Just off of Florida’s east coast lies a string of approximately 700 small, but beautiful islands. Among these, an island shaped somewhat like a crown, is Grand Bahama. This island, divided into the three administrative sections of the Freeport Bonded Area, East Grand Bahama, and West Grand Bahama, has a rich and colored history and is home to nearly 52,000 people.
Today, Grand Bahama’s most notable attractions are its beauty and pleasant climate. Temperatures average between 70 and 80 degrees year round. The only seasonal travel concerns for island visitors are hurricane and rainy season. The months of May through November cover these possible pitfalls to paradise, but the islands shouldn’t be avoided during these times. Rather, guests should be mindful of the possibility of inclement weather…just as they would at home.
The official language of the Bahamas is English, and the islands are on Eastern Standard Time (the same as New York and Atlanta). There are medical facilities available on the islands as well as doctors at most resorts for guest convenience.
Like most islands in the western Atlantic, Grand Bahama has been under both Spanish and British control at various points in its history. The coral reefs found in the shallows around the island proved a daunting obstacle, and the Spanish explorers largely avoided the island during Spain’s ownership (1492 – 1670) of the Bahamas, with the exception of provision replenishment stops.
The islands of the Bahamas were popular among pirates who would attract ships into the shallows where they could be easily run aground and plundered.
In the late 1600s, Great Britain took control of the islands, but not piracy. The islands would remain a popular place for pirates and bootleggers until the crown gained control of the pirates in 1720. Grand Bahama was a popular stop on smuggling routes during the American Civil War and during the years of prohibition in the U.S.
Still, slowly growing its population, Grand Bahama remained small and sparsely populated until 1955 when Wallace Groves, an American financier from Virginia, approached the Bahamian government with a plan. American tourists were flooding Cuba and Groves thought Grand Bahama could be a popular, albeit quiet and unmolested, alternative for tourists…and their dollars. In short time, the Hawskbill Creek Agreement was drafted and signed, bringing to life Freeport. The tourist center of Lucaya, name for native Bahamian inhabitants, is a largely planned paradise offering island splendor and vacationing fun for all ages.
Travel to Grand Bahama is easier and more affordable now than at any time in the past:
“Vision Airlines has signed an agreement with the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board to begin service to the tropical paradise beginning this November. The flights will originate from Ft Lauderdale, FL, Louisville, KY, Richmond, VA, Raleigh/Durham, NC and Baltimore/Washington airports. … Flights will begin the week of November 14, 2011. These new non-stop flights will make flying to the Bahamas affordable again. The new fares will start as low as $99* round trip from Ft Lauderdale and as low as $149* each way from the other cities. Great package rates are also going to be offered with 4 day/3 night packages starting as low as $299* per person (double occupancy).” – Vision Airlines’ Press Release, June 29th, 2011