A guided bike trip is an ideal way to see parts of Grand Bahama that most visitors miss. You'll start at Barbary Beach and pedal a mountain bike along the southern coast parallel to the sands. After stopping for a snack, lunch, and a dip, you'll finally reach Lucayan National Park, some 19km (12 miles) away. You can explore the cave in which the natives, centuries before the coming of Columbus, buried their dead. Crabs here occasionally come up through holes in the ground carrying bits of bowls once used by the Lucayans. Grand Bahama Nature Tours, also known as Kayak Nature Tours (tel. 866/440-4542 or 242/373-2485; www.grandbahamanaturetours.com), runs these bike trips and transports you home to your hotel by van so you don't exhaust yourself in the heat while cycling back. Other tour options give you more time kayaking or snorkeling. All excursions last 5 to 6 hours and cost $79 for adults, $40 for children 11 and under. Rates include all equipment, sustenance, and round-trip transportation from your hotel.
Ocean Wonder, Port Lucaya Dock (tel. 242/373-5880; www.bahamasvacationguide.com/reeftours), run by Reef Tours, is a gargantuan 18m (59-ft.) Defender glass-bottom boat. Any tour agent can arrange for you to board this vessel. You'll get a panoramic view of the beautiful underwater life off the coast of Grand Bahama. Cruises depart from Port Lucaya behind the straw market on the bay side at 9:30am, 11:15am, 1:15pm, and 3:15pm, except Friday, when only the earlier two tours are offered. The excursion lasts 1 1/2 hours and costs $30 for adults and $18 for children 6 to 12. During high season in midwinter, make reservations a day or two in advance, as the boat does fill up quickly.
Superior Watersports, Freeport (tel. 242/373-7863; www.superiorwatersports.com), offers trips on its Bahama Mama, a two-deck, 22m (72-ft.) catamaran. The Robinson Crusoe Beach Party is offered four times a week and costs $59 for adults and $39 for children 11 and under. Schedules vary with the season, from 11am to 4pm October through March, but from noon to 5pm April through September. There's also a shorter sunset Booze Cruise that goes for $39; it's offered Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings and lasts 2 hours.
For an underwater cruise, try the Seaworld Explorer, the company's quasi-submarine. The sub itself does not descend; instead, you walk down into the hull and watch the sea life glide by. It departs daily at 9:30am, 11:30am, and 1:30pm. The 2-hour ride costs $45 for adults and $25 for children 2 to 12.
The Dolphin Experience
A pod of bottle-nosed dolphins is involved in a unique dolphin-human familiarization program at the Dolphin Experience, located at Underwater Explorer Society (UNEXSO), next to Port Lucaya, opposite the entrance to the Radisson at Our Lucaya (tel. 800/992-DIVE  or 242/373-1244; www.unexso.com). This close-encounter program allows participants to observe these intelligent, friendly animals and hear a talk by a member of the animal-care staff. This is the world's largest dolphin facility, so conditions aren't cramped. In addition, the dolphins can swim out to sea, passing through an underwater gate that prevents their natural predators from entering the lagoon; the dolphins later return of their own free will to their protected marine habitat.
After a 25-minute ferryboat ride from Port Lucaya, you'll step onto a shallow wading platform to interact with the dolphins. At press time, the dolphin colony had 17 members. This educational, fun adventure for all ages costs $75 for adults and $50 for kids 4 to 7; children 3 and younger participate free. If you like to document your life's unusual experiences, bring your camera.
For certified divers, UNEXSO offers a dolphin dive, wherein a school of dolphins swims out from its marine habitat in Sanctuary Bay for a closely supervised diver-to-dolphin encounter. The cost is $199. If business warrants, the dolphin dive is offered daily.
Swimming with dolphins has its supporters as well as its highly vocal critics. For insight into the various points of view surrounding this issue, visit the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society's website at www.wdcs.org. For more information about responsible travel in general, check out www.ecotourism.org.
In the waters off Grand Bahama, you can fish for barracuda, snapper, grouper, yellowtail, wahoo, and kingfish, along with other denizens of the deep.
Reef Tours, Port Lucaya Dock (tel. 242/373-5880 or 373-5891; www.bahamasvacationguide.com/reeftours), offers one of the least expensive ways to go deep-sea fishing around Grand Bahama. Adults pay $130 if they fish, $60 if they go along only to watch. Four to six people can charter the entire 13m (43-ft.) craft for $750 per half-day or $1,350 per whole day. The 9.6m (31-ft.) boat can be chartered for $480 per half-day or $850 per full day. Departures for the 4-hour half-day excursions are daily at 8:30am and 1pm, while the 8-hour full-day excursions leave daily at 8:30am. Bait, tackle, and ice are included in the cost.
Since two of the island's older courses, the Ruby and the Emerald, closed after the hurricane damage of the early millennium, Grand Bahama is not as rich in golf courses as it used to be. But golf on the island recently experienced a resurgence, thanks to the improvements to the courses described below. They're open to the public year-round; their pro shops can rent you clubs.
Fortune Hills Golf & Country Club, Richmond Park, Lucaya (tel. 242/373-2222), was originally intended to be an 18-hole course, but the back 9 were never completed. You can replay the front 9 for 18 holes and a total of 6,324m (6,916 yd.) from the blue tees. Par is 72. Greens fees are $50 for 9 holes, $64 for 18; carts are included. Club rental costs $20 for 18 holes, $16 for 9 holes.
The island's best kept and most manicured course is Lucayan Golf Course, Lucayan Beach, at Our Lucaya (tel. 242/373-1333). Made over after 2004's Hurricane Jeanne, this beautiful course is a traditional golf layout with rows of pine trees separating the fairways. Greens are fast, with a couple of par 5s more than 457m (500 yd.) long, totaling 6,240m (6,824 yd.) from the blue tees and 5,933m (6,488 yd.) from the whites. Par is 72.
Its sibling golf course, with an entirely separate clubhouse and staff, is the slightly older Reef Golf Course, Royal Palm Way, at Our Lucaya (tel. 242/373-1333). Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., who called it "a bit like a Scottish course but a lot warmer," the course boasts 6,328m (6,920 yd.) of links-style playing grounds. It features a wide-open layout without rows of trees to separate its fairways and lots of water traps -- you'll find water on 13 of the 18 holes and various types of long grass swaying in the trade winds. Play requires patience and precise shot-making to avoid the numerous lakes.
At either the Lucayan or Reef courses, guests at the Radisson hotels, with which the courses are associated, pay between $75 and $120, depending on the time of day, for 18 holes. The 9-hole special goes for $55. Nonguests are charged between $85 and $130 for 18 holes, $65 for 9 holes. Rates include use of an electric-powered golf cart.
The Ultimate in Relaxation
The ideal place to relieve the stresses of everyday life can be found at Our Lucaya's Senses Spa, boasting an exercise facility with health checks, personal trainers, and yoga classes. A cafe serves fresh, natural food and elixirs. During one of the signature treatments, the Total Senses Massage, two massage therapists work in sync to relieve your tension. Throughout the Salt Glo body polish treatment, a therapist buffs away dead skin cells and polishes your body with natural, locally derived elements. Note that residents of the Radisson can use the health and exercise facilities without charge, but spa, health, massage, and beauty treatments must be scheduled in advance and require additional payment.
Pinetree Stables, North Beachway Drive, Freeport (tel. 242/373-3600 or 305/433-4809; www.pinetree-stables.com), has the country's best and -- with a boarded inventory of more than 50 horses -- biggest riding stables, superior to rivals on New Providence Island (Nassau). Pinetree offers trail rides to the beach Tuesday through Sunday year-round at 9 and 11:30am. The cost is $85 per person for a 2-hour trail ride. Children 8 and under are not allowed. The weight limit for riders is 91kg (200 lb.).
To explore the waters off the island's north shore, call Grand Bahama Nature Tours (tel. 866/440-4542 or 242/373-2485; www.grandbahamanaturetours.com) and go on kayak excursions through the mangroves, where you can see wildlife as you paddle along. The cost is $79 for adults and $40 for children 11 and under, with lunch included. Double kayaks are used on these jaunts, and children must be at least 3 years old. For the same price, you can take a 30-minute kayak trip to an offshore island, with 1 1/2 hours of snorkeling included along with lunch. Call ahead to book reservations for either of these tours. A van will pick you up at your hotel between 9 and 10am and deliver you back at the end of the tour, usually sometime between 3 and 4pm. A popular variation on this tour, which operates during the same hours and at the same prices, includes more time devoted to snorkeling above a series of shallow offshore reefs and slightly less time allocated to kayaking.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
Though there's fine snorkeling along the shore, you should book a snorkeling cruise aboard one of the catamarans to see the most stunning reefs. Reef Tours (tel. 242/373-5880; www.bahamasvacationguide.com/reeftours) offers highly recommended snorkeling tours. Lasting just under 2 hours each, they depart from Port Lucaya thrice daily (10am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm). Tours are priced at $35 for adults and $18 for children 6 to 12, with all equipment included. Another option is a 3-hour sail-and-snorkel-tour that departs daily at 9:30am and 1:30pm; it's priced at $45 for adults and $25 for children 6 to 12.
Serious divers are attracted to Grand Bahama sites like the Wall, the Caves (one of the most interesting of which is Ben's Cavern), Treasure Reef, and the most evocative of all, Theo's Wreck, a freighter that was deliberately sunk off Freeport to attract marine life. Today it teems with everything from horse-eyed jacks to moray eels. Other top locales include Spit City, Ben Blue Hole, Pygmy Caves, Gold Rock, Silver Point Reef, and the Rose Garden.
One of the premier dive outfitters in the Caribbean, Underwater Explorer Society (UNEXSO) (tel. 800/992-DIVE  or 242/373-1244; www.unexso.com) offers seven dive trips daily, including reef trips, shark dives, wreck dives, and night dives. Divers can even meet dolphins in the open ocean here -- a rare experience offered by very few facilities in the world.
UNEXSO also has a popular 3-hour learn-to-dive course, the Mini-B Pool and Reef Adventure, offered daily. Over the outfitter's 30-year history, more than 50,000 people have successfully completed either this course or its similar predecessors. For $109, students learn the basics in UNEXSO's training pools and dive the beautiful shallow reef with an instructor.
The island's best tennis facilities are part of the Ace Tennis Center, at Our Lucaya (tel. 242/350-5294), where four tennis courts feature different playing surfaces. They include a grass court ($100 per hour) that resembles that of Wimbledon, a clay surface ($50 per hour) like that of the French Open, a Rebound Ace rubber surface that's equivalent to the norm at the Australian Open ($35 per hour), and a hard DecoTurf ($25 per hour) that's similar to the surface at the U.S. Open. Advance reservations are necessary, and there is no discount of any kind for resort guests. A resident pro offers individual 1-hour tennis lessons for $90 per person, or $130 for a couple.
Watersports in General
Ocean Motion Watersports Ltd., Sea Horse Lane, Lucayan Beach (tel. 242/374-2425; www.oceanmotionbahamas.com), is one of the island's largest watersports companies. It offers a wide variety of activities daily from 9am to 5pm, weather permitting, including snorkeling, parasailing, Hobie Cats, banana boating, water-skiing, jet skis, windsurfing, and other activities. Parasailing, for example, costs $70 per person for 5 to 7 minutes in the air. Snorkeling trips cost $35 for adults, $18 for kids 11 and under, for 1 1/2 hours. Water-skiing goes for $40 per 3.2km (2-mile) pull, $60 for a 30-minute lesson. Hobie Cats are $50 for the 4.2m (14 ft.), $75 for the 4.8m (16 ft.), $30 for a lesson. Windsurfing costs $30 per hour, $100 for a 2-hour lesson. Kayaking costs $20 for a single kayak, $25 for a double. The water trampoline is $20 for a full day, $10 for a half-day. Banana boating goes for $15 per person for a 3.2km (2-mile) ride along a white-sand beach. Call for reservations, especially for windsurfing.
Lucaya Watersports, Taíno Beach (tel. 242/373-6375), also offers options for fun in the surf, including WaveRunners, which cost $70 per 30 minutes; double kayaks, which are $20 per hour for two passengers; and paddle boats, which hold four people and go for $20 per hour. The sunset cruises -- a 2-hour sailboat ride offered every Wednesday between 5 and 7pm -- are especially popular and cost $45 per person.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.