…Recollections of my exciting trip.
Going to The Bahamas was always on my bucket list. The stories and adventures told by many have always piqued my interests.
So, here I was on a sunny Sunday, August morning flying from Baltimore to Freeport, Grand Bahama. The Sunwing Airlines flight was just a little over two hours and I really enjoyed the beautiful skyline as we went airborne and soon thereafter landed in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
With not much to declare at customs, I was warmly greeted by my host and the vibrant musicians at the airport. My host for the trip, Brooke, said it all with a beautiful and welcoming smile.
The tropical sun, the air from the sea breeze transformed me into a Caribbean state of mind all over again. Having lived in the U.S. for the past 29 years and rarely travelling back to my native Jamaica, I miss the tropical atmosphere of my youth. So it was quite a good feeling being on the island of Grand Bahama.
Grand Bahama is one of the many islands of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It stretches 96 miles across and 17 miles top to bottom—and yes, no mountains. Relatively flat and just above sea level.
The size of the island must not be compared to the many beautiful things there are to be shared and enjoyed, along with its people.
Driving from the airport to the hotel was thrilling. The beautiful scenery transformed me into a mood of grand relaxation and tranquility. Lush green trees, mixed with views of beaches, and houses did a great deal to remind me of some of the pleasures of island life; but there was a difference, this was a new experience which to me was awe inspiring.
The rest of the day became even more enjoyable. I checked in at the Pelican Bay Hotel, which was surrounded by lush vegetation and a very well kept courtyard. The alluring front desk people were all smiles—indicative of all the people I met during my five-day trip. Elegant rooms and alluring fresh sea breeze bellowing through my window had me feeling like a king.
It was now about midday and I just wanted to eat, so we went to the Sabor Restaurant to get some food. Good, it was just a few short steps away. The restaurant is located in the garden of the Pelican Bay Hotel. Sabor is the island’s newest and freshest place to savor all the tastes of the tropics with its innovative fusion menu and Latin beat.
There was much to choose from. I just wanted to sample a bit of everything on the menu, however, that would not be too good, so I settled on food suggested by Brooke. Wow, delicious does not do justice to the taste of the island spices and flavor mixed into the conch fritter—yes, that was my appetizer, and it was my very first time having it.
Tasting it caused me to enjoy the main course like I never have. No need to mention, it became my favorite for the remaining three days. The management and staff were amazing. My general conversations with them created an instant relationship, which lead them to invite me to give an introductory talk the next day. Yes, me, a speaker!
I was excited to learn more about the island. I know that with so much to offer and so little time I had to take in as much as I could.
Our trip to the West end was a scenic drive to the western tip of Grand Bahama Island. This coastal village is the capitol of Grand Bahama. Well known for its beautiful resorts and Yachts and guess what? Conch. Yes, the Shebo Conch Stand was a delight. I witnessed the entire process of the conch moving from sea to palate.
Although I did not try the one-of- a-kind pickled conch salad, the folks were just gobbling it down. I must try it next time. Day one was winding down so we headed back to the hotel. It was 9:00pm, but I could not sleep this early so I had to find more to do.
Sabor Restaurant had a bar, so I decided to have a drink. The affable bartender suggested that Sands beer was one to savor. I enjoyed it so much that I had six—went over my limit by one. Now, it was my bed time.
The cultural heritage is rich, but there are differences when compared with my native Jamaica. Differences are meaningful and I always want to learn more about other people, food, music, lifestyles, popular sayings, etc.
There is an abundance to learn from all encounters with the people of the island of the Grand Bahama. One thing really stands out—the smile—they always smile and greet you in a welcoming manner. Was it me or just the way they are?
There is at least one church on every street. I visited one. The presence of God tends to dictate the tranquility and peace that I felt during my visit. This little chapel at the Garden of the Groves is a must see. Its rich history embraces the beautiful botanical garden which is revered by many.
My next venture was Jazz and Dinner at Churchill’s, Grand Lucayan, which was scrumptious. This fine restaurant merges the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean with the tropical atmosphere of the Bahamas. It is one the island’s premier restaurants.
Fish fry Wednesday is a must. Any restaurant at Smith’s Point will serve a delicious fish dinner—mine had me eating ravenously—the huge red snapper was great. Not only for me, but one of my companions crushed the head of a fried snapper to powder. As you would think—my appetizer was conch fritters. There were lots for me to eat, like steamed grouper, lobster, conch of all kinds, BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, jerk pork, jerk chicken, and other Bahamian delicacies, but I didn’t have enough space in my stomach.
The revelry of music, food, and good vibes were all present as we rocked, danced and pranced to Bahamian Rake N Scrape music and other music which had the dance floor jumping all night. Sounds like a lot of fun; yes it was. It left me yearning to rest and resume in the morning.
After a breakfast of pineapple pancake and coffee, I decided to stroll the streets to visit other places. I wondered through the Port Lucaya Marketplace and shops along the way, stopping to read a copy of The Freeport News, daydream, and people watch. The humility and peacefulness engulfed the faces of each person whom I met. I could have stayed in the streets for the rest of the day, but our host, Brooke, had other places to take us.
Here are some of the other places we visited: the Grand Bahama Nature Tour, Garden café, Boiling hole, Bahamian Brewery, Underwater caves, Garden of the Groves, the Candle Factory, Lucayan national Park, and Ben’s Cave.
Taino beach was amazing. The beautiful white sands and clear blue seas stretched for miles. It is indicative of the many public beaches which citizens and tourists enjoy daily.
Meeting the Dolphins was a touching experience – a truly unforgettable one. Their intelligence was quite astounding. I did not swim with them, however, just watching them interact with people swimming and obeying the commands of their capable instructors made me realize how precious to us they are. I did not walk away without personalizing my experience, because I got a kiss which will last a lifetime. I think that I might try swimming with them next time.
Golfing—did not bring my clubs (lol), but driving by Fortune Hills Golf and Country Club gave me the feeling that Tiger Woods would have a hard time beating me over 18 holes.
Dinner at Pier One Restaurant at the Freeport Harbour Pier was a unique one. I had dinner and actually fed some sharks. Dining at this picturesque ocean-view wonder and looking into the sunset reminded me that my trip was coming to an end soon. Thursday September 1 was just a morn away, but I still had time for a few more stops.
My tour of The Perfume Factory took me behind the scenes and the making of fragrances. This scented gem is housed in an elegant plum and white replica of an old Bahamian mansion. I was not able to blend my own fragrance because of time constraints.
Gosh! I did not mix my own special fragrance—Karl Loves Grand Bahama—but I promise the next time that I will.
The thoughts of Junkanoo and my African ancestry stayed with me on my way to lunch at Mary Ann’s Restaurant & Lounge. The Junkanoo Village & Museum was elegantly and creatively decorated and gave me another view of the history surrounding the Bahamian culture.
Director Rashad was awesome in telling us about the significance of the costumes and reminding us that “Like our slave ancestors we are not separate, but one”. Those words were powerful enough to linger with me through lunch at Mary Ann’s Restaurant and all the way to the airport.
Vacation Express was my way of getting to Grand Bahama for my four day unforgettable adventure. Based in Atlanta, Vacation Express, part of Sunwing Travel Group Inc., is a tour operator specializing in great, affordable vacation packages to over 35 destinations with an emphasis to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Costa Rica for over 25 years making it one of the country’s largest, and most trusted tour operators. Travelers looking for the most affordable, all-inclusive vacations may book Vacation Express’ exclusive, non-stop packages through their travel agent, directly by phone seven days a week at 1-800-309-4717 or online at VACATIONEXPRESS.com. Exclusive charter flights are operated by Sunwing Airlines.
As a man from a different island of the Caribbean, I must return to complete my learning of the Grand Bahama and other islands of The Bahamas. I highly recommend that you afford yourself the experience of the Grand Bahama and its people.
By Karl A. Haughton