If you are there for the day on a cruise ship there is a transport hub immediately off the ship. If you want to go to one of the standard tourist destinations the rates are posted and are fairly reasonable. Taxis are available but very expensive. We tried to get info there about local bus transportation, but the folks there acted like there was no such thing. (Of course there was a local system, just not from that spot. We would have had to walk a ways out of the port area to access busses, and we couldn't tell if we could get to Lucaya National Park that way and get back in time. If you want to see anything, you will need some way to get there, nothing is in walking distance from the ship.
We decided that renting a car was the best option for what we wanted to do. It cost $70 for the day plus $20 for gas, which amounted to $30 each for the three of us, and gave us the freedom to be on our own timetable and agenda. That was perfect, especially since my brother was comfortable with driving on the left side of the road. If we'd been going somewhere closer we would have taken a shuttle, they were pretty reasonable.
We used the little local car rental in the building across from the public bathrooms. They treated us fairly and supplied us with a rent-a-wreck type car and map, with directions to stay on the roads marked for us and off the road that was for locals...'We want to know where you are all the time!'
At the end of the 20th century, getting around on Grand Bahama was best done on a moped. They were relatively cheap, the roads in-town good, and very light traffic. No more.
Renting a car is the best way to get around, especially if you want to do things on your own schedule. Although most hotels and resorts offer courtesy shuttles, you'll only be able to go to the grocery/beach/casino when they say you can. Taxi's are expensive here, bikes and mopeds are at the mercy of traffic, and most places are too far to walk (unless you stay in the tourist enclave of Lucaya).
You'll find Avis, Hertz, Budget and the usual suspects at the airport. But call your resort before you go and ask them to recommend a rental agency. You might save yourself up to 50% off the majors. Try to secure a car with right-hand drive. Though it feels strange at first, you'll get used to it quickly, and it's much safer for you than the standard American steering wheel on the left.
Once I rented from a small company in Freeport. The first night, I had a flat downtown, not a good thing. I called the number I'd been given and found myself talking to the agency's owner at his home. He drove over personally, helped me transfer my groceries to his personal car, and handed me his keys. He and his son set about repairing my rental while he told me to just bring HIS car back at the end of the week. Wow!
The traffic on GBI can best be desribed as "freewheeling", particularly in Freeport and Lucaya. (The so -called "highways" to West End and East End have fallen into disrepair and can be lonely for the nervous traveler.) In the heart of the island, main roads are generally 4-lane and divided. There are numerous "circuses" (traffic circles/rotaries): remember to BEAR LEFT! Also remember, when you stop at an intersection, cross-traffic will not be in the lanes you expect it to be, so look right before you look left!
Rent a convertible and drive around the island, for only a few dollars a day you can save these poor cars from wasting away, won't you donate today! I know it cost a little grip but it's well worth it, the freedom you get with having a car can not be discribed ecept 'I'M FREE TO DO WHAT I WANT ANY OLD TIME". Taking a taxi can just as expensive if not more so why not have your own! We heard a couple talking about they paid $65 to get to Port Lucaya and $35 back, our rental was $70 a day! We were on our Wedding-moon so I kept it the whole week. Maybe next time we'll get a convertible Jeep and get real adventurous!
If you are looking for a fun day of exploring, try renting a scooter and check out the island. This is a fun way to see the real island and all it's beauty with out having to move on to the next site because your under some tours time frame. They run about $35 for 4 hours to $50 for the day and must put down a $300 deposit. You must be at least 18 to ride due to insurance reasons. Bring cash with you because you must bring the scooter back with as much gas as you got it with. Now remember you must stay to the LEFT on this island.
If you are flying in, this is where you will land on Grand Bahama Island. The Airport is only about 10 to 15 minutes from Freeport and Port Lucaya Marketplace. It as rather small airport from what we are use to but it does the job! You get off the plane via steps on wheels then you walk across the runway to the gate where you now look for you luggage, next you go to imigration to check in, fill out your card and move long to get a taxi or bus. Pretty easy.
I can't say it enough don't take taxi's the fare from the airport to Lucaya only 6 miles away is $20 take the bus or even rent a car so you can drive all over the island. The Freeport / Lucaya area gets boring after a couple days of beach, casino and shopping.
All over the island are cheap bus stops they are pink gazebos where small buses or a van will pick you up and take you along the main roads for quite cheap. Never take the Taxi unless you have to they are like everywhere else in world, way over priced.
If you are staying at one of the Lucaya hotels, you will, most likely, not go outside of the Lucaya area and will not need a rental car. The only time we went outside was when we went to a casino in the Crowne Plaza Golf Resort & Casino. Since Westin Lucaya now built a brand new casino there is no reason to go out at all. If for some reason you need a rental car, there are few rental car places in front of the airport. Remember to drive on the leftside of the road like in London and Japan.
If your hotel does not provide a shuttle service from the airport you can hop on a taxi in front of the airport. There is no bus service from the airport to the hotels. Taxi ride to most of the hotels in Grand Bahama Island should take around 10 minutes and cost around $15-20.
The government sets the taxi rates and all cabs are metered.
There are 6 different airlines that operate their daily services to Grand Bahama International Airport from the continental US, including American Airlines from Miami; AirTran Airways from Atlanta and Baltimore; Continental Airlines from Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Newark; Delta Airlines from Atlanta; Vintage Props and Jets from Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Melbourne FL; and US Airways from La Guardia, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.
We met a wonderful Bus driver his name was Joe. He played educational games with the children and even gave away a prize an (underwater camera) and told them all about the history of Freeport while he drove us to the Fortune Beach. Fortune Beach is a quiet beach, five miles from Port Lucaya Marketplace.
Look for pink, white and sea green shelters and navy blue/white bus stop signs along the roads. The public "bus" are usually independent minibus vans that run very frequently until about 8 pm for about $1-1.50 Bahamian. Hop on, tell the driver your destination and pay as you get off. It's a very convenient, inexpensive way to get around.
There are jitney buses that run between Freeport and Lucaya on a semi-regular basis. A trip costs $1.00 which is quite a bit cheaper than a cab, and if you are not rushing around (as you shouldn't be if you are on island time) the lack of a schedule shouldn't be a problem. The buses go to a terminal (with a dispatcher) near the Winn Dixie in Freeport, and they will detour to drop you off outside their regular routes if you ask. I find this a good way to have contact with Bahamian people outside of the tourist industry.
If you like little planes, you can fly over there from Florida on little 19 seater planes like we did. I thought it was pretty neat, but the kids said they don't want to ever fly on a plane that small again. THere was a 50 seater plane from Florida, too, but it cost a little more. There are also a few larger planes that come in from other areas. Another option is a cruise ship.
While there, you can rent a car, or take a shuttle offered by the snorkelling outfits, or take the public bus system. But don't expect the busses to be as efficient as in London! Each one looked different and their schedule was to wait until they had enough people to make it worth their while to go. They also didn't use air conditioning, but the fare was cheap---$.75 , as I recall.
Shown in the picture are the busses lined up waiting for passengers at the Lucayan stop.
I hired the same Taxi driver for the entire week. He was great. We agreed on one price and what times we needed him. Very convenient. As I recall, his name was Victor.