Grand Bahamas Island with main cities of Freeport and Lucaya
Grand Bahama Island is the second main island in the Bahamas with the major city of Freeport. Lucaya, with its grand and sprawling Westin and Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Resort, formerly Our Lucaya, claims the role of the island tourism capital.
Grand Bahamas has a lot to offer for the vacationer: unspoiled nature with two national parks, miles and miles of gorgeous white sandy beaches and turquoise and clear waters, plenty of fantastic dive and snorkel sites, many smaller hotels but also a mega resort with casino and golfing and so much more.
If you are looking for hotels on Grand Bahama, than visit the Grand Bahama Hotel website for more information. You can also directly book your hotel stay.
Geographical and Historical FactsGrand Bahama is one of the northernmost islands of the Bahamas, the closest major island to the U.S., lying just 150 miles off the coast of Florida.
Grand Bahama is the fifth largest island of the Bahamas and has a population of more than 52'000 people. The majority lives in the main agglomeration of Freeport-Lucaya. The island is 96 miles long west to east and 13 miles at its widest point.
Grand Bahama has a rich history and were part of the early settlement of the Lucayan Indian, the Spanish conquistadors visited the island briefly, it was a home to many pirates and also Loyalists, who flee form the American Civil war set foot on the island and after Britain abolished the slave trade, many of the Loyalist former slaves settled here as farmers and fishermen.
Learn more about Bahamas History here.
The major development on Grand Bahama started in the year 1955, mainly driven by the efforts of Wallace Grove, a rich American financier, and the British industrialist Sir Charles Hayward.
They signed together with the Bahamian government an agreement that set in motion the development of a planned city, a port, an airport, roads, waterways and utilities. From the agreement the cities Freeport and Lucaya evolved.
Most of Grand Bahama commercial activities are concentrated on Freeport, the Bahamas' second largest city after Nassau. Freeport is home to one of the largest man-made harbor in the world. The city is a major port with operations and services ranging from container ports, mid-stream operations, cruise terminals, warehousing, haulage and e-commerce companies.
You find a wealth of information on this website about the interesting things to see and do while you are staying on Grand Bahama.
Check out the interesting Freeport Tours and Things to Do here.
Shopping, golfing, and gambling initially drew many of Grand Bahama's first tourists, but today, beach-going, kayaking, and exploring the island's old fishing settlements are also popular on visitor's to-do-list.
While your stay on the island you should not miss the these top activities:
- The Dolphin Experience where you can choose your level of interactivity with the bottlenose dolphins.
- The Lucayan National Park and the Bahamas National Trust Rand Nature Center where you can experience the unspoiled nature of the island.
- Go snorkeling or diving by your own or with a tour operator in order to get the real experience of the fantastic underwater world of the Bahamas.
- Visit the Port Lucaya Marketplace and the International Bazaar for shopping, entertainment, restaurants and nightlife.
- Hire a car, a scooter or a guide and explore the remote fishing villages and secluded beaches at the west or east end.
Grand Bahama: Explore the nature and the beaches
A must see for nature lover's is the Lucayan National Park.
In this 40-acre seaside land preserve, trails and elevated walkways wind through a natural forest of wild tamarind and gumbo-limbo trees, past an observation platform, a mangrove swamp, sheltered pools containing rare marine species and a large underwater cave system with a large bat colony.
The cave system can be entered by two access points, one is closed in June and July, the bat nursing season.
Across the road from the caves, trails and boardwalks lead through pine forest and mangrove swamp to Gold Rock Beach, a beautiful, lightly populated white sandy beach edged by some of the island's highest dunes, aquamarine sea, and coral reef.
The Bahamas National Trust Rand Nature Centre is just minutes from downtown Freeport.
A half mile self-guided botanical trail shows off 130 types of native plants, including many orchid species.
The center is the island's bird hot spot where you might spy a hawk, the Bahamas parrot or an emerald hummingbird. The visitor center hosts changing local art exhibits and native animals like the Bahama boa.
Another interesting park to visit is the Garden of the Groves, east of Freeport, a spectacular botanical garden with exotic trees, plants, shrubs from all over the world.
There are also cool, cascading waterfalls, flamingos, a lush fern gully, a small chapel and a zoo with pygmy goats, pigs, alligators, macaws and cockatoos.
The Grand Bahama Museum, on the same site, captures the history of the island with reconstructed caves, a marine exhibit and audiovisual presentations. There are also Lucayan and pirate related artifacts.
Grand Bahama island has some 60 miles of magnificent, pristine beaches between Freeport-Lucaya and Mc Lean's Town at the east end.
Most are used only by people who live in the villages close by and the most beaches have no public facilities, so beachgoers often headquarter at one of the local beach bars.
The Westin-Sheraton complex in Lucaya has its own beach and water-sports activities, and guests at Freeport hotels are shuttled free to nearby sandy beaches.
Xanadu beach is a mile-long strip of white sand with an outdoor bar and water-sports concessions. Its Tuesday night Fish Fry and Bonfire is popular with visitors.
Taino beach appeals to families and water-sports enthusiasts alike. Its powdery white sands stretch long and wide, and a restaurant and popular conch shack replenish beachgoers.
East of Port Lucaya, several delightful beaches run along the South Shore - Smith's Point, Churchill Beach, Fortune Beach, and lesser-known, very secluded and lovely Barbary Beach. Farther east is the already mentioned Gold Rock Beach in the Lucayan National Park.
Grand Bahama: Snorkeling, Diving and other Sport ActivitiesGrand Bahama's weather is perfect for any outdoor activity. The most exciting activity is to go snorkeling or diving.
One of the world's most respected diving facilities UNEXSO has its home on Grand Bahama. Thousands of vacationer dive and learn to dive in this facility every year.
You can find a description of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving in Grand Bahama here.
Find below interesting snorkeling and diving experiences:
Freeport Diving and Snorkeling
But there is much more to do. Some of the plentiful possibilities are mentioned below.
By virtue of its flat terrain, broad avenues, and long, straight stretches of highway, Grand Bahama is perfect for bicycling. Inexpensive bicycle rentals are available from most resorts.
Many resorts rent kayaks for playing in the waves; for more serious adventurers, your hotel can hook you up with an outfitter. Grand Bahama Nature Tours leads group kayaking tours to the Lucayan National Park and other places.
The watersports operator at the Westin and Sheraton Resort offers a vast variety of water sports. From kayaking to parasailing, water skiing, Wave Runner rentals, banana boat rides, and a water trampoline.
Pinetree Stables offers horseback riding on trails and the beach. All two-hour rides are accompanied by a guide - no previous riding experience is necessary.
One of the favorite activity is golfing. Grand Bahama is famous for its variety of golf courses and the weather is perfect for a round of golf.
Learn more about golfing on Grand Bahama here.
Other Attractions on Grand Bahama
The Dolphin Experience offers one of the most fascinating adventure on the island. Encounter Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in Sanctuary Bay at one of the world's first and largest dolphin facility about two miles east of Port Lucaya.
A ferry takes you from Port Lucaya to the bay to observe and photograph the animals. You can sit on a partially submerged dock or stand waist deep in the water, and one of this friendly creatures will swim up and touch you. You can also engage in a swim with the dolphin program.
Another attraction is the capacious and lively shopping and entertainment complex - the Port Lucaya Marketplace.
The complex on the waterfront consists of a dozen low-rise, pastel-painted colonial buildings whose style was influenced by traditional island homes.
The center, whose walkways are lined with hibiscus, bougainvillea and croton, offers shops that sell clothes, crystal and china, watches, jewelry, perfumes and local arts and crafts as well as waterfront bars and restaurants. The center of the marketplace is Count Basie Square, were live bands often perform Bahamian music, jazz and gospel.
The look of the International Bazaar was influenced by the hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 and has still a down-at-the-heels look, but there are still some good restaurants and shops, and the Bahamian straw market is also open with a hive of commercial activity where you can buy nice Bahamas straw souvenirs. Nevertheless the bazaar still retains some charm.
Don't miss to rent a car or a scooter or catch a tour bus and explore the quiet fishing villages east and west of Freeport-Lucaya.
Follow the Queen's highway to West End at far west of the island. On your way to the west you pass some nice Bahamian restaurants like the Peace and Plenty, Freddie's, Harrys American Bar.
You pass also a good diving and snorkeling spot Deadman's Reef as well as the small Catholic Church of St Agnes.
On the way east from Freeport along the Grand Bahama Highway you pass a lot of fantastic beaches, the Lucayan National Park, a US military base, the charming little village High Rock, Pelican point, the widest beach of the islands, until you reach McLean's Town, the last mainland settlement which excellent bone fishing possibilities.
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