Visit Grand Bahama
About Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama is a major island of The Bahamas... it is about 95 miles long (stretching from west to east) and 15 miles where it's widest. This is one of the northern most islands of The Bahamas and is also one of the nearest to the US east coast... the settlement called West End (located at the western end of Grand Bahama) is only about 55 miles from Palm Beach, Florida. The total population of Grand Bahama is 51,368 (as per 2010 census).
Freeport is the main city here where the major airport of Grand Bahama (known as Grand Bahama International Airport) is located. The main cruise port of Grand Bahama (known as Freeport Harbor) is also located in the outskirts of Freeport. Freeport is located about 25 miles east of West End, so the distance of Freeport from Palm Beach (Florida) is about 80 miles.
Freeport Cruise Port, Grand Bahama
Photo: YES Market Media, Shutterstock
Large number of tourists arrive at Grand Bahama every year both by air and cruise from the US, Canada, UK and other places. The peak tourist season runs from December to April making it an excellent warm winter getaway. People are warm and polite, and they all speak English. Grand Bahama is safe in general, however, you need to be watchful at the crowded public places like in open festival venues or shopping areas, because there have been some cases of snatching in the past.
The airport is located only 3 miles from downtown Freeport and near the northern coast of Grand Bahama and it takes only 9-10 minutes by taxi to get to Downtown Freeport from the airport.
The cruise port is located at the south-western coast of Grand Bahama and is 5 miles away from downtown Freeport... it takes about 15 minutes by taxi to get to the downtown from the cruise port. The cruise port has quays to accommodate up to three cruise ships. Ferries also use the cruise port.
Freeport Harbor, Grand Bahama
Photo: Jon Worth, cc by-sa 2.0
Most of the popular tourist attractions of Grand Bahama are located about 3 to 10 miles away from the port. However, the Freeport Harbor, which is the cruise terminal area, has a collection of restaurants & bars and shops selling craft-work, clothes, souvenirs etc. Many cruise passengers hang around at the Freeport Harbor enjoying the amenities here.
Here are the amenities you can get inside the cruise port (at the Freeport Harbor): visitors information kiosk, toilet facilities, taxi stand, car rental services, guided tours of the island including beach tours, stores offering duty free shopping, medical stores, souvenir & gift stores, art & craft, restaurants with bars, seafood shacks, etc. In order to get to the city from the cruise port, you need to take a taxi or rent a car or a scooter. There is no shuttle service available at present from the cruise port.
Freeport city is so named because this is a Free Trade Zone. It's full of modern city exuberance including great shopping (with many duty free stores), nightlife (with bars, pubs, clubs and casinos), golf course, and hub of all kinds of land and water tours and activities.
Port Lucaya is a suburb located right below downtown Freeport and a great tourist destination. Tourists at Freeport flock to Port Lucaya for its miles of wonderful white sandy beaches and many water based activities like snorkeling, windsurfing, etc. Like Freeport, Port Lucaya too offers modern tourist amenities including elegant resorts, many restaurants and bars, open large boulevards etc.
Houses and Marina in Port Lucaya
The Port Lucaya Marina located right behind the Port Lucaya Marketplace is a large gathering place for both tourists and yachters. You can see many yachts and boats moored here.
Unlike the popular belief, Freeport is not the Capital of Bahamas. It's West End which is the capital and is the western most settlement of Grand Bahama. West End is also the oldest settlement of Grand Bahama and well known for offering world class sport fishing opportunities. Excellent Deep Sea fishing can be done within only a few miles from the coast here. West end is also known for its wonderful beaches, lovely crystal clear blue waters and warm climate.
Port Lucaya Marina at night
Photo: Steve Beger, flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
While Freeport and Port Lucaya are known as tourist hubs with something for everyone, do drive a few miles away to smaller settlements like West End towards western tip, Eight Mile Rock and High Rock along southern coastline, McLean's Town towards eastern end and you will get to see the real Bahamian life... sleepy villages with quaint wood-framed pastel houses lining the roads, and you will get a feel of being at one of the Out Islands of the Bahamas that are oozing with old world charm.
So, why should you choose Grand Bahama as your island destination? Because it gives a super mix of everything... from great modern cosmopolitan island life to contrasting sleepy fishing villages, plethora of wonderful beaches to choose from, great opportunities for nature lovers who can avail eco tours, as well as those who like to pamper themselves in luxury and engage in exciting touristy activities.
A Short Video
Getting To and Around
Grand Bahama has been a popular destination for cruise visitors. Cruises depart from Miami and West Palm Beach (Florida). It also has regular air connections from Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, and also from the UK and Canada. There is also fast ferry operated by Ferry Express between Fort Lauderdale and Grand Bahama taking about 4 hours each way.
Location & Road Map
Go through How to reach Grand Bahama
to know how to get to Grand Bahama from international destinations such as the US, UK, Canada etc by air, cruise and fast ferry as well as from other parts of the Bahamas like Nassau and Abaco by air, fast ferry and even by mail boats.
Once you reach Freeport, you can avail public buses, taxis or even rent a car, scooter or a bicycle. Go through Transportation in Grand Bahama
to know how to get around the island easily, fares etc.
The entire southern stretch of Grand Bahama is full of long miles of white sandy beaches, each unique with its own character. The Lucaya Beach is extremely popular with tourists and is full of water sport activities of all kinds, while a short walk to the west along Royal Palm Way and then Coral Road will take you to another lovely sandy stretch... the Coral Beach which is relatively free of crowd.
Gold Rock Beach
The Taino Beach
is great for families with kids with several nice eateries on site, while the Gold Rock Beach
which is about 25 miles towards east of Freeport, is a secluded haven and is part of the Lucayan National Park. Go through Great Beaches of Grand Bahama
to know about all the lovely beaches here, the amenities they offer, how to reach and more.
Other than serene lovely beaches, there are a number of great attractions in and around Freeport. Visit the public square at the center of Lukaya Marketplace in the evenings where you can experience the live performances from local musicians, dance with the locals and feel the true Bahamian vibe.
The 40-acre lush Lucayan National Park is only 25 miles away and showcases the entire range of Grand Bahama's vegetation including mangroves ferns, pines, wonderful orchids etc. You can even spot rare birds here. The popular Gold Rock Beach is located in the Lucayan National Park.
Lucayan National Park
Photo: Pietro, cc by-sa 3.0
The Cooper's Castle is one of the most prominent landmarks in Grand Bahama which belongs to the richest family of the island. Take the Taino beach ferry and enjoy the lovely scenes, visit a brewery and understand the brewing process, or visit one of the lovely churches... there are so many options.
Entrance to the longest underwater cave system of the world is located at the Grand Bahama which offers a magnificent opportunity to cave divers. Many areas of the island including the three national parks are haven for bird watchers. Swimming with Dolphins is another great attraction here.
There are tours offered by the local operators as well as taxi drivers to take you around Freeport and show you the attractions. Go through Top Attractions of Freeport
to know what are the best things to do in and around Freeport, and how to book tours to visit the attractions.
Grand Bahama is a magnet for those who love the Atlantic marine life... there are a numerous snorkeling and dive sites around the island. There are reef and wreck sites that are teeming with colorful fish and other marine life and are full of amazing corals, there are also blue holes. And, for the adventure divers, there is an opportunity to even dive for Tiger sharks... one of the best sites for this is the Tiger Beach in West End. Go through Snorkeling & Diving in Grand Bahama
Tiger Shark Dive, Grand Bahama
Game fishing is another popular activity in Grand Bahama and large number of visitors arrive here every year to quench their fishing appetite. There are numerous fishing zones and one can do shore or flat fishing, bone fishing, deep sea fishing and even spearfishing. There are fishing tours and charters which you can avail, or choose one of the fishing resorts/lodges who specialize in fishing.
The best fishing season is from April to September, that's when you see most fishing enthusiasts arriving. Out of many different types of fish you get in the waters around Grand Bahama, some popular catches include Marlin, bonefish, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo and Barracuda.
Several operators in Grand Bahama offer Kayaking tours with various themes. You can take a shore excursion to east end and kayak to watch turtles and sea stars in their natural habitat, or kayak through mangroves, or kayak to Peterson's Cay to explore the marine life. Some operators also combine kayaking with snorkeling. Go through Kayaking in Grand Bahama
Some of the other outdoor activities offered in Grand Bahama are:
Wining & Dining
If you are on a low budget and looking for cheap eateries, the good news is that Grand Bahama has a plenty of that. However, most serve typical Caribbean or Bahamian type food such as cracked conch, rice & peas, conch salad, conch fritters, lobster tails etc. Some of them also serve fried fish such as fried snappers or groupers. You can almost always accompany your meals with a chilled local beer or other spirits. Go through Great Cheap Eateries in Grand Bahama
Conch fritters served with cocktail sauce
There are numerous bars all around Grand Bahama, however, as a tourist you should not walk into a bar without prior knowledge because some of them may not be suitable for visitors... the type of crowd in some of them could be rowdy, particularly at nights. Having said that, there are several bars & pubs in the island that are safe, friendly and extremely popular to the tourists and locals alike. Although relatively smaller in sizes compared to Nassau, there are a few casinos in Grand Bahama as well.
Over time Port Lucaya too has become a large tourist hub. The Port Lucaya Marketplace has many shops selling great jewelry, straw craft items, clothing, souvenirs and gifts. This is undoubtedly the most popular shopping hub in Grand Bahama.
Port Lucaya Marketplace
Photo: Christopher ConnellFollow, flickr, cc by-nd
The other popular shopping areas include the Freeport Harbor (the cruise terminal area), Straw Market and Arts & Crafts Market in Port Lucaya etc. Go through Shopping in Grand Bahama
to know about the best shopping options for tourists.
For tourists arriving by air, there are numerous small to large hotels and resorts of all types in Freeport, Port Lucaya and several other places in Grand Bahama. If you are looking for bustling touristy activities, then Freeport or Port Lucaya would be the right place to stay. If you want to spend most of your time in fishing, then West End could be a good location to stay.
In budget category you will find small hotels and even condos with modern amenities such as Wi-fi, pool etc, and in luxury category there are boutique as well as large beachside resorts with great ocean views. Go through Top Budget and Luxury Hotels
for reviews of the most popular ones.
Visitors' Reviews and Comments