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Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas
by
Olivier Gibbons

Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas - The cheap airfares and direct routes from many U.S. Cities help make the Bahamas, just 55 miles off the east coast of Florida, a highly attractive destination for Americans looking for a quick respite from the rigors of everyday life.

The newest development, Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort on Grand Bahama Island, is finishing up a $450 million project, making it among the most expensive in the Caribbean.

Its wealth of amenities, including 14 restaurants, two championship golf courses, spa and treatment center and a chic cigar bar, provide ample activities for guests content to remain on the beachfront property. Gambling will soon become available as the resort is opening a new casino sometime this spring.

For accommodations, Our Lucaya offers three distinct alternatives housing 1,350 rooms and suites. Lighthouse Pointe, the most exclusive option for couples, offers  romantic views of the water and personalized service; Breakers Cay, a 10-story tower in the center of the resort attracts many budget-conscious vacationers; and family-minded Reef Village, overlooks the Sugar Mill waterslide.

Reef Village is an attractive option for guests traveling with children. The waterslide is a showcase for kids, along with Camp Lucaya, a playground center. The camp is run at no extra cost and keeps children busy with a host of activities, including theme parties and storytelling.

The camp is open daily and allows parents an opportunity to relax poolside, or in the water at one of the swim-up bars, enjoy water sports or play a round or two at the on-site home of the Butch Harmon Schools of Golf.

If the shopping mood strikes you, across the street from the resort is Port Lucaya Marketplace, featuring 80 duty-free shops and restaurants (the Bahamian dollar and U.S. currency are used interchangeably, so there’s no need or incentive to change money). Most restaurants here serve conch (pronounced “konk”) fish, a national dish of the Bahamas, along with pigeon peas and rice, which is a staple throughout the entire Caribbean.  Conch is a chewy type of ocean mollusk that can be steam-cooked or deep-fried. It also tastes good raw, with a sprinkling of lime juice and hot sauce. Locals who run Billy Joe’s Conch Shack, marvel that conch is a hotly desired delicacy for those looking to spice up their sex life. 

For the adventurous types, Grand Bahama Island, originally settled by the Lucayan Indians more than a thousand years ago, is a haven for nature lovers. The Lucayan National Park is home to one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. It is also a magnate for avid divers, though diving in the caves requires a special permit.

One way to take in the Park’s natural beauty and abundant ecosystems is to go on a kayaking tour, traveling up the narrow and winding Gold Rock Creek. The journey through dense mangroves will leave you feeling tired and winded, but also exhilarated.  There is plenty of time to recoup with a picnic and an outing to Gold Rock Beach, considered one of the best-secluded beaches in the Bahamas.

Another popular destination on the south shore of the island is Sanctuary Bay, a 9-and-a-half-acre lagoon that features the Dolphin Experience. A favorite among children, the experience gives you an up-close look at Flipper, as visitors can interact with the Atlantic bottlenose Dolphins, or even swim alongside them.

Island tours and transportation to the various sites can be arranged by your hotel. Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort offers a variety of accommodations for convention and wedding destinations, as well as all-inclusive golf and spa packages. For more information, call 877-687-5822 or visit www.ourlucaya.com.      

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Olivier Gibbons is a freelance food, wine, and travel writer whose day job is that of a contract attorney in New York City.  Gibbons has a Master's Degree in Journalism from Ohio State University, and has worked as a reporter for newspapers and television news departments.  (More about this writer.)

 

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