U.S. currency and electrical appliances work everywhere.
Area: Grand Bahama Island is 96 miles long and 17 miles at its widest point. All of the island's major development is west from Freeport/Lucaya.
At the East End, McLean's Town and Sweeting's Cay remain relatively unvisited. Sweeting's Cay, 55 miles east of Freeport, can be reached only by boat; roads and electricity are relatively new introductions there. The small villages are the real Grand Bahama way of life and well worth a visit.
Climate: Temperatures average 70 to 75 degrees from September to May, 80 to 85 the rest of the year. Grand Bahama is close enough to the U.S. to be affected by passing cold fronts.
Documents: U.S. citizens will need a passport for re-entry the States. Canadian citizens need only a return ticket and a valid passport or certified birth certificate with photo I.D. A driver's license is not a valid form of identification. All others need a valid passport for entry.
Currency: The Bahamian dollar which is on par with the U.S. dollar. U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
Electricity: 120 volts; U.S. appliances are compatible.
Taxes and Tipping: The government levies a $12 per night, per person room tax. The normal service charge is 15%, which sometimes is added automatically to the bill. The departure tax is $18; children 6 and under are exempt
Time: Eastern Standard Time that switches to Eastern Daylight Time to correspond with the U.S. eastern time zone.
Around the Island: Although taxis are readily available, the easiest and most convenient form of transportation is a rental car. The roads are well marked and easy to follow. Driving is on the left. Book your rental car in advance and pick it up at the airport.
Weddings: The People-to-People program offers the free service called „Weddings in Paradise š which can help plan a wedding, provide witnesses and a marriage officer for the ceremony. For information, contact the Tourism Board (above).
Shopping: Long considered the duty free capital of the Bahamas , Freeport is competitive with other duty free destinations like St. Thomas after the government abolished import taxes on 11 luxury items several years ago. Savings of 20 to 50 percent over U.S. prices are common. Americans out of the country for 48 hours may bring back $600 individually and family purchases may be combined to $1200 for a couple and to $2400 for a family of four. The main shopping malls are the International Bazaar in Freeport and the Port Lucaya Marketplace. A straw market is located at the Bazaar and behind the Princess Casino.
The Dolphin Experience: The chance to interact with a pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The two-hour boat trip to visit, photograph and touch the animals. Those 16 and older can become an assistant trainer for a day, which includes swimming with the dolphins, feeding them and observing training sessions. For reservations, call toll free 888-365-3483; the web site is www.dolphinexperience.com.
For More Information: Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board, 800-448-3386. Web site www.grand-bahama.com.