Written by Blackhat72 on 08 Jul, 2007
I've been to Freeport twice in the last 45 days on business. Because of this, I've had the opportunity to see more than the average tourist and have had the chance to meet "regular" people. So far, I've found very few who weren't…Read More
I've been to Freeport twice in the last 45 days on business. Because of this, I've had the opportunity to see more than the average tourist and have had the chance to meet "regular" people. So far, I've found very few who weren't helpful and accommodating.GBI is one of the more industrialized islands in the Bahamas. The area west of Freeport near the main harbor is home to a major oil terminal and several chemical plants. The harbor itself is very busy with incoming shipping and transloads from around the world. East of town is a major oil terminal that can be seen on the south side of the road as you travel east.On both trips I've stayed at the Pelican Bay hotel. It's a delightful location within easy walking distance of the Lucayan Marketplace. This provides innumerable restaurant choices, but at resort prices. The Sabor at the Pelican Bay is a great little restaurant. When word gets out, it'll be hard to get a seat. I'm partial to Sweet Pea's for lunch. It appears to be a favorite of the locals with both dine-in and carry-out. Near the government Port Authority offices, it seems to be frequented by the local business men. I also like the Seaman's Rest Sports Bar at the Harbor as a spot for a cool ginger beer on a warm afternoon. We found it a comfortable place to work. The restaurant at the harbor has a huge cracked conch lunch for about $8.Freedom of movement is important to me and, as such, I rent a car. No problem getting anywhere on the island and traffic is light. Driving on the left takes a little concentration for the first day or so, but soon becomes second nature.I haven't had much chance to enjoy the beach as I'm normally working from early morning until late evening. I did enjoy a morning snorkeling trip one day. The trip left from the Westin beach and we were out about two hours total. It was enjoyable but, at $35, you couldn't afford to do it too often.I've made several new friends on the island in the last two months and have enjoyed my visits enough to make it a vacation destination this year. I'll be leaving in a week with my family to see if they enjoy it as much as do. As always, I'll have a car and intend to check out more places "off the beaten path." Close
Written by Jalpari on 05 Jun, 2005
The ship felt as if it was coming to a stop--a slow sort of dragging--as it made its way into port in Freeport, Grand Bahamas. I woke up and looked out the window. The color of the water had changed and was clear…Read More
The ship felt as if it was coming to a stop--a slow sort of dragging--as it made its way into port in Freeport, Grand Bahamas. I woke up and looked out the window. The color of the water had changed and was clear light greenish-blue. I woke Dayo up and told him we were coming to port. Arriving in the Bahamas for my birthday was like being in a dream, but I had just awoken from one as well. I was ready to get off the ship.
When all was said and done down at the port, our prearranged taxi driver took us to the Sheraton at our Lucaya resort, where we would be staying for the next two nights. The ride there was an easy one, with little bumps or hassles. I took my first look at the Bahamas, squashed between the driver and my friend in the front of the three-seated cab. At first glimpse, the island seemed a bit drier than I imagined. It had a Mediterranean feel like Ibiza, but there was also a lot of damage from last season’s hurricanes. You could see the trees that had been bulldozed over from what had to have been, at the very least, 60mph winds.
The resort was beautiful. It was pretty much the typical Sheraton; however, the stunning, pristine beach seen from all the windows made me want to forget the room keys and head straight to the beach. After check-in, we dropped our bags off and went to handle the first line of business. I really wanted to feast as much as possible on local foods so we went in search of a local restaurant. Being on a resort makes it a little difficult to find reasonably priced dining and also the homestyle cooking found in a real Bahamian kitchen, but we asked around and came to the Caribbean Café.
I wanted to try something completely new and ordered a dish called Grio. Grio is diced pork with a coleslaw-like concoction doused on top. This coleslaw like dressing is extremely spicy and I like my food that way. The sides included real coleslaw as well as fried plantains. Dayo played it safe and ordered jerk chicken. We settled in nicely in the restaurant drinking Bahama Mamas, laughing and toasting to my birthday. The food was highly delicious, and the restaurant atmosphere was fairly sleepy, with a very sweet girl as our server. We knew in the two days we were staying on the island that we would certainly be back for seconds.
We wandered around some more in the Port Lucaya shopping center, looking in a couple of the shops. The straw market was also located around the corner, which we scooted past, as I had been to quite a few straw markets in the past. I wasn’t in the mood to haggle, and just when I thought I was home free, we ran into Zena. She was a pudgy Bahamian woman trying to lure tourists to the new Ritz Carlton resort with free breakfasts and gifts. We tried to kindly explain that we weren’t interested, but she insisted and we played along.
Traveling as a man and a woman in the Bahamas will instantly type you as a married couple. Dayo and I aren’t married, but we acted for a few or just laughed and explained we were good friends. Zena, on the other hand, needed us to be married for us to get our free gifts, so I filled out some fake information and hurried the conversation along so we could get out of Dodge. Again, we weren’t interested in any free gifts; we just wanted to relax and stroll the quiet streets as we figured out what we would do for the rest of the evening.
I picked up a local ‘What To Do Guide’ before heading into the hotel room for a little while. It was filled information on sites and day trips to take part in on the island. I didn’t find a lot on nightlife, but I figured someone in the hotel could point us to a couple of cool places to go dancing. Being a danceaholic, I wanted to find a fun place to shake my groove thang before the night’s end. Dayo knew I wouldn’t want to be surrounded by tourists and went to ask what spots would be best for dancing amongst the natives. The first few suggestions didn’t turn out too hot.
Our first stop placed us back in the square of the Port Lucaya shopping center where we watched two women do tribute songs and covers. They were entertaining, but there were also a lot of kids around who also found them very entertaining seeing they were the only ones really dancing. Port Lucaya at night is good for bars, but that was really about it. The next attempt had us wiping from one spot to another in a taxi as the driver tried to think of local dance hangouts. She failed miserably finding anything that could make me happy and just when we were about to give up we found Timmy.
Timmy is another taxi driver. He is one who should be avoided when visiting the Grand Bahamas at all costs, or he’ll cost you a fortune. Though he was good at overcharging for the cab rides, he was better at picking some of the best locations to show us on the island and knew exactly what we were looking for when we asked about a local dance club. He dropped us off at ‘The Hut.’
Dayo and I had to have been the only out-of-towners in ‘The Hut,’ which was perfect. No drunk tourists getting jiggy with it. The DJ spun the latest soca, dance hall, and reggae riddims back-to-back. The dance floor was pretty small and even smaller with many non-dancing folks just sucking up space on the floor. Even though other people didn’t dance quite as much as we did, we had a blast. Well, I know I did for sure.
When Timmy dropped us off at the hotel that night he suggested some other sites, which took us into day two.
On day two of my Bahamian Birthday Bash, we started the day off with a Bahamian breakfast at a local restaurant two miles down the road away from the resort. Timmy took us of course and set a time to pick us back up. Dayo and I both ordered the stewed fish with Johnny Cake for breakfast. The Johnny Cake, which is a little like cornbread, was fairly tasty, but the stewed fish did nothing for me. Luckily, Dayo was happy with both.
Timmy mentioned the Lucayan National Park as a place we might want to check out and for the price of $60 round trip he would take us there. I thought this was a bit much seeing it wasn’t even an hour out, but we rolled with the punches. When you don’t plan ahead you fail to find out that the hotel could have arranged such activity for no charge. Maybe we’ll keep that in mind for next time.
In the meantime, the park was a good stop. The hike through the park isn’t tough at all, and across the road you’ll find a makeshift bridge through the swamp that leads to a secluded beach. The swamp was muggy and full of mangroves. There was a huge rain cloud hanging from above, but we figured we could get in an out fast enough to avoid the rain. Ten minutes passed just as we had made it onto the beach before the drizzling turned into a downpour. We ran under a covered picnic area not too far off and waited for the rain to stop.
This beach was amazing, though. If the sun had been shining, it would have been fantastic! It wasn’t that the water was clear, but it was also the cleanest water both of us had seen. I’d definitely go back to this beach if I ever made it back to Freeport, but it was time to head back and take advantage of all that beach behind the resort.
The sun was sure shining when we got back to the Sheraton, and out to the waters we ran! I tested my cartwheel and handstand skills on the soft sand, splashing my way into the water when I lost my footing but laughing the entire time. Dayo could have easily been mistaken for a real photographer, the way he captured shots of my silliness.
And so the day continued, as the one before it had begun, like a dream. Happy, happy birthday to me!!!
If you go:
--Avoid Timmy the taxi driver
--The West End has the best conch salad on the island. A must-have!
--A ride through 8-mile can score you some of the best ribs ever at a little yellow establishment. I believe the name is Beretta’s.
Written by Jalpari on 04 Jun, 2005
Let me provide you with the basics. A is for Adrienne. That’s me, which would also make me the Author of this tale. B is for a couple of things: Birthday, Boat, and Bahamas. C is for Celebrating one of the three Bs…Read More
Let me provide you with the basics. A is for Adrienne. That’s me, which would also make me the Author of this tale. B is for a couple of things: Birthday, Boat, and Bahamas. C is for Celebrating one of the three Bs on the two others. D is for Dayo, my incredible tag-along and friend who treated me to such an amazing gift. I’ll admit the last couple of weeks had been pretty gloomy, and I wasn’t planning to do much of anything for my birthday until Dayo suggested a cruise.
In all my travels, I had never been on a cruise ship or to the Bahamas, so the sound of his offer made me want to samba or cha-cha-cha. And that’s exactly the way I boarded the ship. Well, maybe in my mind, because I was a little tired after the four-hour drive into Ft. Lauderdale, where the Discovery Cruise lines would embark, but I was still extremely elated. Let’s say E is for Elated.
Boarding a cruise ship instantly feels like a party. Warm smiles from the crew welcome you, flyers for all the raffles are stuffed into your hands, and a combination of young and old run around, happy to be alive. "Happy 23rd Birthday, Adrienne," I said to myself. In fact, it did feel good to be alive, and I couldn’t wait to capture these precious moments and fine details of my very first cruise with my camera, even though the early-morning drive exhausted me. Even more exhausted was my chauffeur, tag-along, and companion Dayo. He wanted to make a dash straight to the cabin for some rest, but he decided to look around the ship with me a little.
Now, before I go any further, let me confess some of my quips with boats. All that motion tends to make me sick, and I’m not a hot swimmer, so I tend to avoid this leisure activity. On the flip side, cruise ships are huge, you can’t feel any jolts, and the fruity, cold margaritas erased all the worries away. We found the bars easily, and I was pretty surprised to see people drinking so early. It had to have been 8 or 9am at this point, and as much as I was tempted to, I decided against it. There would be enough drinks once I actually reached the Bahamas.
After discovering where everything was in a nutshell, Dayo made like a mad man and dashed back into the cabin. Kicking off his shoes, he hopped up onto the top bunk and fell into a heavenly sleep. That bottom bunk was looking pretty darn cozy, but I insisted on staying up a little longer. You only get one birthday a year, and I didn’t want to sleep my only cruise ship experience away. I left Dayo in the cabin to wonder the cruise ship halls, casinos, and decks and talk with some of the crew.
I started with the gentleman at the front desk, who asked me if I was lonely. Why? Did I look lonely, I thought to myself? Maybe tired, but not so much as lonely. Couldn’t he see the birthday girl fiesta going on inside of me? Probably not--the guy gives room keys, takes deposits, and makes announcements for the ship. How could I expect him to detect the unobvious? I told him it was my birthday, and it was my first time on a cruise ship. We exchanged a little bit of conversation, where I found out he was from India but lived in Portugal. Or was it the other way around? The crew tends to be from all over and such fascinating places, it’s hard to remember most of it.
My feet took me back outside onto the deck, where I inched myself over by the rail to look down upon the white waves and break in the deep blue water created by the ship plowing along. I took a couple of pictures but deleted them instantly, as the vast blue ocean doesn’t make for a good shot, but I was too delirious and shutter-happy to realize this in the first place. Wondering around the ship, I managed to find better-still subjects for the album I would later on create. I snapped shots of lifeboats, cruise ship workers (I know they’re not still, but better than the ocean), and lifesavers lining the railing of the ship.
I bounced back inside, where I poked my head inside the casino, but I didn’t partake in the gambling activities going on inside. There was no way I was going to give up any birthday cash to a cold slot machine. Instead, I took a look at my reflection in several tiny mirrors that lined the wall on opposite sides, creating a kaleidoscope effect. I tried really hard to capture what I was seeing, but I’m not that good with scientific explanation, and I am sure there was a reasonable one to explain why my camera couldn’t.
At this point, I had seen enough. If needed, I would be able to write a full report on the sights to be found on a ship, but not the tastes. We hadn’t made any arrangements for lunch or anything, because I would rather eat the food on the island. In any case, my new 23-year-old limbs were weak, and I needed rest. The bottom bunk in my Discovery Cruise line cabin was calling, and a catnap on a ship couldn’t hurt anything or anybody. Especially on my birthday. I figured I’d use the opportunity to count coconuts in my sleep before we arrived in Freeport, Grand Bahamas.
This concludes part one, but if a cruise tickles your fancy, I’d recommend Discovery, and make sure you request a cabin. Even if you don’t plan on hanging out inside of one too long, it always helps to have the added privacy. I don’t have all the details, as it was a gift, but you can check them out for yourself at www.discoverycruise.com.
Written by Prose20770 on 08 May, 2003
As the Washington Metropolitan area was gripped by fear of the sniper attacks, my husband, best friends, and I put together a hasty plan to travel to Freeport. We had intended to do something fun anyway since my birthday in October falls the day…Read More
As the Washington Metropolitan area was gripped by fear of the sniper attacks, my husband, best friends, and I put together a hasty plan to travel to Freeport. We had intended to do something fun anyway since my birthday in October falls the day prior to our best friends' wedding anniversary. We jetted off on a cold, rainy morning, for the first time in weeks feeling safe from the random shootings that were taking place all around our area. I highly recommend going to Freeport in the fall. Tourists were practically scarce so we found we basically had the beautiful beaches, shopping and other recreational opportunities to ourselves and very few others.
We paid for deluxe rooms at Pelican Bay Resort and were upgraded to suites. Because we were there for special occasions,the resort treated us to wonderful bottles of champagne and engraved champagne glasses. The weather was absolutely perfect.
One of our highlights was a private island tour (by a driver who took us far off the beaten path) because no one else but the four of us had signed on for the tour that day. Our driver took us to the house of a woman who is famous on the island for making fresh breads and we were treated to carrot cake bread and sweet potato pie bread.
We bought fresh conch from a local dealer and walked beach properties that are not available to tourists. It was extremely romantic in our two room suite where we awoke each morning to a view of the channel and fresh pastries delivered to our door. Topping off our stay we went to a bonfire on a secluded beach and danced our final night away as the flames licked the air. It is an indelible memory that we hope to achieve again.
Written by Nancynb on 24 Apr, 2004
Grand Bahamas Island is definitely worth a visit. The island is small and beautiful with miles of secluded beaches once you take the time to get away from the tourist areas.
Taino Beach, where we stayed at the Ritz Beach Resort, is a great family…Read More
Grand Bahamas Island is definitely worth a visit. The island is small and beautiful with miles of secluded beaches once you take the time to get away from the tourist areas.
Taino Beach, where we stayed at the Ritz Beach Resort, is a great family beach with wonderful sand and water. It was not nearly as crowded as the beaches in the Port Lucaya area (we were there in March during spring break and were very glad we were off the beaten path a bit). The water taxi made a pleasant and affordable option each day to hop on and visit the many restaurants in Port Lucaya.
We rented a car for several days (most of the time we could walk where we need to be) and explored form one end of the island to the other. The trip to the West End and the Old Bahama Bay resort was wonderful. The marina, private beach, and secluded condos were interesting to explore (and dream about being able to stay there). We sent a good day at Paradise Cove where despite some windy condition we had wonderful snorkelling. This is a must see on the island for those who love to snorkel.
The drive to the other end and McLeans Town was less scenic, but if you take the time to explore some of the little side roads, there are beautiful deserted beaches. The beach at Pelican Point is spectacular.
We enjoyed several tours. We liked the Kayak Nature Tours trip to Lucayan National Park. We kayaked through the mangroves, visited Gold Rock Beach and toured the caves at the park. The guide was very knowledgeable.
The other tour was a snorkel tour to Pedersen’s Cay with Captain Peter from Lucayan Watersports, which offered great snorkeling and good value.
We also loved the local fish fry on Wednesday evenings. We could walk the several miles form the Ritz up to the local community beyond the stone crab. The fresh triggerfish, homemade salads, rolls, and sweet coconut and pineapple breads that were prepared by local Bahamians Irene and Everett (theirs is the last site beyond the restaurants) were a real highlight. It was a $10 meal -- fresh and delicious!
We truly enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere, warmth, and ambience of the Freeport/Port Lucaya area and will return.
Written by Gracie May on 20 Aug, 2005
I did swim with the dolphins. It was a good experience, and I enjoyed it. We were in the water as a group of six with one dolphin. I would say that we were swimming for about 15 minutes. The trainer…Read More
I did swim with the dolphins. It was a good experience, and I enjoyed it. We were in the water as a group of six with one dolphin. I would say that we were swimming for about 15 minutes. The trainer had the dolphin swim around everyone, and you could reach out and touch the dolphin. They then had the dolphin swim to each person, and the trainer showed each person a command to give the dolphin so it would do a trick for you. They also had the dolphin kiss each person and took a picture of you then. I think that if I was going to do it again, I would have done the open-ocean dolphin swim instead of the dolphin swim in the enclosure. I would recommend calling before you arrive in the Bahamas to reserve your space if this is something you really want to do. Close
Written by Diane'sgottago on 10 Feb, 2004
The beach was great! When the sun shined, everyone was happy. Unfortunately, it rained and was cold and so many people were miserable. We have to go south beyond the Bahamas-in-the-wintertime people! This I should have known having lived in the Caribbean and…Read More
The beach was great! When the sun shined, everyone was happy. Unfortunately, it rained and was cold and so many people were miserable. We have to go south beyond the Bahamas-in-the-wintertime people! This I should have known having lived in the Caribbean and Turks and Caicos.
All-inclusive can be much better than this! We couldn't find much info on this resort prior to our visit and were apprehensive about all-inclusive, but know now that they are not all the same. Check it out!
This property needs an infusion of spirit and it could be better. They have a Bahamian staff for basic services and an international animation staff who perform evenings and are your main activity and entertainment guides by day. They seemed a little burned out and/or disenchanted. It was hard for them to motivate people to put down their drinks and get off the chaise lounge to play bocce ball or volleyball. It would have been better if they had been more personable and engaging but then most people didn't seem to want to be bothered.
The Bahamian staff has been there a while and we heard many complaints. They treated us as if we were invisible and just went about their jobs. They are overall very nice people when approached with a smile and engaged in a conversation, but you won't see it unless you initiate it.
Written by ronhar on 17 Feb, 2003
We have discovered a way to get around freeport free, or nearly free. The ferry from Ritz Resort drops you off at the marketplace in town. Walk over to the OUR LUCAYA Hotel and there is a FREE shuttle to the Casino (and International Market)…Read More
We have discovered a way to get around freeport free, or nearly free. The ferry from Ritz Resort drops you off at the marketplace in town. Walk over to the OUR LUCAYA Hotel and there is a FREE shuttle to the Casino (and International Market) that runs from 5pm to 10:30pm daily.
The city bus service is only $1 and it virtually circles the main parts of Freeport. A great way to meet locals and listen to local chatter. We are shocked to see so many people relying on costly cabs to get around. Being a miser, I found a better way! Enjoy.
Written by csully on 11 Aug, 2002
There is a 15% gratuity on all restaurant bills. Off of the resorts, the food is good and not expensive. Breakfast specials are only $2.95 at the International bazaar. Be prepared to wait because no one hurries.…Read More
There is a 15% gratuity on all restaurant bills. Off of the resorts, the food is good and not expensive. Breakfast specials are only $2.95 at the International bazaar. Be prepared to wait because no one hurries. While some of the Bahamians were great, many of the people in service positions were far from accomodating. Try and spend a day on the east end to experience the culture, and another day on the west end. You don't get a true understanding of the island if you stay in Freeport/Port Lucaya. Although this area has alot to do, and you certainly could spend the entire vacation in the resorts, casino, shopping areas and clubs, there really is so much more to see. Snorkeling or diving is a must and going up to the west end is the way to go. Pleasure Cove has an amazing little private beach and cute little cottages that are not at all expensive. I would stay here if I was going back to Grand Bahama. You can rent lounge chairs, beach umbrella and all your snorkeling equipment for the entire day for about $30 for 2 people! There's also boat rentals and an outdoor grill to buy lunch. And the frozen drinks were great. It's also neat to go up to see where the cruise ships dock. I wasn't taken with the local Bahamian food, except for the conch chowder and salad, but there was a fantastic italian restaurant across the circle from the Royal Oasis Resort, and also a really nice English Pub right around the corner. Also we ate at various places at the International Bazaar and at Port Lucaya that were quite good. Behind the Bazaar and the area near the straw market got very scary from dusk on, although during the day it was fine. Close
Written by laddie2d on 21 Mar, 2006
For bone fishing, contact Capt. Perry in McLeanstown, on the east end of the island. We caught 14 fish on a "bad"-weather day! Last November, hubby caught a 30+-pound fish with a lightweight fly tackle. It took an hour and 45 minutes to bring into…Read More
For bone fishing, contact Capt. Perry in McLeanstown, on the east end of the island. We caught 14 fish on a "bad"-weather day! Last November, hubby caught a 30+-pound fish with a lightweight fly tackle. It took an hour and 45 minutes to bring into boat, but Capt. Perry knew exactly what to do. Hubby's picture was published in Saltwater Flyfishing magazine, the January 2006 issue.
For reef fishing, for snapper and grouper, etc., contact Capt. Leslie Treco. You can find him at Ocean Reef Yacht Club marina, where he captains a privately owned yacht that is docked there. Close