If you’ve ever vacationed in the Caribbean, you might have heard the expression “I’m on island time,” denoting a departure from the frenetic pace of the outside world and an embrace of the relaxed pace of life indicative of a vacation. Perhaps no destination better exemplifies the virtues of island time more thoroughly than The Bahamas. Known to many as the most romantic location on earth, the myriad islands of The Bahamas boast crystal clear coastal waters, luxurious accommodations, and a vibrant culture.
Among the 700 islands that comprise The Bahamas, the aptly named island of Grand Bahama stands out in large part due to Freeport: its main city and the second-largest population center in the destination at large. A true tropical playground, offering visitors a wealth of experiences both man-made and natural, Freeport empowers its visitors to vacation on their own terms, picking from an exhaustive list of exciting excursions and life-changing experiences to create the trip of a lifetime.
Arrive in Freeport well-rested, as you’ll need every ounce of energy you can muster for the thrills in store. From kayaking through the mangroves to diving into the depths of a “blue hole,” Freeport has something for travellers of all stripes. As you plan your Freeport itinerary, take a look at the list below for some of the best places on the island to start.
The Port Lucaya Marketplace is the largest shopping, dining and entertainment open-air facility in The Bahamas, with over forty specialty stores and boutiques, eleven restaurants to tempt any palate and eleven bars/lounges for late-night entertainment. The Marketplace boasts a wide variety of duty-free stores, two generously stocked Straw Markets, two Craft Centres and Push Carts filled with Bahamian craft and souvenir items. Visit the famous Coconut & Fruit Daiquiri Stand and Daddy Brown’s Conch and Seafood Stand for authentic Bahamian Island treats. The Market Square will have you dancing to authentic Bahamian and International music all night long.
Lucayan National Park is the second most visited park in The Bahamas, and an important part of Freeport’s economy. This park protects one of the world’s longest charted underwater cave systems, preserved remains of the Lucayan Indians, and natural environments like pine forests, mangrove creeks, coral reefs, and the world-famous Gold Rock Beach. This is the perfect park for history and nature lovers alike. The park encompasses a portion of Gold Rock Creek which connects with the ocean. The mangrove tidal creek is the last intact wetlands of this type on the southern shores of Grand Bahama and a perfect place to spot some of the local aquatic life.
Easy to follow trails wind through the native pine forest and branch off into secluded areas, with many benches along the way for rest and relaxation. The Centre boasts a wide diversity of native flora and guided tours that highlight the uses of Bahamian plants.
This national park is well known as a birding hot spot, especially during the period October to May when the resident bird population is supplemented by wintering northern songbirds. Visitors may spot other wildlife such as Curly-tailed lizards, five-lined skinks, colourful butterflies and even raccoons which were first introduced to Grand Bahama in the 1930s. Visitors are encouraged to embark on self-guided walks through the nature preserve, view rotating visual art, cultural and educational exhibits, the Glory Banks Gallery, and learn about a variety of historical Bahamian plants and trees.
Gold Rock Beach is part of The Lucayan National Park and is protected by the Bahamas National Trust but deserves its own section for its postcard-perfect views of turquoise waters. The beach is located about 25 miles from Freeport and is secluded and spectacular. At low tide, the shoreline of the beach spans for yards into the sea, and it is referred to as Grand Bahama Island's "welcome mat." There are BBQ pits, picnic tables and benches here, but no other amenities. North of the beach (across the street) are the Lucayan Caverns, the world's longest surveyed underground cave system.