Even though it is a lot more ideal to take a little ferry from Atlantis into town where you can get a fantastic view of the property from the water also the cruise ships as you cruise into the local harbour beware.. if you intend to return after dark, ferries do not run. You have to get a cab back. If you end up puchasing a round trip ticket the return ticket will be wasted.
Also remember that the Bahamas is a US$ grabbing operation, what cost the locals a fraction of a dime will cost tourist an arm. The whole place is a walking ATM deposit machine that you have to perpetually throw money into for anything and everything.
It is not paradise when all they care about is your wallet. I do not say take money, but do not extort as you do and aleast provide half way decent service.
Getting around Nassau can be nerve-wrecking. There are no schedules that are adhered to. For example if you wish to get from one of the resorts on Paradise Island to downtown (central) Nassau, you have three choices. The Atlantis Resort - as expensive as it is - does not provide you with their own shuttle service. You have to hire a taxi which will cost you at least $10 to downtown. You can walk across one of the two bridges. It is free but it will take you at least half an hour of brisk walking. The third choice is the ferry service which has a terminal below the bridge on Paradise Island as well as at the wharf located at the end of Frederick Street (one block from Bay Street). The cost is $3.00 one way and $6.00 for a round-trip. Not a bad deal if you could depend on them to stick to the schedule they advertise. The first boat is to leave Paradise Island at 9:00 am but never does. The earliest I have seen it leave was 9:40 am. It is supposed to leave every half hour but never does.
You can either get from one place to the other by walking the bridge (you can't miss it!) or by using the ferry service. The ferry service costs $3 one way (January 2006 price). Tickets available at the point of departure or on the boat. Duration of ferry crossing about 5-10 minutes.
On downtown - on the waterside parallel to Bay Street
On Paradise Island - at the end of the bridge outside the Atlantis hotel.
There a at least two ferry boats to the Bahamas. The Cloud X from Riviera Beach (West Palm Beach) and the Discovery from Ft. Lauderdale. The prices are about 150.00 per person round trip. The Cloud X is a fun high speed Catamaran. It will make the crossing in about 3+ hours. You can even make a round trip in the same day!
If you stay on Paradise Island, which I recommend, there are ferries that go between the island and Nassau (very cheap and it's a short ride, 10 min?). They run constantly, and eliminate the need for a car to go back and forth.
In Febuary 1999 there was a high speed cat making daily trips betwwen Miami and Nassau for $99 round trip. There are island freighters that make weekly or twice weekly trips to most islands from Nassau. Not great schedules but reasonable prices. Otherwise small commuter planes which are expensive.
Hitchhiking is safe on the smaller islands. Bikes are also great.