Фрипорт и Большой Багама, Багамские Острова

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Iyna Bort Caruso

Of the hundreds of islands and thousands of cays that make up the Bahamas, Grand Bahama, is northernmost in the archipelago and the closest major island to the United States, just 55 miles off the Florida coast.

 

Set against an indigenous Junkanoo soundtrack of cowbells, goatskin drums and horns, Grand Bahama Island’s powder-soft sand beaches, lush foliage and turquoise seascape are remarkable gifts of nature. Below the sea, underwater caves go on for some six miles at protected Lucayan National Park, one of the world’s longest cave systems. What’s more, the island is surrounded by coral reefs. Today the coral gardens lure snorkelers and scuba divers for their marine life, but during the Golden Age of Piracy, those same reefs caused vessels to run aground, making them easy prey for looters.

 

Long after pirates disappeared, rum-runners made their appearance during the Prohibition Era adding another chapter to the Bahamas’ colorful history. They focused on the western coast. Today West End, the capital of Grand Bahama, is a quaint and quiet fishing village, and one of just three main regions of the 95-mile long island.

 

Freeport is in the center of the island and the second most populous city in the Bahamas chain with all the amenities and attractions of a major resort destination--an international airport, gaming, fine restaurants and top shopping.

 

For most of its history part, Grand Bahama Island was sleepy and sparsely populated until the mid-1950s when an American financier Wallace Groves had a vision to develop the island, specifically Freeport, into a tourist destination to rival Cuba. 

 

Americans have been coming ever since both as visitors and as second home owners representing the island’s largest group of international property buyers. Both ends of the island are quieter and less developed than lively Freeport and its outskirts. Buyers can choose between beachfront or canal front residences, some with deep-water dockage for private yachts. International homeowners enjoy the same property rights as Bahamians.