Harbour.
  • Andros - Bahamasair has daily flights to all four from Nassau. Small Hope Bay Lodge runs its own charter flights from Fort Lauderdale to Fresh Creek/Andros Town, US$220 per person round trip, minimum 2 people, children under 12 half price, 1 hr, T305-3598240, F305-3598241 or phone the Lodge on Andros. Airports are at Fresh Creek/Andros Town (ASD), Mangrove Cay (MAY) (both central), San Andros (SAQ) and Congo Town/South Andros (TZN).
  • Bimini - Pan Am Air Bridge flies from Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Nassau. Chalk’s International (T800-4242557, in Alice Town T3473024, in Bailey Town T3473131) flies into the harbour from Florida.
  • Cat Island - Bahamasair has flights to Arthur’s Town (ATC) from Nassau 3 times a week. There is also an airport at New Bight which is more convenient for most hotels but there are no scheduled services. Some hotels have their own airstrips.
  • Eleuthera - There are airports at Governor’s Harbour (GHB) (8 miles from the town, US$20 taxi fare for 2 people), North Eleuthera (ELH) and Rock Sound (RSD). Bahamasair have scheduled flights daily from Nassau to all three. Governor’s Harbour and North Eleuthera are served also by Gulfstream International in conjunction with Continental Connection, Island Express, US Airways Express, Air Sunshine, Twin Air, Sandpiper Air, Bel Air Transport and American Eagle from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key West and/or Orlando.
  • The Exumas - There is an international airport at Moss Town with an 8,000ft runway, 2 miles from George Town, and another airport at George Town with an 8,000ft runway but closed to commercial traffic. Confusingly the Exuma International Airport at Moss Town carries the (GGT) George Town code. American Eagle flies daily from Miami in high season, 5 times a week in summer. Bahamasair flies from Fort Lauderdale, Nassau and Stella Maris, Long Island. Air Sunshine flies from Fort Lauderdale and Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida, 4 times a week. Lynx Air also fly non-stop from Fort Lauderdale. Mr Harry Nixon runs a charter service, Nixon Aviation (PO Box 3, Airport, George Town, T3362104). For flight information to Staniel Cay, Capt Dennis Rotolo, Executive Air Travel, T2246002, F9795103.
  • Inagua - The airport (IGA) is 2 miles from town. Bahamasair have 3 scheduled flights a week from Nassau. Air Sunshine flies 4 times a week from Fort Lauderdale and from Sarasota/ Bradenton, Florida.
  • Long Island- There are 2 airports, Stella Maris (SML) and Deadman’s Cay (LGI). Island Express flies several times a week from Fort Lauderdale to Stella Maris, while Bahamasair flies there from Deadman’s Cay, George Town, Fort Lauderdale (via Exuma) and Nassau. Deadman’s Cay only receives Bahamasair flights from Nassau and Stella Maris.
  • New Providence- Nassau International Airport (NAS), is about 14 miles from Nassau. Taxi to Cable Beach US$12, to Nassau US$17-20 and to Paradise Island US$20-25. Third and subsequent extra passengers should be charged US$3, but drivers sometimes try to charge everyone a separate full fare, which is illegal. Make sure meter is turned on and used. There is no public bus service to or from the airport, though some hotels have buses. For the return journey there is a bus from Nassau to Clifton (US$1.50); it leaves on the hour from Bay and Frederick Sts (Western Transportation Company) and will drop you 1½ miles from the airport, not recommended option. Left luggage space is available in lockers outside the doors mid-way between the domestic and international ends of the terminal, they take 4 US quarter coins.
  • San Salvador- There are daily scheduled Bahamasair flights from Nassau to San Salvador (ZSA). Bahamasair also has 3 flights a week from Miami and Air Sunshine flies from Fort Lauderdale.

Land

Car: Visitors are permitted to drive on a valid foreign licence or International Permit for up to three months. Beyond that they need a local licence issued by the Road Traffic Department in Nassau. Traffic keeps left, although most cars are left-hand drive. Strict speed limits: Nassau and Freeport 30 miles per hour; elsewhere 40 miles per hour. The roads are in good condition but are congested in town; drivers pay scant attention to the laws.

  • The Family Islands - Travel is restricted to one main road per island, usually called the Queen’s Highway. Car, jeep or bike rental is generally available; there are taxis and water taxis but no bus service.
  • Long Island - The main road connecting all the main settlements on the island is the Queen’s Highway. Avoid night driving.

Car Hire

  • Abaco - Car rental can be arranged in Marsh Harbour or Treasure Cay with a number of companies: H & L Car Rental (Marsh Harbour, T3672840); Wilmac Rent-a-Car (Marsh Harbour Airport, T3674314); Carl’s Car Rentals (Marsh Harbour Airport, T3672493, Visa/MC accepted); Cornish Car Rental (Treasure Cay, T3658623); McKenzies Car Rental (Treasure Cay, T3658849/3652249).
  • Andros - Cars and scooters can be rented. In Kemps Bay Mr Rahming rents cars and also provides a charter service to any of the Family Islands (T3691608). At San Andros airport Cecil Gaitor has cars for hire. Small Hope Bay Lodge will organize car hire for US$50-75 per day. It is often possible to hire cars for the day from private individuals, ask locally, taxi drivers have details. Most settlements are linked by paved roads with plenty of potholes to keep you awake.
  • Bimini - Getting around There is no car rental. People use golf carts and boats to get around.
  • Eleuthera - The main road which runs down the backbone of the island is called the Queen’s Highway and makes exploring by car easy and direct. Car hire from all 3 airports and in town costs US$45-50 per day, ASA Rent-A-Car Service (T3322575); Hilton Johnson (near Hatchet Bay, T3320241); also Ethel Knowles at Ethel’s Cottages, at Tarpum Bay. You can also hire mopeds.
  • The Exumas - Cars can be rented at the airport and from George Town, ask at Peace and Plenty Hotel.
  • Grand Bahama - Be careful of wild dogs. If out walking or jogging carry a stick. If bothered, local people stoop as if to pick up a stone. This gives some breathing space. Getting to see most of Grand Bahama without a car is difficult. Cars can be rented at the airport or in Freeport on a daily basis (US$70 for a compact car, plus insurance of about US$12 a day) or weekly (US$420), as can jeeps (US$90 per day), mopeds (US$20 per day) and bicycles. Five Wheels Car Hire, T3527001; Hertz, T3522977; Dollar Rent A Car, T3529325 at the airport, T3739139 at Lucaya. Check the telephone yellow pages for many more. Rates are US$49-119 for 24 hrs, with unlimited mileage.
  • Inagua - Jeeps for hire from Mr Burrows at Matthew Town Service Station, rates negotiable but expect to pay at least US$40 per day. To get out to the camps arrange transport with the warden in Matthew Town (about US$10). To arrange fishing expeditions or trips around the island contact the local repair man, Cecil Fawkes (nicknamed the old Red Fox), whose boat is called The Foxy Lady, or Mr Cartwright. There is no set rate, prices are negotiated. There is a marina and boats can moor here and refuel.
  • New Providence - Avis (T3266380 or 3777121 at airport, a...@batelnet.bs); Hertz (T3778684); Dollar (T3778300) and Budget (T3777406) have offices at the airport and at other locations but local firms can be cheaper. Orange Creek Rent-a-Car has Suzuki runabouts for US$39 (T3234967). Large cash deposits can be required if you have no credit card. Scooters can be hired,Gibson’s Scooter Rentals, T3252963, US$30-45. Helmets are provided and it is mandatory that you wear them.
  • San Salvador - If you avoid the bush and water it is perfectly feasible to walk around San Salvador. The Queen’s Highway encircles the island and there are no other main roads. You can hire cars, enquire in Cockburn Town. Mopeds are not available. There is a bus tour which visits the main points of interest, ask at Riding Rock Inn.

Taxi

  • Abaco - A taxi from Marsh Harbour airport to the ferry dock costs US$12 for two; from Treasure Cay airport to the ferry for Green Turtle Cay US$3 per person, minimum US$5. Unmetered taxis charge US$1.50 per mile.
  • Andros - Taxis are available. A taxi from the airport at Fresh Creek to Small Hope Bay Lodge is US$20 (fare usually included in all-inclusive package), to Cargill Creek US$37.
  • Cat Island - Transport is difficult in the north as there are no taxis or buses and few cars for hitching lifts.
  • The Exumas - Taxis are expensive but plentiful. The fare from the airport to George Town is US$22. Hitching is easy.
  • Grand Bahama - Taxis are available at the airport; expect to share, they leave when full and they are big. To Port Lucaya it costs US$10.50 for two people, tip at your discretion. Establish the fare before you set off. Taxi fares are fixed and cabs are metered but expect additional charges for extra passengers and more than two pieces of luggage. From the Harbour to the International Bazaar cost US$10 and to Port Lucaya US$14, for 2 people, tip at your discretion. Be sure to establish the fare in advance especially when there are people going to different destinations. Report any problems to the Ministry of Tourism. A strict rotation system is used and buses are not allowed into the harbour area.
  • Inagua - A taxi from the airport to Matthew Town costs about US$4. Taxis cannot be used for birdwatching tours because of the state of the roads. If you want to see the island properly you will need transport, particularly if you travel to the north side of the island. Local people are very friendly and helpful and will organize sightseeing/wildlife trips.
  • Long Island - Taxis are available and private cars often negotiate to carry passengers too. Taxis are generally expensive. If you are going to Stella Maris it is better to get a flight to the airport there if possible, (Deadman’s Cay to Stella Maris is a 2 hrs’ drive) from where it is only 20 mins, US$3 per person, to the resort.
  • New Providence - Taxis are abundant but expensive. The rates are government-controlled and are for two people. Zoned taxi fares: airport to Cable Beach, US$14, airport to downtown, US$20, airport to Paradise Island, US$24 (not including US$1 bridge toll), Cable Beach to downtown, US$10. You will be charged US$3 extra for additional passengers and for more than two pieces of luggage. To avoid overcharging, agree a price beforehand, or check that the meter is used. Taxi drivers in Nassau may “take you for a ride” otherwise. Taxis can be hired by the hour, US$20 per hour for up to 5 passengers, larger taxis for seven or more cost US$23 per hour. Tipping is not necessary but 15% is normally expected. For a limousine service, Romeo’s Executive Limousine Service is highly recommended. Run by Bahamahost guide, Romeo Farrington, who has a white stretch limo and a fleet of lovely Bentleys, used for official visitors, special occasions or just sightseeing tours in style, T3276400, PO Box GT-2280. For radio-dispatched taxis T3235111 or 3234555.

Bus

  • Eleuthera - There are some public buses.
  • The Exumas - Buses run between Rolleville and George Town. Christine Rolle runs Island Tours from George Town, leaving at 1000 and 1400, including a native lunch, visits to various settlements and to Gloria, the ‘shark lady,’ on Little Exuma, who catches sharks and sells the teeth as souvenirs.
  • Grand Bahama - Public buses run from Freeport to Lucaya (US$0.75) and less frequently from Freeport to High Rock, Eight Mile Rock (US$1), Holmes Rock (US$2), West End (US$3) and East End. Check for timetable details. Buses drive fast and recklessly. There are routed stops with pink and white bus shelters in Freeport/Lucaya, but usually drivers will stop wherever you shout “bus stop coming up” loud enough to be heard over the music. Buses do not generally leave the bazaar or centre until full. Many hotels have a complimentary bus service for guests to the beach or in to Freeport.
  • Inagua - Mr Harry Ingraham runs a fleet of three tour buses called Great Inagua Tours, rates negotiable. Most roads are paved, except for those leading into the interior.
  • New Providence - Buses called ‘jitneys’, are mostly a/c and good value at US$0.75, carrying from 9-44 people and going all over New Providence Island between 0630 and 2000. Have the exact fare, by law the driver keeps the change. If you want to see some of the island catch any bus in town and it will bring you back about an hour later. They can be crowded but service is regular. To cross to Paradise Island from Woodes Rogers Walk take the Paradise Express boat for US$2, it leaves when full and stops at several docks on Paradise Island. Most buses run on one-way circular routes, which can be confusing. Route 10 goes out to Cable Beach along the coast road (leaving from beside British Colonial Hilton Hotel), route 16 goes along Eastern Rd to Fox Hill and Western Transportation buses go to the Clarion from Queen St (US$1.75). A bus runs between hotels and the golf course on Paradise Island (blue and white striped bus, US$0.50, 30-min intervals between 0800-0130) but no buses go over the bridge.
  • San Salvador - There is a bus tour which visits the main points of interest, ask at Riding Rock Inn.

Bicycles: On many of the Family Islands bicycles and mopeds are appropriate. These can be hired in Nassau, Freeport and in many other places through hotels; helmets should be worn. Approximate rates: bicycles US$10 per day, US$40 per week; mopeds: US$30-45 per day. Scooters and light motorcycles can also be hired. Helmets are mandatory. Remember, though, that rates for car and bike hire tend to vary, according to season. Minimum age for hiring in Exuma is 25 years.

  • New Providence - Bicycles can be hired for US$10 per day with US$10 deposit. Traffic for such a small island is busy and roads are not well maintained. Take care. Scooters can be hired, Gibson’s Scooter Rentals, T3252963, US$30-45. Helmets are provided and it is mandatory that you wear them.
  • The Exumas - Bicycles can be rented from Two Turtles shop or several hotels. The island of Barreterre (pronounced Barra Terry) can be reached from Great Exuma by a bridge.

Sea

Ferries: In 1999 a high-speed 177-passenger a/c catamaran ferry was launched. The Bo Hengy makes daily crossings from Nassau/Paradise Island to Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, US$90 return (US$50 for children), or US$139 (US$89) for a ‘day away’, which includes a walking historical tour, lunch and cabana privileges on the pink sand beach. Reported efficient, always on time, excellent value and has virtually replaced Bahamasair as the best way of getting to Eleuthera.

A colourful way of travelling between the islands is on the mail boats, which also carry passengers and merchandise. They leave from Potter’s Cay Dock, just below the Paradise Island Bridge in Nassau, and Woodes Rogers Walk; their drawback is that they are slow and accommodation on board is very basic, but they do go everywhere, usually once a week. The Bahamas Family Islands Association has a helpful brochure listing fares (US$20-50) and schedules, but do not expect the boats to leave according to the timetable. For the latest information listen to the radio on ZNS, which lists the daily schedule with last minute changes broadcast at lunchtime, or ask for information at the Dock Master’s office on Potter’s Cay, T3931064.

Here we give here the name of the boat, its destination and travel time:

Bahamas Daybreak III: North Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, Bluff, 5½ hours.
Captain Moxey: South Andros, Kemp’s Bay, Long Bay Cays, Bluff, 7½ hours.
Central Andros Express: Fresh Creek, Staniard Creek, Blanket Sound, Bowne Sound, 3½ hours.
Sea Hauler: Cat Island, Bluff, Smith’s Bay, 10 hours.
North Cat Island Special: North Cat Island, Arthur’s Town, Bennet’s Harbour, 14 hours.
Maxine: San Salvador, United Estates, Rum Cay, 18 hours.
Grand Master, Seahauler, Lady Roslyn, Captain Moxey: Exuma, George Town, Mt Thompson, 14 hours.
Abilin: Long Island, Clarence Town, 18 hours.
Champion II: Abaco, Sandy Point, Bullock Harbour, Moore Island, 11 hours.
Lisa J II: North Andros, Nichol’s Town, Mastic Point, Lowe Sound, five hours.
Lady Francis: Exuma Cays, Staniel Cay, Black Point, Farmer’s Cay, Barraterre.
Deborah K: Abaco, Marsh Harbour, Hope Town, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Coopers Town, 12 hours.
Mangrove Cay Express: Mangrove Cay, Lisbon Creek, 5½ hours.
Lady Gloria: Mangrove Cay, Behring Point, Cargill Creek, five hours.
Current Pride: Current Island, Upper and Lower Bogue, Eleuthera, five hours.
Emmette and Cephas: Ragged Island, 21 hours.
Bahamas Daybreak III: Rock Sound, Davis Harbour, South Eleuthera, seven hours.
Nay Dean: North Long Island, Salt Pond, Deadman’s Cay, Stella Maris, 14 hours.
Marcella III: Grand Bahama, Freeport, High Rock, Eight Mile Rock, West End, 12 hours.
Windward Express: Crooked Island, Acklins, Mayaguana, Inagua.
Spanish Rose: Spanish Wells, 5½ hours.
Eleuthera Express: Rock Sound, five hours.
Challenger: North Andros.
Lady Margo: North Andros.
Eleuthera Express: Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, five hours.
Bimini Mack: Bimini, Cat Cay, 12 hours.

Other Ferries:

New Providence - To cross to Paradise Island from Woodes Rogers Walk take the Paradise Express boat for US$2, it leaves when full and stops at several docks on Paradise Island.
Crooked Island - The Windward Express mailboat docks at the harbour in Landrail Point once a week.
Abaco - Albury’s Ferry Service T3656010, F3656487, runs from Sandy Crossing, 2 miles east of Marsh Harbour to Hope Town and Man-O-War Cay, US$8 single, US$12 day return. Separate boats leave each cay at 0800 and 1330, returning from the mainland at 1030 and 1600. Albury’s boats can also be chartered to these 2 cays and to other islands. For 5 or more, a charter to Hope Town or Man-O-War works out at US$10 per person each way, to Guana Cay for 6 or more US$12 per person, or US$70 for 1-5 pax. All day excursions to Treasure Cay, Guana Cay, Hope Town, Man-O-War, Little Harbour and Green Turtle Cay. Green Turtle Cay is reached from the ferry dock at Treasure Cay, US$8 per person, you can be dropped off wherever you are staying. Great Guana Cay can be reached by ferry, US$8 per person, or the Guana Beach Resort boat from Conch Inn, Marsh Harbour. The Spanish Cay Inn ferry picks up guests from Coopers Town.
Andros - Boats can dock at Mastic Point (north), Fresh Creek (central) and Congo Town (south).
The Exumas - There is a ferry to Stocking Island from Great Exuma and another to Lee Stocking Island from Barreterre, but otherwise the cays are difficult to visit unless you have a boat or small plane.
Inagua - To arrange fishing expeditions or trips around the island contact the local repair man, Cecil Fawkes (nicknamed the old Red Fox), whose boat is called The Foxy Lady, or Mr Cartwright. There is no set rate, prices are negotiated. There is a marina and boats can moor here and refuel.

Yacht Charter: A pleasant way of seeing the islands is to charter your own yacht and several companies offer boats with or without crews. Abaco Bahamas Charters (ABC) is based in Hope Town. Bahamas Yachting Service (BYS) is based in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, T305-4678644 or toll free 800-3272276 in North America, prices start from about US$50 per person per day. Moorings bases its bareboat charters at Marsh Harbour and has crewed yacht charters in George Town, Exuma. Contact the Bahamas Reservation Service for the Bahamas Marina Guide, marina reservations, known as ‘book-a-slip’, with details of over 50 marinas in the Bahamas and confirmation of boat slip reservations down as far as Grand Turk. Most resort islands have boats to rent.