©2012 PerryJoseph.com

2.09.2016

Eleuthera Car Rentals

Queen's Highway - Eluthera
Renting a car on Eleuthera is not like renting a car from Enterprise or National, it's much more casual and informal than that. Ja man! The rental car "companies" on Eleuthera are sole proprietors who have paid a fee to the Bahamian government to act as a "self drive" franchise -- hence the "SD" moniker on so many of the license plates. But I'm not here to talk about those technicalities - you can delve into the details on my new page for "Eleuthera car rentals".

What I am here to talk about is being aware of the differences when driving a rental car around Eleuthera as opposed to being in your home country. The rules and the roads are different when you are on an island. First off, there is no official "drivers ed" on Eleuthera -- driving skills are going to vary widely. This is also true of the commercial drivers, many of whom are driving vehicles that can be quite old and under-maintained. This is not to say the same isn't true back home, but in this environment, these less-than-ideal circumstances are exacerbated by the roads themselves.

The sad truth is a lot of lives have been lost on Eleuthera's roads, the majority of which were outright carelessness.

There's one major "highway" that runs from the north to the south end of Eleuthera called "Queen's Highway." This highway is really a two lane road with a speed limit of 45mph excluding towns, curves and pot holes. In most cases, the highway lacks stripes and there is a serious shortage of "shoulder space" to get out of the way of speeding oncoming traffic.

Added to this is the complication is having to drive on the left side of the road; at least for those of us who are used to driving on the right side -- additional concentration required!

There's more... As you can see from the photo, the Queen's Highway can run right next to the ocean in any number of areas of Eleuthera. As you might expect, this type of environment does not play well with paved roads and eventually you wind up some really nasty pot holes -- particularly dangerous to encounter around tight corners at better-than-average speeds -- and then you have to drive through these pot holes because the vehicle on the other side of the road is going even faster and you have nowhere to go to avoid the pot hole. Wait till you see how much the car rental guy wants for breaking his car! In many cases, I have been told by the car rental guys "you break it, you buy it." Not far from reality when you consider the average age of these car rentals are 12 years; a number of which were "hard driven years" given these vehicles have been known to go off-road when they had no business of going there in the first place.

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention night time driving. Let me tell you, this can be real white knuckle stuff if you're not fully conversant with the roads and conditions. Hopefully your windshield will be clear enough so you are not blinded by oncoming traffic. Blowing sands eventually trash the clarity of a car's windshield. Sounds really stupid, but check your windshield and wipers before you venture out at night so you don't Goombay Smash!

If you are planning on going off-road, then consider the following absolute necessities: some sort of map, an inflated spare tire with the necessary gear to change a flat, a cell phone if possible, and plenty of water in case you have to walk back into town or to the highway. 

Okay, so you have to rent a car on Eleuthera; I know that. So here's what I do when driving around Eleuthera:

I rarely exceed the speed limit. I expect the unexpected in the next 2 seconds. I do not drive under the influence -- especially at night (easy for me to do because I don't drink, ha!) And I use all the other usual precautions, and last but not least, I am very very careful not to hurt anyone or screw the car up! State Farm told me I was on my own when I'm in the Bahamas. And don't think you can just leave the island and take care of things later... it doesn't work that way.

I'd probably throw one more rule if you have kids: I would be extremely reserved about letting them drive without an adult in the car.

Just in case any of this gives you pause, I've driven a lot of miles around Eleuthera and have not had an accident (but I have had flats, a few car problems and a close call or two.)

You can check out my list of rental people when it comes to finding someone to rent a car on Eleuthera, I can't give recommendations; it wouldn't be fair. Some are good and some are bad. Use the guidelines I provide on my page and you may have a better chance of having a good experience. Whatever you do, don't rent a car that you are uncomfortable with. There are going to be other cars you can rent if you are willing to take the time to call around. Lastly, recommendations from those providing your accommodations are usually going to be a good start. Just remember you're on an island where it pays to be patient and careful.

See you on the island -- toot toot, beep, beep!


pj
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