Several informative tours of Grand Bahama Island are available. One reliable company is H. Forbes Charter Services Ltd., West Sunrise Highway, Freeport (tel. 242/352-9311; www.forbescharter.com). From its headquarters in the International Bazaar, this company operates half- and full-day bus tours. The most popular option is the half-day Super Combination Tour, priced at $35 per adult and $25 per child age 5 to 12. It includes drive-through tours of residential areas and the island's commercial center, stops at the island's deep-water harbor, shopping, and a visit to a wholesale liquor store. Departures are Monday through Saturday at 9am and 1pm; the tour lasts 3 1/2 hours. Full-day tours, conducted whenever business warrants, last from 9am to 3:30pm. In addition to everything included in the half-day tours, they bring participants in a bus or van, with guided commentary, all the way to the Caves, near Grand Bahama Island's easternmost tip, for $40 per adult, $30 per child.
A Side Trip to West End
If you crave a refreshing escape from the plush hotels of Freeport/Lucaya, head to West End, 45km (28 miles) from Freeport. At this old fishing village, and along the scrub-flanked coastal road that leads to it, you'll get glimpses of how things used to be before tour groups began descending on Grand Bahama Island.
To reach West End, head north along Queen's Highway, going through Eight Mile Rock, to the northernmost point of the island.
A lot of the old village buildings had become seriously dilapidated even before the destructive hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, but those that remain hint at long-ago legends and charm. From about 1920 to 1933, when Prohibition rather unsuccessfully held America in its grip, the docks buzzed with activity day and night. West End was (and is) so close to the U.S. mainland that rum-running became a lucrative business, with booze flowing out of West End by day and into Florida by night. No surprise, then, that Al Capone was supposedly a frequent visitor here.
Villages along the way to West End have colorful names like Hawksbill Creek. For a glimpse of local life, try to visit the fish market along the harbor. You'll pass some thriving harbor areas, too, but the vessels you'll see will be oil tankers, not rumrunners. Don't expect too many historic buildings en route.
Eight Mile Rock is a hamlet of mostly ramshackle houses that stretches along both sides of the road. At West End, you come to an abrupt stop. By far the most compelling developments here are associated with Old Bahama Bay, a good spot for a meal, a drink, and a look at what might one day become one of the most important real-estate developments in The Bahamas.
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.