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Renting Jet Skis in the Bahamas
a.k.a. Surviving the "Shark" Encounter

Renting Jet Skis, Atlantis Resort, BahamasRenting jet skis and tooling around the gorgeous blue green waters of the Caribbean looked very tempting to me when I visited the Bahamas several years ago and again when I was at Atlantis Resort just recently. I resisted the urge to rent them the first time but succumbed on my recent trip to the Bahamas when I stayed at the Atlantis on Paradise Island. I just had a bad feeling about the guys renting them on the first trip...


To rent a jet ski in the Bahamas, simply go down to the beach at the hotel you are staying at and look for the jet skis.  By now, you probably will have seen a sign put up somewhere by the hotel stating that they have nothing to do with any of the beach vendors and will take no responsibility for them. Wise words on their part.


You see, the locals who rent jet skis in the Bahamas have quite the look of a Chicago parking lot attendant; you really wonder about turning over your car to him. The Bahamians renting the jet skis live a very care free life on the beach, and are not business-like in appearance whatsoever. Furthermore, you might even be treated to a knockdown, drag out fight amongst them such as we saw on Atlantis beach on Paradise Island.


But what else are you going to do? You see them tantalizing you by riding the jet skis around trying to attract your attention, and you aren't turned completely away by the price ($60 for 30 minutes, $120 for an hour - discounted to $100, of course), so you approach them. That is, if they haven't approached you first as you were strolling along the beach minding your own business.

The day I decided to go for it, I walked near enough for a guy I'll call "Milhous" (to protect his identity) to tell me that he would make me a great deal. $100 for an hour, discounted from $120. I told him we had five in our family. Well, he said, you'll need 3 jet skis. Ok, I countered, what kind of a deal will you give me on 3? His response was that the money was the same (and they only take cash), but he would give us an extra 10 minutes.


So, I asked, how do I know when an hour is up (I have no waterproof watch). From Atlantis Beach (one of three beaches on the Atlantis Resort property) on Paradise Island, Milhous told me that we could cruise over to Eddie Murphy Island (the one the actor bought), then cruise over to the small island where they do the dolphin encounter and come back; then an extra bonus 10 minutes just goofing around on the jet ski. I told him I would be back and he emphasized to ask for him and only him (each man for himself, you know).


Great. We went up to the room to get some cash and grab a snack; my daughter offered me a cheap waterproof watch to carry, then back to the beach we went. About 2 hours had passed since my conversation with Milhous. As soon as I entered the beach, one of the sharks - I mean, Jet Ski Rental entrepreneurs - approached me about renting jet skis. I asked for Milhouse and was told he wasn't there today. I told him I already spoke to Milhous (today) and that he had offered me a great deal.


Perfect Water for Jet Skiing, Atlantis Resort, BahamasThis guy offered me the same deal. He told me he would get me 3 jet skis full of gas (make a mental note of this "full of gas" part) and as we walked he casually pointed to a guy laying on the beach and said "there's Milhous there".


He called over another shark -  I mean , Jet Ski Rental entrepreneur -  handed him $100 of the $300 I had given him and told him to fetch a jet ski. I'll call this guy "Slick". There was a bit of commotion and confusion getting 3 jet skis, and it was clear that no one was in overall charge of the entire enterprise. Eventually we were all situated and ready to go. I had looked at the watch, which I knew to be about 5 minutes fast, after I handed the first guy the money. The watch read about 2:18pm and I calculated it to be  another 2 minutes or so before we were on a jet ski and ready to shove off - call it 2:20pm on my watch.


Now the kid who helped us get onto the jet skis I will call "GoldTooth"; he called himself the good tip guy - obviously bucking for a bonus. He actually was a pleasant and helpful chap and I would not classify him as a shark like the others. But he did tell us to stay in the area in front of Atlantis Beach where they could see us in case we needed help (make another mental note here). I mentioned Eddie Murphy Island and all of that and he just frowned and stated that we could see everything without going past "the point" – wherever that was.


Off we went. One of the first things I noticed on my jet ski was a tachometer and a gas guage; neither of the other 2 jet skis had the gas gauge; just the tach on the one and completely missing gauges on the other. The gas gauge read in digital bars and I'm guessing there were 8 total bars. The guage read 2 bars. On the way to the point and Eddie Murphy Island (I wanted to at least get a decent look), the 2 bars started flashing along with a red "low gas warning" light. So much for the 3 jet skis "full of gas". I headed back. Keep reading about the "shark encounter"...