If your family prefers a quieter Caribbean vacation than some of the mega resorts offer, consider an escape to the village of West End on Grand Bahama Island, the Bahamas.
West End village is an especially appealing destination for a winter or spring break vacation with tweens or teens, who will appreciate the fresh seafood, water activities and eco tours available on the low-key island.
What To Do & Eat On Grand Bahama Island With Tweens & Teens
Things to Do
Of course you can enjoy sun-filled, breezy days at the beach. You can swim and snorkel right off the beach fairly easily.
If you want to get off the beach and do something a little different, consider a guided eco tour or go fishing with Captain Keith Cooper, owner of West End Ecology Tours.
Recently I was a co-sponsor of a trip giveaway to West End, and the winners, a mother and her tween son from Portland, Oregon, stayed for several days in late March.
They told me the fishing excursion with Keith was the highlight of their vacation. The boy was thrilled to catch his first big fish (a Spanish Mackerel) and even more excited as Keith expertly cut up the fish at dockside. Several other children came by to watch.
In Freeport you can wander around the Port Lucaya Marketplace, an outdoor pedestrian mall with plenty of boutiques and souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and live music entertainment at night.
Use the grocery stores in Freeport before you head to the West End if you plan to food shop for your stay.
Lucayan National Park offers elevated walkways through wetlands, sand dunes and a huge systems of caves. some of these are accessible on foot and others only by SCUBA diving.
Where to Eat
There are a few small restaurants in West End and also at the Old Bahama Bay resort. You can also head in to Freeport for more dining out options. If you want to buy groceries and cook, fresh seafood is always easy to find along with local tropical fruits and vegetables.
Basics for Planning a West End, GBI Family Vacation
How to Get There
GBI is the most northern of all the Bahamian islands and is second closest to the coast of Florida (after Bimini). It’s a small and friendly island, easy to access and easy to get around once. West End is about 23 miles away from the main city of Freeport on the island’s western tip
Most travelers arrive in Freeport by ferry, cruise ship, or airline. The GBI airport is just two miles from downtown. You can book a ride on a three-and-half-hour ride on a passenger ferry from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
If you want to sample Grand Bahama Island before booking a longer stay, try it as a port stop on a cruise from either Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach.
What to Bring
Visitors from the U.S. need only a passport; visitors from other places might need a visa as well. The local currency is the Bahamian dollar which is on par with the US dollar. You can use either the US or the Bahamian currency and also use major credit cards. Bring light clothes for warm temperatures, a hat, sunglasses, and a good waterproof sunscreen to protect your skin against sunburn!
Once you arrive, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or hop on a public jitney bus, which is the cheapest option. Be sure to have exact change for the bus. It is about US$4 one way from Freeport to West End.
Grand Bahama Hotel Options
Most of the hotels and all-inclusive resorts are around Freeport. West End has many private homes for rent and there are also condos in the Old Bahama Bay area to rent by owner. Many offer full kitchens with refrigerator, stove/oven, and microwave, plus plates, cups, and cutlery.
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with this vacation spot in The Bahamas.
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Deborah Regen is the publisher of EcoTourLinQ, a website and blog about eco tours and sustainable travel worldwide. check out her free directory of eco tours by destination.