I recently came home from a wonderful trip to the Bahamas, more specifically, Grand Bahama Island, and I had many adventures to share with you!
This journey includes my grandmother, Debbie, her sister Alvetta, and myself. We began Friday evening after work and loaded up the car with all our bags and set out for San Diego, California. Our flight to Grand Bahama Island was a LOT cheaper out of San Diego which is about a 5-6hr drive from Phoenix, Arizona. We have friends and family there and we have made that drive countless times, so it was not an issue for us to do so again.
We arrived in San Diego that same night and stayed in a hotel near the airport. The following morning we went to brunch with some of our family, and went shopping around town before our flight that night. Our flight didn’t leave until around 10:00pm so we had a full day to spend in San Diego.
I can now say from experience that a red eye flight is NOT easy, especially when you lose time! I got a total of 2hrs of sleep over two days, and it was brutal.
After a long journey with very minimal sleep we finally arrived at our destination!
A little information on the island: The island is very small, and has a population of close to 50,000. It’s around 27 miles in length, and 8 miles in width. It’s not a wealthy culture there, and the island had been hit by two major hurricanes last year, so not much had been repaired. At the time, Bahamian currency was the same rate as American, and both currencies were always accepted. The people as a whole are very kind and welcoming and willing to help. Tourism has suffered for them lately, and most of them did all they could to make our trip outstanding, because they appreciated the business. We did rent a car, and driving is on the left hand side of the road. Your steering wheel may be located on either side of the vehicle. As the Bahama’s were owned by the United Kingdom and located so close to the United States of America a lot of both cultures are reflected there. Another interesting fact is that they have two Bahamian banks and two Canadian but none of American or British.
Upon arrival, we climbed down the stairs of our tiny airplane into a very quaint airport with live Bahamian music playing as we waited in line at customs. As soon as we walked outside, we were greeted by a taxi driver who took us to our hotel. He seemed a nice enough man, but upon check-in at our hotel we were told he charged us far too much money. We checked-in early at our hotel and they did not have a room ready for us yet, so we left our luggage on hold and walked down to the beach. We spent the rest of the day settling in and relaxing in the crystal clear warm water.
On Monday, our second day, we agreed to rent a car for the remainder of the trip. None of us had ever driven on the left hand side of the road, so it was an interesting day of adjusting! It took us a couple hours to figure out a rental car, but once we did we headed straight to a grocery store. We had a full kitchen where we stayed, so we were able to make meals for ourselves, but we mainly purchased breakfast items, water, and sandwich items. We wanted to eat out for dinners to experience the Bahamian culture. We found a store similar to Costco and got all we would need for the week there! After shopping, we headed to Paradise Cove.
Paradise Cove/Dead Man’s Reef is a beautiful place, with a lot of wonderful people working there! It’s a $4 admission fee for the day and there are additional charges if you want to rent any equipment. When looking up it’s location on a map, there is also a Paradise Cove Resort close by. Don’t go there, go to The Red Bar. While we we snorkeled here we saw absolutely wonderful things. There are big rocks in the distances that you can swim around, but we never got the chance to do so. It’s supposed to be gorgeous on the other side of the rocks, but we saw everything we wanted without going over there. They have man-made reefs to support the ecosystem there where lots of fish have made homes! To read more about them click here. On our first trip here we saw lots of fish, Sea Turtles, a Barracuda, a Stingray, and a Shark!
After that wonderful experience, we headed to our home for the week to clean up, and headed out to dinner. We asked all the locals we could find where their favorite place to eat was and the majority of them said Agave, so of course that’s where we went! It’s an adorable little restaurant located right in the middle of Port Lucaya Marketplace. The best dishes we had there were the Duck Wontons and the Mahi Mahi Tacos (blackened.) Our server was also very, very kind, and personally walked us over to a convenience store after our meal so that we could by a few things we needed.
On Tuesday, Day three, we headed out to Paradise Cove again. However, the night before there had been a bad storm so when we arrived and got into the water, it was very murky, making visibility very poor. The wind was harsh, the sun was hiding behind clouds, and the water was a lot more choppy than normal. We attempted to snorkel for a little bit, but decided it was not a good day for it and instead headed to the Lucayan National Park where we took a trail to Ben’s Cave, Burial Mound Cave, and Gold Rock Beach. This park is on the East Grand Bahama border and thankfully the weather was nicer on that side of the island. Both of the caves are full of water, with fresh water on top and salt water underneath. There are underwater passages that create the Lucayan Cavern system, one of the longest in the world. General guests can not get into the water, but I’ve heard there are diving tours that will take you through the underwater caverns. Gold Rock beach is a gorgeous long stretch of white sand beach that is famous for being used to film part of Pirates of the Caribbean.
After our day of adventures, we came back home to clean up and headed out to dinner. Again, we went to a restaurant in Port Lucaya Marketplace, called Cappuccinos. It’s a quaint Italian restaurant with delicious food, but it was fairly busy, so if you can, I would suggest making a reservation.
On Wednesday, Day four, we didn’t have anything planned, but we didn’t want to head to Paradise Cove again, so we drove around near the east end to try and find other beaches with snorkeling. Every beach we stopped at, the water was choppy again this day, so we didn’t stay long. After feeling disappointed at the weather, we began driving aimlessly and happened upon a Jeep Tour. We ended up following them for quite some time, until we noticed our gas light was flashing and we were far from any gas stations. We decided the Jeep Tour we followed was not worth the money those people paid, and hurried our way to get more gas. We stopped by Port Lucaya Marketplace and booked ourselves a tour for Saturday when the weather was expected to be better, and we got lunch at the little yellow hut called, Daddy Brown’s Conch Stand. After that, we ended up heading back home and hanging out there until it was time for the Smith’s Point Fish Fry. It takes place every Wednesday along the beach, and it is a strip of outdoor restaurants where you can walk up and order. Don’t expect 5-Star service at any of these places, and I would recommend going later rather than early. When you go early not everything is fully set up, and staff seems to be short handed so be patient if you do. There is supposed to be live music later in the night as well. We left before that started. It supposedly starts at 4pm and we went around 5 or 6.
On Thursday, Day 5, we knew it was going to be a cloudy/rainy day so we made plans to go to the Garden of the Groves. It was clearly damaged by the Hurricane that hit late last year, but most of the Garden was intact and gorgeous. It’s small, but it took us quite a few hours to make our way around. It was about $16 a person for entry, and it has a few shops and a small restaurant if you want to make a day of it. We did not eat there, but we did walk through the shops. They are cute, but pricey, as expected.
For dinner, we stopped a cute little bar I found tucked in behind a hotel near Port Lucaya Marketplace, called Bones Bar. It has absolutely amazing drinks, but food wasn’t served until after 6pm, and we had plans that night, so we couldn’t stay. After our drinks we went to small restaurant next to our hotel, Manta Ray Beach Hut and Bar. It was good food, nothing outstanding or unique though, and right was we were about to leave an insane amount of rain started falling, soaking us to the core, and ruining our plans for the night, so once again we stayed at home.
Friday, Day 6, we headed right back to Paradise Cove. This time, the water was still murky, but at least better than the last time we tried, and the water was calm, so we ventured out. We rented a double kayak in hunt of the turtles, and it took quite some time and frustration before we found anything, but when we finally did, we saw so much! Giant Stingray, tons of Turtles, and lots and lots of fishies.
Our last day, Saturday, Day 7, was our tour day! We booked through Blue Green Outdoors and our guide was Rudy Sawyer, his assistant was Leroy. Rudy came in his van and picked us up from our hotel lobby. We were the only people to book that day so we had ourselves a private tour! Rudy took us on a long drive to the eastern side of the island, farther than we had been before. He actually took us the farthest you can possibly go without going to the Cay’s located just off the shore. Along the drive he stopped for scenic things and gave us the history of Freeport. Once we arrived at our destination, we walked out to a few Kayak’s on shore, and met up with Leroy! The two of them took us out to two different blue holes, and a place with the most coral I had seen the entire trip. We saw soooooo many fish, in every size, a turtle, a manta ray, a stingray, and a few nurse sharks! Rudy and Leroy were the sweetest! They even caught a conch for us and let us eat it right on the beach! They grabbed a few starfish for us to take photos with and let us return them to the ocean as well. After all our snorkeling Rudy took us to lunch and we ate on a gorgeous beach! It was another long white sand beach similar to Gold Rock, but we were the only people on this beach and it felt much more cozy than Gold Rock.
After a wonderful day with those two, we headed to one last dinner, and went to Zorba’s. I know those of you that live in Arizona will be laughing at the name of the restaurant, but it is not what you think it is. It’s a greek restaurant, and while the greek food was outstanding, anything else on the dinner menu was not the best. However, we were told to go there for breakfast and we never did, but the prices are super cheap for breakfast, so I’m sad we didn’t get to try it.
Sunday, day 8, we headed to the small airport, dropped off our rental car, went through a mostly easy customs, and boarded our tiny plane back to Ft Lauderdale, FL. In the Ft Lauderdale airport we paid $7 a bag and had them on hold while we went around town, since we had a 6hr layover. We went to a delicious taco place called, Rocco’s Tacos and I finally got my taco fill. I never realized how much Mexican food I eat, until I didn’t have it anymore. I still haven’t recovered, It’s the only thing I keep craving. After lunch we walked around town (Las Olas Blv) for about an hour or two. We found the most adorable coffee shop that was also an antique shop and Flower shop! Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar. Shortly after, we headed back to the airport because the heat was too much for us. Yes, you heard that right. Us Zonies could not handle the 85 degrees of Florida weather. It was the humidity. I’ve never been in humidity like that, so I never believed anyone saying how horrible it is, but now I know. It’s so much worse than Arizona heat, and frankly, It made me never want to go to Florida again.
We then stayed in San Diego, with family, went to breakfast the following morning and made the drive home! It was such a wonderful trip and I’m so happy with everything we did despite the weather not cooperating most of the time. Thank you for following me on another of my journeys and I will be taking the long awaited Scotland/Ireland/Iceland trip in just a little over 2 months!! If you would like to see the videos of snorkeling check it out here!