Freeport, Bahamas is one of the most popular cruise getaways which is located roughly 80 miles from South Florida. The cruise port is often featured on short and longer day cruise itineraries with Carnival Cruise Line having the most ships sailing there along with Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
The port is found on the Grand Bahamas island, which lies in the northwestern side of the Bahamas. At the tip of the Archipelago. This 230-square-mile port is a free trade zone, likely giving rise to its name.
The history of this port spans from 1955 when Wallace Groves a financier from Virginia US received access to 50,000 acres of pine forest in a swampy Southern part of Grand Bahamas. The government of the Bahamas then tasked this investor with the charge of developing the area economically, which he dutifully did.
After a number of industries were built on the port, ships started calling. As a result, the tourism sector blossomed with private resorts and tourism attractions coming up in the place. Since then many people have visited this island, especially due to its close proximity to the US. With most using it as a weekend getaway vacation place.
Freeport experiences typical Caribbean climate. As such it hosts a variety of different ecosystems. Starting with forests, nature parks, underwater cave systems, mangroves, picturesque white sandy beaches. And the sea which is home to some of the best coral reefs in the world. The reefs in turn are home to a variety of different sea creatures.
The island is also not devoid of animal and plant life, and hosts over 370 species of birds. There are colored lizards, raccoons and other small island animals too.
With all this beauty it’s no wonder there is so much fun and adventure to be had at this port and so little time, to have it in. Even so, here are the top 10 things to do in Freeport, Bahamas:
1. Visit Port Lucaya
Freeport is a common stop for cruise ships not only as a tourist destination but because its harbor doubles up as a ship repair, restocking, and maintenance port due to its dry-docking ability featuring the Grand Bahama Shipyard. Therefore, expect to dock right at the Lucayan harbor, no tendering is necessary. The Lucayan Harbor is big enough to accommodate at least 4 large passenger ships at any one time.
The harbor is beautiful and is filled with brightly colored little houses that give you the feeling of a candy land kind of vibe. The houses are mostly shops, some bars, and restaurants. Among the restaurants, are popular joints like Senor Frogs and Fat Tuesdays. But the real fun only begins in the nearby Port Lucaya.
A 10-minute taxi ride will take you to the Port, which costs anywhere from $15 one way. Or you can take a shuttle bus, which costs $5 per person one way. Note, however, the buses or vans only take off when they are full, so you might wait for some time.
If you are lucky enough to get a good tour guide/ taxi driver, then they can take you on a trip of the town. Showing you important stops and taking you through famous streets like the millionaire row. The trip also takes you past the casinos and some of the private resorts that give you access to the beach.
Explore the beautiful architectural displays in the wealthier neighborhoods like the houses on golf and waterfront properties. Speaking of golf, Freeport has some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. Whether you are a golfing pro or a beginner, you might want to check out some of the golf courses on this island. Golf courses like the Grand Lucayan and Lucayan Golf and Country Club. Which are 18-hole golf courses with perfect landscapes charge top dollar (from $75), while smaller courses like Fortune Hills and the beginner golf course at Ruby Golf are more affordable, charging $35 and $65 respectively.
Port Lucaya also offers the perfect place for shopping in the Bahamas. The marketplace features many shopping stalls, carry cash and expect to negotiate prices. Other than shopping you can go on a taste of the Bahamas tour, which basically involves tasting some of their island cuisines. Enjoy the popular gyro meat and Greek salad at Zobra’s found right at the market. Or visit Agave Lucaya for a fusion of Bahamian and Latin dishes. Enjoy fajitas, conch fritters, and other signature dishes at this place. Other popular restaurants include Flying Fish Gastro’s bar, Banana Bay, Cappucino’s fine Italian, Rum Runners and Sabor.
When the tour of the town is done, move on to the real fun at one of its many beaches or visit the Lucayan Natural Park, and Unexso marine reserve.
2. Lucayan National Park
One thing that you should absolutely do when you are at Freeport is to visit the Lucayan National park. It is located 30 miles from Port Lucaya off of the Grand Bahamas highway between Freeport and Freetown at Gold rock creek.
This 40-acre park has at least 3 different ecosystems. Start the tour of the park on either side of the highway. One of the sides takes you through a short nature trail loop to the underwater cave systems. The underwater cave system in Freeport is the largest in the world stretching out 9.7 kilometres long. There you get to see the popular Burial Mound underwater cave and Ben’s cave. Swimming in the caves is however forbidden, but they offer a great photo op and a moment to enjoy nature at its best.
On the other side of the highway, there are 2 boardwalks that take you through the mangroves, ushering you to the perfect beach in Freeport, Gold rock beach. It has fine white powdery sand and pristinely clear turquoise waters. It’s no wonder some scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were shot on this exact beach. It’s perfect, but you should visit it when it’s low tide to enjoy a larger beach space.
The best part about the beach is that it’s untouched; there are no beach amenities. It’s truly a virgin beach, so carry your lunch, snorkeling gear, and beach towels for sunbathing and beach picnic. Remember to keep it clean by throwing your trash in the only man-made feature found on it, the dustbins.
On low tides, it offers the perfect sandbar with shallow waters for you and the kids to enjoy playing in. The best thing about this beach is that it is completely secluded, and on some days, you might only find yourself and a handful of other people on the beach. The park charges an admittance fee of $5 per person and it’s free for kids less than 12 years old.
3. Tour Garden of the Groves
While still on the nature scene, take an excursion tour either through walking, biking or a jeep tour of Garden of the Groves. Enjoy lush vegetation, beautiful cascading waterfalls, ponds, and fountains while birds chirp and raucously call at each other. A taxi ride to the gardens will only take you 13 minutes from the market area.
4. Enjoy the Beaches
After nature explorations, try the beaches on Freeport. There are too many to cover, only choose what suits your tastes. To start with there is the Junkanoo beach, just right off the marketplace at Port Lucaya. This is a small family style beach. Enjoy your day here under a beach umbrella and with a cold drink in hand. The beach is free and is part of the larger Taino beach. The beach umbrella’s and chairs cost anywhere from $10 for a day pass.
Taino beach is by default the most common beach on Freeport and has a nice lovely stretch of white sandy beach with pristine clear blue waters, with plenty of resorts on it. However, its popularity comes with the crowds as well, so if you like a private beach atmosphere, you should probably skip this and try Barbary beach. Enjoy water sports like paddle boarding, jet skis and snorkeling right off of this beach.
Barbary beach though far is a nicely secluded virgin beach found roughly half an hour away east of the port. It features a beautiful stretch of fine white sandy beach and pristine clear waters. It’s a great place to take long walks on or picnic at.
Other beaches on the island include the deserted Xanadu beach, which was once a world popular beach, but is now deserted due to the closure of the Xanadu resort years ago after getting massively damaged by a hurricane. And fortune beach found near the garden of the groves.
5. Paradise Cove
Another great thing to do on this island is visit paradise cove located just a few kilometers from the port. Take a taxi ride here or book an excursion with your cruise ship. This is a place for the adventurous at heart, it has a lot of in water activities such as scuba, snorkeling, and swimming.
You can also try some water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, boat tours and paddle boarding. Enjoy diving and snorkeling off of Deadman’s Reef. Go deep fishing and enjoy a dish made from your catch when you are back on the beach. Or just be a beach bum and lie on a sun lounger soaking in the sun, while enjoying frozen coconut drinks. The beach charges an admission fee of $4 per person.
6. Horseback Riding
Another enjoyable thing to do is go on a horseback ride. Book an excursion with Pine tree Stables. Here you will meet the wonderful duo Linda and Chris, your guides for the day who will take you on a scenic tour of the island on horsebacks. The tour starts through a pine tree forest and ends on a beautiful sandy beach. Enjoy riding the gentle horses in the water, cooling off from the heat of the Bahamas. You will get to learn amazing details about the flora, fauna and the landmarks you ride past. This excursion charges $165 per person.
7. Pirate’s Cove, Zipline and Waterpark
You can also visit Pirate’s cove for a fun day on the zip line or at the water park, bouncing on trampolines. Or take banana boat rides, thrilling jet ski tours of the coastline or a more chilled tour on a paddle board. You can also rent a kayak and explore the coastline and nearby mangrove. This place, however, has long wait-lines as taxis notoriously bring all the tourists to this place. So, if you are planning to do more than one activity, you might be better off skipping this place.
8. Boat Tour
There are also plenty of boat tours for you to enjoy on this island. You can take a catamaran tour of the coastlines, in fact, another better way to see this port is via its coastal line’s beauty. You can also hop on a glass-bottomed boat tour and explore the marine life at the Bahamas, which has all manner of sea creatures including turtles, coral reefs and different varieties of fishes. You might spot some sharks, barracudas, and stingrays also.
Other boat tours include fishing trips on fishing boats, sailing trips on sailboats, jet skis tours if you are brave enough or power boat tours that take you to excellent snorkeling spots and end with a beach party. Whichever craft you choose to explore Freeport with, you are guaranteed a ton of fun on your port day at this place.
9. Visit Unexso Marine Sanctuary
Create lasting memories at sanctuary bay, a 19acre marine reserve which features a dolphin’s lagoon. Swim, play and pet the dolphins, and remember the moment forever with the photos you get afterward. Learn how to dive and get closer to becoming a certified diver. Snorkel and scuba dive in the lagoon, interacting with other marine life like nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles and beautifully colored fish.
Shop till you drop at Port Lucaya marketplace, which is the largest shopping place on the island. Get straw hats, woven items, sculptures and art pieces from art galleries’ such as Leo’s gallery which sells authentic beautiful art pieces. Check for the “authentically Bahamian” label on items at the market, to confirm the authenticity of a product.
Or go on a taste of the Bahamas, enjoying their local dishes, made from conch. With the islands close proximity to the US, you can also expect common food fare such as pizza, burgers, chicken jerky at any restaurant or bar in the area. A notable and very popular bar and hang out zone on the island is Neptune cocktail bar. Get more local and try the food stands on the streets or at the beach. They serve delicious conch fritters and other seafood delicacies. Enjoy cold daiquiris, rum, and margaritas on the island.
Over to You
There you have it, the top 10 things you can do at Freeport, Bahamas. This list is not exhaustive; you can try other things, like visiting the Brew factory, which gives you a 45minutes window to taste all the beers you want. Or attend a bonfire beach party when staying overnight.
Only remember to wear good water shoes while at some of the beaches, there are rocks in the water or sharp corals, which might hurt you. Also, carry plenty of bug spray especially if it’s cloudy and a bit cold.
All in all, have fun at Freeport and remember to relax and just enjoy yourself. Happy Cruising!!