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The Bahamas is comprised of 700 islands sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean starting just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The archipelago is an ecological oasis featuring 2,000 breathtaking islands and cays and boasts the clearest water on the planet—with a visibility of over 200 feet. You can see your toes as easily as you can the world’s third largest barrier reef.
We invite you to explore all of our islands. One step and you’ll realize our beauty extends far beyond our extraordinary natural wonders. It’s the smiles on the faces of the Bahamian people. The uniquesounds of our rich culture. The warm hospitality of our heritage and our colorful history.
The first sight greeting cruise ship guests, the Cruise Center Beach just off the ship is excellent. The section nearest the pier tends to have a rocky bottom, but improves rapidly a bit to the north.
Continuing north of Governor’s Beach is English Point Beach. The beach and ocean here tends to be a bit rockier, but the site is nevertheless great and doesn’t see much in the way of crowds.
Much of the east coast of Grand Turk consists of beach, however, due to being exposed to the constant eastern trade winds, large amounts of seaweed and flotsam typically cover the sand. The beaches on this side of the island is fun to explore and beachcomb, but are poor for swimming.
Contrary to what some tour or shore excursion packages offered to cruise ship guests might suggest, all of the beaches to the high tide mark in the Turks and Caicos are public with no entrance fee. There are no “private beaches”. An all-inclusive “private” beach package can be a good option if you want to have access to umbrellas, loungers, a bar service and other amenities, but these sites are neither private nor located on the best beach.
If you simply want to have as much sand and ocean to yourself as possible, we recommend either renting a vehicle or taking a taxi to the spectacular Governor’s Beach (just walk north up the beach a bit if the main access is crowded), English Point Beach or Pillory Beach.
Grand Turk has many small supermarkets and shops. It’s easy to find cold drinks and snacks if you so desire.
HALF MOON CAY
In 1997, Holland America Line purchased Little San Salvador from its previous owners for a cool $6 million. Today, the 2,400-acre island is known as Half Moon Cay and serves as a private retreat for passengers on the line’s Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings. (Carnival ships sometimes visit, too, as Holland America is owned by Carnival Corp.)
Visitors can choose from massages or one of several more active pursuits. A visit to any of three on-island water sports centers will allow for the rental of snorkeling equipment, aqua bikes, windsurf boards, kayaks and beach floats. Or, you can pick from several shore excursion offerings that include horseback-riding, water-scooter rides, stingray adventures, deep-sea fishing (catch-and-release), eco tours, parasailing, and guided bike and kayak tours.
For kids, check out Half Moon Cay’s Half Moon Lagoon water park. It’s got large water creatures for climbing, water cannons and a pirate-ship waterslide. A playground with slides and two wooden pirate ships is also available for children to use.
Several full-service bars are located throughout the island and on the beach. There is also a quiet bar near the facility’s interior lagoon. Additionally, Holland America debuted Captain Morgan’s On the Rocks Island Bar in early 2011. It’s positioned near Tropics Restaurant, which provides a free buffet-style barbecue for passengers. The Captain Morgan bar looks like a washed-up schooner and features outdoor rum-cask seating, cannon water misters and plenty of history on the captain and his exploits. It also includes a performance area, where a band often plays.
A straw market and island shop are both situated near the welcome center. They each offer typical Caribbean souvenirs.
A gratis buffet lunch is provided for island guests.
Freeport is a city, district and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama of the northwest Bahamas. In 1955, Wallace Groves, a Virginian financier with lumber interests in Grand Bahama, was granted 50,000 acres (or 202 km2) of pineyard with substantial areas of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government with a mandate to economically develop the area. Freeport has grown to become the second most populous city in the Bahamas.
The main airport serving the city is the Grand Bahama International Airport, which receives domestic flights from various islands of the Bahamas as well as several international flights from the United States and Canada. Freeport is also served by domestic Bahamian ferry services to other islands and by a regular international service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA operated byBaleària Bahamas Express.
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 would pay no taxes before 1980, later extended to 2054. The area of the land grants within which the Hawksbill Creek Agreement applies has been increased to 138,000 acres (or 526 km2).