Grand Bahama - Island of Wild Beaches and Hurricanes

Hurricanes love Grand Bahama Island and visit it more often than any other island in the Bahamas. But people living on Grand Bahama Island ...

Hurricanes love Grand Bahama Island and visit it more often than any other island in the Bahamas. But people living on Grand Bahama Island hate hurricanes as not only do they damage their property and threaten their lives, but also they negatively impact the local economy, and it takes years if not decades for it to recover. And, let's face it: you can't really leave the island even though you know that the hurricane is coming unless you are a reach person, and most locals aren't. And that's a huge disadvantage over the United States that are also hit hard by hurricanes, but people often have a choice to leave. But on a positive note, hurricanes is one of the reasons why Grand Bahama Island with its beautiful beaches is so wild and virgin.

The second stop of our cruise was Freeport - the biggest city on Grand Bahama Island and the second most populous in all of the Bahamas. The first stop was Half Moon Cay.
Freeport has not quite recovered from two hurricanes that devastated the city in 2004 - Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Jeanne, but it was hit badly again in 2016 by Hurricane Andrew.
The aftermath of it is seen all over the island.
I didn't take pictures of it (I know - I should have), but I saw lots of damaged property, broken cars and even utility poles with electric wires still lying on the ground. A pine forest on the island is forever young as pines don't grow past a certain height - hurricanes mow them like grass.
When I was preparing for the trip to the Bahamas, I was not impressed much by Freeport itself and its suburb Lucaya which is slightly better of, so I decided to rent a car and hit the road toward Lucayan National Park.
The park is located about 30 minutes drive east from the airport. Grand Bahama Highway, the only highway on the island which connects all cities and villages, was almost empty. The biggest challenge for me though was to make sure I drive on the left side of the road even though I had a car with a 'regular' steering wheel located on the left. Yes, the Bahamas inherited this old British tradition and has not gotten rid of it after almost 44 years of independence from the British rule.
The park is conveniently located just off the highway.
Despite its tiny size (only 40 acres / 16 hectares), Lucayan National Park protects one of the longest known underwater cave systems in the world.
Entrance to one of the caves - Ben's Cave - was naturally created when the limestone roof collapsed.
So far, over 6 miles / 10 km of cave have been charted.
Rare buffy flower bats call these caves home.
Fresh water 'sits' on top of salt water.
A nice short trail provides a great opportunity to see two caves as well as a pristine forest which only gets shaped by hurricanes. 
Tall fern does not seem to be hurt by mighty forces of weather. It's lush and green.
Across the highway, there are two short trails leading to Gold Rock Beach - one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
The one to the right gets flooded at hide tide, so plan your visit accordingly.
Take your time and don't rush walking - there is so much to see and enjoy.
The other trail (the one to the left when crossing the highway from the parking lot) is elevated, so it's accessible at both tides.
The trail goes over a tidal creek that gets filled with ocean water at high tide.
Mangrove trees don't mind salt water.
Mangrove 'legs' let the tree walk.
Gold Rock Beach is beautiful, however its driftwood and post-hurricane debris make it look a bit sinister.
Very picturesque tree root!
If you're looking for a postcard-looking beach with coconut palm trees, beach chairs and umbrellas as well as bars with cold drinks and refreshments, don't go to Lucayan National Park. You'll be very disappointed. That's not why people come here.
But I actually quite enjoyed the beach primarily because of its wildness and rough beauty. And as you can see, it's not crowded at all - you can almost have it for yourself!
Hurricanes bring garbage from the land and ocean.
I think it's not a terrible idea to have students at local schools pick up debris if the park is short-staffed and can't keep up with the workload. We do it in Canada every spring. Unlike driftwood, this garbage definitely does not belong here.
So if you ask for my opinion whether to go or not, I would definitely say - GO! This park is worth a drive or taking a tour. By the way, if you decide to rent a car, there is a rental location (Hertz) 3 miles / 5 km from the cruise port and they have a free pick up option. I checked rates at other rental agencies, and Hertz was the cheapest. When I say '"cheapest", we're talking about 70-80 USD per day, but it's still way cheaper than taking a tour from a cruise ship, especially if you're traveling with  a family.

When to go
Any time of the year should be fine. Hurricane season usually lasts from end of June till late November, so make sure you check a weather forecast before heading to the park.

Lucayan National Park is located 21 miles / 34 km east of Grand Bahama International Airport at Freeport.

GPS coordinates of the park's office with a parking lot (there is no visitor centre):
Latitude: N 26° 36' 17.9021"
Longitude: W 78° 24' 1.7618"

Additional Information
Official website:

My other posts from the trip to Florida and the Bahamas

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