Welcome to Grand Bahama Island
Welcome to Grand Bahama Island, where handsomely dressed Bahamian policemen and the earthy straw market greet visitors at the cruise port with light conversation. Pristine sandy beaches, watersports, and other pleasant diversions should not be far behind. Lapse into visions of eco-tours in protected national forests and the Bahamas’ largest mapped underwater cave system. This need not be a distant dream, its only 65 miles away from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Arriving by plane, note that the island is seventeen miles at its longest point. A lush parkway system extends end-to-end, connecting cruise port to posh casino resorts, shopping & entertainment districts, residential areas and beaches. A simple drive on the landscaped parkway will make you relax. If fortune smiles upon you, visit during Junkanoo Festival on Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day.
Freeport is the island’s largest city and the Bahamas second largest tourist destination. Popular sites and likeable people have earned it nickname “Magic City” for growing from bush in 1955 to popular vacation destination in little more than a decade and “Singapore of the Atlantic”, for its vibrant, free-market economy; and “Queen of Clean”, for the island’s clean and functional highways. Freeport was designed, to become and industrial and commercial destination. Thankfully, little industry was built, preserving most of the island’s natural state.
If you want to ease the transition to a relaxed pace from bustling American city-life, first visit International Bazaar — a collection of 80 shops and restaurants features settings in Paris, Spain, the Greek islands, Denmark, Hong Kong and other locales. Entertainment options usually include Jazz, R&B, Limbo, and fire dancers. Or visit Port Lucaya Marketplace, a waterfront six-acre shopping, dining and entertainment complex with funky architecture and a bandstand centerpiece at Count Basie Square rings popular with all. Perhaps the best reason is for your own or to attend someone else’s wedding.
Enjoy world-class eco-adventures like kayaking, hiking and jeep riding through remote areas for close-up views of mangroves, exotic birds and marine life. Ride horseback along trails and beaches or enjoy the sheer beauty of tropical flora and fauna. Sunbath on the Lucayan mega-resort encompassing several resort hotels along the soft white sands of a resort on the Lucayan Strip or rev up the activity level on several outstanding 18-hole golf courses and over 50 tennis courts with little or no scheduling wait.
Bring the yacht, there are four first-class marinas and dozens of waterways to explore, including Grand Bahama Waterway bisecting the island. Lucaya’s world-famous UNEXSO, an acronym for Underwater Explorers Society, is a Mecca for SCUBA certification and diving. Pet dolphins, snorkel on a spectacular reef and even shark dive with experienced guides, if you are so inclined.
Most residents are descendants of West Africans brought to work the plantations and after slavery was abolished, served under the British colonial period until 1973. But as evident in conversations with Bahamians and the pride they display for their island, the sting of slavery and colonialism has vanished. You too will have a great conversation to share – the memory a great tropical vacation value.