Things to do in Grand Bahama: Best excursions, attractions, beaches, fishing, shopping
Noted as the island situated the farest north within the island chain known as The Bahamas, Grand Bahama is a long slender island that is well visited by those traveling from the United States and the rest of the world. With stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear near and off shore waters, a thriving seafood scene, duty-free shopping and lots of tours and excursions to choose from, Grand Bahama Island is a great choice for both those looking to relax and those looking for days filled with high action adventure.
When planning a visit to the island, you’ll want to first look at how long you’ll be staying. If you’re planning on visiting for a week or two (which is very common) then you’ll find that you can easily get away with booking half day fishing and scuba diving tours. If you’re only visiting for a long weekend or during a cruise stop, then you’ll want to focus on taking a scuba diving or snorkeling tour and visiting one of the many impressive beaches.
Best excursions on Grand Bahama
If you’re looking for a variety of tours, both in and out of the water, you’ll find them on Grand Bahama. You’ll also find that these tours differ in length of time, making it so that you can really customize your trip and maximize each and every day of your stay. Generally speaking, there aren’t any bad tour companies on the island, making it so that you don’t need to worry about staying away from any. However, there are tours and excursions that are better than others in terms of ratings and value. For the best of the best, keep reading below.
Lucayan National Park Kayak and Nature Tour
This is a great tour if you’re looking to get out into nature for the day. Lasting a total of 6 hours, this tour isn’t for those looking to do a bunch of other things the same day. Though the tour is half the day, you’ll only spend about 90 minutes of it paddling. The rest of the time will be spent swimming, beach combing, exploring the park’s many trails and enjoying an oceanside lunch. Because you’ll be kayaking with the use of two-man kayaks, you’ll find that this tour is great for all levels, including newbies. If you’re traveling with little kids in tow, you’ll find that there is a 3rd seat available for babies on your kayak.
- Adult: US$89.00
- Child: US$89.00
>>>Reservations for the Lucayan National Park Kayak and Nature Tour
Off-Road ATV and Tropical Garden Tour
Offered by the same company that gives the nature tour mentioned above, the Off-Road ATV and Tropical Garden Tour is only about 3 and 1/2 hours long, leaving you time to visit a beach or attraction after the tour is completed. While on the tour, you’ll find yourself driving your own ATV through trails that are hidden in the island’s natural vegetation before driving next to the island’s coastline. You’ll also spend a bit of time at the Garden of the Groves where you’ll find gardens, small waterfalls and a cafe. When booking your tour, you’ll want to keep in mind that the tour is only available to those aged 22 and up.
- Adult: US$89.00
>>>Reservations for the Off-Road ATV and Tropical Garden Tour
Pinetree Stables Horseback Riding
A great tour that lasts about 2 hours, the Pinetree Stables Horseback Riding tour is a good option for those who want to include an excursion in their day’s events but want to make sure that there is enough time leftover for other activities. During this tour you’ll ride through a fire climax pine forest, hardwood coppice dunes, the beach and into the ocean for a refreshing swim. Also, if you’re a cat lover, you’ll love to know that the stables that house the tour’s horses are also a cat rescue center.
- Adult: US$165.00
- Child: US$165.00
>>>Reservations for the Pinetree Stables Horseback Riding Tour
Best attractions on Grand Bahama
Though there are a few cultural attractions on the island, to be honest, they’re not really the most interesting. Also, you’ll notice that most people who visit the island come in search of great snorkeling and scuba diving, which are widely known as the top two attractions on the island.
All around the island, you’ll find different underwater environments that you can easily snorkel. From the beautiful and thriving near shore reefs to the off shore reefs reached only by boat to the sand flats off of your favorite beach. Each of these tree snorkeling environments offer clear ocean water, fish to view and the chance to swim side by side with a few species of marine life. Two of the best places to snorkel are Dead Man’s Reef and Peterson Cay National Park, which is actually located on a tiny island right off of Grand Bahama Island.
- Adult: varying
- Child: varying
A island with a strong reputation as one of the best places to scuba dive in the Caribbean, Grand Bahama Island doesn’t disappoint. Here you’ll find, just like with snorkeling, various different marine ecosystems to explore. You’ll also find opportunities to swim with some of the ocean’s most popular creatures, like the bottlenose dolphin and the nurse shark. There are a variety of different tours to enjoy while exploring the ocean world as well, some of which solely focus on swimming with these creatures. You’ll also find that all levels of experience are welcomed as well, making it so that the beginniner in your group and the expert can all enjoy a dive together.
- Adult: varying
- Child: varying
Best beaches on Grand Bahama
All over the island, you’ll find some pretty impressive sandy beaches. Some are lined with palm trees, however most of them are backed by a strong line of lush pine trees, giving you a different feel from the typical island scene. This is due to the northern location of the island, as it is located at the top of the Bahamian island chain. If you’re looking for beaches that provide a bit of shade along with a lot of sunshine, you’ll find a handful of great choices. The best however, are listed below.
Dead Man’s Reef (Paradise Cove Beach)
This beach is not only a great stretch of sand that you can enjoy with like minded visitors, but one that offers direct, unlimited access to Dead Man’s Reef, a reef located within a few yards of the beach itself. Here you’ll also find a small restaurant serving locally caught fish, lobster and conch along with a few different watersports to enjoy, including spearfishing. If you’re looking to stay right on the beach, then you’ll want to consider booking a stay at the Paradise Cove resort, which I have personally stayed at several times.
- Adult snorkeling fee: US$39.99
- Child snorkeling fee: US$25.00
Mather Town Beach
A great beach for the gregarious type looking to meet other tourists and locals, Mather Town Beach is one of the more popular beaches on the island. Here you’ll find great swimming and a fun restaurant/bar combo that offers local, fresh seafood. This beach is also only a few miles away from Port Lucaya, making it easy to get to with your car rental.
- Adult: free
- Child: free
Once a thriving watersports beach, Xanadu Beach now caters to those looking for privacy over everything else. Here you’ll find a long stretch of white sand that looks out into the ocean, where you’ll find insanely clear water that is perfect for a swim or near shore snorkel. Because the ocean bottom is pure sand right next to the beach, you’ll find that the water temperature is quite warm, making it easy to stay in the water for long periods of time. Because there is not much here anymore in terms of amenities, you’ll want to pack your own lunch and a lot of water.
- Adult: free
- Child: free
Best fishing on Grand Bahama
Though the entire Caribbean is home to some fantastic fishing, Grand Bahama Island is considered to be one of the best places in the world for sport fishing. This is because here you’ll find Bluefin Tuna, Marlin, Bonefish, Yellowfin Tuna, Hogfish, Mangrove Snapper, Wahoo and Barracuda. Because these fish are found in different ocean environments, you’ll have the opportunity to partake in deep sea fishing, off shore fishing, flats fishing and more. You’ll just want to keep in mind that the best time of year to fish here is between the months of April and September.
Captain Phil’s Bonefishing in Freeport
If you’ve come to the island in search of Bonefish and the exciting thrill of trying to land one, then you’ll want to book a fishing day with Captain Phil’s Bonefishing Tour. With vessels located in Freeport, you’ll find that starting your day off is both convenient and easy. Even better? They’ll pick you up from your hotel or resort, as well as drop you off at the end of the day. When choosing a tour, you’ll find that there is a half day tour and a full day tour available. Regardless of which tour you select you’ll find that both bait and tackle are included in each. Because you’ll be out in the bright Caribbean sun, you’ll want to make sure to bring with you sunblock, sunglasses and lots of water.
- Full Day tour: US$500.00
- Half Day tour: US$400.00
Best shopping on Grand Bahama
Throughout this small island, you’ll find lots of little shops and vendors selling handmade items ranging from little kick knacks to straw hats. You’ll also find shops selling leather goods, jewelry and photography equipment. Most of these items are duty-free as well, making them particularly attractive to visitors. However, if you don’t want to go all over the island in search of a few goods to take back home with you, you’ll want to just stick to shopping at the marketplace listed below.
Port Lucaya Marketplace
A colorful marketplace offering shopping, dining and entertainment all in one, the Port Lucaya Marketplace is the place to shop for everything in one place. Here you’ll find over 40 stores, 14 restaurants and 6 bars. You’ll also pleasantly find a few watersport operators as well, making it easy to book your next tour. If you’re looking for some handmade items to take back for friends and family members, you’ll find over 100 Bahamian artists on-site ready to design something on the spot.
- Adult: free
- Child: free
Photos provided by Flickr users Jack, Shawn Harquail, Elaine Moore and Paolo Macorig.