Traveling to a foreign country can be confusing as is, you don’t need the extra hassle of figuring out how you get around! Getting around is one of the most important factors to consider when coming to Nassau. Without the proper knowledge of how transportation works here, you will likely get stuck at your Airbnb, or perhaps stuck somewhere you don’t want to be!
First things first, you basically need to know one street and you can travel all along it, finding hotels, restaurants, Airbnb’s, beaches, Daq Shacks and grocery stores. Bay Street is our main road, running along the beach on the northern part of the Island, connecting the east to the west. If you just travel on Bay street you will notice that you can access about 90% of the places you would want to go while on vacation. Obviously if you adventure a little more you will open up your travels to a more authentic Bahamian Experience. For the sake of this article, we are going to assume Bay Street is what you will be solely using while on your vacay 😊
One quick thing to note, if you are not planning on taking a cab or rental car from the airport, the bus route gets a bit trickier. My recommendation for your airport travels to your accommodation is to take a cab, rather than try to figure out the bus system, this will be much more complicated!
Here are the best options for transportation, depending on how you like to roll you will find an option that will best suit your needs.
Jitney or "Bus"
The Jitney is the Bahamian bus, it's relatively simple and by far the cheapest way of transportation (besides by foot of course). Cost per person is $1.50 to hop on no matter where you are going. The Jitneys run from sunup to sundown, so don’t get caught somewhere and forget to catch your bus ride home! There are no formal bus stops here in Nassau, you may see a few around town, however you can just stand on the side of the road and hail one as it passes by. Just make sure it’s the right one! When you’ve reached your desired destination just tell the driver “bus stop” and hop off. You can always ask your drivers for recommendations and directions. They will be helpful :)
Traveling West to East
If you’re heading from the West (Clifton Pier, Lyford Cay, Compass Point, Caves, Cable Beach, Bahamar) to the East (Junkanoo Beach, Downtown Nassau, Atlantis & Paradise Island, Harbour Bay Shopping Center, Montagu Beach) you will want to catch either the 10 or the 12 bus (numbers are located on the back of the bus). These will take you to Downtown Nassau, which is about a 20 minute walk away from Paradise island. If you want to take another bus to Atlantis or farther East (as far as Village road) you can hop on the 7, 9 or 11. The buses don’t actually go over the bridge to Atlantis or Paradise Island, so you will have to just walk over.
Traveling East to West
If you're traveling from Central or East Nassau (Junkanoo Beach, Downtown Nassau, Atlantis & Paradise Island, Harbour Bay Shopping Center, Montagu Beach) to the West (Clifton Pier, Lyford Cay, Compass Point, Caves, Cable Beach, Bahamar) you will want to head to Shirley Street and hop on any passing bus. You will want to take this bus to the McDonalds Downtown, hop off and then take the 10 (goes as far as Compass Point) or the 12 (goes to Clifton Pier) back West. Things can get a little complicated, just tell your bus driver where you’re headed and they will be able to best guide you!
Renting a car is your most convenient option, second most affordable and allows for maximum exploration! In my opinion, unless you have the funds to hire a driver for your week vacation, this is the best option to explore and see the most you possibly can while on vacation. A car is not necessary on the island, but it’s convenient. Nassau is not a walkable city and if you plan on bar hopping or exploring a lot then this is the way to go. Yes, we drive on the left side of the road but trust me it’s not that complicated. A simple reminder to yourself to “stay left” will help you on your driving journeys.
As mentioned before, you will basically be driving down one street and usually not more than 30 MPH. With this being said, you don’t have to be as scared as you aren't driving down any crazy highways with massive amounts of people. We have minimal traffic in the Downtown area. Besides for that it’s a relatively smooth ride. Parking isn’t usually an issue (except downtown & big hotels). You’re rental will usually cost you about $50 a day, depends on your car choice! Google Maps works 95% of the time, so just type in your destination and get to driving! There are tons of car rental companies to choose from, however I always recommend Jose’s Car Rental, they have great customer service, they will bring the car to you, wherever you are, and they are very affordable.
*Car Rentals start at $50 per day Contact Jose Car Rental - For reservations call 1-242-432-5791; 1-242-448-0932 or 1-242-445-3256
Taxi’s: Convenient, Expensive, Unreliable. These are the words I would use to describe the Taxi system in the Bahamas. Yes, they are convenient, if you can actually find them or get one to answer the phone. Unless you're at a hotel, if you happen to need a ride at 1 am in the morning, or 5 am in the morning, you may be out of luck. Taxi rides will cost you a minimum of $20.00 anywhere you go and the fares just go up from there.
Unfortunately, we do not have a system like Uber that is up & running in the Bahamas. I have heard of a few, one being Bahamas Ride, however I can not confirm that their service works or if it is actually a good and efficient service. With this being said, if you are looking to be chauffeured around, my suggestion is to hire a driver. Price will be about the same, service will be better, and you can plan your rides ahead of time to ensure that you actually get picked up when needed! My go-to guy is John, you can shoot him a Whatapp at 242-456-6652 and arrange your rides in advance!
If you’re staying in a walkable area such as Cable Beach or Paradise Island, then traveling by foot should be relatively convenient. There are a good number of restaurants & bars in these areas that you can access by foot. If you are looking to do more than just a quick local walk, you should know that Nassau is not walkable. There are not sidewalks in many places, and there are cars constantly driving in very close quarters to wherever you would be walking. Best to rent a car or hop on the bus :)
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about your upcoming or current travels!