Bahamas, Caribbean ,

Grand Bahama Island – Freeport Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Grand Bahama Island Travel Deals

A – Overview

Golf, shopping, casinos, exciting nightlife, hiking in a nature preserve, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and swimming with dolphins are all features of Freeport and Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island. The emerald green, crystal clear water and sugar white beaches are not only beautiful, but are also ideal for the whole spectrum of activities.

grand bahama island overview

Grand Bahama Island lies just 50 miles east of Florida and is a major tourist destination. The fourth largest island in the Bahamas group, Grand Bahama covers more than 530 square miles. The island has four 18 hole golf courses, one 9 hole course, and more than 30 tennis courts. Grand Bahama Island’s hotels and casinos are of a caliber that has earned them the title of “New World Riviera.”

The momentum of today’s thriving industries on Grand Bahama Island began in the 1950s when the cities of Freeport and Lucaya were developed specifically as resort areas. Since that time, visitors have been at the center of island life. They are welcomed and entertained with genuine warmth and hospitality.

Guests can play water volleyball in an over-sized swimming pool, soak in a hot Jacuzzi or sip an island cocktail at the poolside Tiki Bar while the children are at their own on-site playground. There are two casinos, dozens of bars and restaurants, and facilities where fishing boats can be chartered and jet skis and scuba gear rented. Freeport and Lucaya are the embodiment of tropical entertainment.

The island of Grand Bahama stretches nearly one hundred miles from east to west, but is only 17 miles across at its widest point.

Downtown Freeport, with its wide boulevards, called “dual carriageways,” revolves around the Moorish dome of the Princess Casino, right off the busy roundabout called Ranfurly Circus. Nearby, the International Bazaar is an extensive collection of boutiques with an international theme.

Grand Bahama Island is an ecological wonder with nature preserves and trails to explore. Its endless beaches, charming fishing villages and fascinating marine life are just some of the island’s attractions that make this a tropical paradise and a unique vacation destination.

B – City information

Population: 46,954

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time. Daylight saving time is observed from October to April. When it is 12:00 noon on Grand Bahama Island, it is 12:00 noon in New York City and 9:00 AM in Los Angeles.

Average Temperatures:

Month

Average

January

71F

February

71F

March

73F

April

75F

May

78F

June

81F

July

82F

August

83F

September

82F

October

79F

November

76F

December

73F

Local Seasons: Grand Bahama Island lies below the Tropic of Cancer and enjoys a mild climate throughout the year. The main season runs from mid-December through mid-April. The rainy and hurricane season occurs from June through November. During that time period there are many days and weeks of cloudless, sunny weather with intermittent showers. Hurricanes are rare, but do occur in some years.

National Holidays:

New Year’s Day Jan. 1

Good Friday (Dates vary)

Easter Monday (Dates vary)

Whit Monday last Mon. in May

Independence Day July 10

Emancipation Day August 2

Labour Day 1st Mon. in Sept.

Discovery Day October 12

Thanksgiving Day 4th Thurs. in Nov.

Christmas Day Dec. 25

Boxing Day December 26

New Year’s Eve Dec. 31

Area Code: The area code for the Bahamas is 242.

Before You Go:

Entry Requirements And Customs:
Valid photo I.D. (driver’s license is fine) AND a government-issued birth certificate (not hospital-issued) with a raised seal, or a valid Passport. Passports are not required for entry by US or Canadian citizens, but It is a good idea to bring one.

Non-US citizens, please contact the nearest consulate or embassy of the country to which you are traveling to determine your entry/visa requirements.

Upon arrival in The Bahamas, you will be given an Immigration Card to complete and sign. The Bahamian customs official will stamp the card and return it to you. Be sure to keep the card in a safe place, because you will need to turn it in upon departure from The Bahamas.

Visitors leaving The Bahamas for US destinations clear US Customs and Immigration before departure. US citizens are allowed to bring back $600 worth of merchandise duty-free. Above that, you will be charged a flat rate of 10% duty on the next $1000 worth of purchases. Be sure to save all of your merchandise receipts.

Departure tax, which is not included in this package, is $15 in US or Bahamian dollars, payable at the airport when leaving The Bahamas.
Language:
Bahamians speak English with an accent influenced by their Scottish, Irish and/or African ancestry.

Currency:
Currency is the Bahamian Dollar (B$1), which is on par with the US Dollar (B$1=US$1). Both types of currency are accepted everywhere in The Bahamas.
24hour ATMs are widely available in The Bahamas and major international credit cards are accepted in most places.
Traveler’s Checks are accepted at most large hotels and stores, but you may have trouble cashing them at local boutiques and restaurants.
Tipping for service is usually 15%, although some hotels and restaurants automatically add a gratuity to the bill.
Local Transportation:
It is not necessary to rent a car in The Bahamas, but car rental counters are located outside baggage claim at Nassau and Freeport Airports. National chains and local companies are available, but It is best to stick with the recognizable companies. Rentals may be reserved in advance by calling Avis or other company, and may also be booked through many hotels on the island.
Be sure to closely examine your rental car before exiting the airport, because you may be charged for any damages, even if they were present at the time of rental.
Bahamians drive on the LEFT! This can be a bit confusing because most cars are American, with the steering wheel on the left (see your local mail carrier for advice!).
Taxis are widely available at airports, hotels and business areas.
Cabs can also be hired by the hour. Be sure to agree on a fare before you get in.
Buses are called Jitneys in Nassau and Freeport, and they provide an inexpensive way to get around. Buses stop near most hotels and exact change of 75 cents or $1 is required.

Electricity:
120 volts/60 cycles. This is compatible with the US.

Health & Safety:
Just as you would when traveling to an unfamiliar area, consult any major guidebook or check with your hotel about any areas to avoid or precautions to take, and use common sense.

Most hotels offer a safe for your valuables, but the safest option is always to leave any treasured valuables like expensive jewelry at home.

The Caribbean sunshine is very strong, so bring plenty of sun block and enjoy!

Getting There

By Private Boat: Grand Bahama Island is located 50 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. The Island is 96 miles long and 17 miles across at its widest point. Port Lucaya Marina is just a short half-day trip from South Florida for most motor-cruisers.

Let your GPS’s navigation help you to find your way to this yachting paradise.

Lucayan Marina Village – 150 slips, Port Lucaya Marina – 80 slips

Xanadu Marina: 72 slips

Ocean Reef Yacht Club: 55 slips, are available to pleasure boaters.

By Cruise Ship:


Over 20 cruise lines have regularly scheduled excursions to Freeport.

By Air:
Flight is the primary mode of travel for the majority of visitors to the islands. Don’t miss the spectacular views during your approach and departure to and from The Bahamas.

The Grand Bahama International Airport is open from 6:00 AM- 10:00 PM daily.

Flights arrive daily from Nassau as well as South Florida, via Bahamasair, American Eagle, Gulf Stream/Continental Connection; AirTran Airways and Delta Connection daily from Atlanta; and Continental Express weekly from Newark, NJ. US Airways provides daily non-stop jet service from Charlotte, NC, and Saturday only non-stops from Philadelphia and LaGuardia. AirTran has daily non-stop flights from Baltimore.

Grand Bahama Vacations: Daily service from: Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Twice weekly flights from: Baltimore-Cincinnati-Cleveland-Hartford-Pittsburgh-Raleigh-Richmond.

Freeport Harbor

In addition to air service facilities, Freeport Harbor offers docking facilities for large ships. One of the deepest harbors in the region, it is undergoing a $10.9 million redevelopment program including new cruise passenger terminal facilities and a 25,000 sq. ft. landscaped retail village.

Exploring the many towns and villages of Grand Bahama Island

West End

located on the western tip of the island, is the oldest city on Grand Bahama Island. This picturesque fishing village is probably best known for its history as a liquor smuggling town during the prohibition.
Deadman’s Reef is the home of Paradise Cove, where one can swim out to some of the best snorkeling reefs. A recent archaeological dig along the eroding beach front unearthed many artifacts belonging to the Lucayan Indians: hearths, animal bones, pottery pieces, and shell beads. One of the most important Lucayan archaeological sites discovered to date, it has been dated at around 1200-1300 AD.

Eight Mile Rock

is the largest settlement on Grand Bahama Island, outside of Freeport/Lucaya. The town is actually a string of settlements, joined together, and is named after the 8 miles of solid rock contained here. The towns, from the west, include: Martin Hill, Jones Town, Rocky Shore, Martin Town, Pinedale, Hanna Hill, Bartlett Hill, Wildgoose, and Hepburn Town.

Hawksbill is a residential area, created mainly to house the workers employed in Freeport/ Lucaya. It is located on Hawksbill Creek, the name of The Hawksbill Creek Agreement that paved the way for the creation of Freeport/ Lucaya.

Pinder’s Point is four connected villages (Pinder’s Point, Lewis Yard, Hunter’s and Mack Town). Pinder’s Point, the more developed of the group, can trace its roots back to a white settler and his slaves. The town has been slow to adopt the fast lane culture that came with the tourist trade, even though it lies just minutes outside of Freeport/ Lucaya.

Freeport/Lucaya, the capital of Grand Bahama, and the second largest city in the Islands of The Bahamas. The city was built expressly for tropical fun. It is the site of many of the tourist beaches and activities, as well as the International Bazaar and Marketplace.

Williams Town and Russell Town are two small villages south of Freeport, named for the families that still occupy them. Williams Town was founded by Joseph Williams, a freed slave, and some of his descendants still live there on what is called “generation land.”

Smith’s Point is named after the Scotsman, Michael Smith, who served in the early 1800s as Commissioner of the island. Instead of money, he was given 400 acres of land, part of which one of his sons sold to the Grand Bahama Development Company.

Mather Town

lies next to Smith’s Point (see above), just across a small channel. The quaint houses in this tiny village provide a striking contrast to the modernity of those within which it is enveloped.


Freetown received its name because it was the first place where slaves were freed in 1834. Before the advent of roads, a foot path from Old Freetown in the East was the primary thoroughfare for traveling to the settlements in the West. All that’s left of the old village, is a cemetery and some rubble. A few miles away on the beach is the old hermitage that is considered to be one of the oldest buildings on the island. Built in 1901, it was first a Baptist Church and later served as a hermitage for a Trappist monk.

High Rock gets its name from the 30-foot high rocky bluff between the coastal road and the sea. The village is built of mostly wooden framed buildings. Some villagers fish for a living, others work in Freeport or at the nearby South Riding Point oil transshipment facility.

McLean’s Town is located on a cay, at the easternmost point reachable by road. It consists of two roughly parallel roads. The villagers are good fishermen, and those with boats ferry people to the nearby cays. The town is most famous for its Conch Cracking Contests held during the Heroes’ Day holiday in October.

Deep Water Cay offers the ultimate for bone fishing enthusiasts. Located on the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island, it is accessible only by boat from McLean’s Town. The cay is surrounded by 250 square miles of shallow sand and mud flats, where the gray, ghostlike bone fish feed off shrimp, crustaceans, and insects.

Sweeting’s Cay is a quaint fishing village, located 55 miles east of Freeport. It is only accessible by boat and has a population of 400 people, most of whom live by selling lobster and conch in Freeport. The village stretches about a mile, and electricity and roads were only recently installed.
Lightbourne Cay is an uninhabited cay located just east of Sweeting’s Cay and is accessible only by boat. It is ideal for picnics and snorkeling right off the beach. At low tide, the shoreline becomes a spectacular sandy expanse, stretching for yards.

Water Cay is named for the abundant supply of fresh water to be found there. This small island lies in northern Grand Bahama, almost in the center of the island.

The Isle Of Capri Casino

at Our Lucaya has opened its 20,000 square foot facility directly across the street from the Port Lucaya Marina.

C – Attractions & Things To Do

grand bahama island attractions

Garden of The Groves
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Phone: 242-373-5668
Fax: 242-373-2177

The garden is open Sunday to Monday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily. Tickets are available for sale until 3:30 p.m.

Considered one of the finest botanical Gardens in the Caribbean, the Garden of the Groves has more than 10,000 species of flowers, shrubs, trees, and exotic plant life. Along its shaded, winding paths are several waterfalls and exotic native birds. It is an ideal spot for those simply seeking a serene setting for quiet reflection.
Its old-fashioned chapel is also the perfect place for a romantic, tropical wedding. Winding paths, duck ponds and cascading waterfalls provide the perfect backdrop for those keepsake photos. Floral patterns of gardenias, bougainvillea, and hibiscus to name a few, make beautiful bouquets that will certainly complement whatever is worn on that special occasion.

Hydroflora Gardens
Freeport
Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Tel: 242-352-6052
Fax: 242-373-6976

This unusual garden, located in Freeport, offers visitors a fascinating look into the science and technique of “hydroponics”—growing plants without soil. The tropical and sub-tropical flowers and plants produced on this five-acre compound are as beautiful as their growth process is interesting. Among the unusual exhibits are several of what is called “Bible” plants and a sunken garden.

Native Crab Fest
Enjoy delicious native crabs at the Churchill Garden at Club 2000 (formerly Churchill Pub). This event starts at 6:30 p.m. every Friday. 242-351-2692.

Native Fish Fry
Enjoy delicious fried fish, potato bread, conch salad and more every Wednesday at Smith’s Point, starting at 6:30 p.m. 242-352-8044

Port Lucaya Marketplace
Weekly activities include: theme night, Mardi Gras, Reggae night, Island night, DJ Jam session, Junkanoo parades, fire and limbo dancing, and other native acts. 242-373-8446.


Freeport Bahamas Sportfishing


Lucayan Marina Village
Phone: 242.373.8888 x522

Captain Chris and crew guarantee a wonderful day on the water. A native of the Bahamas, Captain Chris is one of the most respected fishermen in the islands and has been fishing the waters of Freeport for over 25 years. Board a 55-foot luxury ocean sportfisherman vessel and head out to sea in search of wahoo, tuna, kingfish, barracuda, mackerel and bonita. Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, food and drink: bait is provided!

Rand Memorial Nature Centre

Covering an area of over 100 acres, the nature center features over 200 kinds of birds and 400 types of plants.

Straw Market

The Bahamas is well-known for its straw work, and at this market you can find virtually every kind of straw object made in the islands. There are also plenty of carvings and other traditional goods.

International Bazaar

The International Bazaar is Freeport’s main shopping zone, a sprawling collection of stores selling a wide variety of goods from all over the world, as well as traditional Bahamian arts and crafts.

Outside of Freeport

West End

During the era of prohibition, West End and the nearby towns on Grand Bahamas’ west coast were the epicenter of rum-running. The area is rich in stories, and also has a long, gorgeous beach.


Pinetree Stables


Beachway Drive North
Phone: 242.373.3600

Saddle up for a two-hour guided trail ride on Grand Bahama Island. Wind through the Pine Forest and Rocky Coppice. Cross a Wetland and trot along the beach and into the sea. Yes, you will get wet!
Friendly guides and reliable trail horses lead the way and prior horseback riding experience is not required. Minimum rider age is 8 years and maximum rider weight is 200 pounds. Jeans and sneakers are suggested for your comfort. Reservations are required.

The Resort at Bahamia Tennis Club


The Mall at West Sunrise Highway
Phone: 242.350.7000

Year-round blue skies and warm weather provide ideal conditions for a tennis match at The Resort at Bahamia. The resort offers nine courts including both hard surface and clay surface. The courts are lighted for night play, available by special arrangement.
Guests and non-guests are accommodated with advance reservations. Tennis rackets are available for rent.

Isle of Capri Golf Resort and Casino

Lucaya, Grand Bahamas

7.5 acres of sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, and tropical surroundings commonly described as cool, colorful, and Caribbean.

749 beautiful guest rooms and suites – most with ocean views.

14 restaurants and cafés; pool area, with three spa tubs and four pools, including a large serpentine pool

25,000-square-foot Senses Spa & Fitness Center.

Gaming space: 19,000 sq. ft.

The new Isle of Capri Casino at Our Lucaya offers 400 slot machines and 30 game tables, with a high limit slot area as well as a high limit room for table game players.
Our Lucaya Golf Club


Royal Palm Way Lucaya
Phone: 242.373.1333

Our Lucaya resort is home to two of the top golf courses on Grand Bahama Island:
Host to the most prestigious golfing events in the Caribbean, the Lucayan Course at Our Lucaya resort is among the top 100 golf resorts in the world. Built by famed designer Dick Wilson, the course features well-protected elevated greens, pristine fairways lined with tropical foliage and trademark Wilson doglegs. Although the Lucayan Course uses water hazards sparingly, the 6,824-yard track presents challenges unequalled in the Caribbean.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the Reef Course at Our Lucaya resort is brand new and has already been selected as the home of the Senior PGA Tour’s “The Lucayan Senior Slam” for the next three years. Thirteen of its eighteen holes are bordered by water, and at 6,930 yards from championship tees, the Reef Course tests even the most prominent golfers.
A tip for golfers who have never teed off in the Bahamas: all of the greens are Bermuda grass and every putt is influenced by grain: all balls will tend to break more toward the setting sun (west/ southwest).


Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO)


Port Lucaya
Phone: 242.373.1244

The Underwater Explorers Society, established in 1965, has been rated “the most sophisticated and best equipped dive facility in the world” by Skin Diver Magazine. Only at UNEXSO can you dive in the open water with dolphins, experience the adrenaline rush on a heart pounding shark dive, and view the splendor of an intact freighter lying in 100 feet of crystal clear water. In addition to diving for certified divers, UNEXSO offers snorkeling adventures, dolphin encounters and learn-to-dive programs.
Reservations are required and rates vary depending on the activity. It is best to call 800.992.DIVE before leaving for your trip to inquire about availability. Sport equipment and photography rentals are available.

Lucayan National Park

Lucayan National Park covers over 40 acres and four distinct ecological zones. Along with its abundance of plant and animal species, there are also caves you can explore via walkways.

D – Family Fun Attractions

Garden of The Groves
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Phone: 242-373-5668
Fax: 242-373-2177

The garden is open Sunday to Monday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily. Tickets are available for sale until 3:30 p.m.

Considered one of the finest botanical Gardens in the Caribbean, the Garden of the Groves has more than 10,000 species of flowers, shrubs, trees, and exotic plant life. Along its shaded, winding paths are several waterfalls and exotic native birds.

Hydroflora Gardens
Freeport
Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Tel: 242-352-6052
Fax: 242-373-6976

This unusual garden, located in Freeport, offers visitors a fascinating look into the science and technique of “hydroponics”—growing plants without soil. The tropical and sub-tropical flowers and plants produced on this five-acre compound are as beautiful as their growth process is interesting. Among the unusual exhibits are several of what is called “Bible” plants and a sunken garden.

Lucayan National Park

Lucayan National Park covers over 40 acres and four distinct ecological zones. Along with its abundance of plant and animal species, there are also caves you can explore via walkways.

Rand Memorial Nature Centre

Covering an area of over 100 acres, the nature center features over 200 kinds of birds and 400 types of plants.

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Holmes Rock & Seagrape together form a little community known for a unique cave that sits behind a local night club. It is over 200 yards in diameter and produces fresh water at low tide and salt water at high tide.