Grand Bahama Island
It's the first island I ever visited. It hurt to see it wither away. It's total joy to watch it reclaim its birthright.
Long gone are the glory days of the 1960s and 70s when it was the Caribbean's chief fantasy destination. Grand Bahama exemplifies what happens when an island gets sloppy and standards slide.
For me, seeing Grand Bahama go downhill was like watching an old friend turn seedy. More than 30 years ago, GBI was the first island I ever visited, back when it was poised for greatness and working hard to attain it.
Because it was where I saw my first shark underwater, drank my first Zombie and for the first time fell asleep under wind-rustled palms, I've had an unusual fondness for the place.
So much so that in the mid-60s I even considered building a summerhouse in one of the highly touted planned subdivisions that never materialized.
More than four decades later, my favorite parcel of land is still available, undeveloped, like all the other plots along the many roads that nowhere; a testament to a grand dream that turned to sand.
But now may be the time to buy. Freeport/Lucaya are all spruced up again, looking just as glamorous as they did in their hey-day. Gone is the feeling that this is a place in eclipse.
Instead, there's a new enthusiasm and vigor among the people. Craft sellers, taxi drivers and hotel and restaurant employees appear more upbeat and friendlier than I can remember in a long time.
Yet during the period Grand Bahama faded from view a lot was done to protect the natural environment. Thanks to the creation of the Lucayan National Park, Gold Rock Beach looks as spectacular as ever, and the remarkable underwater stalagmites and stalactites of Ben's Cave remain largely undisturbed.