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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting around in Grand Cayman – Practical Instructions on using the Local Bus System

The buses in Grand Cayman look like this
Look for the circle

Why learn how to use the bus system in Grand Cayman? 

A taxi ride can cost $20.00 - $30.00. 
A bus ride to the same place can cost $3.00 - $7.00. 

Worth looking into? Right?

While it is called the “bus” system, it is more like a group of licensed contractors driving designated routes in mini-vans.

Look for a 
Transit sign 
like this
To catch a “bus”, simply do the following: 
  1. Be familiar with the bus routes so you will know if you are on a street where the buses travel. This web site has detailed information on schedules and routes.
  2. Start walking (on the left side of the street) towards your destination.  
  3. Listen for a honk.
  4. Turn around, look for a mini-van with a transit sticker on the front end, and wave. This will signal the driver that you want a ride.  
  5. Get in the bus.
  6. Tell driver your destination (Tim-Buc-Tuu Diner for example).
  7. Pay when you exit. Fares are around $2 (CI) per person. At the time of our trip, they also accepted US dollars.   
Some of the drivers are willing to take you to destinations off of the main bus route for an additional fee (around $2.00 + per person). The best time to do this is after the cruise ships have left or on a day when there are no cruise ships in port. Some of the drivers even gave us their business cards to call them for the return trip. We made it worth their while with a gratuity and the fare was still much less than a taxi ride.

Pros and Cons of taking a bus:

  1. Price – simply cannot be beat
  2. Convenience – the bus routes cover the vast majority of the island
  3. Ease of use – see instructions above
  4. Experience – We had fun doing it. Talking with some locals and/or the driver was enjoyable.
  1. It is not your personal taxi so you will be sharing with other people
  2. Schedule – If traveling to a remote area on a Sunday or Holiday, this may not be the way to go.
  3. Direct route – Drivers will stop to pick up and drop off passengers. This is naturally slower than driving without stopping.
  4. Experience – while we enjoyed meeting the locals and sharing a van with others, some people may not. If this makes you uneasy, either get over it or be prepared to pay the extra $15.00 + for a taxi.    
Finally, no mention of the Grand Cayman bus system would be complete without mentioning my favorite bus sign. This is an actual sign we saw on one of the buses. My wife had her camera phone so I asked her to take a picture of it.
No Farting Sign
One final tip on using the Grand Cayman bus system - obey the signs posted inside the bus.