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Grand Bahama is the northernmost island of the Bahamas. Located just 64 miles from the coast of Florida, you’ll still feel a world away thanks to the island’s stunning white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and colorful island towns.
In addition to its beauty, the Bahamas is known for its upscale eateries and resorts, and Grand Bahama is no exception. On a cruise to the Bahamas, take advantage of shore excursions to private beaches, golf courses, animal attractions, and delicious bars and restaurants. Beyond Freeport, you’ll find stunning national parks, incredible snorkeling opportunities, and friendly local people who will show you the island way of life during your Grand Bahama cruise.
Turquoise water, cave tunnels, and emerald green foliage make up this tropical national park located on Grand Bahama. Lucayan National Park is centrally located on the southern side of the island and spans across nearly 2,000 acres. Explore the park’s extensive sea cave system if you’re feeling adventurous.
Gold Rock Beach is a gorgeous beach that becomes even more mesmerizing at low tide when the water recedes, leaving a massive amount of sandy shoreline in its wake. The beach is part of Lucayan National Park and is a great place for relaxing by the sea.
Garden of the Groves is an excellent place to get lost in nature during your Grand Bahamas cruise. Walking trails wind through jungle-like scenery, serene lakes, and cascading waterfalls. See if you can spot lizards, parrots, and other birds during your visit. Garden of the Groves also has a cafe and gift shop.
About 40 miles east of Freeport lies the East End, an area of Grand Bahama that’s more off the beaten path for tourists. Here you’ll see more fishing lodges than resorts. The East End encompasses a collection of tinier Bahamian islands where bonefishing is prominent.
One of the most popular excursions in Grand Bahama includes an encounter with dolphins. Experience these playful sea creatures at Sanctuary Bay, a natural 9-acre lagoon where over a dozen Bottlenose Dolphins live. Stand on a water platform a few feet deep for the chance to kiss and pet the dolphins.
The water encircling Grand Bahama Island is some of the clearest in the world. On a calm day at sea, visibility can reach up to 200 feet. As a result, the snorkeling and scuba diving are world-class. You can also scuba dive through the sea caves of Lucayan National Park.
An excursion to Paradise Cove is a great way to spend the day in Grand Bahama, particularly if you want some recreation with your beach lounging. Paradise Cove offers kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and beach volleyball. You can also rent snorkel equipment to explore Deadman’s Reef located a short swim from the shore.
From your Grand Bahama cruise, you can go on a variety of fishing excursions. Try your hand at fly fishing for the speedy bonefish. They are plentiful and fast, which makes for an exciting fishing excursion. You can also go on a deep-sea fishing charter.
You’ll find an international array of cuisine in Grand Bahama in addition to Bahamian classics like conch salad and Bahamian stew fish. Conch salad is made by combining the meat of the conch, a type of mollusk found in waters around Grand Bahama, with orange, lemon, cucumbers, and peppers. Bahamian stew fish consists of fish boiled to a white and flaky consistency and often combined with onions, potatoes, lime, thyme, and other spices. Seafood reigns supreme in the Bahamas, and a particular delicacy visitors love to try is rock lobster, which is often found in the cracks and crevices of rocks and coral in the Caribbean.
For dessert, try something made with the local guava fruit. Complete your meal with a favorite Bahamian drink, like rum punch or sky juice, which is coconut water mixed with condensed milk and gin.
Prior to Columbus’ arrival, an indigenous group of people called Lucayans migrated from Cuba to the island. Soon after the arrival of Christopher Columbus and other settlers to the islands, the Lucayan people were wiped out due to disease and enslavement. The Bahamas was eventually claimed by Great Britain and stayed under its rule for 325 years until 1973 when it became its own sovereign country that is a member of the Commonwealth Nations.
Bahamian culture blends an island lifestyle with thriving industries like cement-making, pharmaceuticals, and salt production. Freeport serves as the main hub of the Bahamas industrial and manufacturing business.
Grand Bahama has and continues to be shaped by the impact of hurricanes. In 2019, Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 hurricane, hit the Bahamas. It was the worst hurricane to rage through the Bahamas in decades and did substantial damage to Grand Bahama. The island has long been resilient in the face of hurricanes, though, and has begun to rebuild, with the port reopening to cruise passengers about a month after the hurricane hit.
The Freeport cruise terminal is a short cab or bus ride away from the beautiful and fun-filled part of the city. The cruise terminal has a smattering of shops and restaurants, so if you find yourself back at the terminal with time to spare before having to board the ship, you can do some additional souvenir shopping or enjoy a tropical drink.
Taxi drivers on Grand Bahama Island operate under fixed government rates, which should be provided to you via a rate card or displayed on the window or dashboard. Taxi drivers are sometimes available to hire for an island tour, in which case you’ll likely be charged an hourly rate instead. Taxis are typically lined up right outside the cruise terminal.
A local bus system operates from the early morning hours until nightfall and can take visitors all around the island. Be aware that the bus between the Freeport cruise terminal and Port Lucaya may run sporadically based on demand.
Port Lucaya Marketplace is the most popular place for souvenirs and apparel shopping. It’s the largest open-air mall in the Bahamas and houses 40 specialty shops and boutiques that sell clothing, jewelry, and locally made arts and crafts. Grab a bite to eat along the waterfront and enjoy the live music that’s often played in the central square of the marketplace.
The official currency in the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which usually has a comparable exchange rate to the U.S. dollar. Most places accept U.S. dollars and credit cards, though smaller vendors may be cash-only establishments.
Tipping is expected throughout the Bahamas, including on Grand Bahama Island. A 15% tip for dining is standard and is usually already included in the bill. If service was exemplary, you’re welcome to leave an additional tip, particularly at fine dining restaurants where 20% is often the standard. A 15% tip is the standard for taxi service