Grand Bahama Main

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Look around at the elegant resort hotels, golf courses, casino, marinas, and shopping malls of Freeport/Lucaya - and you may find it hard to believe that none of this existed when JFK was president. Faster-paced than Nassau, this cosmopolitan "second city" of the Bahamas is really only four decades old, a monument to modern tourism. But what makes Grand Bahama special is the fact that while you can play, shop, gamble, and boogie the night away to your heart's content in American-style comfort, much of the island remains as it was before the resort revolution.

That includes miles of uncrowded, white-sand beaches (some, like Paradise Cove, with fine snorkeling right off the sand) and three national parks, including one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. The island is a favorite with birdwatchers (18 native Bahamian species can be seen here, along with a resident flock of flamingos), kayaking is popular in the mangrove swamps and creeks along the north shore, and the scuba diving facilities are world-class. And if your heart's desire has always been to swim with a dolphin, look no further: More than a dozen Atlantic bottlenose dolphins make their home at Sanctuary Bay, a natural saltwater lagoon near Port Lucaya, where guests of the always popular (i.e., reserve well in advance) Dolphin Experience get a chance to float up close and personal with them.