Normally when I travel I end up in destinations tourists normally visit to see famous monuments, museums, art and buildings. Visiting Grand Bahama didn’t find me going through my usual travel itinerary, but instead allowed me to indulge in Eco-tourism where I was able to appreciate the natural environment and interact with the wild-life found on the island. I had the pleasure of experiencing two such attractions; the Garden of the Groves and West End Ecology Tours.
The Garden of the Groves:
As a certified wildlife habitat, the Garden of the Groves provides a wonderful experience for nature lovers. It features a scenic landscape which includes beautiful ponds, cascading waterfalls, an aquaponics garden, a labyrinth and of course the exotic wildlife that inhabit the garden. There are different varieties of birds to be seen, as well as turtles, butterflies, fish and plants. I found walking through this garden to be very serene and calming. This is definitely a place I would recommend for a day of relaxing with friends or kids. There is also a lovely café where guests can enjoy some local cuisine after their walk through the garden and a craft shop to buy souvenirs. Unfortunately, in October 2016, hurricane Matthew took a devastating toll on the Bahamas and this conservation site is still in recovery mode, but I was still able to appreciate its serene beauty.
Check out The Garden of the Groves’ website for more details: http://www.thegardenofthegroves.com/
West End Ecology Tours:
This tour was an amazing Eco-tourism experience for me and was indeed the highlight my trip to Grand Bahama. The tour involves the guide, Keith Cooper, taking guests to an offshore cay called Sandy Cay where they are able to interact with sting rays in their natural habitat.
Check out West End Ecology Tours’ website for more information: http://www.westendecologytours.com/
It was definitely something intriguing for me so I gathered a group of friends to give it a try.
I had never had the experience of interacting with wildlife like this before, but I was so happy that I got the chance. Keith made us feel quite at ease from the very beginning. He was super friendly and kept us laughing for the entire tour. Our tour started in Old Bahama Bay which is on the west end of Grand Bahama. We began at about 6:30am, and though we were all still a little sleepy it was completely worth seeing the gorgeous sunrise over Sandy Cay as we journeyed by boat for our play date with the sting rays.
I have to admit, I freaked out a little bit in the beginning since I was not used to touching these alien looking creatures, but Keith did an amazing job of putting me at ease and eventually I was comfortable enough to feed and swim with the sting rays. I absolutely loved how educated Keith was about his craft and was very impressed to see the relationship he had developed with the sting rays. The tour also included us snorkeling over a boat wreck and I had never seen so many fish in my life all in one spot. It was indeed a beautiful wreck, if such a thing exists. Keith also treated us to refreshments; snacks and drinks along with fresh fruit salads. To top off the morning, Keith ended the tour by treating us to coffee to warm us up after all the swimming. Needless to say this was a fantastic experience for me, full of exotic creatures, beautiful cerulean waters and picturesque backdrops. If you’re ever in Grand Bahama you should definitely give this tour a try! I’m sure the photos and video below will say more than I ever could: