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Columns : Island Notes - Peter Barratt Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Heritage Tourism on Grand Bahama
By Peter Barratt
Jan 22, 2014 - 11:25:42 PM

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By 2020 it has been suggested that more people will visit the Bahamas for heritage tourism than for sea, sand and sun (and even gambling). Since Grand Bahama was settled relatively recently it might be a good question to ask what heritage sites could Grand Bahama Island possibly claim?

Well, actually the answer is that there are a considerable number. The following is a list of just some of the island’s heritage attractions – many of them latent and presently unidentified:

  • West End – the heritage settlement par excellence of the bootlegging era and the later associations with the Butlins Holiday Camp venture
  • West End Seafood factory (has associations with Wennergren and the Duke of Windsor)
  • Deadmans Reef – an important Lucayan Indian site on the beach near the Buccaneer Club ( a monument to their memory has been proposed)
  • Ministry of Tourism historic sites already identified (in Eight Mile Rock, Pinders Point and Freeport)
  • The multi-townships of Eight Mile Rock - potentially showcasing an interesting Grand Bahamian religious experience on Sunday mornings
  • Holmes Rocks – a natural beauty spot (best approached from the Crystal Beach Club)
  • The whirlpool boiling hole off Lewis Yard
  • The Port Area
  • The Pink House, Wallace Groves former residence at the harbor. (Converted into a museum of particular interest to cruise ship passengers?)
  • MS ‘Samos’ monument - the first ship to enter the deepwater harbour needs to be renovated
  • Marine Industry exhibit (featuring the massive shipyard, container and cruise ship ports)
  • The Hermitage, Barbary Beach (and its associations with a real ‘hermit’- photographic displays featuring pre-Freeport. The building is rapidly deteriorating for want of renovation)
  • Pine Ridge, former lumber camp/railway exhibit (reconstruction of part of railway?)Lumber Mill #8 in Lucaya Estates (a relic of Abaco Lumber Company - needs an historic marker at least)
  • Lucayan National Park, a Bahamas National Trust property (an audio visual centre featuring an underwater cave film – a long-delayed project)Petersons Cay, a
  • Bahamas National Trust property ideal for kayak trips (with underwater marine life identifiers)
  • Rand Nature Centre another Bahamas National Trust property (flora and fauna exhibits Lucayan village reconstruction, permanent exhibits in the art gallery)
  • Groves Mausoleum (add an audio-visual viewing room nearby for viewing of the Groves’ 50the anniversary ‘interview’ film and other memorabilia)
  • Arts and Crafts Centre, Freeport (needs activation and proper vehicular access)
  • Taino Beach a marker might note that a pirate ship was wrecked nearby
  • Old Freetown and nearby Owl Hole and Mermaids Lair (historic markers and warning signs)
  • Garden of the Groves Botanical Garden (outdoor areas of interest of flora and fauna, etc. bush medicine garden and old ‘settlement house) also a human history museum discussed later
  • Underwater caverns (many surface locations) and blue holes
  • Movie film facility (open to the public like Popeye Village in Malta)
  • Gold Rock Creek to be declared a wetlands conservation area
  • Water Cay, an isolated old world Out Island settlement (with planning controls aimed at keeping the character of the community)
  • Golden Grove, a former administrative ‘capital’ of Grand Bahama
  • Missile Base, important Apollo down-range NASA base (Sheppard monument)
  • A north shore wetlands conservation area
  • North Riding Point and The Gap, former lumber company facilities
  • High Rock, a typical Out Island settlement (with planning controls aimed at keeping the character of the community)
  • Rocky Creek blue hole (an attraction that is easily accessible)
  • McLeans Town, home of Conch Cracking Tournament (10 October) and ferry port
  • The eastern Cays, natural beauty spot and world class bone fishing locale

Many of the above are presently not identified but, at the very least, most are deserving of recognition possibly with the installation of historic marker signs.

Other potential heritage assets (presently requiring sites to be allocated) that might be considered are as follows:

  • A resurrected Grand Bahama Museum at the Garden of the Groves
  • Junkanoo exhibit (part of the new but Freeport Arts and Crafts Centre that seems to be in hibernation)
  • Exhibit recounting the GBPA Story (at the Freeport Library – possibly reverting to its original name chosen by James Rand the original benefactor: The John Harvard Library?)
  • Sponging exhibit (at McLeans Town?) together sponge fishing trips
  • Nature trails for pedestrians and horses
  • Selected conservation areas including north shore blue holes (various locations)
  • Institute for environmental terrestrial and marine studies (located at West End?)

He has published several books about the island nation: Grand Bahama, Freeport Notebook and Bahama Saga, (the latter a historical novel about the islands). He has also written a full colour work entitled: Angelic Verses and two other works are near publication: The Port at War and St Peter Was Never There.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com


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