Known as the “Hong Kong of the Bahamas,” Freeport is the island nation’s humming global heart. But amid Freeport’s bustle is the soul of the Bahamas, in the local straw crafts sold at the Straw Market and the infectious goombay music at Junkanoo celebrations. Cruises to Freeport put you close to snow-white beaches, marine-rich coral reefs, and laidback calypso rhythms.
Swim with dolphins or explore nature trails in the Garden of the Groves.
Shop at the lively Straw Market and colorful Port Lucaya Marketplace.
Sample fresh conch at a barefoot West End beach bar.
Swim and soak up the sun on one of the island’s sugary-sand beaches.
Snorkel or dive the island’s fringing coral reef.
Much of the movie 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Black Pearl' was filmed in and around Freeport, Bahamas.
Freeport was founded in the 1950s as a “free port” offering tax breaks to investors and businesses.
Many shallow reefs trace the 60-mile shoreline of Grand Bahama Island. Its name, in fact, comes from the Spanish phrase for “great shallows”: gran bajamer.
Beyond the Port Area
Catch a taxi from the Lucayan Harbour port facility to Freeport or Lucaya for the best of the island’s attractions. Popular shore excursions in Freeport, the Bahamas, range from scuba diving or snorkeling the sparkling coral reef to catamaran sails. The 12-acre Garden of the Groves, in Freeport, was once the private meditation garden of the city’s founder, Wallace Groves. It has waterfalls, flowering shrubs, tropical birds, Bahamian raccoons, and a playground.
In the 42-acre Lucayan National Park you can see examples of the island's five ecosystems: pine forests, rocky coppice, mangrove swamps, whiteland coppice, and sand dunes. Pause to sunbathe on a lovely stretch of sandy beach, take a cave tour or a kayaking expedition, or hike paths accented by orchids, hummingbirds, and barn owls.
Beaches in Freeport
Grand Bahama Island has miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches. Popular Xanadu Beach is closest to where your Carnival® cruise to Freeport docks. Two of the island’s best stretches of quintessential Bahamas sand are family-favorite Taíno Beach and Lucayan Beach, both on the Lucaya oceanfront.
Lucaya has beach-chair rentals, water sports, shops and restaurants - which you can experience in our Beach Break & Shopping excursion. Barbary Beach, slightly closer to Lucaya, is great for seashell hunters, and white spider lilies bloom spectacularly here in May and June. In Lucayan National Park, on the island’s north coast, wooden walkways lead through a mangrove swamp to one of the Freeport, Bahamas’ most beautiful beaches, Gold Rock Beach, where stingrays paint shadows on the shallow seas.
Dining in Freeport
If you’d like a taste of the Bahamas the way they used to be on your Carnival® cruise to Freeport, head for Billy Joe’s, a stand on Lucayan Beach where patrons can still go barefoot on the white sand while sampling the chef's conch salad which is hailed as the island's best; he'll also grill or "crack" conch for you.
Another vintage spot is the Star Club, on the island’s west end, open on Sundays only from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Built in the 1940s, the Star was Grand Bahama’s first hotel. You can order Bahamian chicken in the bag, conch salad, or conch fritters. But don’t come for the food; come for the good times, the island music, and to mix with the locals. Be sure to stop in at Austin’s Calypso Bar next door, a colorful old dive.
If you're a seafood lover check out the Bahamas Seafood Culinary Experience where you'll get a panoramic view of the beach and ocean while learning how to prepare traditional Bahamian seafood delicacies.
Shopping in Freeport
Pure 1960s Bahamian kitsch, the landmark International Bazaar in downtown Freeport was once the island’s premier shopping complex. Each area of the 10-acre complex was designed to capture the ambience of a different region of the globe, including the much-photographed Torii Gate, a Japanese symbol of welcome.
These days, the best shopping and dining action is at colorful Port Lucaya Marketplace, overlooking the Port Lucayan Marina where you can catch our Grand Bahama Coastal Cruise & Shopping Tour. Some 80 restaurants and shops sell duty-free jewelry, china, rum, designer clothing, and beachwear. Steel bands get the joint jumping in the marketplace’s Count Basie Square. Next door, the 70-booth Straw Market features Bahamian-made baskets, hats, handbags, and place mats.
- English is the official language of The Bahamas.
- Both the Bahamian dollar (B$) and the U.S. dollar are accepted everywhere.
- Freeport enjoys a warm climate, with average year-round temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees F.
- Pack for steamy semi-tropical days and balmy, breezy evenings for cruises to Freeport.
- Carnival's cruise ships dock at Lucayan Harbour, about 10 minutes from Freeport.