I always heard wonderful things about Bahamas, crystal clear waters, swimming pigs, snorkelling and amazing fish and sea life.
And it was time to go check it out for myself taking the opportunity that it was easy to get there from Orlando.
Fort Lauderdale-Gran Bahama by ferry
We left from Orlando and drove to Fort Lauderdale, it is a 3 hour drive and from there are ferries with Balearia almost every day of the week, one in the morning at 8am (Fort Lauderdale-Freeport Grand Bahama) and another one in the afternoon at 6.30pm (Freeport Grand Bahama-Fort Lauderdale).
This route allows you to do a day trip if you wanted to taking the ferry early in the morning and come back in the afternoon ferry. It is really convenient as it is a short trip, only a 3 hour journey by ferry from Fort Lauderdale to get to Grand Bahama.
We enjoyed the premium economy seats in the ferry that are located on the top floor and have access to the upper deck and you can enjoy the navigation from outside or comfortably from your seat.
The premium seats are very comfortable and some of them have a convenient table, it was very useful for me as I love reading when we travel and I have a bunch of books and magazines that I carry with me and having space to lay them all out is a must. The premium seats also include a snack and a non-alcoholic beverage onboard and they serve you at your table directly.
There are two cafeterias one on each floor and there is also a duty free shop, taking into account how expensive some products are in the US its a good opportunity to stock up.
We were really happy with the service given in the ferry and the check in process, everyone was gentle and paying attention to the details. We loved the fact that there was service from the cafeteria in our seats so we didn’t have to go to order or pick it up.
Once we got to Grand Bahama we had a rental car waiting for us in the ferry terminal, a good way to move around the island since public transport is almost non existent so unless you are going to an all inclusive resort or have contracted excursions you will need a car.
Where to stay in Grand Bahama-Freeport
We stayed near Freeport at the Taino Beach resort, we were in an apartment kind of room with a fully equipped kitchen and an amazing yacuzzi bathtub in the room.
We couldnt use much the kitchen since we were out all day but it came in handy to keep some fresh food and cold beverages in the refrigerator. If you want to save some money having a kitchen in the room allows you to cook, there was a shop nearby to stock the fridge.
We had a huge yacuzzi bathtub right behind our bed that we certainly enjoyed after a full day of snorkelling and enjoying Bahammas sun all day.
I loved the hotel facilities, Taino Beach Resort has an enourmous pool with a water slide, a pool bar built into a grotte and grotte jacuzzis inside the pool. If you want some relax, be in the pool and enjoy a good book I thought the hotel outdoor facilities were really good and we certainly enjoyed our time sunbathing and catching up on our pending books to read.
Taino Beach is gorgeous, the water is quiet as if it was a swimming pool and since it is mostly used by the hotel guests only it is not crowded at all. I was surprised to find a paradise beach like this in a hotel resort.
What to do in Grand Bahamas?
Grand Bahama is the closest island to the United States but it is probably one of the least known and it has a lot to offer. Apart from a natural beauty and paradise beaches there are plenty of activities to be in touch with nature and water sports and activities.
West End of the island
The West End is the most famous part of the island due to its natural beauty. We had the opportunity to spend the day at Sandy Cay with West End Ecology Tours. We left the West end harbour and had a 30 minute boat ride that we really enjoyed, a bumpy and funny ride until we got to Sandy Cay that made us start the trip laughing.
We enjoyed the paradise at Sandy Cay with its white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise water. We spend some time learning about the sting rays while still on the boat before we started interacting with them. We had an onsite training about the stingrays and we had the opporuntity to feed wild stingrays.
It was an amazing experience to touch the stingrays soft skin and feel them so close around me. I was not scared but I approached it with respect as you never now how wild animals will react but I was gladly surprised that the stingrays were really friendly and let us feed them and were swimming around us.
What I really liked about the tour is that the natural behaviour of the stingrays is maintained, we were the ones adapting to them in their environment and not the other way around.
In the Freeport area near the harbour the most touristy area is Port Lucaya Market, a shopping area with restaurants that allows visitors to buy local artisan souvenirs as well as enjoy the local cuisine and products.
Right next to the Port Lucaya market is the UNEXSO complex where they offer a wide range of activities with dolphins. We were delighted to spend some time with dolphins with their swim encounter. From the UNEXSO facility we got into a boat to get to the dolphin area to start the activity.
We were into a sea water pool with them and learned some tricks to make them go around, splash water etc… And we had the chance to swim with them, touch their bellies, hug them and interact with these wonderful creatures.
We spend a day at Pirate’s Cove Zipline and Waterpark, is a complex that offers water sports, a zipline route and you can also enjoy the beach onsite. The perfect day to enjoy with family as there is something for every taste, water sports, the ziplines, the beach, there are also massages.
We enjoyed the zipline activity, with 5 lines that kids and adults can enjoy together. We had a blast at the banana boat experience, we sat in a banana float with 8 other people and the boat would drag the banana float as a high speed, it was a fun and exciting adventure.
Bahamian Gastronomy: Where and what to eat?
Bahamas is a paradise for seafood lovers, you will find in all local cuisine restaurants conch that is the star of every menu along with lobster and fresh fish and crab.
If you go to Bahamas you have to try their local brand of beer called Sands, we had the chance to visit their factory in Grand Bahama and try of course all their delish beer creations. Our favorite beer was the High Rock and its the perfect to go with seafood and shellfish.
We enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Sabor restaurant that remind us a bit of the taste of Europe in Bahamas. Our favorite meal was a local dinner at Out Da Sea Bar and Grill, with grilled conch with vegetables, conch fritters that were the best we tried during our trip and grilled fish with a High Rock cold beer.
Ready to explore Grand Bahama?