Want a quick getaway when you want to get away quickly? The Grand Bahamas, the northernmost island of the Bahamas and the closest major island to the United States of the 700 islands and 2400 cays is the place to go. Whether you pack a binocular for bird-watching, a snorkel to dive down under the world’s largest underwater cave systems, a fishing rod for the numerous boating excursions, or a tube of suntan lotion to relax on one of the island’s pristine beaches there is something for everybody in this island the Spaniards named “Gran Bajamar” or “Great Shallows” for the breathtaking coral reefs that surround it.
The fascinating history of the island adds a quaint charm to this vacation destination popular for its upscale resort center and casino on the island of Freeport. From the stories of the rum-running days to the free slave settlements of Pinder’s Point, Russell Town, Smith’s Point and William’s Town to the breathtaking ecological wonders found in the three national parks, visitors delight in the vast array of sightseeing opportunities available. Add the unique cuisine and culinary extravagance and you have a vacation that is truly satiating.
Want to do more than pamper yourself when you arrive? Hidden within the island’s vast attractions is a shining opportunity: volunteering. Diane Cacciatore knows all about that. “It all started on a family vacation to the Grand Bahamas. I spotted three children sitting in a car under a bridge and wanted to help.” Because of the particular laws governing the Grand Bahamas, volunteer opportunities are difficult to obtain. “I have throughout the years forged a relationship with the island government, however, which has enabled me a way to set up a safe effective way to help the community.”
Diane keeps busy flying back and forth between her home and the island helping the underprivileged in Freeport with her non-profit “Women Supporting Women Ministries” (www.wswministries.com). Collecting everyday items from clothing to furniture to computers, Diane brings care packages to those in need, with plenty of helping hands by her side. High School students are given the opportunity to add volunteering to their resumes and college applications by accompanying her and getting to appreciate firsthand the benefits of giving back.
“Anyone is welcome to join us,” she says of her frequent trips to the Grand Bahamas, where natives and tourists help to make this a beautiful island for living…and giving.- DUO