Sports and the Outdoors in Grand Bahama Island
Sports and the Outdoors
By virtue of its flat terrain, broad avenues, and long straight stretches of highway, Grand Bahama is perfect for bicycling. There's a designated biking lane on Midshipman Road.
When biking, wear sunblock, carry a bottle of water, and keep left when riding on the road. Inexpensive bicycle rentals (about $20 a day plus deposit) are available from some resorts, and the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach allows guests free use of bicycles. In addition to its other ecotouring options, Grand Bahama Nature Tours offers 10-mile biking excursions that include a visit to a native settlement and Garden of the Groves for $79 per person.
Boating and Fishing
Private boat charters for up to four people cost $100 per person and up for a half day. Bahamian law limits the catching of game fish to six each of dolphinfish, kingfish, tuna, and wahoo per vessel.
Bonefish Folley & Sons. Committed to giving you the best fishing experience possible, Bonefish Folley & Sons will take you deep-sea fishing or through the flats for bonefish and Permit. The late "Bonefish Folley" is a legend in these parts and delighted in taking people on bonefish tours for more than 60 years. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 91, but his two sons, Tommy and Carl, are continuing on in his footsteps. West End, Grand Bahama Island. 242/646–9504.
H2O Bonefishing. Clients of this professional saltwater fly-fishing outfitter book well ahead of their arrival on island. H2O's fleet of flats boats and professional guides are available as part of a prearranged multiday package that typically includes three to six days of fishing. They cater exclusively to their anglers both on and off the water for the length of their stay, including waterfront lodging at one of Grand Bahama's finest hotels. Fly-fish year-round for trophy-sized bonefish and permit as well as seasonal tarpon, or fish offshore for yellowfin tuna and mahimahi spring through summer. Light tackle and conventional fishing is also available. Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/359–4958 or 954/364-7590. www.h2obonefishing.com.
Reef Tours Ltd.. This company offers deep-sea fishing for four to six people on custom boats. Equipment and bait are provided free. All vessels are licensed, inspected, and insured. Trips run from 8:30 to 12:15 and from 1 to 4:45, weather permitting ($130 per angler, $60 per spectator). Full-day trips are also available, as are paddle board and kayak rentals, bottom-fishing excursions, glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling trips, sailing–snorkeling cruises, and guided Segway tours. Reservations are essential. Port Lucaya Marketplace, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–5880 or 242/373-5891. www.bahamasvacationguide.com/reeftours.
Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour. The marina at Old Bahama Bay Resort has 72 slips to accommodate yachts up to 120 feet long and is only 55 nautical miles from Palm Beach, FL. Facilities include a customs and immigration office, fuel, showers, laundry, and electric, cable, and water hookups. The Dockside Bar and Grill serves dinner. Old Bahama Bay Resort, West End, Grand Bahama Island. 242/350–6500 or 954/763–6382. www.oldbahamabay.com.
Port Lucaya Marina. Here you can find a broad range of water sports operators, free Wi-Fi, and a pump-out station; the marina has 106 slips for vessels no longer than 190 feet. Customs and immigrations officials are on-site full-time. Port Lucaya Marketplace, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–9090. Daily 8–6.
Reef Tours Ltd.. Family owned and operated since 1969, this company offers everything from guided Segway tours to wine and cheese evening sails aboard a catamaran. Options include fishing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and glass bottom boat adventures. 242/373–5880, 242/373–5891, or 242/373–5892. www.bahamasvacationguide.com/reeftours.
Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine. The Seaworld Explorer remains above sea level while you view the incredible marine life along Treasure Reef. Observe from your own window in the air-conditioned underwater observatory, five feet below the water's surface. Tours are 1.5 hours, departing 3 times a day from Port Lucaya Marina. Adult tickets cost $49, Children 2-12 years are $29. Bus pick-up from all hotels is included. Port Lucaya Marketplace, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–7863. www.superiorwatersports.com.
Smiling Pat's Adventures. Pat personally hosts all of her tours, which include historical tours through the West End and the beaches along eastern Grand Bahama, boat tours to Sandy Cay (aka Gilligan's Island) and the Abacos, and she'll even take you to the famous Wednesday night Fish Fry. She didn't get the name Smiling Pat for nothing! Her goal with each tour is to show tourists why "It's better in The Bahamas." Grand Bahama Island. 242/533–2946. www.smilingpat.com.
Superior Watersports. In addition to their popular Bahama Mama cruises, Superior Watersports offers snorkeling trips and island tours. Port Lucaya Martketplace, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–7863. www.superiorwatersports.com.
Fortune Hills Golf & Country Club. Set in 17 acres of some of the highest ground in Freeport, Fortune Hills Golf & Country Club is a 3,453-yard, 9-hole, par-36 course—a Dick Wilson and Joe Lee design—with a restaurant, bar, and pro shop. This is the least expensive of the three golf courses open on Grand Bahama. The staff is friendly but both the course and the equipment are poorly maintained. E. Sunrise Hwy., Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–2222 or 242/373–4500. Restaurant closed Mon.
Grand Lucayan Reef Course. The Grand Lucayan Reef Course is a par-72, 6,930-yard links-style course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., it features lots of water (on 13 of the holes), wide fairways flanked by strategically placed bunkers, and a tricky dogleg left on the 18th. While it is the most expensive and nicest of the three golf courses on the island, budget constraints have left it comparable to an average municipal course in the states. Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–2002 or 800/870–7148. www.grandlucayan.com. Resort guests $120, nonguests $130. Daily 10–6.
Ruby Golf Course. This course reopened in 2008 with renovated landscaping but basically the same 18-hole, par-72 Jim Fazio design. It features a lot of sand traps and challenges on holes 7, 9, 10, and 18—especially playing from the blue tees. Hole 10 requires a tee shot onto a dogleg right fairway around a pond. Popular with locals, there is also a small restaurant-bar and pro shop. West Sunrise Hwy. and Wentworth Ave., Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. 242/352–1851. www.rubygolfcoursebahamas.com. Daily 7:30–5.
Pinetree Stables. Horseback rides are offered on eco-trails and the beach twice a day. All two-hour rides are accompanied by a guide—no previous riding experience is necessary, but riders must be at least eight years old. Plan to bring a waterproof camera because you will get wet! Reservations are essential and drinks are available for purchase. Pinetree Stables offers free shuttles from hotels and the harbour. Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–3600 or 305/433–4809. www.pinetree-stables.com.
Calabash Eco Adventures. This tour company (run by an island native) offers a variety of eco-excursions to areas all over Grand Bahama for sport, history, and education. Options include kayaking, snorkeling, birding, bicycling, and cavern diving into some of the island's famous inland blue holes. 242/727–1974. www.calabashecoadventures.com.
Grand Bahama Nature Tours. One of the most well-known eco-tour operators on the island for more than 20 years, Grand Bahama Nature tours is continually updating and adding to their wide variety of excursions, run mostly by Grand Bahama natives who are both entertaining and full of educational information. Popular adventures include snorkeling around Peterson Cay, kayaking through the mangroves at Lucayan National Park, Jeep safaris, off-road ATV tours, and birding through the Garden of the Groves. All tour prices include air-conditioned pick-ups and any necessary equipment. A zipline is in the works. Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–2485 or 866/440–4542. www.grandbahamanaturetours.com.
The last time locals spotted pirates on Grand Bahama Island was in 2005 when Johnny Depp and his crew were filming the second and third movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. They used a special device in Gold Rock Creek at one of the world's largest open-water filming tanks to give the illusion that the pirate ship was pitching and yawing. You can view the set near Gold Rock Beach.
Paradise Watersports. This company has parasailing towboats and offers flights for $70. Island Seas Resort & Viva Wyndham Fortuna, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–4001; 954/237–6660 US. www.the-bahamas-watersports.com/paradisewatersports.
An extensive reef system runs along Little Bahama Bank's edge; sea gardens, caves, and colorful reefs rim the bank all the way from the West End to Freeport–Lucaya and beyond. The variety of dive sites suits everyone from the novice to the advanced diver, and ranges from 10 to 100-plus feet deep. Many dive operators offer a "discover" or "resort" course where first-timers can try out open-water scuba diving with a short pool course and an instructor at their side.
Ben's Cave and Blue Hole. A horseshoe-shaped ledge overlooks this blue hole in 40 to 60 feet of water. Certified cavern divers can further explore the depths of the cave with guided groups from UNEXSO or Calabash Adventure Tours. Otherwise, interested visitors can view it above ground when visiting the Lucayan National Park. Lucayan National Park, Grand Bahama Hwy., Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island.
Pygmy Caves. For moderately experienced divers, Pygmy Caves provides a formation of overgrown ledges that cut into the reef.
Sea Hunt. This shallow dive is named for the Sea Hunt television show, portions of which were filmed here.
Shark Junction. One of Grand Bahama Island's signature dive sites, made famous by the UNEXSO dive operation, Shark Junction is a 45-foot dive where 4- to 6-foot reef sharks hang out, along with moray eels, stingrays, nurse sharks, and grouper. UNEXSO provides orientation and a shark feeding with its dives here.
Spid City. Spid City has an aircraft wreck, dramatic coral formations, blue parrot fish, and an occasional shark. You'll dive about 40 to 60 feet down.
Theo's Wreck. For divers with some experience, Theo's Wreck, a 228-foot cement hauler, was sunk in 1982 in100 feet of water, and was the site for the 1993 Imax film Flight of the Aquanaut.
Caribbean Divers. This family-owned-and-operated dive shop offers personalized and uncrowded trips to coral reefs, wrecks, tunnels, and caverns, as well as shark dives. They also rent equipment and offer NAUI, PADI, and SSI instruction. A resort course allows you to use equipment in a pool and then in a closely supervised open dive. The professionally trained dive staff has more than 30 years of experience and the boat resides right on the channel leading out to the sea, so rides to most major sites are about 5–10 minutes. Lodging packages with Bell Channel Inn are available, in addition to snorkeling trips and private charters. Bell Channel Inn, King Rd., Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–9111 or 242/373–9112. www.bellchannelinn.com. Daily 8–5.
Stuart Cove. The Bahamas' famed Stuart Cove opened their newest diving operation at Old Bahama Bay Resort in fall, 2012. They are best known for their two-tank, all-day shark-dive excursions to Tiger Beach, only one hour away by boat from the marina (they will equip you with all necessary equipment). In additon to diving with sharks, this shop also offers reef dives, wreck dives, night dives, and snorkeling trips to see wild dolphins. Boxed lunches are available from Old Bahama Bay's Tiki Hut café. Old Bahama Bay Resort, West End, Grand Bahama Island. 800/879–9832, 954/524-5755, or 242/350–6500. www.stuartcove.com.
UNEXSO. This world-renowned scuba-diving facility with its own 17-foot dive pool, provides rental equipment, guides, and boats. A wide variety of dives is available for beginners and experienced divers, starting at $109 for a Discover Scuba Reef Diving resort course. Both the facility and its dive masters have been featured in international and American magazines for their work with sharks and cave exploration. UNEXSO and its sister company, the Dolphin Experience, are known for their work with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Next to Pelican Bay Hotel, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–1244 or 800/992–3483. www.unexso.com.
Viva Wyndham Fortuna Dive Shop. Offering daily dives to various reefs and wrecks on a large boat seating 21 divers, this professional PADI-licensed shop also offers certifications for all levels (all equipment is included). With five instructors on staff, this shop also offers snorkeling trips and private boat tours. Viva Wyndham Fortuna Resort, Churchill and Doubloon Rd., Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 877/999–3223 or 242/373–4000. www.wyndham.com.
Paradise Cove. Here you can snorkel right offshore at Deadman's Reef, a two-system reef with water ranging from extremely shallow to 35 feet deep. It's considered the island's best spot for snorkeling off the beach—you're likely to see lots of angelfish, barracudas, rays, and the occasional sea turtle. There is an access fee of $3 per person; snorkel equipment rentals are available for $15 a day. For those not wanting to swim to the reef, glass bottom kayaks are also available. Make a day of it at the beautiful beach and Red Bar, which offers burgers and fries, as well as Bahamian classics such as conch fritters and cracked conch. Deadman's Reef, 8 mi east of West End turnoff, Grand Bahama Island. 242/349–2677. www.deadmansreef.com.
Paradise Watersports. This company offers a 90-minute reef snorkeling cruise for $40. They also provide Waverunner tours, glassbottom boat rides, fishing, and parasailing. Island Seas Resort & Viva Wyndham Fortuna, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–4001 or 954/237–6660. www.the-bahamas-watersports.com/paradisewatersports.
Pat & Diane Tours. This company offers two snorkel trip options aboard a fun-boat catamaran with a 30-foot rock-climbing wall and slide into the water. One tour goes to the vibrant 1-mile-long Rainbow Reef; the other is a longer tour to a private beach and includes lunch. Free pickup and return to all hotels is included. Port Lucaya Marketplace, Port Lucayan Marina, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–8681, 888/439–3959, or 954/323–1975. www.snorkelingbahamas.com.
Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort. The resort boasts four lighted courts: grass, rebound, French red clay, and deco-turf. Wimbledon-white tennis attire is required on the grass court. Racquet rental and stringing, lessons, and clinics are available. Grand Lucayan, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–1333 or 855/582–2926. www.grandlucayan.com. $20–$40 per hr. Daily 9–5.
H.Forbes Charter & Tours. This full-service tour operator can arrange a variety of tours for you, including van tours of the island or other experiences like sunset cruises or trips in Seaworld Explorer, including transportation from your resort. Grand Bahama Island. 242/352–9311 or 301/637–6002. www.forbescharter.com.
Ocean Motion Watersports. This is the largest water-sports operator on Grand Bahama and now operates all water sports at the Grand Lucayan resort. Located next to Billy Joe's, they offer everything from a water trampoline and banana boat rides to guided Waverunner tours through the canals and to Peterson Cay. For $70, you can parasail high above the beach and the water—kids and adults alike. In addition, Ocean Motion offers kayaks, Hobie Cat sailboats, waterskiing, and windsurfing instruction. If you'd rather keep it simple, rent snorkel equipment for the day ($40) and regular ferrys will take you to Rainbow Reef and back so you get plenty of beach time too. Lucayan Beach, Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island. 242/373–2139 or 242/373–9603. www.oceanmotionbahamas.com. Daily 9–6.
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