The Segmental Info System

The Bahamas Ferries

In the Bahamas, ferries and boats offer access to even the most remote islands

Photo credit: © J Pierre Brunet

Bahamas Ferries
 

The charm of traveling by boat in the Bahamas is undeniable. Marinas abound on every island, making ferries and boats good options for island hopping. The wide range of choices allows travelers to design a trip that fits their needs, whether they hope to get a feel for the local culture or to experience a luxurious getaway.

Many different types of ferries run in the Bahamas and each has its own advantages. Smaller, government-run ferries connect islands that are reasonably close together, while motored ferries provide speedy transport from islands that are separated by greater distances.

One such free government run ferry services makes stops between Sweeting's Cay and McClean's Town on a daily basis.  The trip is about 20 minutes long.

Government Ferry Schedule
From Sweeting's Cay to McClean's Town 7:10 a.m.
4:00 p.m.
From McClean's Town to Sweetings Cay 8:30 a.m.
5:00 p.m.

Twice a week mail boats leave Potter's Cay Dock in Nassau and head toward the smaller Out Islands. Passenger tickets are available at fairly inexpensive rates; a one-way fare to Marsh Harbor is around $45(USD) per person. Visitors should keep in mind that the primary function of mail boats in the Bahamas is to carry cargo, which can be anything from livestock to dry goods. Mail boats tend to be somewhat older boats and are often brightly painted to reflect the colorful influence of the islands' culture, making them a good choice for travelers interested in an authentic island experience. Boats in the Bahamas generally depart in the evening and trips can last anywhere from four and a half hours to a full day.  Up until the fall of 2011 vacationers were able to travel by ferry from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A., six times weekly.  

In July of 2013, another international ferry service called the Bimini SuperFast Ferry launched, making the trip between Miami and Bimini.  Although there were a few setbacks as inspections revealed a handful of problems with the 32 thousand ton vessel, the issues were fixed and those involved were happy to make sure the boat was as safe as it could be before launching with passengers aboard.  Eventually, the goal is that the ferry be used to transport guests from Florida to the resort area currently in development on Bimini which features a new casino.  The SuperFast Ferry is expected to bring an extra 400,000 visitors to the island each year.

Chartered boats and yachts are yet another travel option. Although significantly more expensive than ferries and mail boats, hired boats allow visitors to set their own schedules and focus on the sites and areas that most interest them. Explorers interested in chartering a boat can even choose between a "bareboat" - one that is fully equipped but without crew - or boat that comes complete with an experienced yachter.

Contacting the main office is the best way to ensure that you are well-informed about schedules (for mail boats and ferries) or availability (for charter boats). Rate information is also available at the main offices:

Boat Type Contact Telephone Number
Mail boat Dockmasters Office 242-393-1064
Ferry Bahamas Fast Ferry
Bahamas SeaRoad/SeaLine
242-323-2166
Ferry Pinar Del Rio N/A
Charter Abaco Bahamas Charters 800-626-5690
Charter Moorings 800-535-7289

Ferries and boats in the Bahamas are ideal for vacationers who want to experience the unique feel of the smaller islands because they are convenient and allow for greater access to all of the more remote sights. Docks and marinas are abundant on the islands, making water not only the most scenic, but also perhaps the easiest, mode of travel between islands. Visitors may be pleasantly surprised to discover just how much fun getting around can be.

 

Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.