Caribbean Travels – Grand Bahama

I?m not sure why I?ve never considered traveling to the Bahamas. Sun, sand, bikinis. It seems like a no-brainer. Well, now is the time to start to figure it out. After looking at Jamaica, I figured the Bahamas would be a much more mellow place. Not only that, but it is a string of ?29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets? which means that there is a lot of ground to cover to plan a vacation. It seemed to make the most sense to look at Grand Bahama first then, as it is only 54 miles off the coast of Florida, the closest of any of the islands to the U.S.

Getting There

To fly from Chicago to Freeport (the largest city on Grand Bahama) if you book your ticket now for a winter escaping trip in January, you can find tickets starting at about $440 per person. The other option would be to take a cruise there, and since Grand Bahama is so close to Florida, it doesn?t appear on the itinerary for the larger length cruises, but you can take Discovery Cruise Line from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport for about $190 per person. Since the cost of flying to Ft. Lauderdale is only about $70 less, it?s not really economical for your time or wallet, unless you really like boats. There?s also a two-day cruise to Grand Bahama out of Palm Beach, that makes sense if you want to do a really, really short trip there.

Sightseeing and Activities

A fun date activity might be the Perfume Factory located in Freeport. For only $30, your date can mix an ounce bottle of perfume or for $15, a 1.5 ounce bottle of lotion. (I know what you?re thinking, and yes, you can make a bottle of lotion for yourself for your own needs.)

Three National Parks are on Grand Bahama including Rand Nature Center in the city of Freeport that is especially vibrant during the winter because of migratory birds and Lucayan National Park, about 25 miles east of Freeport. Lucayan National Park has each of the Bahamas vegetative ecosystems in one park and also has over six miles of caves to explore. You can tour the caves or you can go diving in them, if you are certified and you get permission from UNEXSO.

Speaking of UNEXSO, or Underwater Explorers Society, they offer beginner SCUBA diving classes for $109 to experience diving at a coral reef for the first time. However, if you are experienced or have ever been experienced ? cue Jimi Hendrix ? there are a lot more cool offerings, including reef dives, dolphin dives and shark feeding. (Shark feeding training though will cost you $800 for a day whereas a reef dive is only $99 and the dolphin dive is $219.)

After a long day hiking at the nature center or diving at a reef, you can hit the Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company in Freeport and enjoy the local beers in their beer garden. After a few glasses of relaxation, you can head to whatever accommodation you chose, and I doubt you can make a bad choice as prices range from tight budget ($78 per night) to not that bad of a budget ($210 per night). Then, get up and hit one of the many beaches, head out and go deep-sea fishing or have another diving adventure and soon you?ll reach the day you have to go home. Except that it?s winter back home and I doubt you?ll want to go.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."