Welcome to Freeport cruise port, the Bahamas!
Freeport is the capital of Grand Bahama Island and the second-largest Bahamian port of call after Nassau (New Providence island). Due to its proximity to the coast of Florida and the port of Miami which lies 110 miles to the west (2.5 hours by boat), Freeport is a popular stop in the Caribbean cruise itineraries. In this article, read about:
- Freeport cruise port (Freeport cruise terminal, getting around, helpful info)
- Top 10 things to do in Freeport and best Freeport shore excursions
Freeport Cruise Port
Cruise ships dock at Freeport Harbour (also referred to as Harbour Village and Lucayan Harbour), a medium-sized cruise port that can accommodate up to 3 cruise vessels at a time. The port area is well-developed and safe, with amenities such as a tourist information kiosk, car rental/tour booth, restrooms, souvenir and duty-free shops, restaurants and bars (Señor Frog’s, Fat Tuesday’s, Bucks Sports Bar, etc.). It is a beautiful area to walk around, filled with multicolored houses, palm trees, food and drink stands, arts and crafts stores, and places to sit and relax. The taxi rank and bus parking (which is usually a shore excursion meeting place unless indicated differently on your tour ticket) is located within the port complex, a short walking distance from your ship.
Besides the well-developed cruise terminal area, there’s not much to see and do around the port itself. Freeport is primarily an industrial area and there is no actual “downtown”. The hub of tourist activities in Freeport is centered around Port Lucaya Marina and Port Lucaya Marketplace, both located around 16 km/10 miles (a 20-minute drive) from the cruise terminal. Unless you are taking an organized shore excursion, you’ll probably want to spend your day here. There are plenty of taxis waiting to take you to Port Lucaya for a round-trip fare of around $10 per person. Lucaya Beach, one of the best beaches on Grand Bahama Island, is located in Port Lucaya.
The port of Freeport is also famous for its Grand Bahama Shipyard, often used by Bahamas-flagged cruise vessels for ship repairs, maintenance and drydock refurbishment works. You’ll be able to spot the shipyard from your cruise terminal.
- The port area is flat and easy to navigate for people with walking difficulties/wheelchair users.
- Cruise lines DO NOT provide shuttle buses from Freeport Harbour to Port Lucaya. In addition, there is NO official public transportation in Freeport cruise port, so your only option is to either take a taxi or book a shore excursion to one of the nearby attractions. Taxis in Freeport are metered and a ride to Port Lucaya can cost you from $5-10 per person each way, depending on the number of people you share a taxi with (taxis are either regular or minivan-style). A ride to Port Lucaya per cab costs around $20-25 one way. A taxi ride takes about 20 minutes and the drop-off point is usually Port Lucaya Marketplace. It is advisable to agree on the price with the taxi driver in advance.
- Alternatively, you can rent a car if you feel comfortable exploring on your own. Keep in mind that driving is on the left. Check out Freeport Bahamas rent-a-car deals and prices
- The official language in the Bahamas is English.
- Since Freeport Harbour is in an industrial area, there are no beaches within walking distance of the ship. The nearest beaches and beach resorts are located in Port Lucaya, including Lucaya Beach and Taino Beach.
- There are two most popular shopping areas in Freeport cruise port: Port Lucaya Marketplace (a 20-minute drive from the port), and Freeport cruise terminal area (Delsol, Cariloha, arts and crafts, jewelry, souvenirs…). In some port reviews, you may read about the International Bazaar which is located in downtown Freeport, a 15-minute drive from the cruise terminal. However, this bazaar has been abandoned and is not in use anymore. Note: As mentioned above, the major tourist activities are centered in Port Lucaya, so there’s not much to do in the official downtown area. The downtown area is located around 7 km/4.3 miles away from Port Lucaya and its beaches.
- The majority of restaurants in Freeport and generally the Bahamas will automatically add a 15% service charge to your bill. Tipping is at your discretion.
- The official currency in the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar (BSD). 1 USD equals 1 BSD. US dollars and credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are available in Port Lucaya. See the currency converter
- The high season in Freeport lasts from mid-December to mid-April, with warm and dry weather. The Bahamas lies within the hurricane belt, so hurricanes and heavy rains may occur from June to November. For helpful packing tips, read my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 50 Cruise Essentials
- Grand Bahama Airport is the only international airport on Grand Bahama Island and is located 9 km/5.6 miles (less than a 15-minute drive) northeast of Freeport cruise port.
- Check out the best hotels in Freeport (Port Lucaya)
Top 10 Things to Do in Freeport Cruise Port
Before I share with you the best things to do in the port of Freeport, I invite you to sign up below and get my insider SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE for FREE!
1. Port Lucaya Marketplace & Marina
Port Lucaya lies on Grand Bahama Island’s southern coast, a 20-minute drive southeast of Freeport Harbour. Port Lucaya Marketplace is a large, 9.5-acre open-air shopping facility that consists of dozens of colorful little buildings and tents housing clothing, jewelry, liquor, souvenir and other types of shops. Visit a straw market and shop for authentic Bahamian products including arts and crafts, before tasting local specialties in one of the numerous eateries and bars in the area.
Within a walking distance, you can visit the Bahamas Maritime Museum and stroll around Port Lucaya Marina dotted with colorful buildings, boats and yachts. Count Basie Square is where you can enjoy some live music and performances. This bustling place is a shopping paradise and one of the highlights of Freeport.
Right across the road from the entrance to the marketplace, you’ll see several large hotel resorts including Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan Resort where you can enjoy a beach day pass with an all-inclusive service. In case you don’t need an all-day pass which normally includes unlimited food and drinks, you can still enjoy the hotel’s outdoor pool, hot tub, bar and sunbed/umbrellas for a regular charge. The resort overlooks a long, sandy Lucaya Beach, and I personally enjoyed it so much that I highly recommend it to everyone looking to spend a relaxing beach day.
2. Freeport Beaches and Resorts
There are no beaches in the industrial area of Freeport Harbour and the nearest beaches are located in Port Lucaya. The beaches boast crystal clear, warm turquoise waters and are mostly nestled on the Grand Bahama’s southern coast. There are also a few beach resorts offering all-inclusive beach day passes. Below is a selection of the main beaches and resorts in Freeport.
- Lucaya Beach – A 4-mile long sandy beach runs parallel to the main road in Port Lucaya and is located a 5-minute walk from Port Lucaya Marketplace. This beautiful beach lines waterfront hotel resorts and offers a variety of watersports including paddleboards and jet skis. Make sure you check out the legendary Billy Joe’s Beach Restaurant & Bar, a hotspot for both locals and tourists popular for its delicious conch, beer, and sweeping sea views.
- Taino Beach – This popular beach is located a few miles away from Lucaya Beach and ranks among the top-rated beaches in Freeport. It is located a 25-minute drive from Freeport Harbour and features watersports, beach resorts and entertainment parks (Pirate’s Cove Zipline and Water Park, Taino Beach Resort and Clubs, Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience, The Stoned Crab Restaurant, Bernie’s TikiHut, and others).
- Fortune Beach – For those of you who seek to escape the hustle and bustle of crowded places, Fortune Beach offers a laid-back atmosphere. Sunbathe and soak up the Caribbean before tasting delicious conch fritters and cocktails in the nearby Banana Bay restaurant. Fortune Beach is located a 30-minute drive from the Freeport Harbour cruise terminal.
- Xanadu Beach – It is the closest beach to Freeport Harbour (only a 15-minute drive). The beach is a popular spot for families due to its warm, shallow waters and relaxed vibe.
- Barbary Beach – The undeveloped, secluded beach is located a 35-minute drive from the cruise port and is popular for kayaking.
- Smith’s Point Beach – Located next to Taino Beach, this beautiful sandy beach features great fish & seafood beach bars and restaurants such as Terry’s Conch Salad Stand, Gullywash Beach Bar & Grill, and Smith’s Point Fish Fry Home.
- Mather Beach – Nestled between Smith’s Point Beach and Fortune Beach, this sandy beach has several local spots including Margarita Villa Sand Bar and The Sand Bar. The driving distance from the cruise terminal is 30 minutes.
- Paradise Cove Beach – Located a 25-minute drive northwest of Freeport cruise port, Paradise Cove Beach is a gateway to Deadman’s Reef where you can explore the colorful marine world of the Bahamas. Snorkeling, scuba diving and glass bottom boat rides (for those of you who prefer to stay dry) are the popular activities.
- Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan Resort
- Paradise Cove Beach Resort
Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach
3. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Port Lucaya is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving, yet the best snorkeling is in the open sea. Hop aboard one of the boats or catamarans, and go for a half-day snorkeling/diving tour that will take you to the best snorkeling and scuba diving locations including Peterson Cay National Park, Paradise Cove, and a few others. Snorkel past beautiful coral reefs and look out for Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, and other impressive aquatic wildlife. The best way is to book an organized tour but you can also snorkel on your own from the beach (I did it from Lucaya Beach).
Alternatively, if you don’t want to get wet, you can book one of the boat, catamaran, or glass bottom boat tours that will take you to the open sea where you will be able to spot dolphins, giant sea turtles, stingrays and other wildlife. In addition, fishing and deep-sea fishing rank among the top-rated attractions. The best place for that activity is the deep North-West Providence Channel where you can catch local fish such as snappers, barracudas, groupers, tunas, and more.
4. Unexso Marine Sanctuary
UNEXSO Marine Sanctuary offers the ultimate fun for the entire family! Swim with bottle-nosed dolphins in a 9-acre Dolphin Experience Lagoon, dive with sharks, or shop ’til you drop in their retail store Sun & Sea Outfitters in Port Lucaya Marina. UNEXSO headquarters is located in Port Lucaya Marina, from where the boat trips are organized by the tour operator. Check out more information at https://unexso.com/
5. Rand Nature Center
Rand Nature Center is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and those interested in exploring Grand Bahama Island’s flora and fauna. Set on nearly 100 acres (40 hectares), the nature preserve is home to hundreds of bird species and features a network of trails through the native pine forests. A visitor center, gift shop and restrooms are available within the complex. Rand Nature Center is located around 12 km/7.5 miles (a 15-minute drive) northeast of Freeport Harbour. Admission is free.
6. Garden of the Groves
A beautiful botanical garden is located around 24 km/15 miles (a 30-minute drive) east of the port and was named after Wallace Groves who contributed to the development of Freeport in the second half of the 20th century. Set on 12 acres (5 hectares), the garden features trails through lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls and sparkling fountains. Its main features are a Labyrinth and a picturesque hilltop chapel offering panoramic views of the coast. Garden Cafe & Bar, children’s playground and shops are available on-site. Get more information at https://www.thegardenofthegroves.com/
7. Swim with Pigs
Swimming with pigs is definitely one of the funniest and most unusual things you can do at Freeport cruise port. Head to Crystal Beach in West End village, located a 25-30-minute drive northwest of the cruise terminal, and swim with wild pigs that actually live there!
8. Lucayan National Park
Nestled on Grand Bahama’s southern coast, approximately 40 km/25 miles (a 35-minute drive) northeast of Freeport Harbour, the 40-acre (16-hectare) Lucayan National Park is home to the largest underwater cave systems in the world with over 6 miles of tunnels. The park features numerous walking trails through the lush mangrove, pine and palm forests, and is famous for its breathtaking beaches such as a gorgeous Gold Rock Beach.
9. Island Sightseeing and Cultural Experiences
If you want to learn about the island’s history, delight in Bahamian specialties and learn local traditions, you can opt for one of the sightseeing, culinary, or cultural tours. Several other places of interest include the Bahamian Brewery (only a 5-minute drive from the cruise port) where you can learn about the beer-making process and taste local craft beers, and Perfume Factory (less than a 15-minute drive, in downtown Freeport). You can go for a regular bus tour, or you get your adrenaline pumped up on an ATV, jeep, or horseback ride. You can book the tours via cruise line if offered, online, or with local vendors that you will find in Freeport Harbour and Port Lucaya.
Freeport boasts beautiful golf courses and golf is generally popular in the Bahamas. The most popular golf courses include Fortune Hills Golf & Country Club (a 25-minute drive from the port), Lucayan Golf Course & Country Club (a 20-minute drive), Reef Course & Country Club (a 20-minute drive), and Ruby Golf Course (a 10-minute drive).
Whether you decide to explore Port Lucaya, soak up the Bahamian sun at the beach, or go for some adventure activities, make sure you plan your day ahead to maximize your stay in port!
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