About Grand Bahama Island
Natural beauty conspires with resort vitality to make Grand Bahama Island one of the Bahamas' most well-rounded, diverse destinations. In its two main towns, Freeport and Lucaya, visitors can find much of what the more bustling Nassau has to offer: resort hotels, a variety of restaurants, golfing, duty-free shopping, and gambling. But unlike New Providence, the touristy spots take up only a small portion of an island that, on the whole, consists of uninhabited stretches of sand and forest.Prior to the development of Freeport, West End (the capital of Grand Bahama Island) was the epicenter of the Bahamas' logging industry and a playground for the wealthy in the 1920s. The fate of Grand Bahama changed in the 1950s when American financier Wallace Groves envisioned Grand Bahama's grandiose future as a tax-free shipping port. The Bahamian government signed an agreement that set in motion the development of a planned city, an airport, roads, waterways, and utilities as well as the port. From that agreement, the city of Freeport—and later, Lucaya—evolved. The past decade's hurricanes and economic downfall have demolished Freeport's resort glamour, and the tourism center has shifted to Lucaya, now home to the island's largest resorts.Not much else on the island has changed since the early days, however. Outside of the Freeport-Lucaya commercial-and-resort area, fishing settlements remain, albeit now with electricity and good roads. The East End is Grand Bahama's "back-to-nature" side, where Caribbean yellow pine–and-palmetto forest stretches for 60 miles, interrupted by the occasional small settlement. Little seaside villages with white churches and concrete-block houses painted in bright pastels fill in the landscape between Freeport and West End. Many of these settlements are more than 100 years old.
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Things You Can't Miss
Bands perform for dancing at this lively spot in the center of the Port Lucaya Marketplace; restaurants, bars and shops surround the marina.
© Jean-Pierre Degas/Hemis/Corbis
Operated by a conservation group, Rand Memorial Nature Center offers 100 acres of native plants, home to colorful hummingbirds and butterflies.
© Bob Krist/Corbis
On the western part of the island, easily accessible Deadman’s Reef protects habitat for sea turtles, eagle rays and a wide variety of tropical fish.
Allure of the Seas, SeaDream I and 3 other fun-filled Caribbean cruises we recommend booking.
Lucayan National Park features caves to explore, a boardwalk trail through a forest of mangroves and palms, and beautiful, secluded Gold Rock Beach.
Denis Tangney Jr/Getty Images
Craving the kind of laid-back, all-American beach town that’s the antithesis of a gated resort with sleek hotel rooms? The following towns should more than satisfy.
Learn all about Bahamian flora at 12-acre Garden of the Groves, where paths wind among tall palms, pretty ponds and countless species of flowers.
© age fotostock / Alamy
Don't be overwhelmed by the range of options and prices for airline luggage. This luggage buying guide will help you choose the best baggage for your travel needs.
Savings on cruises booked through Liberty Travel and AARP® Travel Center Powered by Expedia®
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