If your perfect vacation day includes soaking up the sun, playing in the sand, or swimming in the ocean, then our Grand Bahama Island guide is just what you need. Of all the islands in the Bahamas, Grand Bahama is known for its long stretches of soft, white sand and crystal clear waters - perfect for leaving your worries on the mainland. Swaying coconut trees, shallow sand bars, and perfect temperatures make it a beach bum's dream come true.
A number of beaches can be found nearby the Port Lucaya Marketplace, and our editors suggest renting a car or scooters to be able to easily access them - just remember to stay on the left side of the road! A number of beach bars and restaurants are located right in the sand when you need a break, like Tony Macaronis on Taino Beach or Banana Bay on Fortune Beach.
Our 10Best list highlights the best places to soak up the sun, with Lucayan Beach being a favorite of our editors and readers. More secluded beaches include Barbary Beach and Gold Rock Beach - which visitors can have all to themselves. Turn off the laptop, pack your beach attire and a picnic lunch, and get ready for a relaxing day of taking in rays.
Peterson Cay National Park
Only accessible by boat, Peterson's Cay is a small island located one mile from Grand Bahama's southern end. This is a protected park area, but tourists can still visit it. Great snorkeling can be found here with plenty of marine life and colorful coral, but it is best to take a tour to get here. Beautiful views (which make for stunning photographs) can certainly be found at this remote area as well. A number of outfitters offer kayak and snorkel combination packages. These make a wonderful way to spend a day during a cruise or island vacation and will likely be a highlight of any trip. (242-352-5438)
Mather Town Beach
Conveniently located only three miles from Port Lucaya, Mather Town Beach is the perfect place to spend the day. Conditions are ideal for swimming. Plus, it's near a stop for great regional cuisine or a specialty frozen drink at the not-to-be-missed Margarita Villa (the Sand Bar). As the name suggests, the bar and restaurant features a sand floor and serves up pina coladas, cracked conch, blackened mahi mahi burgers, and coconut shrimp (to name a few). Please note: this is not Jimmy Buffet's place but an authentic beach bar. Chat with the locals and you're bound to hear some fun stories.
Paradise Cove Beach
At Paradise Cove, the name fits because that's exactly where you will think you are! The location is not too far out of town, but it is far enough for you to feel like you are almost on another island. Positioned on a beautiful point of beach, this is an excellent place to spend a few hours or the whole day. There is a covered area with a bar and snack shack where you can enjoy the shade and listen to some great Reggae. Out on the beach you can get a tan, participate in water activities such as snorkeling and kayaking or enjoy a sunset. They have a kayak-like boat (called a spy cat) that has a glass bottom; it's a visitor favorite.
Taino Beach is an active place! Several restaurants are located here, as well as a hodge podge of water sports, straw goods and hair braiding. This is a favorite place for families. Head down further to the Fish Fry area and the sands are much quieter during the day, with beach festivities on Wednesday nights. Not to mention, the Fish Fry is home to a scattering of beach-shack restaurants (like Tony Macaronis) with amazing local cuisine and tropical cocktails. Taino is a few minute's drive (or bus ride) from Port Lucaya Marketplace, so it is a convenient destination for those staying at Lucaya's hotels.
Here you will find a mile-long stretch of beautiful beach that is a bit more protected from waves than some of the others. Although the resort is now closed, the beach is still stunning and offers a quiet retreat for visitors. Pack your own picnic lunch and have the stretch of sand all to yourself. Incredibly soft sand and shallow, iridescent water make this a slice of heaven. Although once a busting hub of water sports, Xanadu Beach is not the place to go for those seeking amenities because in recent years, most restaurants and other activities have shut down.
William's Town Beach
A favorite among locals, William's Town Beach is located south of Freeport at William's Town settlement. A fairly secluded area, this 1.9-mile beach offers an ideal spot to sit, relax and enjoy. Many water sports can be found here as well like banana boat rides, jet skis and snorkeling. Don't be surprised to find a horse or two trotting along the sand. For a break from the sun, Out Da Sea bar and restaurant (the old Traveller's Rest, Bikini Bottoms) is the perfect spot for fresh seafood and tropical cocktails served on the beach patio. Saturday nights feature live music, Bahamian dancing, and drink specials.
The island's most popular tourist beach, Lucayan Beach is located across from the bustling Port Lucaya Marketplace. Water activities of all types can be found here including jet skiing and parasailing. This is also a great place to take a nice long walk or to interact with the party scene, and several restaurants and bars - both on and off the sand - can be found. Quiet it isn't: so expect to be asked to get your hair braided or sign up for a tour of some kind. If you keep walking to the left, you'll find less crowded spots for sunbathing.
If not the most exotic beach on Grand Bahama, this is definitely the most secluded. Located east of the Grand Lucayan Waterway, Barbary Beach is known for its wide variety of shells and peaceful ambiance. A great place to get away from it all and enjoy the varied landscapes that nature provides. Since this wide stretch of sand is protected by jetties, you can sprawl out without worrying about the tides. Nearby hidden drives through the forest make ideal secluded picnic spots - just be sure to bring some bug spray. Visitors will likely stumble upon large conch shells that make excellent souvenirs.
This quiet stretch of sand is just far enough away from the tourist-filled Lucaya Marketplace, but close enough that it is still just a short drive. Those visiting Garden of the Groves can easily stop by this isolated beach and grab a bite to eat or tropical cocktail at Banana Bay. Lounge chairs, umbrellas, shaded patios, incredible conch fritters, and a seemingly endless sand bar can be found just in front of Banana Bay (which has a clothing option sign out front), but an empty beach - a stone's throw from the popular restaurant - can be found as well. (NA)
Gold Rock Beach
Gold Rock Beach is located in the Lucayan National Park about 45 miles from Port Lucaya, and is most easily accessible by car or scooters. The journey involves a relatively long drive with little to see, but it is worth the reward. This very secluded beach has picnic tables, benches and barbecue pits. A popular spot for locals on the weekend, but during the week it could be just you. After paying for parking, expect a short hike but lockers area available to keep your belongings. Enjoy the beautiful sights and melodic sounds of the ocean, sand dunes, lucid water, and peaceful lifestyle of Grand Bahama.
About Amber Nolan
Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite places are Iceland for its remoteness; Panama for its parties; and Peru for its history.
Her work can be found on MSNBC.com, Frommers, and Sherman’s Travel, where she served as the Cruise Editor and Senior Producer. She is currently working on a comic novel about her shoestring travels as she hitchhikes on airplanes across the country in an effort to visit all 50 states. See Jethiking.com.
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