Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and the closest major island to the United States, lying 90 kilometres (56 mi) off the state of Florida. It is the fourth largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays. The island is approximately 153 kilometres (95 mi) long west to east and 24 kilometres (15 mi) at its widest point north to south. Administratively, the island consists of the Freeport Bonded Area and the districts of East Grand Bahama and West Grand Bahama.

Early Spanish Contact

Gold Rock Beach, Grand Bahama IslandThe Spanish gave the island the name Gran Bajamar, meaning "Great Shallows", and what the eventual name of the Bahamas islands as a whole is derived from. However, the Lucayan (pre-Columbian) name for the island was Bahama. Grand Bahama's existence for almost two centuries was largely governed by the nature of these "great shallows" - the coral reefs surrounding the island were treacherous, and repelled its Spanish claimants (who largely left it alone apart from infrequent en route stops by ships for provisions) while attracting pirates, who would lure ships onto the reefs where they would run aground and be plundered. The Spaniards took little interest in the island after enslaving the native Lucayan inhabitants.

British Rule

The islands were claimed by Great Britain in 1670. Piracy continued to thrive for at least half a century after the British takeover, though the problem was eventually brought under control.

Grand Bahama was to remain relatively quiet until the mid-nineteenth century, with only around 200-400 regular inhabitants in the capital, West End. In 1834, the towns of Pinder’s Point, Russell Town and Williams Town were established by former Bahamian slaves after the abolition of slavery in the British empire. The island remained under-developed until a brief boom in economic activity during the American Civil War, when it was a center for blockade runners smuggling goods (mostly weaponry, sugar and cotton) to the Confederacy. A second brief smuggling boom occurred during the years of prohibition in the USA.


Tourism is the mainstay of the island's economy. The resort area at Port Lucaya and visits by cruise ships provide the bulk of this activity. Grand Bahama's tourism sector is complemented by the BORCO oil bunkering facility owned by Buckeye, the South Riding Point oil storage and transhipment terminal owned by Statoil, and a transshipment/container port partly owned by Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and the Grand Bahama Port Authority. There are also quarrying operations on the island and a large shipyard.

Main Settlements

Freeport is the capital of Grand Bahama, it holds the commercial ship harbour and the main airport.  Freeport is a city, district and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama of the northwest Bahamas. In 1955, Wallace Groves, a Virginian financier with lumber interests in Grand Bahama, was granted 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) of pineyard with substantial areas of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government with a mandate to economically develop the area. Freeport has grown to become the second most populous city in the Bahamas.

Airport TerminalThere are two airports on the island: Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, and West End Airport in West End. Grand Bahama International Airport is the larger of the two, and West End Airport is open sporadically for private aircraft only.  The Grand Bahama International Airport receives domestic flights from various islands of the Bahamas as well as several international flights from the United States and Canada. Freeport is also served by domestic Bahamian ferry services to other islands and by a regular international service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA operated by Baleària Bahamas Express.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) operates the free trade zone, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement signed in August 1955 whereby the Bahamian government agreed that businesses in the Freeport area would pay no taxes before 1980, later extended to 2054. The area of the land grants within which the Hawksbill Creek Agreement applies has been increased to 138,000 acres (55,847 ha)

Lucaya is a tourist destination on the island, with beaches and hotels.

West End is the oldest town and westernmost settlement. It first achieved notoriety as a rum-running port during the Prohibition.

In the 1950s it became home to the Jack Tar marina and club. However, over the years the marina fell into disrepair, and the whole city of West End was of little economic import to Grand Bahama. In 2001, the resort was reopened as Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour.

McLeans Town is the easternmost settlement and a 30-minute ferry ride from the northernmost settlement of the neighbor island of Abaco.

Bahamian Cuisine

Conch DinnerBahamian Cuisine refers to the foods and beverages of the Bahamas. It includes seafood such as fish, shellfish, lobster, crab, and conch, as well as tropical fruits, rice, peas, pigeon peas, potatoes, and pork. Popular seasonings commonly used in dishes include chilies (hot pepper), lime, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, rum, and coconut. Rum-based beverages are popular on the island. Since the Bahamas consist of a multitude of islands, notable culinary variations exist.

Bahamian cooking has been somewhat influenced by the American South. A large portion of Bahamian foodstuffs are imported (cf. economy of the Bahamas). International cuisine is offered, especially at international hotels.

Many specialty dishes are available at roadside stands, beach side, and in fine dining establishments. In contrast to the offerings in the city of Nassau and in the many hotels, "shack" type restaurants (including Goldies and Twin Brothers) are located at Arawak Cay on West Bay Street about 15 minutes from downtown Nassau and 25 minutes from Atlantis Paradise Island resort. Travellers Rest Restaurant, in Nassau, is known for serving authentic "local" foods.

Bahamian cuisine is showcased at many large festivals, including Independence Day (Bahamas) on July 10 (during which inhabitants prepare special dishes like guava duff), Fox Hill Day (second Tuesday in August), and Emancipation Day. Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the Pineapple Fest in Gregory Town, Eleuthera.

Bahamian traditions and food have been exported to other countries with emigrants. Coconut Grove, Florida celebrates the Goombay Festival in June, transforming the area's Grand Avenue into a Carnival (Caribbean Carnival) in celebration of Bahamian culture, Bahamian food and music (Junkanoo and 'Rake 'N' Scrape). Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida includes a two-day street party known as Goombay held in Key West's Bahama Village neighborhood. It is named after the goombay goatskin drums that generate the party's rhythms and held in celebration of the heritage of Key West's large Bahamian population with food, art, and dancing.


Fruit juices, including coconut water, are often used for beverages. Switcha is a "lemonade" made with native limes. Goombay Punch is a commercially prepared, highly sweetened soft drink. It differs from the Goombay Smash, which is an alcoholic preparation. Triple B is a non-alcoholic malt drink made by the Bahamian Brewery.

Kalik BeerAlcoholic beverages include rum, which is sometimes infused with coconut. Rum is also used in mixed drinks such as rum punch. Sky juice is a drink consisting of coconut water blended with condensed milk and gin. The Yellow Bird (cocktail), the Bahama Mama, the Goombay Smash, and Planter's Punch are popular local drinks. Nassau Royale is a Bahamian liqueur and is used to make the C. C. Rider. The Bahamian Brewery makes beers including: Sands, Bush Crack, High Rock (named for a geographic feature: High Rock) and Strong Back. Kalik is a Bahamian beer.


Bahamians enjoy many soups popular throughout the Caribbean including callaloo, conch soup, fish chowder, split pea soup (made with ham), and pepper pot stew. Peas are used in various soups, including a soup made with dumplings and salt beef. Souse is a soup usually made with chicken, lime, and pepper.

Turtle soup was once a mainstay before turtles became endangered.


Seafood is a staple in the Bahamas. Conch, a large tropical mollusk (sea snail) with firm, white flesh, is the national dish of the Bahamas. Conch can be prepared in a number of ways: served raw with lime juice and spices (as in ceviche), steamed, stewed, deep-fried ("cracked conch" or conch fritters), used in soups (especially conch chowder), or served in salads. Other popular shellfish are crab (including the Florida stone crab), which is often served baked, and the clawless spiny lobster, also known as rock lobster and sometimes referred to as crayfish. Grouper is often served fried, sautéed, grilled or, more traditionally, boiled and offered with grits. Bonefish, found in great numbers in Bahamian waters, is served baked.

Fish may be served escabeche style, in a mixture of lime juice or vinegar with seasoning. In escabeche the fish is cooked first, differentiating it from the similarly prepared ceviche. "Stew fish" is a method of preparing fish with celery, onions, tomatoes and spices.


Popular meat dishes are made with chicken, pork, and goat (also referred to as mutton) Iguana is still hunted and eaten, especially in the outlying islands, although some species, such as the Northern Bahamian rock iguana, are endangered.


Side Dishes

Bahamian cuisine shares many side dishes with the American South: grits, baked macaroni and cheese, potatoes, potato salad, sweet potato, johnnycake. Other more traditional Caribbean sides include pigeon peas, peas and rice and cassava bread. Salt pork is also served.


Bahamian dishes are frequently accompanied by piquant sauces such as Creole sauce and Old Sour sauce.


Sugar AppleBahamian cuisine incorporates many tropical fruits. Guavas are used to make duff (dessert). Ice cream is popular, including fruit flavors such as soursop. Puddings are eaten including a sapodilla pudding. Papaya (called pawpaw or melon tree) is the most famous Bahamian fruit and is used for desserts, chutneys, "Goombay" marmalade (made with papaya, pineapple, and green ginger), or simply eaten fresh at breakfast. Papaya is also used as a meat tenderizer, and in tropical drinks such as the Bahama Mama. Melons, pineapples, passion fruit, and mangoes are also grown.


Bahamians enjoy a variety of desserts, including tarts (coconut and pineapple), duff (dessert), bread pudding, rum cake and cornmeal pudding.

 Public Holidays

January 1: New Year's Day

January 10: Majority Rule Day

(varies) Good Friday

(varies) Easter Monday

(varies) Whit Monday

June 3: Labour Day

July 10: Independence Day

August 5: Emancipation Day

October 12: National Heroes' Day

December 25: Christmas Day

December 26: Boxing Day


Events and Attractions

Kayak in Grand BahamaFrom newlyweds to families, sport enthusiasts to nature lovers, there’s something for everyone on Grand Bahama Island. Families can go for swimming with dolphins, couples can treat themselves to a romantic dinner overlooking the ocean, and friends can try their luck at the casino during a weekend getaway. No matter who you are or where you come from, you’ll love our island spirit and culture—especially during our annual festivals and local events—and the variety of sports and water activities available. Grand Bahama Island is rich with natural wonders that make it a fascinating place to explore, whether on land or sea. So, try one of our many eco-tours that showcase our ecological treasures or check out local shopping districts for great deals on duty-free merchandise. Every day a new adventure is waiting for you in Grand Bahama.

 How to Get Here

Grand Bahama Island is very accessible by air and sea. Visitors can arrive by scheduled and chartered flights at Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO), as well as by cruise ship or cruise ferry into the Lucayan Harbour Cruise Facility. There is twice-weekly service by mailboat from Nassau to Freeport—Tuesdays and Thursdays—and twice-daily service between Crown Haven, The Abacos, and McLean's Town, East Grand Bahama Island.

Bahamasair Jet

Scheduled Air

American Airlines
Grand Bahama International Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (800) 433-7300
Fax: (242) 351-7155
Email: [email protected]

Culmersville Plaza
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242) 352-8341
Fax: (242) 350-5622
Email: [email protected]

Delta Air Lines
Grand Bahama International Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242) 350-4227
Email: [email protected]

Flamingo Air
Grand Bahama Domestic Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242) 351-4963
Email: [email protected]

Silver Airways
Grand Bahama International Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242) 352-6447, (954) 744-8598
Fax: (242) 352-8551
Email: [email protected]

Sky Bahamas Airlines
Grand Bahama International Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242) 350-4282, (242) 225-2808, (242) 225-4460
Email: [email protected]

Sunwing Airlines
Grand Bahama International Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242)-350-3217, (242) 350-3232, (877) 786-9464
Email: [email protected]

US Airways
Grand Bahama International Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (800) 428-4322

Western Air Limited
Grand Bahama Domestic Airport
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
Phone: (242) 351-3804, (242) 350-4228
Email: [email protected]