Grand Bahama Island is an island of the Bahamas.
The 6 ecosystems of Grand Bahama Island are:
- Pine Forest
- Blackland Coppice
- Rocky Coppice
- Mangrove Swamp
- Whiteland Coppice
Cellular service available from BTC and Aliv. Coverage is fairly good, but roaming can be pricey. Check your plan before you enable data roaming.
Numerous flights are available from South Florida to Freeport (FPO IATA). American Eagle offers daily flights from Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia and New York. Bahamasair, United, and Spirit Airlines all offer daily flights from Fort Lauderdale. Delta Connection offers flights from Atlanta. Another frugal option is to take a Discovery cruise ship to the island. The Ship drops passengers off in the mornings and then return for them in the evenings.
Taxis are typically waiting for visitors at the airport and sea port. They are also easily summoned by phone. Please be aware that there is NO such thing as a "service fee" or "bag handling fee," as some unscrupulous taxi drivers insist. You only pay the fare, and a tip if appropriate.
Public transport on the island consists mainly of minivans that ferry locals to and fro. It is a dollar to take the local bus line anywhere on the island. They typically run about every 15 minutes however they will often wait until they have a full load before departing. It's unclear whether these are government run or privately owned.
Hotels often have their own shuttle services to various points of interest around the island.
Car, motorcycle, and buggy rentals are readily available. However be cautioned that the roads are driven on the left and locals drive aggressively.
- 1 Lucayan National Park. The crown jewel of the 3 national parks on Grand Bahama, Lucayan National Park is the only place in the Bahamas where you can see all six of the island's ecosystems. There are caves for exploration (including one of the longest underwater limestone caves in the world; access is seasonal as the caves are also used for bat conservation), a picturesque wooden bridge over a mangrove swamp, and a beautiful white beach with benches available for picnics. Visitors are advised never to leave belongings unattended, as thefts have been known to occur.
- 2 Rand Nature Center, ☏ +1 242-352-5438. Outside downtown Freeport. Open 9AM - 4PM Monday to Friday (Closed on Saturday & Sunday) This national park is named for James Rand and was established as the first nature education center to preserve the habitat of Grand Bahama. Admission $5 adults, $3 children 5-12, children under 5 free.
- Peterson Cay National Park. a small island surrounded by reefs located 1 mile off the south shore, is the perfect getaway for a day trip / picnic. It is accessible only by boat, and visitors are instructed to anchor in specific areas away from the coral reefs. All plant and animal life within the park boundaries is protected by law. Fishing, shelling, and damage to or removal of any coral is strictly prohibited. Garbage disposal and leaving ash coals / embers is also prohibited. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
- Scuba diving — see the Freepirt article for listings.
- Live music and dancing are available at a number of places. Most bands play a mixture of Bahamian "Rake 'n Scrape" and American standards. Venues include Count Basie Square in Port Lucaya, most evenings, Bikini Bottom Bar in Williamstown (near the Island Seas resort) on Thursdays and Saturdays, Tony Macaroni's Conch Experience on Taino Beach, Wednesdays and alternate Sundays, and Sabor Restaurant in the Pelican Bay resort on Saturdays.
- Leo and Carol Moxie, West End, Grand Bahama Island. Ask almost anyone at Old Bahama Bay, or most taxi drivers, and they will know about Leo and Carol. This fishing boat captain and his Canadian-born wife/first mate can take you on the shark fishing adventure. You can also charter them to fish for any other kind of available fish, or to go out snorkeling off the beaten path. They are great with kids.
Bahamas Dollars (BSD) are equal in value to the American Dollar. American currency is accepted (sometimes even preferred) everywhere.
VAT is payable on most goods and services if purchased from a business large enough to be registered. Posted prices should include VAT, but often don't. VAT free shopping is available in some stores selling high value items to tourists if foreign travel documentation is provided. Most revenue is collected through local import tariffs.
Duty-free items such as liquor, perfume, and jewellery often surprise tourists for being so inexpensive. It is not uncommon, for example, to find a bottle of your favorite perfume for less than half of what you could expect to pay back home. This is the advantage and convenience of duty-free shopping.
- 1 Port Lucaya Marketplace, Sea Horse Road on Bell Channel Bay, ☏ +1 (242) 373-8446. Duty-free shopping in over 80 stores in 12 buildings overlooking the Bell Channel Bay marina. The marketplace is the hub of Port Lucaya.
Grand Bahama offers a wide variety of international cuisines for all tastes. The local Bahamian cuisine consists mainly of seafood, poultry, or pork, typically fried, steamed, or curried, with various kinds of rice and salads. Spices are used in abundance. Finding authentic, quality Bahamian food in touristic areas can be rather hit-or-miss, so asking friendly locals their personal recommendations will go a long way to ensuring an experience your taste buds won't forget.
Conch (a type of large sea mollusk, pronounced 'kongk') is a quintessentially Bahamian food served in various forms. Island favourites include: conch salad, infused with citrus and served cold; cracked conch, tenderized and lightly batter-fried; and conch fritters, small balls of deep-fried batter mixed with minced conch and served with dipping sauce.
Check your bill carefully. A 15% service charge is included in some restaurants and bars. If not a standard 15% tip is appreciated.
Fish fries are like the Bahamian version of a neighbourhood barbecue, serving fried fish with various side dishes. Some fish fries cater specifically to tourists, but these are generally grossly overpriced (from $50, compared to local-run fish fries which cost less than $10 per plate) and the food pales in comparison to those run by locals, for locals.
The Port Lucaya area has a wide array of dining experiences for all budgets, at all times of the day. See the Freeport article for listings.
In West End area dining options include Dockside Bar & Grille for dinner and Teaser's Tiki Bar for breakfast and lunch, both located at Old Bahama Bay Resort - (242) 350-6500.
- 1 Bishop's Beach Club, Felix Slope, High Rock. Restaurant and bar on the beach, serving reliably good Bahamian food. Badly hit by Dorian, but rebuilt and open for business.
- Goombay Punch Soda. sweet pineapple soda, with a slight lemon taste (like a pineapple heavy Pina Colada).
- Sands Beer. Brewed on Grand Bahama and available throughout the Bahamas.
- Kalik Beer. Bahamian bottled beer. A very world common lager beer. On the milder side (between a Corona and a Corona Light).
- Bahama Mama. Alcoholic drink - Is told to be the local drink of choice. Rum, juice, and Grenadine.
See listings in the Freeport article.
- Old Bahama Bay, Box F-42546, West End Grand Bahama Island, ☏ +1 888 983-6188, +1 242 350-6500. 73 luxury suites and 72 marina slips.
The Bahamas, though well known for its festive culture and friendly people, does have a high crime rate amongst its people that reflects severe social disparities. Areas that cater to tourists are heavily policed and kept exceptionally safe, but foreigners should not venture outside these areas alone. (A desolate beach at night is incredibly romantic, but be sure to tell the security guard at your hotel where you are going, just to be safe.)
Bahamian culture is intolerant of public displays of affection between same-sex couples. Such displays are typically seen as an affront to local values and may be met with hostility. Please exercise modesty in public areas.
While the idea of being swept off one's feet by a good-looking local may sound romantic to some, serious caution is advised. Local men in particular often frequent the beaches near hotels, wooing foreign women as a hobby. It is imperative that safe sex be practiced. The Bahamas as a nation holds the third-highest rate of HIV and AIDS infection in the world.