Grand Bahama Island
Freeport Travel Blog› entry 7 of 10 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.