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
Garden 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.
Lucayan 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.
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.
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.
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.
Things to Do on Grand Bahama
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
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 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.
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.