Grand Bahama Island is an island of the Bahamas
- Freeport / Lucaya
The 6 eco-systems of Grand Bahama Island are:
- Pine Forest
- Blackland Coppice
- Rocky Coppice
- Mangrove Swamp
- Whiteland Coppice
- Beach / Shoreline
Bahamas Dollars (BSD) are equal in value to the American Dollar. American currency is accepted (sometimes even preferred) everywhere.
Sales tax does not exist in the Bahamas. National revenue is collected mainly through local import tariffs.
Duty-free items such as liquor, perfume, and jewelery 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.
- Port Lucaya Marketplace Sea Horse Road on Bell Channel Bay, Phone: +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.
- The International Bazaar is a shopping compound divided into separate areas that each reflect a different part of the world. In total it comprises 90 shops, 13 restaurants, and 6 snack/ice cream stores. There is also a straw market nearby. As of November 2007 most of the stores in the International Bazaar are closed due to the closure of the nearby Royal Oasis resort. However, it is expected that normal business will resume when the resort reopens (still closed as of February 2012).
Locals have cellular service.
Numerous Flights are available from South Florida. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- UNEXSO Dive Center, Royal Palm Way, ☎ +1 (242) 373-1244, toll-free: +1-800-992-DIVE (3483) (To make reservations from the US or Canada). UNEXSO provides activities for both experienced and non-experienced SCUBA divers. They also offer different kinds of "swim with the dolphins" experiences as well. Some activities require a 1 day advanced registration.
- Grand Bahama Scuba. At the Ocean Reef Yacht Club, runs dives Monday through Friday and Sunday afternoon dives. They offer the popular shark dive as well.
- 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 of a lifetime. The author of this entry has been fishing with them for 20 years, since she was a child. You can also charter them to fish for any other kind of available fish, or just to go out snorkeling off the beaten path. They are great with kids too!
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 ($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. This is not a complete listing of restaurants in the area, but the overall best options. Prices reflect the expected apparel. In alphabetical order:
- Cappuccino's, Italian-owned, with an Italian chef, offering Italian cuisine. Prices are in the mid-to-high range. Due to high popularity, reservations are recommended.
- Agave, Caribbean-Latin fusion cuisine. Prices are moderate to high, but the food is worth it.
- China Beach, authentic Asian cuisine. Prices are steep but the food is worth it.
- Giovanni's, authentic Italian cuisine. Prices are reasonable and the food is superb.
- Sabor, eclectic gourmet menu, superb food, high prices. Jacket, tie and reservation recommended.
- Luciano's, for those with refined tastes and expectations. Jacket and tie recommended.
- Pisces restaurant and bar. Local and international cuisine, good prices.
- Shennanigan's, Irish pub and restaurant, frequently packed. Amazing food, moderate prices.
- Zorba's, delicious Greek cuisine, good prices.
- Banana Bay, located in Fortune Bay near Lucaya. Situated feet from the ocean on a beautiful white beach, perfect for families who want a refreshing lunch, with indoor and outdoor patio dining available. Delicious local cuisine at good prices.
- Pier One Restaurant (near the cruise harbor). Has a beautiful waterfront view and serves delicious, high-end food, but what it is best known for are its nightly shark feedings. Sharks are summoned to the water below with the ring of a bell, and guests can watch them chow down, and even throw food to them. A highly recommended, unique experience.
- Radisson Grand Lucayan, 1 Sea Horse Ln, ☎ +1 (242) 373-1333. Located on the picturesque Grand Bahama Island, Radisson Grand Lucayan offers guests outstanding quality. It has 540 luxury guest rooms and suites, which are decorated in a modern Art Deco-inspired tropical style, and is situated on 7.5 acres of white sand beaches. Guests at the Grand Lucayan hotel can enjoy a daily activities schedule, two 18-hole championship golf courses, Las Vegas-style casino, spa services and three pools for some fun in the sun. On-site dining options range from casual fare to fine cuisine, and the 90,000 square feet of meeting space provides the ideal setting for weddings and events of all kinds. Visit Radisson Grand Lucayan and see what makes our hotel one of the finest resorts in the Bahamas.
- Goombay Punch Soda. sweet pineapple soda, with a slight lemon taste (like a pineapple heavy Pina Colada).
- Kalik Beer. Locally 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.
- Pelican Bay Hotel, ☎ +1 (800) 852-3702. Seahorse Road, Port Lucaya. The Pelican Bay Hotel is in Port Lucaya, 5 miles from Freeport. The hotel is next to the Port Lucaya Marketplace and the UNEXSO facility and the resort juts into Bell Channel Bay overlooking two marinas.
- Wyndham Viva Fortuna Beach Resort, ☎ +1 (242) 373-4000, fax: +1 (242) 373-5555. Churchill Drive & Doubloon Road. An all-inclusive resort on the south coast of the island, on 23 acres of land near a sandy white beach.
- 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.