Grand Bahama Island
West End

Where the island's mass tourism began, it's becoming an enclave for the elite.

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West End Grand Bahama

West End
is starting over, too, though heading in a different direction. Its first step was to tear down the venerable Jack Tar Hotel, closed since the early 1990s.

Arriving soon after the Jack Tar's demolition, I was surprised that the once sprawling resort could be bulldozed into a fairly compact space. Nothing in the twisted rubble was identifiable, though I'm sure there were decades of happy memories floating around in there; some of them mine.

Replacing the Jack Tar is Old Bahama Bay and its marina, hotel, cottages with Georgian colonial architecture and luxury homes.

With Palm Beach located only 52 miles away, West End always was the natural first port of call for anyone crossing the Gulf Stream. The marina here is capable of docking boats with a draft of 13 feet and up to 175 feet in length.


I rode up and down West End's runway in a car, amazed at the good condition of the pavement. If the control tower and lounge didn't resemble the wreckage of the Jack Tar, a jet could land here safely right now. West End residents would like to see the airfield active again.

The old hotel provided the main employment for the fishing villages, and when it closed the local economy crashed. While Old Bahama Bay is developing into everything it promised to be, the locals are still hurting.

The piles of conch lining the West End road indicate that fishing once more is the main money source, but that never seems to account for much. It's unfair that waiters can earn more than fishermen with their decades of know-how, yet that's the reality of modern island life.

Yet the celebrity of the International Bazaar is what made Grand Bahama Island initially famous. Celebrity is what could revitalize West End.

Actor John Travolta, an avid pilot who owns a fly-in home near Daytona Beach, FL, also owns a home in Old Bahama Bay. He's said to be interested in reopening West End's old airstrip. Sure would be convenient for him.

And for others. . .

Welcome back, everyone, to West End.

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