Review of Bahamas Inter island Tours
Felt like we had been friends forever!
The best trip to Grand Bahama yet, that kind of wraps it up! We have gone to Grand Bahama two other times on a cruise and this was our third time. We didn't want to just do the taxi to Lucaya Beach again or do any of the ships over priced excursions, so I set out on a research mission for a tour or excursion that would not only give us great value and fun but that would offer some immersive Island history and life, along with the nature and beauty that this wonderful Island offers. We like to be active or think we can be (but we are not super in shape), and one thing that was a must on this trip was a trip to Gold Rock beach and the Lucayan National Park, so that was my starting point.
At first I thought about doing a Carnival excursion including Kayaks -FREEPORT KAYAK & NATURE EXPERIENCE- the cost was $104 per person, and included a lunch-meat sandwich and soft drink/water, it had great reviews, but many complained of the poor "lunch" and having to break down the paddle in the tight mangroves, and this turned me off I can get a bologna sandwich at home and well paddling like that seemed a lot of work to me, so I moved on but looked for a similar tour at the park. I found some local offerings very close to the same and again the reviews were good but still a lot of complaints. as I read through place after place on Trip advisor, I came to Bahamas Interisland Eco tours - Day Tours on TripAdvisor. Well let me tell you the first thing that caught my eye was it was #3 of 34 Outdoor Activities in Freeport (#7 as of today for some reason not sure why!)
We booked about 7 months in advance on his website $25 PP deposit, using paypal (note that Jeff can't get the cash to the island and has to use this deposit online, he is working on a way to do full payments easier, but I like pay pal and providing cash for him once there ) Jeff was prompt with emails for questions I had and with directions of when and where to meet. Our ship docked at 8 AM and we met at the food court at "Conchalicous" this is his Mothers stand at the port at 9:30 for a departure of 9:45 he arrived and was getting unloaded for the stand and we walked over and met him. We were greeted with a super genuine smile and happiness and excitement that was wonderful to see. We were the only 2 people with him this day (we tried to talk our 4 friends into coming) and this was not at all an issue for him his tours are small and personal and he makes you feel like royalty as another reviewer put it.
We set off in his air conditioned mini van and headed to Lucayan National Park, he took a different way than we would normally travel with a taxi to Lucaya Beach so he could show us many of the industries and areas, including a quick stop in front of the International airport where all the planes headed to the US after 9/11 stopped and pre screened, he offered so much info on the state of the island economics history and ecology of the island, he is a wonderful speaker I could have drove around all day listening to his knowledge of all things Bahamian he really is a great ambassador for Grand Bahama I hope that his government knows this! We arrived at the park after about a 20-30 minute drive and tour. Our excitement was swelling as I knew we would be at Gold Rock as low tide was hitting (this is the best time to visit Gold Rock) and he checked the tide tables and sure enough it was rolling out! while he paid the park fees (included in the cost) he showed us where the toilets were if we needed and it gave us time to read the information boards and take in the Caribbean pines and the Rocky Coppice of this area (there are a few ecosystems right here in this area of the 6 on the Island). Once he was finished we walked along a path a short distance and visited two of the caves Ben's cave and then the Lucayan Burial mound cave. Jeff brought so much info about the caves and the burial cave was fascinating history please make sure to ask ask ask he is full of knowledge on everything here.
After we headed back to the main entrance stopped and bought some snacks and Gatorade from a wonderful woman who wouldn't take my $10 for $6 worth as a tip and made sure she got me change! We crossed the road to head through the mangroves to Gold Rock. Jeff points out all the fauna and wildlife on the way, as well stopping to talk to locals and others, talk about southern hospitality, the people of Grand Bahama Island are wonderful, it was really cool hearing them chat for a bit while we took photos and searched for birds and fish in the mangroves on the walkway. learned about the dogs of the Island what a great fun story, and viewed the land crabs (I don't want to give all his stories away but they are informative and fun, Jeff feels his travelers out and takes a pace you want to do!)
The opening - AMAZING! we tried to walk out but Jeff led us to a more open area to walk out onto the beach, you really have to experience this site there is no describing the beauty of this beach. He told us some facts and told us to leave our things they were safe (and they were ) and we set a time to meet back to finish our adventure. we walked the beach for about 45 minutes (we didn't bring suites we just waded and enjoyed the secluded HUGE low tide beach there were maybe 15 others on the entire beach from another tour as from the looks of it. (he plans the trips to beat the larger tours and buses. we were able to really take it all in we could have stayed for days and never left. (this is the beach used in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 sandbar scene and others) we say a lot of glass fish one was a long gar like fish I am not sure what they actually are, Fishermen out on a small skiff, other couples and families enjoying this paradise!
From here we were offered options (I was worried to be back to port in time, so he was giving us options) one was to go back and eat at Conchalicous or to go to his Uncles Beach bar, we of course wanted to visit Cleveland's Beach Bar Resort. So we traveled back towards Lucayan Beach and along the way got to learn more and more about the Islands History and people, we say many of the middle class homes and neighborhoods as well as the rich, and learned about the Settlements it was all so very eye opening and interesting. Cleveland's is in Mather's Settlement, right on the beach it is another wonderfully secluded beach no tourist no selling and hir braiding no one to bother you, just locals that are very willing to share their place with you Cleveland and Millie were so very welcoming and had such a my home is your home attitude I just can't say you have to experience this! Included was a meal of local fresh fish or Conch and as well hamburger fries etc. And we could purchase Drinks also. We had the snapper and a burger both with really good fries (thin seasoned with salt and pepper my favorite) we had some Kalik, High Rock and I had a Cleveland's special (its a Fruity Rum Drink it has a good kick!) we went out and enjoyed the water and talked to the other group that came there for the day, but mostly relaxed on the covered deck listening to some local music I think a mix of Soca, Junkanoo, Calypso we really dug some of the lyrics of the music (Jeff also is a DJ on the Island!)
After this wonderful day Jeff took as back to port with plenty of time to spare, we were hopping to get some conch from his mothers stand but she had sold out ! we were able to stroll through some of the shops and grab a few T shirts and things for family back home and back on the ship to watch the pier running family that almost got left behind.
All I can say is we will be back to Visit Jeff and try his other tours, if t=not the same again maybe even see if we can do a all Gold Rock day with him,he is our Friend, he made us feel like family and I honestly consider him my friend or brother. this tour is very worth the cost and I would recommend this to anyone who is a traveler and not just a tourist looking for senor frog party time. there is no shopping he is not a shopping tour he is not a party tour, he is a proud Bahamian who wishes to share his Island and life with you, I guarantee if you like nature, learning, adventure and becoming family with the people of the places you travel to he is the person to start with, he will make you feel a part of the culture and just WOW honestly made us feel so so welcome that we really did not want to leave (I almost asked if he had a spare bed!!)
I give 10 stars! We will visit him again soon and hope to meet more of his family. Jeff is the Best and he will not be beat!
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