A couple of years after my second cruise, my best friend called me from Hawaii (where she lives) to ask if I would like to join her and another friend on a trip to Grand Bahama Island. The other friend had a timeshare and we would just each need to pay $100 for the week along with our airfare and spending money. Well, you can’t say no to that!
I had just gone through a really rough 6 months – I had been diagnosed with Colon Cancer, had successful surgery (and I’m still healthy 8 years later!), while I was recovering from the surgery my father fell ill and passed away, then I got deathly ill from chemotherapy and ended up hospitalized again myself. I was finally getting my strength back and a trip to the sunshine in a few months sounded like just the remedy I needed.
We went in May of 2001. We all met up in Miami as we were traveling from different places and spent a night enjoying South Beach. Then we caught our flight for the short hop over to Grand Bahama the next morning.
I loved it! We were staying at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club so we were between Freeport and Port Lucaya. Our condo was fabulous – 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and looking out at the marina. There was a nice big living room, small full kitchen and a nice pool which we spent time around pretty much every afternoon.
We quickly found our way around with the “bus” system. The buses are mini vans that keep to a particular route, but usually go when they are full. It seems like it was about $1 per person to go to either Freeport or Port Lucaya.
We spent our first few days exploring both places, shopping and just enjoying the relaxed pace. We went out in the evenings. This was when I found out that in the Caribbean people go out late! If you want to go enjoy the best places (where the locals go) you should probably take a nap in the afternoon.
We shopped at the International Marketplace in Freeport which had some great shops and nice restaurants. I really enjoyed the craft market at Port Lucaya – we spent so much time there that the vendors were getting to know us. I also enjoyed the restaurants and they had music in the square most evenings.
We did the Dolphin Encounter one day. I had wanted to do the swim but the ladies I was with thought they’d be more comfortable with the encounter and it seems we made the right choice. It was so fun! We sat around a “U” shaped dock and the dolphins swam around showing us their bellies and opened their mouths so we could see their teeth. They would go under water and pop up and surprise someone, splash us as they went by. We each got a few minutes on a platform at the end of the U where we could pet them and observe them up close. This was one of the best parts of our trip.
Wednesday night we went to the Fish Fry at Smith’s Point. Unfortunately, we had a lot of rain this day and so this was not the party that it usually is. The locals would drive up and get their food to go. We were about the only ones walking around and we were soaked. The food was excellent – several different kinds of fish, conch fritters (oh, I loved those) and some of the best Macaroni and Cheese I have ever tasted!
Around Thursday we decided to rent a car for a couple of days and do some more exploring. The first day we drove East. I was really amazed to see the pine tree forests – I expected Palm trees, but not pines. We had taken a tour early in the week that went to Garden of the Groves which was beautiful. This time we went to the Lucayan National Park and Gold Rock Beach. We then kept driving until we came to the end of the road (and went on down a dirt road until it really ended). We did a little wading, but it was pretty rocky where we were. We were hungry so on the way back we saw a sign for the Bar at Pelican Point and thought this looked like a good place to stop for some food. The bartender was surprised that on our first visit to the island we found them.
This was a great place with good food, cold beer and a friendly bartender. There was a group of maybe 12 people who were staying at the cottages next to the place. Other than that there was no one around. After lunch we went onto the beach. Beautiful, white sand and blue water as far as you could see – with no people at all! Now this is heaven! When I go back I think I would stay out this way and just take day trips into Freeport and Port Lucaya.
The next day we drove to the West end of the island. Gail had wanted to go snorkeling and we’d been told there was a place out this way that was best, but we had rain and some lightening so they were not letting anyone in the water. We ended up just taking a scenic drive and stopping at another small beach – deserted as well. As you drive along the highway there are piles of Conch shells – we stopped and picked up a few to bring home.
I haven’t made it back yet, but really look forward to another trip there someday. There are just too many other Caribbean islands to visit – and never enough time or money.