You can look forward to a memorable mix of historic charm, modern attractions and ecological wonders on your visit to Grand Bahama Island. There’s truly something for everyone. The warm welcome you’ll receive is just extra insurance that you’ll return again and again.
In 1834, when Great Britain banned slavery throughout its empire, former slaves in The Islands Of The Bahamas were allowed to stake claims on whatever open land they could find. 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 owners. Today, many of the 50,000 people living on Grand Bahama Island were not born here. They hail from all over The Islands Of The Bahamas.
Being so close to the ocean, you’ll have no trouble discovering new and exciting activities to do on Grand Bahama Island. From annual regattas to snorkeling tours and fishing expeditions, this island has many reasons to get your feet wet.
Not in the mood for swimming or snorkeling? Grand Bahama Island offers a variety of fun, relaxing and even educational activities. You can play golf on a world class course, take a Jeep safari tour around the island, go horseback riding on the beach or get in touch with nature at Garden of the Groves. On Grand Bahama Island, boredome is not an option.
Where Nassau is a blend of the old and new, Freeport/Lucaya is a modernistic planned city, and is situated on the Island of Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama Island is the second most popular tourist destination in the Bahamas. Here you will find long stretches of deserted clean-white beaches, inviting hotels, one major casino, night-time entertainment and world-class scuba diving facilities and land and sea sports.
Freeport is the resort center of the Island where much action can be found. On the eastern and western ends of the Island are serene and quaint settings and finding a hide-away spot is relatively easy. Shopping is also a feature as one can stroll through Port Lucaya Marketplace and discover duty-free treasures from around the world.
Like New Providence, the larger Grand Bahama boasts (more) miles of pearly white beaches, and luxurious hotels. Unlike Nassau, the less populated outskirts of Grand Bahama supply more serene and tranquil surroundings (read deserted beaches) popular amongst those who desire private hideaway spots reminiscent of the Family Islands. According to a census taken in 1990 stated that there are 40,898 persons living in Grand Bahama, of which 12% were non-Bahamians, and 88% were Bahamian.
For those into nature, Grand Bahama is also home to one of the oldest underwater cave systems in the world, situated at the Lucayan National Park. Whether your looking for modern luxury or want to get away from civilization, Grand Bahama offers the best of both worlds.
The Spanish gave the island the name "Gran Bajamar" -- or great shallows.
Since the American Civil War the economy of Grand Bahama has been tied to the United States of America -- during the Civil War Grand Bahama was a source of smuggled goods needed by the South; during prohibition it was alcohol; today, Bahamians import the bulk of their goods through the United States paid for by the money derived primarily from tourism (our "export").
Modern Grand Bahama Island is driven primarily by the vision of an American businessman Wallace Groves. Where others saw a mass of pine trees, Groves saw an international tourist destination for Americans, much like Cuba.
During the early 1950s American investor, Wallace Groves, and British financier, Sir Charles Hayward pioneered development on Grand Bahama Island. Their vision for development led to negotiations with the Government of The Bahamas and the signing of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. The Agreement, executed on August 4th, 1955, created, the 'Port Area', and gave birth to the City of Freeport -- wherein the government granted 50,000 acres of land to The Grand Bahama Port Authority Limited (GBPA).
The agreement required the dredging of a deep-water harbour at Hawksbill Creek in the western sector of the Port Area. It also granted to GBPA responsibility for the provision, management, and administration of all infrastructure, municipal and community services, and for development of 50,000 acres of crown grant land which was later extended to 138,000 acres. This, together with an additional 12,000 acres purchased by the GBPA from other parties, forms the 160,000 acre 'Port Area'.
The agreement also conveyed to the area the legacy of a "free port" with substantial tax concessions for financial, commercial and industrial enterprises (extended until 2054).