Grand Bahama Still Has Lots of Magic Left In This City
Grand Bahama Still Has Lots of Magic Left In This City
Freeport Makes For The Perfect STAYCATION, DOMESTIC TOURIST DESTINATION or VACATION
I was born and raised in Grand Bahama, and to me, it always lived up to its name as the Magic City. Like most of the world, the island may have gone through some difficult times in recent years, but that has not stopped we people from being kind, loving, and enjoying life. Think Freeport is too quiet for your tastes? Give it another try and you will be pleasantly surprised.
It’s Peaceful & Laid-back
Grand Bahama (aka Freeport) may not be hustling and bustling with tons of traffic (who likes traffic) or tourists (who needs too many people in your space) flooding the streets....but that’t the charm of Grand Bahama. As a once-upon-a-time, hospitality worker, I can tell you, people (celebrities included) love Grand Bahama because it’s peaceful, you can enjoy your personal space, you don’t get harassed by vendors, and the beaches aren’t flooded with people. It’s a great, chill, place for persons looking to get away from it all while still enjoying the amenities of home. Grand Bahamians are also very friendly, but reserved. They like to have fun, but are not “in your face” kind of people. Even the merchants are laid back and not aggressive like some tourist vendors, can be. Some people can interpret their laid back nature as being aloof, but they are just very chill people.
Travel Tip: September & October are off season. Hotel prices are much cheaper during this time, and there is much less people mulling about, but some of the restaurants are closed. This is also the perfect time for Bahamian Resident Special resort rates.
Old Bahama Bay, West End
If you are visiting Grand Bahama from another island, or country, you will be able to find excellent and affordable resorts and hotels with full service spas, restaurants, room service, STUNNING ocean views, friendly staff, pools and more. My top pics for the traditional Resort experience are Old Bahama Bay, Pelican Bay and the Grand Lucayan Resort. (I will soon feature some off the grid accommodation options.)
Travel Tip: The Grand Lucayan is lovely, but they have much stricter rules about visitors and persons entering the property than most of the other resorts, on island. There is a fee for persons to visit you in your room, and the various card swipe access points card can be a bit annoying for Staycationers.
Grand Bahama is beautiful and has a lot of beautiful crystal clear water beaches and powder fine sand- it is truly paradise.
Travel Tip - Grand Bahama is also a short speed boat ride to a number of cays. (2 Hours Max) If you’re looking for a little getaway from it all - try visiting Sweetings Cay or Grand Cay.
Affordable & Convenient
Traveling to Grand Bahama is affordable and convenient for many Bahamian, US, Canadian, Turks and Caicos and other International travelers as there are a number of direct flights, and inexpensive airfare.
Easy Driving & Transportation’s A Breeze
Unlike a number of other Caribbean destinations, Grand Bahama is easy to navigate due to the island being carefully planned many years ago. Traffic is also pretty light, and it would be no problem getting around with a rental car. Parking is also a breeze as the island is not congested.
Grand Bahama may have a lot of the amenities of a city, but it still has a family island feel. The island is pretty safe, and visitors can feel comfortable exploring the island as long as common safety practices are utilized.
Don’t listen to the hype. Grand Bahama has lots to do.
Garden Of The Groves
A beautiful botanical garden and animal reserve. There is also a great restaurant on property, and a kid’s playground.
Dolphin Experience/Swimming with The Dolphins/Diving/Snorkeling At UNEXSO
UNEXSO has a number of great and unique underwater activities including an up close and personal and extremely fun Dolphin Experience and Swim with The Dolphins that begins with a short boat ride, and ends with persons being able to see a number of tropical birds as well tortoises. They also offer amazing dive sessions and reef snorkeling. UNEXSO also has a fantastic retail store with beautiful fashions, jewelry, home decor, swimwear, handbags, shoes, and, of course, dive gear and souvenirs. Grand Bahama natives also get a Resident Discount Card that offers big savings on activities and the retail store.
There are a number of operators on island that offer snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, parasailing, jet skiing, and a myriad of other water sport options.
Glass Bottom Boat Rides, Fishing, Booze Cruise and Sunset Cruises
Again, there are a number of operators who offer boating trips, all at reasonable prices.
Port Lucaya has a number of shops, restaurants, bars, and water sport and boating operators. UNEXSO is also located in Port Lucaya.
West End is a great place to chill on the weekend, grab a bowl of conch salad, an ice cold Sands, and relax on the water. No fuss, and no frills.
On Wednesday evening, Smith’s Point has a weekly Fish Fry with a chill vibe, good food, and lots of drinks.
Other Activities Include
4x4 Wheel Riding
There are a number of nightclubs, dive bars, and lounges on island. There are quite a few, but I will do a separate article on the nightlife of Grand Bahama, as many locations will need some directions on how to get there.
A few good bets in Port Lucaya include:
Neptune’s - Lounge and Nightclub
Sparky’s - Dive Bar
Rum Runners - Bar
Grand Bahama, at first glance, may not appear to be a foodie’s paradise, but there are some fantastic dining options on island.
Deconstructed Mango Cheesecake @ Flying Fish Restaurant
Here’s the rundown on where to go!
Fine Dining (Laid Back Fine Dining)
Flying Fish - This restaurant, located between the Grand Lucayan Resort and Pelican Bay Resort, has been voted as one of the best restaurants in the Caribbean. The food is Bahamian fusion, molecular gastronomy, deconstructed, and just plain DELICIOUS!!!!! Flying Fish may be considered gourmet food, but the restaurant and its team are anything but stuffy and fussy. You can eat indoors for a more upscale feel, or outside on the marina for a more laid back experience. I have never had a bad experience or dish at Flying Fish, and I would without hesitation recommend the Grilled Octopus, Banana Bread Fresh Toast, any of the desserts and.....just about anything on the ever changing menu.
Banana Bread Fresh Toast with House Made Bacon and Banana's Foster Topping from Flying Fish
China Beach at Grand Lucayan - China Beach specializes in sushi and Asian Fusion Cuisine. The sushi is great, but the desserts are amazing. Be sure to try the Spicy Chocolate Mousse.
Churchill’s Restaurant at Grand Lucayan - I have not had Churchill’s food in a little while, but it was always delicious, and the ambiance is delightful. I great choice, especially for New Years.
Sit Down Dining
Ahi Tuna Nachos and Crispy Spring Rolls from Agave Restaurant
Agave's Latin Fusion Cuisine has been slightly inconsistent in recent years due to changes is chefs, but the friendly atmosphere has, mostly, remained constant. On a few of my recent trips, I was pleasantly surprised that the restaurant had reclaimed its reputation for having some of the best Latin Cuisine, on the island, and the service is excellent. Located in the Port Lucayan Marketplace, next to Sparky's Bar, Agave boasts two Happy Hour sessions a day, delicious Mojitos (my favorite is the coconut mojito) and yummy fusion cuisine. One of my recent favorites has been the Ahi Tuna Nachos with fried wonton chips, seaweed salad, and a Wasabi Cream. Another favorite of mine is the Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos, with just a hint of ginger.
Pisces - I will admit, Pisces Restaurant, located in Port Lucaya, has been hit and miss at times, but I would not feel comfortable leaving it off the list. They are best known for their seafood pizzas, and the Muscargo is amazing and extremely unhealthy. lol.
Cappuccino - My Fellow Grand Bahamian Recommendations - I have never tried Cappuccino Restaurant, which is located in Port Lucaya, but I have heard excellent things. I will be sure to write a review on my next visit.
Best Places For Casual Dining
Out Da Sea, located in the Les Fountains Plaza on East Sunrise Highway, is a great place to find delicious food and grab a drink, in a laid back, relaxed and outdoor environment. The seafood pizza is delicious.
The Teaser’s Tiki Bar, located at the Old Bahama Bay Resort in West End, may be a bit of a drive, but it is right on the ocean, the service is great and fast, and the food is excellent. I would definitely recommend the tender cracked conch or beer battered fish fingers.
Beer Battered Onion Rings and House Made Onion Rings from Teaker's Tiki Bar
Red Beards, located on the main road of East Sunrise Highway, is a super chill restaurant and bar, with a large menu. Red Beards is also a great place to enjoy a drink, or four, and relax. Red Beards feels a bit like a dive bar.
Best Chicken In Da Bag
N&A’s Takeout has been a staple for years in the Eight Mile Rock community, and people have been known to drive from Freeport proper for their chicken in the bag fix.
Best Conch Salad
This is a hard one. As a Grand Bahamian, I know that I would get into a lot of trouble for naming names in the great conch salad battle, but I will say this....there is gentleman in Port Lucaya, near the Marina, whose conch salad is delightful.
Best Breakfast- Bahamian
Mary Ann's is an excellent place to get breakfast, or lunch. They have friendly service, and comfortable dining room, and great food. PLUS their prices are very affordable. In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with tuna and grits, with a side of jonny cake and housemade pepper sauce.
I will admit, Zorba’s is not perfect, but they do make some good traditional Bahamian breakfasts.
Best Breakfast - Non Bahamian
Nae’s Pancake House has some great Guava Pancakes, and I never leave without a glass of fresh madeSwitcha.
Guava Pancakes with Guava Syrup from Nae's Pancake House
Best Brunch Options
Grilled Octopus from Flying Fish
Flying Fish You can’t go wrong at Flying Fish.
Willy Broadleaf Buffet Restaurant The Willy Broadleaf Brunch Buffet, located at the Grand Lucayan Resort, only takes place on Sundays, but its a good mix of Bahamian and International Foods, and it is affordable.
Best Place For Gully Wash aka Sky Juice
The best Gully Wash in Grand Bahama IMHO comes from the Gully Wash Beach Bar in Smith's Point. Soooo good. I usually get my GullyWash unleaded, but the leaded version has the traditional fresh coconut water, sweet milk, and gin but they add a little bit of Ricardo Coconut Rum in it! And, the view is lovely.
For now, Livity Restaurant, but I have been meaning to try some new places. Livity, located close to downtown Freeport, offers vegetarian dining, fresh juices, smoothies, alkaline means, and a number of healthy and delicious meal options.
I know - BIG EYE ROLL! Lol. But, this is something that is very important for some travelers, and sadly, I even once heard a tourist say, “This place was awesome....if only they had Taco Bell.” I’m not a big fast food diner, and I shy away from it when traveling, but a gracious host knows how to make their guests as comfortable as possible. Grand Bahama has the basics - Wendy’s, KFC, Subway, Burger King and Pollo Tropical (McDonald’s franchises don’t fare too well in Grand Bahama, nor Quiznos) in addition to chain pizza restaurants, Marco’s Pizza, Dominos, and Pizza Hut. There is also no shortage of quick Take Out Restaurants.
I will dedicate an entire article to GB JUNKANOO but NY Day in GB is all about music, culture, Bahamian pride, unity....and food. lol.