Written by CHIBulldog09 on 02 Jun, 2007
Some brief information on traveling into the Grand Bahama Island, largely specific to US citizens visiting.- The airport you'll by flying into for Freeport or the Grand Bahama Island is the Grand Bahama International Airport, which has a airport code of FPO.- They speak English…Read More
Some brief information on traveling into the Grand Bahama Island, largely specific to US citizens visiting.- The airport you'll by flying into for Freeport or the Grand Bahama Island is the Grand Bahama International Airport, which has a airport code of FPO.- They speak English in the Bahamas, so don't worry there.- A lot of the flights into Freeport, if not all of them, are on regional jets. On my trip, we flew in on American Eagle from Miami on a prop plan.- This is not some Chicago O'Hare of JFK; there are no gateways. When your plane lands, it will taxi very close to the terminal, which isn't that big. You'll walk down your plane's stairs, and then walk over to the ramp to walk into the terminal. It's a very simple affair.Customs Entering Freeport:- The airline will likely present you a card before boarding that you can fill out. You'll need to give this to the agent when entering the Bahamas.- They'll give you part of the form back with an entry stamp. Don't lose this form, as they'll want it when you leave.- There really isn't anything in the way of bag searches. Simple and to the point.- Once you clear customs and immigration, you walk out two double doors and are confronted with a stand for the Our Lucaya resort, some rental centers, and a taxi stand. It' all pretty simple.Returning to the US:- Freeport is actually one of the few places in the world with a US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance facility. Basically, you clear customs and "re-enter" the United States in Freeport, and so when you arrive in Miami (or wherever), you're able to go straight to the terminal rather than go through that customs zoo.- This can be done because Freeport has a "terminal" dedicated just to US-bound flights. - Because you clear customs in the Bahamas, it's important to remember that even though it's a small airport, you need to give yourself time to do customs. The absolute cut-off for my American Eagle flight was 50 minutes before departure.- Finally, just a comment on American Airlines / American Eagle in The Bahamas - no one would pick up the phone. It was terribly frustrating, especially since I couldn't get through to the US desk.Anyway, hopefully this information can be useful to those who might be wondering how the process of entering and exiting Freeport will work. Close
Written by beach_lvr on 20 Sep, 2004
Ok, I know it sounds too good to be true - a fairly new resort property on one of the best beaches in the Bahamas for under $300 for a seven-night stay. However, since I personally paid $261 to stay a week at The Ritz…Read More
Ok, I know it sounds too good to be true - a fairly new resort property on one of the best beaches in the Bahamas for under $300 for a seven-night stay. However, since I personally paid $261 to stay a week at The Ritz Beach Resort on Taino Beach, Grand Bahama Island, yes, I can say that it is possible! I went to skyauction.com and bid $1 for a weeks stay at this resort and won. Skyauction charged me their $195 fee and then I paid $65 to the hotel for taxes. Incredibly, there was no catch!
The Ritz Beach Resort is not affiliated with The Ritz Hotel chain that we all know of. This is not a five-star resort. However, I would say it is at least three and a half stars.
This is a newer property; probably built about five years ago (or less), and they are still adding new buildings and suites. The pool is phenomenal, tremendous in size, has a gorgeous swim up bar, caves, hot tubs, and even a slide for the kids!
Honestly, this resort truly appears to have been custom-made for couples. For example, the only things separating the bedroom from the shower are glass blocks. This means that whoever is sitting in the bedroom can see your silhouette as you shower. There is a large, two-person, forest green Jacuzzi bath just behind the bed with a statue of a naked woman sitting on the edge and mirrored walls. The colors you will see in this room are very Bahamian, bright pink and green pastels. There was an attempt made at making it classy by using marbled tiles on the steps leading up to the two-person Jacuzzi tub (which is elevated behind the bed). If you want a bath and are staying with another person in the room, don't expect to have a private bath! The shower, vanity, and toilet are in a separate room, but again, if you shower, your silhouette will be seen by whoever is sitting ANYWHERE in your room. I wish I had known this in advance since I had my mother (not my husband) with me on this trip. The room decor was reminiscent of trashy Rome meets the Bahamas. So consider yourself warned! The only other issue was the concrete slab used as the box spring for the bed. You will sleep on a typical mattress that is laid upon a concrete slab. There is also a couch made of concrete with a long fabric pad sitting atop it (and it wasn't comfy - I slept there). Mom claims the bed with the concrete slab was, "just fine to me." The room came with a kitchenette. We had a microwave and mini-fridge.
It's a good thing we had the kitchenette because this resort is somewhat remote and had only one VERY overpriced restaurant on location. We had dinner at the on-site restaurant the first night we arrived, as we were exhausted from the trip. We never ate there again.
The grounds of this property are lovely and much classier in appearance. The landscape was obviously well-planned, just like the pool.
The beach on this property couldn't be better! Wide beach, white sands, beautiful turquoise and light blue ocean, pine trees, and little huts to park your chairs under.
Tips: Buy a calling card if you will need to call home for any reason. The charges to your room phone will be astronomical if you don’t. I bought a phone card at Wal-Mart and used it at the pay phone in front of the guest laundry room at the Ritz, saving big $$$.
We only rented a cab a few times while here because the water ferry that takes you to the Port Lucaya Marketplace for shopping and restaurants was within a short walking distance of the Ritz Resort.
When you check in at the Ritz Resort, ask the girl at the front desk for Tunkie the cab driver’s phone number. He is honest, has a late model mini-van, and won't gouge you. But please, do not look at the item he has pasted to his dashboard!! LOL. Tunkie works in the daytime; his son drives the night shift.
Written by SavanahThorne on 04 Jul, 2004
In Port Lucaya the Underwater Explorers Society has a store and dive shop. From this location they arrange snorkel and dive excursions. They also handle the Dolphin Experience program, offering hands on dolphin experience where dolphins provide demonstrations of skill while trainers provide…Read More
In Port Lucaya the Underwater Explorers Society has a store and dive shop. From this location they arrange snorkel and dive excursions. They also handle the Dolphin Experience program, offering hands on dolphin experience where dolphins provide demonstrations of skill while trainers provide a wealth of information about dolphins. Then they allow persons to stand in waist deep water and pet a dolphin with its trainer nearby. This does require advance reservations so if this is something you what to do book it when you arrive or before you arrive. To reach UNEXSO by phone 809-373-1250 this was the number I used for our reservation.
The program I would like to tell you about is a once in a lifetime opportunity that UNEXSO offers with the dolphins called the Assistant Trainer Program. Let me start by saying this is an expensive activity, a little over three hundred dollars each when we did it, but inflation may have changed that. However, it is truly a once in a lifetime experience you will never forget and talk about often. This program only allows four persons per day to participate, and they must be over sixteen years old. I do not know if they ever make exceptions on age and numbers of participants (like a family of five), but I feel it never hurts to ask the worst they can say is no.
We booked our program many months in advance and given instructions on what to bring with us and where to go for pick up for Sanctuary Bay. We were picked up by a small boat and from Port Lucaya then whisked up the coastline to Sanctuary Bay. We were given Assistant trainer shirts to wear for the day and keep as our souvenir.
Once at Sanctuary Bay we were given information about safety and all of the dolphins in their care. Then we were each assigned a dolphin to care for that day. We were instructed as to how many pounds of fish to feed at each meal, each fish placed directly into the dolphin’s mouth to ensure the dolphin received the proper amount. When feeding the dolphin the trainer instructed us to use mannerisms the dolphins were trained for as a feed and train type of meal for the dolphin. We were then given a bucket and told to weigh our fish out for the first feeding of the day. Walking the narrow walkways between the dolphins made the dolphins get very excited since they knew it was time for food. As I walked passed the dolphins area carrying my bucket of fish the dolphins were walking on their tails and jumping out of the water and making all kinds of noises hoping to get a fish tossed their way.
Sitting on the platform my assigned dolphin, Kayla, it was so incredible to feel her rubbery skin and have her perform a private show for me. Kayla was the dolphin in the movie "Zeus and Roxanne", and Sanctuary Bay is the dolphin habitat shown in the movie. After feeding time we helped the trainers take two of the dolphins out for open water training in the ocean. They practice this for people that book diving with the dolphin programs, the time out in the water makes the dolphins feel comfortable performing their behaviors in the ocean. Since they live in a protected bay even the dolphins get a little scared of things in the big blue sea. After lunch the guest for the dolphin experience program arrive and we assisted the trainers with the guests and the fish supply used for rewards. Then once the visitors left it was dolphin feeding time again.
After being there about eight hours came my favorite part of the day, we put on wet suits and got in with the dolphins. We had dolphins swim with us holding their fins, and even laying on the dolphins’ stomach. We had a wonderful time with the dolphins and we will never forget our fabulous day at Sanctuary Bay it was truly fabulous experience to remember.
But, whether you choose to the affordable Dolphin experience or the dolphin experience on steroids like I did the experience will be unforgettable.
Five Helpful Hints for Bahamas Travel
1. On Grand Bahamas Island most places you go will not use numbers with street names. It will generally be just the name of the street. When directions are provided the landmarks or the number of traffic lights, or…Read More
Five Helpful Hints for Bahamas Travel
1. On Grand Bahamas Island most places you go will not use numbers with street names. It will generally be just the name of the street. When directions are provided the landmarks or the number of traffic lights, or traffic circles will be used. Cross streets or number of cross streets can also be helpful. So just remember there are no numbers displayed on the buildings or houses. So don’t be afraid to ask directions and write them down.
2. When you arrive there will be a number of hair braiders everywhere. If you plan to get the crown row or other types of hair braids done in your hair I recommend doing it right away. It will save a week of saying no thank you to the many hair braiders waiting to provide their service. It is a very competitive business on an island. There are two types of braiders-some are licensed by the government and assigned a work station, many of these type can be found in Port Lucaya, they use the same disinfectant type things stateside hair salons use and the other type are unlicensed, they will approach people at the beach or places like that. The Licensed braiders will have a workstation set up with a chair. Which ever type you choose, having the braids done will give you a tropical feel through your vacation and save all those no thank you answers to the many hard working hair braiders on the island.
3. A hair and scalp care tip for hair braids that I learned from a fabulous braider named Tammy that works in Port Lucaya. She taught me that buying a spray called Oil Sheen (it’s an aerosol spray). Then spray it on your braids after swimming and showering to keep the hair conditions, the braids wont get dry and fray, and it has sunscreen for all those new little hair parts. I have made braids last for a few weeks with this product.
4. There can be random power outages on island and Grand Bahamas is no exception. I usually bring or buy a couple of the Glade scented candles. They burn very consistently and last about 30 hours. Some condo units will have a candle then but I have found they don’t burn as well. I light my candles in the evening when we are in the unit. Then blow them out at bedtime. When the power has gone out my family enjoys being in the brightness they provide. It gets very dark when the power goes out on an island. On evening I even packed by candlelight, in an outage.
5. When driving in the Bahamas remember they don’t drive on the wrong side of the road- they drive on the left side of the road.
Lucayan National Park is located about fifteen miles outside of Port Lucaya. To drive there take Midshipman Road past Sharp rock Point and Gold Rock. The caves of this park are on one side of the road and the beach park is on…Read More
Lucayan National Park is located about fifteen miles outside of Port Lucaya. To drive there take Midshipman Road past Sharp rock Point and Gold Rock. The caves of this park are on one side of the road and the beach park is on the other. The parking is creative but there is a hard sand lot to park in. For any questions contact the Rand Nature Center for information at 809-352-5438.
Lucayan National Park is the home to a beautiful secluded beach and caves with an underground cavern system. The caverns are not open to the public but where explored by divers when they were discovered after the ground gave away and exposed the caves. The caves both have water in them water that is special, the first six feet of the waters surface is fresh water and the water below that is salt water.
The first cave has a spiral staircase leading down into the cave. Once down the stairs you stand on a wooden platform to view the water below. The cave seems very open like a large room. It has a fabulous bat-lined ceiling. The water is very clear and seeing to the bottom is possible.
The second cave on the path is a burial cave. The area has many signs with information about the skeletons in the caves water and other historical information about the site. Unlike the first cave the second cave is more closed in it has a dimly lit path through the inside. It is by no means dark but it seems more cave like. Perhaps the fact that it is the burial cave, or that the bats are a little closer, makes the cave seem a little spookier, you will have to decide for yourself when you visit them.
On our first visit my husband left me with cave memories I will never forget. He found that at one end of the big cave there is no rail on the platform, so he leaned in to feel the water, and fell in. Beautiful clear water instantly turned to muck from the bat dung. He tried to climb out quickly but the bat dung covered rocks had a different plan for him. The bats had been awakened by the noise and were flying everywhere. All I could do was cover my head and duck while laughing at him. Once he got out of the water, we ran up the stairs, got in our car and left. As we were pulling out a tour group was going down the stairs- I hope the flying bats kept their minds off the now brown water. It is forbidden to get into the water at the caves we were reminded every time we spent his cash- it never dried. The second time we went to the caves the big one was closed. We thought is his fault, but it was really bat mating season.
The flip side of the street from the caves is were the boardwalk path will leads to the beach. In my opinion the trail to the beach was a bit of a walk, however carrying my beach supplies and snorkel gear could be what made it seem longer that it was. The wooden path over a mangrove swamp has Gold Creek, a small fresh water fed stream, running underneath. Looking from the boardwalk down into the water I could see baby fish of many varieties even baby barracuda. (Gold creek does lead into the ocean in this area so avoid snorkeling were the two meet since the water gets blurry where fresh and salt water meet. This can put swimmers in danger of predators protecting their young in the nursery, predator’s bite in error in blurry water.)
Once the boardwalk gets to beach there is a place of paradise before your eyes the emerald waters meet the unspoiled miles of endless sand and a day of beach paradise awaits you. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon enjoying this fabulous beach.
Written by cindymarchand on 07 Feb, 2003
Welcome to my vacation. I arrived in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, with my husband Mike, my brother Cliff, and Sharon his fiancée. We were welcomed at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club with complimentary Bahama Mamas at Esters pool bar. A nice way to start a vacation!…Read More
Welcome to my vacation. I arrived in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, with my husband Mike, my brother Cliff, and Sharon his fiancée. We were welcomed at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club with complimentary Bahama Mamas at Esters pool bar. A nice way to start a vacation! But one was just not enough!! Grand Bahama Scuba is located at the resort, very convenient for the avid diver. Our plan was to scuba dive everyday. We met with the Fred Riger, the dive master and operator of Grand Bahama Scuba and we were in!!
Our first dive was an ocean reef at 60 feet with shipwrecks Papa Doc and Badger. Water temperature was 85 degrees. Perfect! Well, the first thing I saw was a sea turtle. Awesome!! In another direction, gracefully approaching us swims an eagle ray ... Wow!! Beautiful creatures! Then out of the distant blue, several large Caribbean reef sharks appear! Holy Sh…!!!
Grand Bahama is home to Shark Junction, one of the world's first and best shark encounters. What happens is that the sharks slowly circle towards you, always keeping one eye on you as they get closer and closer. Suddenly, they turn and disappear, only to reappear moments later from another direction. This is a dive everyone should try!! After experiencing the sharks, the wrecks were not as noteworthy.
The shallow reefs are full of colorful fish and coral that rise from twenty feet almost to the surface. It also helped that a few divers were seasick aboard the boat and chummed the water, attracting even more fish. This is a great place for a leisurely second dive for more experienced divers.
The wrecks we dove included the world famous Theo's Wreck, a two hundred and thirty foot freighter found in a hundred feet of water. The freighter is resting on its side. It is a must see if you visit Grand Bahamas. As we descended the tag line, the freighter was barely in sight. The closer we got the larger the freighter became, looming in the deep blue water. What a humbling experience!
The newest shipwreck was the Sea Star. It also was in relatively deep water, around 90 feet. This ship was intentionally sunken to create a reef system. Fred Rigger was studying the fish it attracted and if the ship was encouraging sea life to multiply. It had a lot of cabins and rooms you could explore. It was really cool to stand at the helm of the ship in 90 feet of water.
The Bahama Mama Booze Cruise had many fatalities. This cruise is worth the money. They picked you up at your resort and dropped you off at the dock. All the Bahama Mamas you can drink, each made with 151, and a cruise around the island. Yikes!!! It didn’t take long for the entire ship to be rocking. I have a vague recollection of the ride back to the resort!!
Driving on the Island is a true challenge. Our first remark to each driver was "stay left, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT!!!!" Watch out!!! I am not used to driving toward oncoming traffic and worrying if I am on the right side, whoops! I meant left side of the road! The most striking thing we noticed was the many uncompleted homes on the island. Are they waiting for investors? I thought about it ... maybe I need a raise.
There are many different things you can discover in Grand Bahamas if you are not a diver. We did explore Ben’s cave and the national park area. This is a mangrove swamp. The International Bazaar and Port Lucaya Marketplace is the place to do some shopping and find a quaint place to eat. Paradise cove sets the stage for drinks and watching the sunset or any type of water sport. The Parrot Jungle Garden of the Groves is a beautiful park with cascading waterfalls, botanical gardens, scenic trails, a petting zoo with animals and tropical birds to feed and take photos.
Stay tuned for more exciting travels.
Written by GreenMermaid on 25 Dec, 2005
Cloud X is a ferry that goes from the port of Palm Beach to Freeport in the Bahamas. At $150 round-trip, including port charges and taxes, it's a bit less expensive than a plane ticket, and you don't have to ride one of those itty-bitty…Read More
Cloud X is a ferry that goes from the port of Palm Beach to Freeport in the Bahamas. At $150 round-trip, including port charges and taxes, it's a bit less expensive than a plane ticket, and you don't have to ride one of those itty-bitty planes. Plus, you can enjoy the ride over with on-board gambling, drinks, some snack food for purchase, and a couple of complimentary movies. We opted for a hotel package deal, which saved us a few dollars and was convenient to book all at once.Although it does take longer than the advertised 3 hours (it was more like 4, with waiting at each port and time consumed going through security and customs), the trip is pleasant and you experience little ocean motion. The boat has a catamaran-like design and takes the seas beautifully. On the way back, we were vaguely aware of seas crashing on the side of the deck but only realized how big they must have been when we saw a big gambling boat leaving the port while rocking and rolling. We didn't feel a thing!Gambling was fun aboard--the gaming staff was down-to-earth, explained how to play the games, and wasn't stuffy about rules like touching the table, like they are in Vegas. With the free drinks that kept coming as long as we gambled, we had a great time.The wait staff was very friendly and kind--when we asked them if they could do anything about the temperature (on the way back it was so cold), they complied and it warmed up very quickly. That said, the destination, Freeport, was not that spectacular, but it is a less pricey destination than other islands. There are some lovely resorts, but we stayed at the Port Lucaya Resort and Marina, which was fine and close to everything. It was very fun for a weekend trip, especially if you live in the West Palm area like we do.These smaller ferries don't have a history of lasting very long--it's not very profitable for the ports because of the smaller tourist load--but this company has a good-quality operation. Take advantage of it while it lasts! Close
Written by fhunkeler on 27 Sep, 2003
We spent 2 weeks unwinding on Grand Bahama. Even though this was a family vacation we found that the slower pace of Freeport made for a more romantic and quality time vacation. The island is kept very clean by Caribbean standards. The downtown area of…Read More
We spent 2 weeks unwinding on Grand Bahama. Even though this was a family vacation we found that the slower pace of Freeport made for a more romantic and quality time vacation. The island is kept very clean by Caribbean standards. The downtown area of Freeport is made up of banks, insurance companies, government agencies, and strip malls containing shops. There are 2 main tourist attraction areas. The International Bazar, and Port Lucaya. Port Lucaya is newer and has stolen some of the charm from the International Bazar. Both locations have plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from. Port Lucaya also has Diving and snorkeling trips, booze cruises, boat rentals, deep sea fishing trips and the dolphin experience. The best restaurants are in and around these areas.
Tony, our island host, was opening a new sports bar called "EL TROPICANA SPORTING BAR AND GRILL", located on the Mall in the International Bazaar, P.O.Box F-42301, Telephone 242-351-5022, Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas. We got a pre-opening preview. There will be plenty of seafood munchies, sports on TV, a salad bar, ample Caribbean libations including all the hottest drinks from Nassau and great company.
We also went to see the shark feeding at the Pier One restaurant. The food was great, the prices were very good by Freeport standards, and the sharks gave us a good show. Shows are at 7, 8, and 9pm. You don't have to eat there to see the shark feedings, but if you plan to a reservation in high season is recommended.
We rented a car for a couple of days and visited The Garden of the Groves, the Lucayan National Park, Paradise Cove, and West end. The garden of the groves should not be rushed. The beach at the Lucayan National Park was deserted, and I recommend you plan to be there at low tide. Paradise cove is a family operated enterprise. It costs $3 to use their beach and deck facilities for the day. Snorkel gear is available for rent. The reef is a 7 out of 10.
We signed up with the People to People program prior to our trip. I would recommend all visitors try this program. You can email them at email@example.com. To participate, you may register with the Social Director at participating hotels or call the People-to-People coordinator, Ministry of Tourism, telephone (242)326-5371, (242)328-7810, (242)326-9772; fax (242) 356-0434 . In Grand Bahama, contact the People-to-People Unit, telephone (242)352-8044. The People-to-People program is also available in Eleuthera, Exuma, Abaco, Bimini, and San Salvador. Please note that request should be received at least three weeks prior to your visit. Our Bahamian hosts went out of their way to see we had a great vacation. They took us to a fish fry one Wednesday evening, drove us all the way out to the east end McLeans Town, on Saturday, invited us to their home on Sunday for a real Bahamian Sunday dinner, and took us to the airport when we left. They had even planned to meet us at the airport on our arrival to take us to our resort. We have made new lifelong friends. Our kids also had a great time with their kids.
Written by Copple on 08 Feb, 2003
A car is a must on the island. You drive on the left hand side of the road. Remember this when leaving from the airport! Most of the resorts are a few miles from town. A taxi is very expensive. Port Lucaya Marketplace we found…Read More
A car is a must on the island. You drive on the left hand side of the road. Remember this when leaving from the airport! Most of the resorts are a few miles from town. A taxi is very expensive. Port Lucaya Marketplace we found to be the best place to shop. A lot of construction was taking place at the International Marketplace.
We found ALL meals to be expensive. All entrees average between $18 - $30. There is a McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken on the Island. All of their prices were higher than prices here in the U.S.
Groceries can be bought at the Winn Dixie. There are 3 Winn Dixie's on the island but I recommend the one near Port Lucaya Marketplave. Be prepared to pay cash when checking out -- cash is all they allow. A gallon of milk was $4.95 and a carton of orange juice was $5. The cheapest pop (soda) on the island was found at Winn Dixie. Cans of soda range from $1 - $1.50 on the island.
I recommend staying in the resort areas. The Island is poverty stricken.
Written by rgma on 04 Aug, 2004
When we did not have a car, we used JC’s private charter service. He had a van that would take you anywhere in Freeport for round trip of $8.00. For up to six people, up to four trips a day for a week…Read More
When we did not have a car, we used JC’s private charter service. He had a van that would take you anywhere in Freeport for round trip of $8.00. For up to six people, up to four trips a day for a week was $125.00. You had to call and make an appointment and you needed to be flexible sometimes. If you went a shorter distance, he would charge you less. If you went to Pier One, he would charge you a little more. His phone number is 375-4913. Close