The City of Freeport (a prime area) was the brainchild of Virginian financier Wallace Groves, who envisioned the development of a free trade zone on the island. The Bahamian government granted him 55,000 acres of swamp and scrubland to develop. Groves’ dream came to fruition in 1955 with the founding of Freeport.
While the city boasts of the Bahamas’ trademark sandy beaches, underwater coves, and rich marine habitats, Freeport is also a city of thriving commerce.
Freeport Harbour is able to accommodate huge sea vessels like cargo ships and cruise liners. Grand Bahama International Airport manages close to 50,000 flights annually.
Downtown Freeport has the 10-acre, duty-free International Bazaar, the Casino Royale Theatre and the Bahamia Casino.
Interesting attractions include the coral formations of Pillar Castle, Shark Dive, and Theo’s Wreck, a 230-foot Norwegian freighter that was deliberately sunk in 1982 to serve as an artificial reef.
Famous beaches in the region include Gold Rock Beach and the beachcombers’ paradise of Barbary Beach.
Fortune Cay, Colony Bay, Lucaya/Lucayan Reef, Casa Loma, Discovery Bay, Bahamia, South Beach
The island of Fortune Cay got its name when a trove worth $2 million was recovered from a shipwreck in the area.
Fortune Cay is a well-planned, gated residential community with scenic views of the beach and the ships passing along the horizon. The homes have been tropically landscaped with walkways leading to the beach and range in size from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet.
Colony Bay is an affluent neighbourhood by the Grand Lucayan Waterway. Representative homes include villas with sprawling gardens and seaside views and large manor houses.
Tourism is the main industry of Lucaya. One popular site is Sanctuary Bay, which has the world’s largest dolphin facility. Ferries from Port Lucaya take visitors into the bay for personal interactions with the friendly bottle-nosed marine mammals. A wonderful place to dive and explore here is the Treasure Reef and its many shipwrecks.
The headquarters of UNEXSO, or the Underwater Explorers Society, is one of the world’s best diving facilities. It includes a recompression/decompression chamber, a training tank, the Museum of Underwater Exploration and a dolphinarium. It offers shark feeding dives.
The best place for shopping here is Port Lucaya Marketplace. The bougainvillea-adorned Count Basie Square at the centre of the marketplace hosts performances by bands and gospel singers. Visitors can stay at the Our Lucaya Resort and Pelican Bay Hotel.
The affluent neighbourhood of Casa Loma is situated on one of the highest spots of Freeport in Grand Bahama. Many of the houses here are elegant 3- to 4-bedroom villas with scenic views of the sea or of the canal and each having their own swimming pools and Jacuzzis.
Discovery Bay is situated on a beach in the Freeport suburb of Lucaya. Presently being developed in the region is the gated oceanfront community of Discovery Bay Villas, which would consist of 54 fully furnished beachfront homes with private courtyards and deluxe pools. Also being offered are condominium lots. Once completed, the community will include such perks as an 18-hole golf course, marinas, tennis centre, restaurants and shops.
Bahamia Resort is only 5 minutes away from the airport. It offers 483 guest rooms and suites with stunning tropical views, two golf courses and a Serenity Spa.
South Beach is a very small, secluded white sand beach with low, shallow waves and swaying palm trees along the shore. The area has excellent accommodations, shops and restaurants.
It is a popular location for kite surfing, although some professional kite surfers have expressed their difficulties in maneuvering over the palm trees. These same kite surfers are not exactly welcomed by some of the locals because of the large amount of beach space they require just to simply set up their kites.