Some Facts and History of Grand Bahama Island
Favorite thing: The Grand Bahama Island is the 4th largest of The Islands of The Bahamas. Its name comes from the Spanish gran bajamar which means "great shallows".
The island rambles on for 96 miles and is rimmed with cities, villages, and cays. It has one of the world's largest underwater cave systems, 3 national parks, and endless beaches.
In 1834 Great Britain banned slavery throughout its empire, and former slaves in The Islands Of The Bahamas were allowed to "stake claims on whatever open land they could find, and many of Grand Bahama Island's older settlements such as Pinder's Point, Russell Town, and Williams Town were founded by former slaves. These towns are almost invariably named after their founders or former slave owner."
Early in its history, the Grand Bahama Island was virtually uninhabited for almost 300 years! When Freeport/Lucaya was developed in the 1950's, it is now one of the most visited of all the Bahamian Islands.
Freeport/Lucaya was developed because of its location just 55 miles from the east coast of Florida, and because gambling was legal here. In the early years, people would take shuttle planes to Lucaya to gamble at its first casino.
The historical capital and oldest city on Grand Bahama Island is West End, a picturesque fishing village 25 miles from Freeport. It's most famous for liquor-smuggling during Prohibition. If you go there, you must stop at the island's oldest hotel, The Star Hotel,a famous historical landmark built in 1946. In its early days, boaters from the mainland would stop over for a meal in the saloon or to spend the night.
Most of the indigenous people of Grand Bahama came fromOld Freetown and moved to other areas to find a better life.
Today, there are many people living on Grand Bahama Island who were not born on the island. You can tell which people were born here because of their "entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to the great outdoors."
Fondest memory: One of the great pleasures of visiting The Grand Bahama Island is visiting the elders, many of whom were born and raised here. They have interesting tales to tell of rum running, pirates, and drug runners. If you have the opportunity, be sure to talk to the older locals. You won't regret the effort.
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: We were able to book a shore excursion that was a boat ride along the shores of Grand Bahama. First we were picked up at our cruise ship and loaded onto a double decker party style boat. Then we sailed along the Bahamian coastline as our guide pointed out landmarks and places of interest. There were a whole lot of oil riggs off of the coastline also. That suprised us. The waters were so perfectly blue it was amazing. And many of the building were a pink tone in color. Beautiful.
- Sailing and Boating
Beaches in the Grand Bahamas
Favorite thing: Want to find the "perfect beach", then go to the Grand Bahama Island. The beaches are gorgeous because they are pristine and unvelievably white.
In addition, the sand is so fine that it feels baby soft to the touch. Another great feature of the beaches is that they are coupled with shallow, transparent water for literally hundreds of yards out to sea. Then they rise gently to sandbars before they finally drop into the depths.
We found mainly two kinds of beaches on the Grand Bahama Island:
Activity Beaches and Deserted Beaches.
If you go on a vacation for "action", then you will enjoy the Activity Beach with fishing, windsurfing, diving, water-skiing, sailing, parasailing, beach volleyball, seaside restaurants, local entertainment, and beach bars.
On the other hand, if you are on a vacation to rest and relax and get away from activity, then the Deserted Beach is for you. Here you can meander on soft white sand that feels warm under your bare feet, and I assure you, there will be no crowds or motorboats, or loud music. The only music will be the surf's musical cadance.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory happened on a Deserted Beach. Jill and I were taking a walk and a black dog started following us. He was so friendly, but we knew he belonged to someone because he was in such good shape. Presently, a young, handsome man whistled for the dog, and Jill's eyes lit up. She was single and available at that time.
We both smiled; he stopped and talked and continued to walk with us. I smile each time I remember it.
- Sailing and Boating
- Water Sports
Visit the Entire Island, Not Just Freeport/Lucaya
Favorite thing: Forty years ago, Freeport/Lucaya didn't exist, but the island itself has been settled for centuries. If you want to see the rustic environment, go to the easternmost edge of the island with beaches that are entirely deserted. Also, you may want to visit the towns of the West End. These towns, during prohibition, were a hideout for rum-runners.
I think you will find that these towns do have an old-world charm.
The earliest civilization is evident in remnants found in the parks...an Arawak civilization.
When you read the history of the island, you find stories of pirates, drug running and drug lords, all with a "shady" story of their own!
Fondest memory: My most vivid memory of the Grand Bahama Island is the emerald ocean with its vivid hue that entrances. Snorkeling in the Grand Bahamas is wonderful. The water is crystal clear, and sealife is abundant.
Walking the near-deserted beaches is also a fond memory for me. The first time we went to the Bahamas, we went fishing with the Mayor of the West End, Bonefish Foley. I caught the most fish, the first fish, and the biggest fish. I was so excited because the one fish was taller than I am (that means taller than 5'2"!)
- Diving and Snorkeling
Favorite thing: You can do email in Freeport, either with your computer or theirs for $10/day or $30/wk. You can log on for 4 min for $5, and $2 for additional 5 minutes. There is also a branch at Lucaya.
I never found the one in Freeport - I only used the one in Lucaya.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
Tip Away if you loved the service.
Favorite thing: In restaurants most other servers (waiters, taxis, etc.) receive 15%. Many establishments include the gratuity in their bills.
Fondest memory: The people and scenery.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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