Escape to Grand Bahama Island

Any time is a good time to vacation in the Bahamas. Only 55 miles south of Miami and warm year-round, these breathtaking islands are the picture of paradise. One of the most popular destinations is Grand Bahama Island.

Congratulations to Frances Bosch of Staten Island, New York, and to Abdullah Haydar of Canton, Michigan, winners of Our Lucaya sweepstakes!

Lucaya Beach

Breathtaking Lucaya Beach is a great place to stay on Grand Bahama. This stretch of sand on the southern coast attracts visitors from around the world. Among the many resorts, the Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort and the Westin at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort stand out as two of the best.

These family-friendly beachfront properties share 372 acres of lush tropical grounds, which include two stunning golf courses and 14-themed restaurants. Here you can enjoy tennis courts, a spa, fitness centers and elaborate swimming pools with waterfalls and kid-friendly waterslides. Children 3-12 years of age can also play all day at the Sheraton's Camp Lucaya, which includes an explorers club, crazy pool games, limbo dancing and more. "Grandma Lucaya's" nursery services are also available to those under 2 or up to two hours a day. Plus.the restaurants have a special menu for children under 12.

For more information about the Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach, and their special all-inclusive packages, go to www.sheraton.com/ourlucaya. For the Westin, click on www.westin.com/ourlucaya.

www.sheraton.com/ourlucaya.

www.westin.com/ourlucaya.

Ways to Spend Bahamian Days

During the day, Lucaya's resort-lined beaches are filled with relaxed sun worshippers and water-sport enthusiasts. Kids love to get their hair braided while sitting on the beach, and adults will find the seafood selection superb. Try a bowl of Bahamian conch chowder and a couple of fresh crab cakes before you head home.

Aside from sunning yourself on the sand and splashing in the crystal clear water, there are many ways to pass your days here. The Port Lucaya Marketplace & Marina, an outdoor, pedestrian-only market, is a great place to purchase local crafts and pick up some souvenirs for friends back home. A pod of people-friendly dolphins lives in Sanctuary Bay. And there's nightly musical entertainment down at Count Basie Square (named for the famous jazz musician who once called Lucaya "home").

Nearby Freeport is Grand Bahama's™ only inland city and home to island's airport. Check out the Bahamas Arts & Crafts Straw Market for an island-style beach bag or whimsical hand-woven hat. Then spend a few hours exploring the Rand Nature Centre. This peaceful retreat spreads across more than 100 acres and includes exhibits on natural history and meandering walking trails. After a relaxing stroll, snap a photo of the graceful West Indian Flamingos that live in the pond.

If you have more than just a weekend to spend on Grand Bahama, then you should definitely explore the areas beyond Lucaya Beach and Freeport. Here are a few more activities to add to your Grand Bahama "to-do" list. Paddle a sea kayak through mangrove forests in Lucayan National Park. Snorkel with schools of beautiful bannerfish at Deadman's Reef. Try your hand at bonefishing in the waters around McLean's town. Escape the crowds for a quiet afternoon at the secluded Gold Rock Beach.

Many airlines now offer direct flights to Grand Bahama from major U.S. cities. The following companies have regularly scheduled service: AirTran, American Eagle, Bahamasair, Continental, TWA and US Airways. For more information, visit www.bahamas.com.

www.bahamas.com