Grand Bahama Island

Freeport Travel Blog

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Wallace Groves Auditorium

Grand Bahama Island is 55 miles (90 km) east of Florida. Before the 1950s, Grand Bahama was little known. Few people lived on the island, the main activity was logging, and visitors came primarily to deep-sea fish in the waters offshore. With its proximity to Florida and access to Atlantic and Caribbean shipping lanes, American businessman Wallace Groves envisioned Grand Bahama developed into a "free port". He reached an agreement with the British colonial government establishing a zone for the duty-free transshipment of goods and the processing of products for export. Groves' new company (he had owned a logging concern on the island) built the deepwater port beginning in 1955. Groves also had to build a community and the infrastructure necessary to support the planned development--roads, electricity, telephone, and housing.

Tomb of Wallace and Georgette Groves, founders of Freeport
The new town was named "Freeport".

After leaving Lucaya, our bus returned to Queen's Highway and drove back through Freeport. Lucaya is tourist-oriented, but Freeport is very much for the people who live here. Churches, stores, small businesses, schools, and fast-food outlets line the highway. Prominent is the tomb of Wallace and Georgette Groves, a columned rotunda at Mary Star of the Sea church. The couple is certainly well-remembered. Another structure that stands out is the Casa Bahama apartment complex situated in the center of Freeport. Standing 17 stories high the apartment building is the tallest structure on Grand Bahama and dwarfs surrounding structures that rarely go above two floors.

Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church
Casa Bahama was severely damaged by the hurricanes of 2004 and remains vacant and under renovation.

Closer to the port, industry is evident. Pharmaceutical, soft drink bottling, and steel fabrication plants along with a petroleum tank farm and a power generating station are found here. Many of the industries were damaged during the 2004 hurricane season and the bottling plant was still closed. One very successful operation is a drydock facility. Cruise lines send ships out from Florida for drydock maintenance and repair at Freeport. Holland America Lines' Zuiderdam was in drydock as we passed.

The port itself is likewise heavily industrial. Visitors need to take a taxi or bus or other form of transportation from the port to Freeport proper, Lucaya, or the beach. There is a small marketplace here and a Bahamian combo entertained visitors.

St. Paul's Methodist Church
As we reboarded Carnival Pride, Carnvial Fascination was docking. In the busy port a container ship was at the same time sailing, pushed along by two tugboats. This time, we were not late for lunch at  the Mermaid Grille and I had a freshly made reuben sandwich with Carnival's potato salad. While eating lunch, another passenger ship, Discovery Sun, arrived in port. This ship runs on a daily round trip from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Freeport. It brings both vacations and beach day trippers to Grand Bahama, but also is used by Grand Bahama residents to go shopping in Florida. (I gathered that, even with the fare and import duty fees, it is cheaper for residents to buy big-ticket items in Florida and bring them back to the island than buy locally.)

Carnival Pride sailed at about 2:30 p.m. The ship quickly exited the harbor, passing Pinder's Point Light and leaving Freeport behind. Other merchant ships were queued up waiting to enter the harbor with their cargoes. As the Pride headed north, more cargo ships could be seen bound for Freeport.

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Wallace Groves Auditorium
Wallace Groves Auditorium
Tomb of Wallace and Georgette Grov…
Tomb of Wallace and Georgette Gro…
Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Chur…
Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Chu…
St. Pauls Methodist Church
St. Paul's Methodist Church
Catholic high school
Catholic high school
Casa Bahama (tallest building on G…
Casa Bahama (tallest building on …
Casa Bahama
Casa Bahama
New big box stores in Freeport
New "big box" stores in Freeport
Conch for sale
Conch for sale
Industrial Freeport
Industrial Freeport
Freeport power station
Freeport power station
Holland-America Lines Zuiderdam i…
Holland-America Lines' Zuiderdam …
Bahamian entertainers at Freeport …
Bahamian entertainers at Freeport…
Freeport Harbour
Freeport Harbour
Freeport Harbour
Freeport Harbour
Straw Market at Freeport Harbour
Straw Market at Freeport Harbour
Container ship putting to sea
Container ship putting to sea
Freeport Container Terminal
Freeport Container Terminal
Carnival Fascination in port
Carnival Fascination in port
Discover Sun ferry from Florida
Discover Sun ferry from Florida
Leaving Freeport
Leaving Freeport
Grand Bahama Island coastline
Grand Bahama Island coastline
Pinders Point Light
Pinder's Point Light
Freeport pilot boat
Freeport pilot boat
Freeport
photo by: Jamal1280