Freeport, Bahamas

Freeport is a city and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama, located approximately 100 mi (160 km) east-northeast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and is a district of the Bahamas.

In 1955, Wallace Groves, a Virginian financier with lumber interests on the island, was granted 50,000 acres (200 km²) of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government with mandate to economically develop the area. The city of Freeport was built, which has grown to be the second most populous city in The Bahamas (26,910 in 2000) after the capital, Nassau.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) operates the free trade zone, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement signed in August 1955 whereby the Bahamian Government agreed that businesses in the Freeport area will pay no taxes before 2054. The area of the land grants has been increased to 138,000 acres (558 km²).

Freeport Harbour is accessible by even the largest vessels, and has a cruise terminal, a transshipment/container port, and both a private yacht and ship maintenance facility. Grand Bahama International Airport handles nearly 50,000 flights each year.

Tourism complements trade as a revenue earner in Freeport, with over a million visitors each year. Much of the tourist industry is centered on the seaside suburb of Lucaya, owing its name (but little else) to the pre-Columbian Lucayan inhabitants of the island. The city is often promoted as "Freeport/Lucaya." Most hotels on the island are located along the southern Atlantic Ocean shore. Primary shopping venues for tourists include the (mostly closed since damage caused by Hurricane Frances and labor issues closed the nearby hotel) International Bazaar near downtown Freeport and the Port Lucaya Market Place in Lucaya.

The English author Justin Hill was born here in 1971.

Booklovers would be pleased to know that there are two public libraries on the island - the Charles Hayward Library, which has been manned solely by volunteers for most of its life and the Grand Bahama Public Youth Library. The chief librarian at the Charles Hayward Library is Elaine Talma.

There are two drama groups on the island - the Freeport Players Guild - originally made up of expatriates to provide entertainment for their community. Their productions were musicals, comedies and drama - usually the more successful British productions. The Grand Bahama Players represented the indigenous population, staging productions by Bahamian, American and Caribbean playwrights. Their talent was of a standard which allowed them to perform internationally - most notable being at the United Nations.

Port Lucaya

With miles of beautiful beaches and clear water, Port Lucaya is ideal for snorkeling and water sports. The most popular excursions in Port Lucaya include swimming with the dolphins, going on a rum party cruise where you can party the evening away or watch the sun set over the coastline of Grand Bahama. The original Bahama Mama Booze Cruise heads out from Port Lucaya for 2 hours of dancing, drinking and dining. If you are looking for a more romantic type of evening, the Bahama Mama Sunset Cruise offers 3 hours of relaxing under a wondrous sky. Water-skiing, jet-skiing, parasailing and windsurfing are other water sports you’ll find available for you to try. more

Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama is one of the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and the closest major island to the United States, lying just 55 mi (90 km) off the coast of the state of Florida. Grand Bahama is the fourth largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and cays. The island is approximately 96 miles (154 km) long west to east and 17 miles (27 km) at its widest point north to south. more