Looking for a destination teeming with exciting parties and nights that never end? Well sorry, but heading to Grand Bahama is not that kind of trip. But if relaxing on beautiful quiet beaches, interacting with exotic wildlife and indulging in delicious food is what stokes your travel fire, then this little out-island paradise may be just what you’re looking for.
Grand Bahama is the northernmost of all the islands of the Bahamas and is the 4th largest in the archipelago. Although it is not the most energetic of all the Bahamian islands, it does offer the typical tropical charm of the other islands and is only a 3 hour boat ride or a 40 minute flight from Florida. Having been here for an extended period of time I will admit that the island does not offer the daily upbeat rhythm one might find in other more lively Caribbean cities; however I believe it is a good option for a quick trip to get away from it all. The island attracts a fair amount of tourists, most of who arrive via cruise ship, but does offer a more intimate alternative to Nassau since it is less crowded. So if you plan to give Grand Bahama a try on your next visit to the Bahamas here are a few tips to consider.
Things to do:
Port Lucaya Marketplace– This marketplace is one of the biggest tourist hotspots in Grand Bahama. It offers a central place where visitors can enjoy duty free shopping as well as restaurants of varied cuisines including Bahamian, Japanese, Latin fusion, Greek and more. It also features colourful and quaint craft shops where tourists can stock up on Bahamian souvenirs. The Port Lucaya Marketplace also offers a little bit of nightlife as the bars and restaurants attract a mix of tourists and the locals who come out to listen to local bands play music, on occasion, or to enjoy karaoke and tapas.
The Beaches– The best part of getting away from it all is being able to relax on a quiet beach. That is definitely one of the charms of Grand Bahama. I have never seen what one would call a crowded beach since I’ve been here and if you’re lucky you may just have an entire stretch of white sand beach all to yourself. The best part is the beaches are free! Beaches to try include Paradise Cove Beach, Taino Beach, Barbary Beach, Fortune Beach and Lucayan Beach among others. Some of these beaches provide opportunities for water sports or boat rides.
Nature Tours– Another highlight of Grand Bahama are the wonderful experiences it offers through Eco-tourism. There are many nature tour companies that will offer activities such as kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, bird watching and excursions via bike or jeep.
The Bahamas uses Bahamian Dollars (BSD), however it is the equivalent of the United States Dollar (USD) so US dollars are accepted everywhere. When making any purchases tourists can ask to have their change given in US dollars as most businesses are happy to oblige if they have it available.
Unfortunately Grand Bahama does not have the most reliable public transportation, and almost everyone on the island gets around via personal vehicle. If you are visiting as a tourist, there are jeep and car rental companies to provide you with transportation if you want to discover the island on your own.
Where to stay:
There are a few hotel choices on the island including Paradise Cove Beach Resort, Pelican Bay Hotel and The Grand Lucayan. It is worth mentioning however that the Grand Lucayan is conveniently positioned as it is just by Lucayan Beach and directly across from the Port Lucaya Marketplace.
If you are not familiar with Bahamian cuisine then I should let you know that the one thing you must try while in the Bahamas is conch. Bahamian cuisine features conch in so many forms; cracked conch, steamed conch, conch fritters, conch salad and the list goes on. I also highly recommend their fried fish as well as their crab rice. Some good spots to try local food include Pepperpot, Sire’s, Silk Café, and Smith’s Point Fish Fry.
The weather in Grand Bahama is mostly warm, however it does get quite chilly around the winter months. I was quite surprised when I experienced temperatures as low as 12 degrees Celsius.