Where is Grand Bahama: The island north of New Providence, home of Nassau, lies 55 miles east of the Florida coast. And surprise: The islands of the Bahamas are not part of the Caribbean, at least not technically. They just live like they are with Goombay music, pina coladas with little umbrellas, and the whistles and zany costumes of the Junkanoo parades.
Size: 96 miles long from east to west; 17 miles across at its widest point.
Population: Approximately 50,000.
Best hotel for golf: The Reef and Lucaya golf courses are across the street from Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resort. You can schedule golf through the resort's concierge and use the resort's shuttle service to and from the courses. Or even walk.
Great place to get a native dish without leaving your resort: Be sure to try conch, the national food of The Bahamas. It comes cracked, chopped into a salad, cirveche (cured in lime juice) or fried into fritters. You can always get it in any of the resorts, but if you walk along the beach just past the Sheraton, you'll find less crowds. Stop in at Billy Joe's Conch Shack or try the local outdoor market.
Driving: Drive like the Brits do: on the left. Home licenses are good for up to three months, and you may also apply for an international driver's license.
Best beach: Gold Rock Beach at Lucaya National Park is perfect for a picnic. It's secluded and uncrowded, and the best part? The water is crystal blue.
Great place to grab breakfast: Pelican Bay at Lucaya Hotel, just across from the Westin and Sheraton, is a charming boutique hotel featuring tropically decorated suites with harbour views. With rates as low as $250 per night, accommodations in one of Pelican Bay's suites includes such thoughtful amenities as cappuccino machines in-room and fresh pastries delivered to your doorstep each morning. In addition to those treats, complimentary Continental breakfast is served poolside.
Great place to grab a drink: The Martini Lounge at Ferry House restaurant, adjacent to Pelican Bay at Lucaya Hotel and the Westin and Sheraton, is the only restaurant in the Bahamas to have a floating martini lounge. Guests can sit back and listen to tropical tunes while enjoying exotic martinis, mojitos and a variety of appetizers from oysters to tostados. For more information or reservations visit www.Ferryhousebahamas.com.
Currency: The Bahamian dollar equates to the U.S. dollar, but I've found everyone accepts U.S. currency, so I never change money and always ask for change in U.S. currency.
Climate: September-May average temperature, 70-75 degrees; June-August, 80-85 degrees. Hurricane seasons are June-November
Entry: Passport is required.
Getting there: Several airlines provide service to Grand Bahama Island: American Eagle (800-433-7300), Bahamasair (800-222-4262), Continental Connection (800-231-0856), Delta Airlines (800-221-1212), Spirit Airlines (800-772-7117), US Airways (800-622-1015) and several charter carriers.
Departure: You can take home $800 of duty-free merchandise and one liter of wine or liquor. (Duty-free does not always equate to "cheap," except perhaps for local brews like rum, and may not be worth the trouble of packing and carrying it.) Also, ask about departure tax.