Sometimes the destination with the most flash gets all the attention. In the case of the 3,000 islands, cays, and islets of the Bahamas, Nassau tends to stand center stage. After all, the island nation’s capital city is the most populated and receives the bulk of cruise traffic and mega resort vacationers. While a big city vacation certainly does have its merits, those looking for a laid back island vacation should consider Grand Bahama Island instead. Just a quick 45-minute flight from Miami, Grand Bahama Island offers a wide variety of family fun in a safe and picturesque locale.
Known to previous resort guests as Our Lucayan, The Grand Lucuyan Resort has undergone a bit of rebranding to emphasize “the grand life” that both the resort and island offer visitors. Set on 7.5 acres of pristine beachfront, the resorts casual vibe is ideal for families that love water play such as parasailing, banana boating, jet skiing, or bouncing on the water trampoline. It is equally great for parents dreaming about sitting on a lounge chair in the sand with a cocktail in hand while listening to the sounds of a steel drum band while the kids splash in the gentle surf. Johnny Depp called this resort home while filming the Pirates of the Caribbean movies; enjoying the same infinity edged pools and pristine stretch of sugary white sand. Dining and shopping options are plentiful with the choice of eating on property or at the charming Port Lucayan Marketplace directly across the street.
If swimming with the dolphins has always been one of your family’s dream experiences, UNEXSO is definitely the place to make those dreams happen. Located next to the Lucayan Marketplace, UNEXSO offers three different dolphin experiences, making a close encounter accessible to all ages and abilities. Experiences begin with a 15-minute boat ride over to Sanctuary Bay, home to 14 bottlenose dolphins. Young children and non-swimmers will love the Dolphin Close Encounter where guests can step onto a submerged platform to pet and kiss a dolphin. Those looking for a more immersive adventure will love the Open Ocean Experience. It is the only program of its kind in the world and allows participants to swim with trained dolphins in an open ocean environment.
No trip to Grand Bahama Island is complete without a visit to the diverse and beautiful Lucayan National Park. This park features all six of the island’s ecosystems, including the Lucayan Caverns which are part of the world’s longest underwater cave system. Most people see these caverns from viewing platforms not far from the parking area but especially adventurous folks can arrange scuba diving tours inside the dark, water-filled caves. For a more kid-friendly adventure, consider taking a kayak tour through the mangroves where tropical fish swim in the crystal clear water and a family of raccoons does its best to snatch them out of the water. A visit to the park isn’t complete without some time spent enjoying Gold Rock Beach. The Pirates of the Caribbean series was filmed on this very stretch of rippled white sand and those that have stood on its shores and stared out at the perfectly turquoise waters know exactly why producers chose this location- it’s breathtaking.
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photo: Sharlene Earnshaw
Disclosure: The author received a complimentary stay at the Grand Lucayan Resort as part of a press trip to the island. All opinions are her own.