They say that the water in the Bahamas is so clear and bright that astronauts can see it from space. I wasn’t sure if I believed that until I arrived at my accommodation — Freeport’s Pelican Bay Hotel — and opened the sliding glass doors of my room to let in the ocean breeze.

What I saw enchanted me: cotton candy colored skies, the faint outlines of traveling birds, the swaying palm trees, and, of course, the unmistakable turquoise bay that stood as clear and bright as promised. I had quite literally stepped into paradise, and the next three days were confirmation that the Bahamas is one of Earth’s most beautiful places.

For those of you who are first-time visitors to the Bahamas, the sheer amount of places to explore and things to see can be overwhelming. But, for the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing on the city of Freeport. Ready for a weekend of exciting activities? Read on.

For the outdoorsy traveler…

If you’re interested in exploring the crystalline waters of the Bahamas via kayak and a pair of flippers, tours led by Rudy of Blue Green Outdoors are sure to intrigue and enchant. Facilitated by a team of local experts whose love of the land is apparent, the tour will take you to secluded beaches that reveal hidden treasures — most impressively, one of the Bahama’s famed “blue holes.” You’ll also have the opportunity to spot myriad marine animals, snorkel through warm waters, and sight giant starfish. The afternoon culminates in a lunch of local delicacies, which you can munch right on the beach.

Freeport is known as a place of pine and palm, which will make sense as soon as you drive on one of the island’s freeways. And there’s no better way to experience this unique contrasting ecosystem than via an open-top Jeep! A guided convey tour with Grand Bahama Nature Tours takes visitors past scenic overlooks, through majestic pine forests, and into Lucayan National park, which is home to a variety of awe-inspiring caves and pristine shorelines.

For the animal lover…

Those who are interested in exploring the paradise-like world just off shore should contact Keith, owner of West End Ecology Tours. Not only is Keith a skilled sailor, but he’s also deeply attuned with the marine life that has inhabited the island’s waters for eons. And, he’s the only tour operator in the area with such a special relationship to the inhabitants of one pristine Sandy Cay — so much so that he’s even named them. As soon as you dock in the warm shallows, you’ll see pancake-shaped shadows flock to the boat (it’ll only take you a second to realize that they’re stingrays). But don’t be alarmed — visitors are encouraged to get into the water, take turns feeding the rays, and observe the slim lemon sharks that survey the scene.

For the foodie…

Those visiting Freeport on a Thursday evening should prepare themselves for an ebullient end to the night. Every week, the island erupts in a series of fish fries, where locals and visitors congregate for a celebration of Bahamian culture, music, and food. Traditional tunes blare from speakers, beckoning visitors to the dance floor, and everyone greets each other like old friends. The food is served picnic-style, but has the seasoned deliciousness that you’ll soon come to expect from Freeport. If you haven’t gotten a recommendation for a specific location, try Smith’s Point Fish Fry for the freshest food (and beats).

Visiting on a day other than Thursday? Take a break from the sun-soaked beaches and head over to Freeport’s Port Lucaya. There, you’ll find local favorite Agave, which serves pan-Latin fusion cuisine and some of the Bahamas best margaritas!

Photo by André Musgrove
Photo by André Musgrove

For the photographer…

It’d be a toss up to determine whether underwater photographer André Musgrove has spent more time in the sea or on land. A local legend, André has built a successful, and thriving, underwater photography business. And what’s more, his snaps capture and preserve unforgettable underwater moments in the Bahamas. Want to take a photo with rays? Sharks? Schools of fish? No problem. André’s got a lens for that. Watching him in action is also a great learning experience for aspiring underwater photographers.

Have you ever visited Freeport before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!