Grand Bahama Travel Guide

Despite the name, Grand Bahama has always run second to bigger, more glamorous Nassau. Yet if you’re looking for a laid-back, affordable getaway with a minimum of fuss, this is your place. The streets of Freeport, its main city, and Lucaya are wide and calm. Its golden beaches and aquamarine waters are rarely overcrowded, even in high season. The frequent cruise-ship arrivals ensure that all the amenities of a perfect vacation – dive shops, restaurants, pubs, boutiques – are all within a few blocks. No wonder Grand Bahama has become so popular with cruise-ship tourists and families on quick weekend breaks.

There’s something for everyone on Grand Bahama Island. With a distinct mix of historic appeal, modern attractions and ecological wonders, your visit is sure to be memorable. On Grand Bahama Island, you can combine a glamorous vacation at an upscale resort with the charming allure of a small town. Boasting one of the world’s largest underwater cave systems, three national parks, endless beaches and crisp blue water, Grand Bahama Island has it all.

Outside the city, the 85-mile-long island is an unexplored playground of mangrove swamps, sea caves and sandy cays. There’s world-class diving and snorkeling, great kayaking and fishing. All this just a hop, skip and 55-mile jump from the US.  Visit The Best Beaches in the Bahamas Guide for information on all of the Grand Bahama beaches.  Start planning your vacation here with our Grand Bahama Travel Guide.

Grand Bahama Weather – When to Visit

The best time to visit Grand Bahama Island is from mid-December to mid-April, the country’s peak season. Though temperatures here are great year-round, the islands fall within the hurricane belt, so hurricanes may be a factor between June 1 and Nov. 30. Most of these months (plus May) also fall within the region’s rainy season, which can leave you with fewer days spent enjoying the islands’ outdoor activities. But keep in mind that mid-December to mid-April’s sublime weather attracts hordes of tourists, so prices will be at their highest and crowds at their thickest during these months.

Freeport Round Trip Airport Transfers

Arrange your round-trip airport transfer in advance and skip the hassle of booking a service when you land in Freeport. This convenient form of transport takes you from Freeport Airport or Lucaya Harbor to your hotel or private residence in Lucaya, Old Bahama Bay or Club Fortuna Beach. At the conclusion of your trip, rest assured that your return trip is arranged. It means you spend more time enjoying your trip and less time puzzling out the logistics.  Read more about Freeport Roundtrip Airport Transfers

Grand Bahama Attractions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Garden-of-the-groves-300x152.jpgGarden of the Groves

This 12-acre botanical garden is a lush tropical refuge on an island that’s otherwise mostly scrub pine and asphalt. A walking trail meanders through groves of tamarind and java plum trees, past cascading (artificial) waterfalls, a placid lagoon and a tiny 19th-century hilltop chapel. The spiritually minded will enjoy a meditative stroll through the limestone labyrinth, a replica of the one at Chartres Cathedral in France. Kids will dig the raccoon habitat, where trapped specimens of the invasive critter come to retire.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lucayan-National-Park-300x225.jpgLucayan National Park

This 40-acre national park is Grand Bahama’s finest treasure. About 25 miles east of Ranfurly Circle, the park is known for its underwater cave system, which is one of the longest in the world. Visitors can easily check out two of the caves – Ben’s Cave and Burial Mound Cave – via a short footpath. Bones of the island’s earliest inhabitants, the Lucayans, were discovered in Burial Mound Cave in 1986. The park is also unique because it’s home to all six of the Bahamas’ vegetation zones.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Perfume-Factory-300x225.jpgPerfume Factory

Also known as Fragrance of the Bahamas, this company occupies a three-story pink Bahamian house at the rear of the International Bazaar. Free tours (during the week) reveal some secrets of production, and you can pick up a bottle of the ever-popular Pink Pearl (frangipani-based, with a pink conch-shell ‘pearl’ inside) or blend your own signature sniff.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Barbary-Beach-300x225.jpgBarbary Beach

Barbary Beach is secluded, with a number of tidal pools and rock jetties, so that you can relax in the sand and not worry about shifting tides. It is perfect for those looking to relax, sunbathe, or hunt for conch shells.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Fortune-Beach-300x225.jpgFortune Beach

Fortune Beach is a quiet beach, located five miles from Port Lucaya Marketplace. The beach got its name from a shipwreck worth $2 million which was discovered there. Banana Bay restaurant is located here; it has great food and is a great place for private functions.

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Things to Do on Grand Bahama

Swimming Pigs

Among the many fun activities you can enjoy in the Bahamas, swimming with pigs must be one of the most unusual options. This half-day tour on Grand Bahama Island includes the opportunity to splash in the Caribbean Sea with the resident wild pigs, as well as time to enjoy the gorgeous scenery of Crystal Beach, and have lunch (own expense). Hotel pickup and drop-off is included.  Read more about Swimming Pigs

Paradise Cove Day Pass

Enjoy a day at Paradise Cove in Western Grand Bahama with this day pass, including round-trip transportation from Freeport. Stroll on the secluded white sand beach, relax in a lounge chair, or go snorkeling on Deadman’s Reef. This family-friendly beach excursion lets you avoid the crowds and includes food and drinks from Paradise Cove’s beach bar.   Read more about Paradise Cove Day Pass

Bahamas East End and Lucayan National Park Tour

Explore Lucayan National Park on this half-day adventure on Grand Bahama. Discover one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world and trek along a boardwalk to Gold Rock Beach’s miles of white sands. View native Bahamian birds and colorful tropical fish on this outing that’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.   Read more about Bahamas East End and Lucayan National Park Tour

Half-Day Luxury Sailing Cruise in Freeport

Sail along the Bahamian coast aboard a deluxe, 50-foot (15-meter) sailboat on this all-inclusive adventure. Anchor at a reef and spend time snorkeling, stand-up paddling, or simply relaxing on board. Your captain prepares a lunch of fresh seafood, pastas, salads, and fruit, which you can enjoy accompanied by an open bar. Pickup and drop-off at most Freeport hotels is included.  Read more about Half-Day Luxury Sailing Cruise in Freeport

A Taste of Bahamas Cultural Food Tour

Learn about the native culture of the Bahamas during this tour from Freeport. Listen to presentations about Bahamian culture and history, then learn about arts and crafts, the native population and their traditions. Drink Bush Tea and eat traditional Bahamian food like peas and rice prepared with coconut oil by resident chef Princess Dianna. Round-trip transportation from Freeport hotels and the Freeport cruise port is included.  Read more about Freeport Bahamian Cultural Food Tour 

Best Grand Bahama Restaurants

Flying Fish  $31 – 60

With unmatched service & attention to detail, Flying Fish offers a blend of traditional & modernist cuisine techniques not used anywhere else in the Bahamas. Focusing on local seafood & indigenous ingredients prepared with the utmost skill & creativity.  The Caribbean’s finest waterside dining.  Telephone:  242-373 4363  Web:  Flying Fish.

The Garden Cafe & Bar

Offering a serene setting in Garden of the Groves, this casual, yet elegant restaurant serves up an excellent lunch. The gardens are an enchanting, tropical paradise; it’s a peaceful change from the beach bars and restaurants of Lucaya.  Diverse menu items may include hummus and pita, Greek salads and chicken souvlaki, bratwursts, or grilled steak and shrimp. The bar deck overlooks the ponds and waterfalls or guests can dine in the the new our air-conditioned dining room on the upper deck. On Fridays, the Garden Cafe also serves dinner.  Telephone:  242-374-7778  Web:  The Garden Cafe & Bar

Tony Macaroni’s

This small little beach “snack shack” has remained a local favorite despite the destructive force of three hurricanes. Tony rebuilt his seafood hot spot, which now offers a wooden porch with picnic tables and straw overhang for shaded options. Conch shells make up most of the decor, and the view of the sparkling sky-blue water is mesmerizing. The small menu is posted on the wall, which includes conch burger, roasted conch and lobster, hot dogs and burgers, and his famous conch salad. Portions aren’t generous, but the food is delicious.  Telephone:  242-533-6766  Web:  Tony Macaroni’s

The Margarita Sand Bar

Often called simply, the Sand Bar, the signature characteristic of this restaurant and bar is that the floor is made of sand! Inside, there are televisions for watching the game, live music on a regular basis, and the elusive air conditioning. Located just five minutes’ drive from Port Lucaya Marketplace, it’s far enough from the crowds but close enough for day trippers on a time crunch. The menu offers a number of bar favorites like conch fritters and fish burgers, as well as Greek salads and Philly cheese steaks. Two top decks offer relaxing views, perfect for sipping on a signature margarita and leaving stress being.  Telephone:  242-373-4525  Web:  Margarita Villa Sand Bar

Banana Bay  $11 – 30

Banana Bay is open daily and has a nice menu of sandwiches, salads and barbecue. It is a quiet spot to enjoy a meal or sip on a cocktail. Supposedly, at this spot you’ll find the island’s best pina coladas, and they are also known for their “Tropical Frozen Wacky Banana Drink.” The entrance is hidden among palm trees and tropical vegetation, so look for cars parked in the small side lot. It is about as casual as it gets: sip your drinks on a reclining beach chair, swim in the sand bar, and dine on the shady patio or inside with funky-island decor.  Telephone:  242-373-2960  Web:  Banana Bay

Best Grand Bahama Bars & Nightlife

Rum Runner’s Bar

This popular bar is always packed with customers on the outdoor patio. Rum Runners has been in business for more than 25 years and continues to offer excellent service provided by fun bartenders, great drink specials, and quality food to match. Try a legendary pina colada served in a coconut shell and snack on fresh seafood dishes like lobster stuffed pitas or fish sandwiches. Patrons can also leave their mark by writing on the tables, bar, or walls. It has a very lively atmosphere and “anything goes” vibe that keeps bringing people back time and again.  Telephone:  242-373-7233  Web:  Rum Runner’s Bar

Sparky’s Bar

Sparky’s is the place to go and hangout in Port Lucaya. The friendly welcome, customer service and professionalism of the staff is by far the best. The drinks and food awesome and affordable.  Telephone:  242-352-4233  Web:  Sparky’s Bar.

Club Neptunes

This is a place for drinkers and dancers! A foot bar reminds patrons they are near the water, with a bar top designed with wooden ship planks, pirate coins, and shells. From 7pm until 2am live DJs spin mix hits and the bar has no shortage of unique tropical drinks. Try the “King Neptune,” a mix of golden rum, coconut rum, blue curacao, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice. The club also offers bar snacks, and cocktail waitresses will deliver drinks or food to lounge tables.  Telephone:  242-374-1221  Web:  Club Neptunes

Margarita Villa Sand Bar

Often called simply, the Sand Bar, the signature characteristic of this restaurant and bar is that the floor is made of sand! Inside, there are televisions for watching the game, live music on a regular basis, and the elusive air conditioning. Located just five minutes drive from Port Lucaya Marketplace, it’s far enough from the crowds but close enough for day trippers on a time crunch.  Two top decks offer relaxing views while sipping on a signature margarita.  Telephone:  242-373-4525  Web:  Margarita Villa Sand Bar

Count Basie Square

Count Basie Square is at the heart of the Port Lucaya Marketplace, and on weekends live music keeps things lively. This is family-friendly entertainment with dancing for all ages. Grab a snack or cocktail from one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy at the many tables nearby. It is fun just watching the tourists attempt to dance (the later it gets, the more entertaining). The performers are very engaging and on Thursdays everyone gets involved with live karaoke! The limbo dancer is impressive as well.  Telephone:  242-373-9090  Web:  Count Basie Square

Best Grand Bahama Hotels

Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour


Situated directly on the beach on the western-most tip of Grand Bahama Island, Old Bahama Bay is just 56 miles due east from Palm Beach, Florida and is the ultimate getaway for tranquility, relaxation and friendly service. The resort has a barefoot elegance ambiance with an out-island remote feel, but with the convenience of an international airport and major destination amenities in Freeport – just 26 miles away.

Bell Channel Inn


This Freeport, Bahamas hotel offers on-site scuba diving courses and snorkeling with Caribbean divers, an outdoor pool and free beach shuttles. Some rooms feature a balcony with a Port Lucaya view. Free parking, WiFi and welcome drink are offered.  Bell Channel Inn guests can eat at the on-site waterfront restaurant, Upstairs on the bay, which overlooks Bell Channel Bay. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a daily Happy Hour from 17:00 until 23:00. A tour desk is available for guests and front desk is open 24 hrs.

Pelican Bay Hotel


Adjacent to Port Lucaya Marketplace, this resort occupies a promontory jutting into Bell Channel Bay, a narrow waterway near Grand Bahama’s south shore. Freeport is 5 miles away.  Guests at Pelican Bay Resort lounge near 3 bay side pools, take a shuttle boat to another pool, walk to the beach for water sports, and enjoy 2 bars and 2 restaurants on site.

Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan Resort


Nestled on the beach, this Smith’s Point resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Lucaya Beach and Port Lucaya Marketplace. Port Lucayan Marina and Count Basie Square are also within 10 minutes.  Spend the day relaxing at the beach, practicing your swing on Lighthouse Pointe’s golf course, or pampering yourself at the full-service spa. Then enjoy a meal at one of the resort’s 4 restaurants.

Ocean Reef Yacht Club & Resort


This property is a 20-minute walk from the beach. Featuring free WiFi and a fitness centre, Ocean Reef Yacht Club & Resort offers accommodation in Freeport. This resort has 2 outdoor pools and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a meal at the Ocean Blue restaurant or a drink at the pool bar. Coral Beach is a 15 minutes walk from the resort.  All suites include a spa bath or a hot tub.  There is free shuttle service, free parking ad gym. Babysitting service, concierge service and gift shop are also available at the property.Ocean Reef Yacht Club & Resort offers marina rental upon request.  Guest can play tennis, do kayaking and boating at the resort. The resort also offers bike hire and car hire. The nearest airport is Grand Bahama International Airport, 4.3 miles from the property.


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28 Comments

  1. Todd Matthews

    I’d probably go with the one that’s second fiddle, simply because as you mentioned; lesser fuss. I’ve heard good reviews from Grand Bahama, so I’m already enticed here. The landscaping is another reason, especially those sea caves. Garden of the Caves looks like something out of a Disney flick, so this is by far a hotspot for me. Does Grand Bahama ever get overly packed, or is it always more sparse than Nassau?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Definitely more sparse than Nassau.  I think you will will love Grand Bahama.  Thanks for visiting my Grand Bahama Travel Guide.

      Reply
  2. Florence Ki

    Grand Bahama seems like a great vacation destination for me and my son. I love to go beaches but because I live in Asia countries, most of the time I only travel around the vicinity. However, your introduction of Lucayan National Park attracts me. Will definitely visit this place soon. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Florence, you’ll have a wonderful time.  Thanks for stopping by beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  3. Demi

    I wasn’t aware Bahama can be accessible from US . Just by reading through comments, I noticed you mentioning that from Miami it can be reached by Ferry. I’m already planning my summer trip in my head!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I live in Florida and I am planning my ferry trip there as well. Just a 3 hour ride and actually not too bad on the wallet. You will love it! Thanks for visiting Grand Bahama Island Travel.

      Reply
  4. Joan and Mike

    I’m glad I ran across your site and this article. Now I want to go to the Grand Bahama Island. I usually go to Grand Cayman, but my next beach trip will be to the Bahamas. I’m so glad to know you can take a ferry from Miami since I’m a white-knuckle flyer.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, and it is really a short trip. My son and I plan on taking the ferry this year. It is really not too expensive, but oh so fun! You will enjoy for sure. Thanks for reading all about Grand Bahama Island Travel!

      Reply
  5. Jamie

    I had no idea Grand Bahama was so close to the US. Can you take a ferry there? If you had your own boat could you just go over to the island?

    Sounds like a really great place to visit. I am going down to Riviera Maya soon, but I may just plan my next trip to Grand Bahama.

    I see you mentioned in another comment that crime is pretty low. That’s good!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Actually yes you can take the ferry! From Miami it is about a 3 hour ride and you can also take your own boat there. I am actually planning a ferry ride there. The trip is $90, so you can’t really beat that! Great way to go. Flying from Miami is not too expensive either. Thanks for visiting Grand Bahama Island Travel!

      Reply
  6. William

    Grand Bahama looks like a beautiful place. However, I don’t think I’ve ever been in the area. Last time I went out of the country was on a cruise a few years ago to San Juan and St. Thomas. I will definitely add this to my places to visit.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      This is in that area 🙂 Although not a cruise port that I know of. And that is what makes this a great beach travel destination. It’s beautiful, has wonderful beaches and will be a little less crowded. If you decide to go, please let me know if there is any way I can help! Thanks for visiting Grand Bahama Island Travel!

      Reply
  7. Steve

    My wife and I are looking to take a vacation to the Caribbean this fall. We have really had a hard time pinning down exactly where to go. I love the idea of Grand Bahama. This sounds like a great destination, with lots of fun things to do, and maybe not as crowded as some of the other islands. Very timely post and you have so much information!! Diving and windsurfing are two things I have been wanting to do my whole life. My wife is very interested in the culinary scene. This sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic place for us. Can you tell I am excited? Do you think it is necessary to rent a car?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I can tell you are excited 🙂 And no, I don’t think a rental car is necessary. You can get anywhere you want, and the taxis are going to end up being much cheaper for you, along with less stress of driving in a foreign country. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you for reading Grand Bahama Island Travel.

      Reply
  8. Jessica

    Wow, Grand Bahama sounds great with the tropical feel and fewer tourists! I am definitely be going in the middle of winter when the temperatures are cooler. I love to snorkel and scuba dive so I am sure I would have a ball! It looks like the hurricanes will be missing the Bahamas luckily so travel should be able to carry on!

    Thanks for this detailed description of all the activities, places, and attractions. It will be very helpful for us when we are ready to head there.
    Jessica

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you enjoyed reading Jessica. Yes the middle of winter is a great time to go, also when it is cold for a lot of people. Not sure where you are located. Please let me know if you need any additional information. I would be glad to answer any questions, or provide additional information to you. Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com!

      Reply
  9. Henryan

    Wow, this is a beautiful place. We have been planning a trip to the Bahamas, so this information was so great to find! The Grand Bahama Island is going to be a great place for our vacation. You list all the places to visit and you give a lot of detail information about it. Thanks for sharing this information. Perfect timing for us!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am so glad that you found this information useful and before you have made your final plans. I would love to help you with the planning, or with any questions you might have. Please let me know if you need anything and thanks for visit Grand Bahama Island travel!

      Reply
  10. Seamless Socks

    What an amazing amount of information regarding a holiday to the Bahama’s. I have never been there myself but for anyone planning a get away would have a great understanding of how to get there and have a fun and exciting time.
    I noticed many attractions for teens and adults, I’m curious to know if there is anything for children aged 0-10? (play parks, water spray parks, Etc.)
    If I was to travel there, I would be pleased with being on a boat in the beautiful blue water.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed!   No, you are not going to find play parks and water spray parks.  They will have to enjoy nature, playing in the sand, seeing all of the wildlife and that sort of thing.  The water is amazing in the Bahamas!  I would agree!

      Reply
  11. Chris

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for the details information!! This sounds like a great destination for an awesome holiday.
    I was wondering if you had any more information on the fishing or knew where I could find more? I am a very keen fisherman so would like see what fishing I could do while on holiday there.
    Thanks
    Chris

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Ok, you are going to want to go with Knowles Marine & Yacht Services or Lil B Fishing.  Both of these are highly rated for customer satisfaction.  If you click on the links you can go to their website and get a lot more information 🙂  Enjoy and let me know if you need anything else.  Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com

      Reply
  12. Alok Singh

    A very educative post on Grand Bahama with all the necessary information provided beginning from passport and visa requirements, places to stay, places to have food, places of entertainment, various activities that are available. The important services which can be availed are given with phone numbers and website addresses making it all the more convenient for someone thinking of visiting the island. The visualization of the place in the post will make anyone want to go to the Grand Bahama Island to spend his vacation.

    Keep it up and looking forward to travel related posts in the future as well.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great 🙂  I am trying to provide a one-stop-shop so that you can plan all of your travel needs for which ever beach destination you choose.  Grand Bahama Island is a wonderful choice! Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  13. Daniella

    Hi Lea,

    What a great article, I just love it!
    The Bahamas is such a beautiful destination. I would like to go there. I’ve heard though, that the Bahamas is a winter holiday spot. Many people said that the hurricane occurs between Jun and November. Is that right?
    Maybe it’s only for people who go sailing?
    However, I am bookmarking this page so that I can organise my next trip to the Bahamas.
    Thank you for this in depth article!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you enjoyed reading.  Yes, you are correct that the hurricane season is from June thru November.  But keep in mind that generally this is a pretty rare occurrence and this should not stop you at all from making plans during this time.  You will absolutely love Grand Bahama Island and all the wonderful beaches there.

      Reply
  14. al

    Grand Bahama Island is one of those places I’ve always wanted to go to but haven’t got around to yet. It looks great and there seems plenty to do.

    In general, I’m assuming it’s a pretty safe place with low crime rates, etc. Am I right? Or are there some areas that need to be avoided?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      No, you are assuming correct.  It is really pretty safe anywhere to go on the island.  Of course, it is always good to be cautious when traveling.  Thanks for visiting Al and come back and visit BeachTravelDestinations.com again soon!

      Reply

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