We’re down in Freeport, on the Grand Bahama Island, for a wedding.
I realized, fully and completely, that we were no longer in Columbus when I stepped outside onto the balcony of our hotel room this morning, saw this scene, and thought: “Omigod! It’s actually warm here! I can step outside in the morning without wearing a coat!”
It’s nice to be warm for a change.
Freeport, Bahamas is a significant port. No surprise there — presumably, that’s how Freeport got its name in the first place. It’s very close to the American mainland, and a convenient stopping point for ships coming and going to the U.S. of A.
During our recent visit to Freeport we had the opportunity to take a boat trip past the port, thanks to our gracious hosts the Bahamians, and therefore got to see some of the larger ships up close. What’s interesting to me, as a dry landed Midwesterner, is the many different kinds of big boats you see around the Freeport port. Tankers, tugs, and tenders, construction boats and unloading boats — each with its own special design related to its specific function in making the port work.
As our host, the Bahamian Captain, aptly observed on our walk this morning: “The last day of a vacation always has the best weather.”
When we pulled into the lagoons at Port Lucaya, Freeport, to dock last night, the sun was sinking, the air was cooling, and the water was smooth as glass and a mirror to the sky.
I think it is crucially important to any Midwesterner’s sanity to get a little beach time every once in a while. When it happens during the middle of winter it’s a bonus.
Nice change from gray and cold Columbus!
Exactly what shade of blue is the water around Grand Bahama Island, anyway? Of course, the water color changes as you move from deeper water to spots closer to the shoreline. But as you reach the shallow depths near the beach, the water becomes an inexpressibly beautiful shade of blue. Is it azure? Cyan? Aquamarine? Turquoise seems to fit best, but then again a word can’t really capture the sunlight glinting on the water, the different shades created as the waves move past, and glimpses of the ocean bottom appear through the crystal clear water.
The area around Freeport, Grand Bahama, is honeycombed with canals. It’s not quite Venice or Amsterdam, but the canals make for some beautiful vistas — and have turned out to be an inspired development decision.
The canals were built years ago. The canals increased the amount of waterfront property the developers of Grand Bahama Island could offer to potential residents and businesses and also provided more secure places for boat storage.
The areas along the canals are now dotted with harbors and marinas, and the white and masted boats provide an attractive scene for waterside bars and restaurants. If you follow the labyrinth of canals farther inland, you will find lovely waterside homes with the inevitable family boat bobbing nearby.
The presence of the canals also seems to have drawn a lot of development to the area along the canals, as opposed to along the oceanfront. One surprising thing about a visit to Freeport and Grand Bahama is how much of oceanfront property is completely unspoiled — and untouched by tourists. To some degree, the outlet for development provided by the canals no doubt has relieved the pressure for building on the beach. As a result, vast areas have been left in their natural state, and you can cruise in a boat along the shore for miles without seeing any structure along the beachfront.
We are down in the Bahamas, visiting friends near Freeport. Today it was a lovely day, with blue skies and temperatures in the high 70s. We went out in our friends’ boat for a cruise and some idle hours in the sunshine, and the marina where our friends dock their boat was a beautiful scene.
What is it about waterfront establishments that are so conducive to a pleasant drinking experience?
A view from the deck at Banana Bay
Beers rarely taste so good as they do when you are sitting at a picnic table, gazing out at the surf from under palm trees and a thatched roof, and eating a hot conch fritter. There are two good waterfront venues within walking distance of the Pisciottas’ home, and we’ve taken advantage of both of them on this trip.
To the left, about a 15-minute walk away, is Banana Bay. It has a big covered deck with picnic tables that looks out over the broad sweep of Banana Bay and a sand spit that stretches far out into the ocean at low tide.
Chuck at the entrance to the Sand Bar
To the right, past Club Fortuna, is the Sand Bar. It is a smaller establishment with a narrow entrance off the beach, two outside decks with good views of the beach and ocean, and a dim interior bar with a sand-covered floor and a collection of local characters.
Banana Bay is more of a lunch restaurant with a drink menu, whereas the Sand Bar is more of a bar with a few food choices. They are both good options for a cold beer on a hot day.
The infamous Pisciotta deck
We’re down in the Bahamas, at the Pisciottas’ sumptuous home in the Shoreline development outside Freeport. It is a fantastic, relaxing place where we always enjoy ourselves. So far, we’ve managed to eat some good Caribbean food, drink beer at several oceanside bars, and crash a party thrown by some of the many Brit residents in the development.
The view from the foot of stairs at the bottom of the deck
We particularly enjoy the sprawling deck, which looks out over the Atlantic and is well-suited for a breakfast talk, a mid-afternoon siesta, or drinks before the evening festivities. It has a great view of the ocean, and when you sit out there, sipping a beer and listening to the gentle sound of the ocean, you can’t help but relax.