Lucayan National Park
Gold Rock Beach

Park's Gold Rock Beach is spectacular--but only at low tide

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Lucayan National Park
and Gold Rock Beach

Lucayan National Park and Gold Rock Beach, located 20 miles from Freeport, are definitely worth the out-of-the-way trip either as part of an excursion or with a rental car.

The Queen's Highway leading to Lucayan National Park is well paved and with little traffic most of the time.
Just make sure you have plenty of fuel for your auto; gas stations are scarce.

The highway divides the park into two very separate sections. The parking lot is located on the upland side, which contains limestone caves some of them used for burial by the native Lucayan Indians.

The first cave on the pathway is Ben's Cave, part of a huge underwater cave system. Ben's Cave is actually an inland blue hole with a surface layer of fresh water and salt water below. Fresh water caves like this one were important sources of fresh water to the Lucayan Indians, who normally lived close to the shore.

A biologist in the late 1970s found a previously unknown class of crustacean in Ben's Cave. The tiny opaque, centipede-like organism apparently had been living blind, in the darkness of the Grand Bahama cave system, for millions of years before its discovery.

At times, the cave has been closed because of concern for the underwater stalactites and stalagmites. When it's open, it usually is under the supervision of Lucaya's UNEXSO and open to certified divers only.

A short distance beyond Ben's is a second limestone cavern, Burial Mound Cave. In 1985, archeologists found four skeletons on the floor of Burial Mound Cave, about 6 feet underwater. A stairway here leads inside the cavern to a platform just above the water level. Lucayan bones and artifacts, such as pottery, have been found in many caves.

These caves are only one of the ecosystems found in Lucayan National Park, apparently the only place in the Bahamas that contains all the 6 ecosystems found individually or in lesser combinations throughout the islands.

The park also is heavily forested in Caribbean
pine a surprisingly rare species, found on only four Bahamas islands and apparently nowhere else in the world. The forest reminds me of the spindly sand pines in Central Florida, only these are not quite as bent over.

The coastal section of Lucayan National Park is totally different. To reach Gold Rock Beach, you must first cross a ramshackle boardwalk that spans the extensive mangrove system of Gold Rock Creek, a popular kayaking site.

The boardwalk and short walking trail lead to Gold Rock Beach, a gorgeous stretch of white sane extending for miles in both directions without a hint of development. It is perfect for a day's outing.

During slack water, hundreds of yards of washboard sand bottom lie exposed. Those sandbanks may have been treacherous for early explorers but they're a glorious playground for us today. Gold Rock has no visible buildings (just a few picnic tables). With a rental car, bring a picnic and spend the day; the tall casuarina trees will supply plenty of shade.

Yet only a handful of people typically are here, probably because of the distance, about 25 miles from Freeport.

Lucayan National Park and Gold Rock Beach are open from daylight to sunset. For more information: (242) 352-5438. For information about kayak tours of the park, call Kayak Nature Tours, (242) 373-2485.

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