Monday, December 13, 2010

Paradise at Your Doorstep: A Grand Bahama Getaway


By Beverly Mann

My skin tingled from the coolness of the tranquil, turquoise waters, as I ran my hand gently along his smooth silky skin. He leaned over to kiss me on the cheek. I was totally awestruck having just been up close and personal with a delightful dolphin!
This was one of many affordable adventures available on a recent trip to The Bahamas, a 100,000-square-mile archipelago of some 700 islands and smaller cays (approximately the size of Connecticut).
Golden Getaway

My 35-minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Freeport/Lucaya Airport on Grand Bahama Island (the closest of the islands to the US) was an easy way to segue into the Caribbean culture for four days—and at an unbeatable price compared to other overseas journeys.

There are infinite tour packages to choose from on Grand Bahama Island for families, couples, and singles. Some include two meals per day selected from a roster of restaurants, along with an array of activities on land and water to enjoy in this tropical paradise.
y dolphin experience was organized by the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO), where a visitor can also swim with dolphins, dive with sharks, or kayak through a maze of mangroves and caverns while eyeing egrets and herons.

I arrived at the center of the lush 372-acre Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort with my Club Grand Bahama card in hand. I had enough time to lunch at the onsite, popular Billy Joe’s for a fresh conch (pronounced conk), the island’s seafood staple, which is similar to calamari.

The fried conch was tender and sweet to taste, and the salad was light and chewy. The famous Bahama Mama drink is sold there. I was warned not to be fooled by its sweetness. The potent gold and coconut rum are well disguised in the orange and pineapple grenadine.

After lunch, I took a 20-minute stroll along Our Lucaya Resort’s colonial-style property and one-mile beachside, where I watched the speed boats cut through the pristine ocean.
More To See And Do

Directly across from the resort stands the colorful Port Lucaya Marketplace boasting an impressive line-up of souvenir shops and jewelry stores. Granny’s Hats, a diminutive store in the middle of the square, caught my eye.

I first thought that the glass case window revealed multicolored vases, but instead these were expandable, handmade hats recycled from cardboard. Also for sale were decorative conch shells and palmetto palm handcrafted baskets, with artistic origins found in the Bahamian and Seminole cultures.

Owners Terry Goldsmith, a 25-year cancer survivor, and his wife Dorothy assist in creating the hats, while donating some of the proceeds for children with cancer, aged 8 to 18, to go for a two-week escape to a camp near Rochester, New York.

I couldn’t resist a creamy, coconut gelato at the nearby Island Tavern, a local hangout where I met the most precious 3-year-old Bahamian boy who brought over his block set and book and sat down to join me at the table. The children, as well as the adults, seem to warmly embrace tourists.

That evening, I was picked up from the hotel and dropped off at the Outrigger’s in Smith’s Point where I danced to Caribbean sounds, witnessed a conch shelling, and ate from a buffet barbecue around a bonfire. Many young couples, mostly newlyweds, participated in the pre-dinner games.
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1 comment:

  1. My girlfriend and I are going for our 4th year anniversary and we love to find the restaurants with the best food. Any other suggestions about Bahama Island would be appreciated as well! We're staying in Freeport but want to explore the island.