In my opinion, Lucayan National Park is the best day trip on Grand Bahama Island. You’ll find Grand Bahama’s best beach (Gold Rock Beach), two underwater caves, and few people to share it all with. Lucayan National Park is only ~20 miles east of Freeport, but it feels a bit out in the “boonies.” You can easily explore everything in a half day, but a full-day isn’t a bad idea either. Below you’ll find some of the highlights that are not to be missed.
Gold Rock Beach
Gold Rock Beach is arguably Grand Bahama’s most beautiful stretch of sand. To reach Gold Rock Beach, you must hike a half mile through scrub forest and by boardwalk snaking through the mangroves. The best time to go is at low tide when the shoreline expands by a football field out to sea and is referred to as Grand Bahama Island’s “welcome mat.”
The entrance to Ben’s Cave was created when a portion of the cave roof collapsed. The clear pool that you see is fresh water, which floats on top of lower salt water. Under-water passages spread out horizontally from Ben’s Cave for thousands of yards making the Lucayan Cavern system one of the longest surveyed in the world. Large colonies of harmless bats use the ceiling of Ben’s Cave as a nursery in the summer. Orchids and bromeliads can be seen growing on trees around the entrance.
Burial Mound Cave
The remains of several Lucayan Indians were found in a water-filled cavern near this cave entrance. The bones were perfectly preserved under a mound of rocks in about 6 feet of fresh water. This cave is the home of a rare member of a new class of crustacean, Speleonectes lucayensis which resembles a swimming centipede.
Lucayan National Park is 40 acres and encompasses nearly every vegetation zone represented in the Bahamas Islands including upland pine forests, hardwood coppices, mangrove estuaries, coastal dunes, and beaches. This habitat diversity makes the Lucayan National Park one of the prime bird watching spots on the island. There’s two hiking loops you can do (see map below). One is a short loop out of the main parking lot which takes you to Ben’s Cave and Burial Mound Cave. The other loop, which is maybe a mile in length, is across the road and takes you to Gold Rock Beach and through the mangroves.
Snorkeling & Diving
Based on other online reports, there’s supposedly excellent snorkeling by Gold Rock, which is a half-mile swim from the beach. Ben’s Cave is a popular spot for diving, but you need to go with a a diving company or obtain a permit from the park.
Kayaking & Tours
If you don’t have a car, there are a couple of tour operators out of Freeport that service the resorts and cruises. A popular tour is through the mangroves on kayak, but there’s other tours that just take you to Gold Rock Beach and Ben’s Cave.
Lucayan National Park Map
There is only a restroom at the parking area. When I was at Lucayan National Park, a local lady was selling snacks and drinks, but you should come prepared with your own supplies (especially water) if you plan on spending the day.
Lucayan National Park is off Grand Bahama Highway about 20 miles east of Freeport. The main parking lot will be on your left.