Erynn and I decided to take a long weekend someplace warm before moving to Germany and before our daughter is born. A "babymoon" so to speak. So the weekend before we want to leave we went online and booked a last minute deal to Grand Bahama Island for 5 days and 4 nights. Our hotel was very nice. We stayed in Port Lucaya, which was very convenient. We went in early February and for the most part the island was devoid of tourists. We found it nice to have almost everything to ourselves.
We took tons of photos on the trip. If you'd like to see them all please click here. Below is simply our travel diary from the trip that hits the main highlights.
Our accommodations were at the Pelican Bay Hotel in Port Lucaya. The "Port" designation signifies away from the ocean front. The "Our" Lucaya designation is the ocean front property, which is essentially a huge Radisson complex. We actually loved our place since it seemed to have a little more character and was only a couple hundred meters from the ocean -- a great value compromise for us. The hotel was also right next to (<100 meters) from all of the shopping and restaurants of Port Lucaya Marketplace.
The picture above shows the hotel complex from the snorkel boat (more on that later). The entire complex looked like a number of four-storey townhomes. The pictures below are of hotel reception (left) and the view from our hotel room (right). The water you see in the right photo is of the bay behind the hotel. Overall we were extremely pleased with the location and the hotel itself.
We ended up spending a lot of time in the Port Lucaya Marketplace. It seems to be the "center" of the island. Apparently the "center" used to be the International Bazaar in Freeport, but since the hurricane a few years ago the activity has shifted to Lucaya. During the day the cruise ships shuttle hundreds of tourists to the marketplace, but outside of those couple hours everything was pretty much empty. There were tons of restaurants and we sampled most of them in our five days. There was also live music in Count Basie Square (right photo) every night.
Remember there are tons more photos in our photo album, which includes more detail on where we ate and what we did.
Across the street from our hotel was the Our Lucaya Radisson. We had access to the beach and took advantage one day. The complex also has a casino and some nice restaurants.
We took a morning snorkeling trip on our third day with Reef Tours. Everything we read said this outfit was the best, and their shop/boat was located right next to the hotel. The service was great and we had a good time. We brought our own gear, which is always a plus.
I would say the only let down was the reef itself. Erynn and I have been fortunate to have snorkeled and dived in some incredible places and Treasure Reef was a little bit of a disappointment. We couldn't scuba dive since Erynn was preggers and what we could access with the tour group wasn't all that spectacular. But in the end, it was nice to get out and swim with the fishes. So not that bad in the grand scheme of things.
The other great thing is that Doug was able to bring his underwater camera. Pictures, water, fish, gadgets, sunshine, Erynn -- heaven.
We ended up renting a car for a few days through the hotel. After our morning of snorkeling, our first excursion was to head to the West End. As the name suggests it is the west end of the island. I believe it is actually the capital of the island, but looked pretty sleepy with lots of discarded conch shells scattered everywhere.
On our 4th day we woke up early and headed to the Garden of the Groves in Freeport. It's a nice botanical garden with an excellent cafe. While we were there we tried to tag along with a cruise ship tour group, but it was pretty boring. Instead we just walked around and enjoyed the beautiful morning. The weather, especially for February and folks from up north, was amazing.
The park was really quite nice. It featured a number of waterfalls and a cool Labyrinth for relaxation and meditation.
Probably the highlight of the visit was the cafe. If you know Erynn she can't turn down a good hot dog or sausage. The cafe had a nice grill set up with friendly staff. The perfect inflection point of the day before heading out to Lucayan National Park.
Size wise the Lucayan National Park is quite small at only about 40 acres. You pull into the parking lot and the park ranger walks up and asks for the entrance fee, which is nominal. From the parking lot it's only a couple hundred yards to the large caves. The caves are a bit eerie to be frank. It's very quite and sound reverberates off the walls. The fresh water is an intense blue color as well. Also, you head tells you the walkways are sound, but in the back of your head you think about the possibility of falling in. At least I did (think about it).
The guide books could not have prepared us for what was across the street from the caves. Still part of the park is Gold Rock Beach. With the encouragement of the park ranger we changed into our swim trunks and headed across the road from the parking lot to the beach. To get there it was a short walk through mangroves via a very nice boardwalk. The park ranger said we would want to see the beach as the tide goes out and that when the tide is out it's the best beach on the island.
Maybe it was the time of year or the fact that the park was about 20 minutes east of Lucaya (30-40 minutes from the cruise ship port), but as you can see it was deserted. Deserted and fantastic!
Did I mention we had the beach to ourselves?
On our last morning before heading home we hit the Rand Nature Centre in Freeport. There isn't anything terribly of note in the park other than flora native to the Bahamas. All in all, it was just a nice relaxing walk through a pretty garden before heading home. Erynn and I never forget or take for granted how blessed we are.
Our trusty steed, Sketch, the sketchy rental car. We always seem to find the shady rental car place on our trips. This one was an out building behind an apartment complex off a side street in Freeport. Oh well, everything worked out and we had an awesome holiday!
© 2011 Doug Rathburn. All rights reserved.