All posts in "The Out Islands"

Andros Island

The Least Explored and Largest Island in the Bahamas

With romantic views and exciting activities, the Bahamas has always been imagined as the perfect getaway. Known for its tropical climate, the island nation boasts of scenic beaches that are available all year round, making it the perfect paradise for those who are trying to escape the heat – or the chilling cold. However, aside from its famous beaches, the Bahamas is also willing to share its rich history and culture. Perhaps the most interesting among these islands is the unexplored haven that is Andros.

Spanning an area of approxomately 2,300 square miles, Andros is the largest among the Bahamian islands. Although an archipelago composed of islands and cays, it is considered a single island for political reasons. Despite its size, it is actually the least developed among all the islands – making it rich in undisturbed marine life, flora and fauna. It is also home to underwater caves and what is believed to be a prehistoric riverbed, thus, giving it the nickname as the natural wonder of the Bahamas.

Andros Island, Bahamas – Photo Credit – Wikimedia.org

The island was originally inhabited by the Lucayan Indians. When the Spaniards arrived following their quest for exploration, they brought diseases along with them that the Lucayans were not immune to. Eventually, their number started decreasing until they finally became extinct. Years later, Britain also arrived and disputes over the island ensued. Finally, in 1783, a treaty was signed which gave Britain control over the Bahamas.

Like much of the region, the main industry on the island is based on tourism. In fact, the Bahamas’ largest national park system, the Andros Park System, is located on the island. The Blue Holes National Park, the North Marine Park, the South Marine Park, the West Side National Park, and the Crab Replenishment Reserve are among those located within the park system.

Blue Hole

Being home to the world’s largest concentration of blue holes and the 6000-ft Tongue of The Ocean, thrill seekers are bound to find this island interesting. Diving and snorkeling on the Andros Barrier Reef, the third largest fringing barrier reef, is also a significant source of tourism. These bodies of water also make Andros home to a number of exotic marine life, some of which you cannot find elsewhere on the planet. Additionally, those who love to fish may find that the island has vast areas of wetlands, making it perfect for fishing. In fact, Andros has been dubbed as the Bonefishing Capital of the World.

Those who are fascinated with folklore may also find that the myths surrounding the islands are worth listening to. One tale is about the Chickcharnees. These are large creatures living in the pine forests that appear to be half-bird and half-man, possessing powers that protect the island from evil. They are considered as the lucky charm of the Bahamas. On the other hand, the Lusca is a dragon-like creature, which lurks in the blue hole. If one is not careful, this monster can suck their victims into their underwater lairs.

Souvenirs are also easy to find, as locals of this island are known for their crafts. Aside from making waterproof straw baskets, Androsians are also famous for their colorful Androsia batik, a type of printed fabric that is a well-known item all over the Bahamas.

Getting to Andros is not a problem. By air, domestic and international flights are available via the San Andros International Airport. Likewise, chartered flights are also available via the Andros Town Airport, the Clarence A. Bain Airport in Mangrove Cay, and the Congo Town Airport. By sea, travelers may choose to travel via a fully-air conditioned public ferry service, or by mailboat services. Private boats are also welcome in Andros’ marinas.

Exploring the island is also made easy via taxis that are available in almost every establishment in towns. However, the northern part runs on 65 miles of uninterrupted motorway, so visitors who wish to travel that way are recommended to rent a car instead. Additionally, the government provides a free scheduled ferry service for those who wish to travel on nearby islands and cays within the Andros archipelago.

The island also offers each visitor with various accommodations to choose from. Some may opt to relax at luxury hotels and resorts, while some may choose to spend the night in seaside bungalows with a breathtaking view of the sea. For a more romantic retreat, cottages on private cays are also available. Some locals also offer traditional living spaces to give some travelers a unique peek into the Androsian way of living.

Andros is one of the Bahamian islands, which boasts of breathtaking attractions and exciting activities. It is also the island that is home to stories of mythical creatures and monsters that certainly add to its peaceful island charm. Surely, a trip to this serene haven will always be a memorable one.

 

Sources:

http://www.bahamas.com/islands/andros
http://www.bahamas.co.uk/bahamas-islands/andros-bahamas
http://www.myoutislands.com/bahamas-islands/andros
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andros,_Bahamas

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Cat Island

Cat Island: The Underrated Gem of the Bahamas

The stereotypical image one paints when he hears the words “The Bahamas” is that of a long stretch of white sand beaches dotted with coconut trees blessed with a scenic seascape overlooking nearby islands and cays….  What the general public needs to know is that this island nation has more to offer than just their perfect coastline.

Devils Point at Cat Island Bahamas

Devils Point at Cat Island Bahamas

Because of its colorful history, The Bahamas is also known to be a cultural melting pot in the Caribbean. The islands have gone through so much economically and politically, that each island has a unique story to share. Among these islands, the most number of tales to unfold would be that from Cat Island.

With its prime location in central Bahamas, the fishhook-shaped Cat Island is home to many natural and historical landmarks. Originally called San Salvador (which is the name for another island), the island is said to have derived its name either from the pirate Arthur Catt or from the feral cats that abound the area. Although British loyalists established residency on the island, much of today’s inhabitants still practice traditional activities like weaving straw handicrafts.

Since it is located near the Tropic of Cancer, the beaches of this island enjoy a warm climate throughout the year. However, with its neighboring islands and cays offering more water activities, these rose-colored beaches remain unspoiled by tourism.

Unique abandoned dwelling on Cat Island, Bahamas

The Hermitage on Mount Alvernia in Cat Island, Bahamas

Aside from being a peaceful beach paradise, Cat Island is also home to Mount Alvernia, the highest elevation in the Bahamas. At 206 feet above sea level, adventure-seekers will find the view absolutely breathtaking, making it an interesting stop on their Bahamian trip. Additionally, on top of the hill rests The Hermitage, a stone monastery hand-carved by architect Father Jerome. This is one of The Bahamas’ most well-known historic landmarks.

 

Other notable attractions on the Island include Armbrister Plantation, the Griffin Bat Cave, the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Old Bight, and the ruins of the Deveaux House Mansion. Other ruins of cotton plantations can be seen on the island and on other nearby islands. Visitors who wish to discover more about the island’s unique history may want to visit The Columbus World Centre Museum for a day of fun and learning.

DeVeaux mansion, Cat Island.

Those who wish to explore the hidden secrets of the island will not be disappointed. The Boiling Hole, a lake near Armbrister Creek, is a notable spot to see baby sharks, spy rays, and various bird species. Diving enthusiasts may also explore the island’s hidden coves, ship wrecks, and blue holes. To add to the excitement, local folklore believes that the 10-ft deep Mermaid Hole is actually home to a mermaid, while the Big Blue Hole houses a horse-eating monster.

The main settlement of Arthur’s Town also offers many opportunities for travelers and locals to mingle. Cat Island is also home to Rake and Scrape, the indigenous music of The Bahamas, making it possible for visitors to enjoy its beat all year round – it even hosts the Annual Rake and Scrape Festival during Labour Day weekend. Additionally, the childhood home of Academy Award winning actor Sir Sidney Poitier in South Bight is also one of the town’s main destinations.

Kalik on Cat Island

Drinking a Kalik Beer in the Harbor. Cat Island, Bahamas.

Holidaymakers can easily choose from the different accommodation types offered on the island. There are secluded resorts that offer a peaceful countryside feel. On the other hand, some guests may prefer to stay in beachside cottages where they have easy access to the sea.  Cat Island vacation options are abundant, but there are no five star hotels here.  This is a place off of the beaten path!

Reaching Cat Island is possible via air and sea transportation. There are scheduled domestic and international flights to the island via the Arthur’s Town Airport and the New Bight Airport. Guests may also opt to fly via chartered flights upon request. By sea, a public mailboat service travels to the island from Nassau per week. The island is also home to a marina, so guests with private boats are also welcome to dock there – just make sure that all the necessary requirements with the Customs and Immigration have been cleared.

Because of the island’s relatively small size, taxi services are also limited. Guests are advised to have prior arrangements to have taxis pick them up from the airport. Also due to this limited amount of cabs, rental cars are the preferred mode of transportation within the island.

Distant Kayak at Cat Island

To summarize, Cat Island is not a stereotypical Caribbean island. True to being a Bahamian island, its rosy-white beaches are truly pristine and picturesque. It is home to various land and aquatic species, and several natural and historic landmarks. The mystery beyond its deep waters and blue holes will always keep guests wondering about what lies beneath. The island’s rolling hills also offer the perfect hiking spot, as well as a breathtaking view over the town. More than just being a cultural hotspot, it is one of the Bahamian islands with an underrated beauty.

 

 

 

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Great (and Little) Inagua Island

Inagua

The Bahamas is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. It boasts of several islands that are unique in their own way. Two of these are Great Inagua and Little Inagua, the home to the famous West Indian flamingos and one of the region’s most fascinating attractions. If you love watching birds and want the chance to watch up to 80,000 flamingos and other water and migratory birds, it’s time to pack and make your plans.

Below is some essential information you can use as your guide while making your travel plans – from the island’s geography, statistics, and the top beach spots in the area.

History

The name of the islands is believed to have originated from the terms “full” and “water.” It was also a slang of its first name, “Henegua”, a Spanish term that meant “water is to be found there.” The Taino Indians were its first inhabitants, but unfortunately, they were taken away and forced to work as slaves by the Spaniards. By the 18th Century, it had become a place for pirates, and shipwrecks. It was only during 1870 when the shipwrecks stopped because a lighthouse was built on Great Inagua.

From there, Bermudians started settling in the area (by way of Turks & Caicos) along with producing salt as their primary industry. Although other industries were started, like cotton and Sisal production, they simply diminished over time. When 19th Century came, Inagua became permanently settled. At present, Inagua has become primarily of interest to naturalists and sportsmen for its national park and water sports.  It also has the second largest saline operation in North America, and is operated by Morton Salt.

Salt Piles and "Pans" in background, Matthewtown, Great Inagua, Bahamas (19 June 1953)

Salt Piles and “Pans” in background, Matthewtown, Great Inagua, Bahamas (19 June 1953)

 

Geography and Statistics

Inagua is comprised of Little Inagua and Great Inagua Islands.  Great Inagua is the southernmost island and the 3rd largest island of the Bahamas. It is also extremely dry, hot, and the home to the world’s largest flamingo bird sanctuaries.

The colony of West Indian flamingos in the area reaches up to more than 80,000. That makes a ratio of 80:1 with the population in Great Inagua (Great Inagua has a population of about 1,000 Bahamians while Little Inagua only has goats, donkeys and rare birds as its settlers). Combine the attractions in both islands, and you will find an abundant nature preserve destination. In fact, the primary nature preserve, the Inagua National Park, covers 45% of its total land mass.

 

Inagua Vacations

Inagua is a two-in-one destination for tourists. It is where some of the world’s most attractive beaches are found. A place where tourists may fully enjoy what nature offers; hence, deciding to make the island your destination for vacation will be perfect for both your adventurous and nature lover side. Different accommodations are available to cater for all your needs and preferences. There are houses to rent for families, accommodations near the town center for easy access and more.

You won’t have to worry about transportation as rental services are available. To support Inagua’s campaign of keeping the island green, it is advisable to keep your transportation use to a minimum. As for activities, Inagua has a lot in store. There are ferries used to take tourists interested to explore the island, try water activities, and more.

 

Attractions

Birdwatching – Inagua is not just a place where you can enjoy the heat of the sun and the fresh breeze of the sea. It also has 3 national preserves where you can amaze yourself with watching different species of birds. Examples of the birds you may encounter are:Flamingo Card from Inagua, Bahamas

  • pelicans
  • black-necked stilts
  • egrets
  • herons
  • roseate spoonbill
  • Bahamas Pintail ducks
  • Bahama parrot
  • Bahama Woodstar
  • and of course, the West Indian Flamingos

 

 

During some migration months, you may have the chance to watch birds like burrowing owls, ospreys, American kestrels, North American birds and Kirtland’s warblers.

 

Inagua Lighthouse and Matthew Town Settlement – considered as one of the Bahamas’ primary attractions. The lighthouse is already a sight itself, aside from holding great significance in the island’s history.  It is conveniently situated near Matthew Town, allowing tourists to continue from the lighthouse and explore the place where the West Indian flamingos hang out. Matthew Town is also the island’s only settlement and where the Morton Salt Company is located. If you like, you may even take up the company’s offer of free tours in their salt plant.

Nature Preserves – Inagua’s nature preserves and parks are among the must visit places. You have to visit them not just to enjoy fresh air, but also to have the chance to see the diverse wildlife in the area, including the unique animal species Inagua boasts.

Beaches and Water Activities – No matter who you are with, there is always a long list of activities you can fill the day with and make your vacation worthwhile. You can enjoy these on the different beaches circling Inagua.

You have different options on which beach to visitdepending on what you have in mind and the kind of water activities you prefer. There are secluded beaches for tourists who prefer privacy, like the Northwest Point, Coconut Grove Beach, Cartwright’s Beach and Farquharson Beach.

Little Inagua, BahamasIf you are with your family, your best beach options are the Iron Badge Beach and Northwest Point Beach. The latter is also the leading choice for all your favorite beach and water activities: hiking, picnics and snorkeling.  if you want to enjoy the seas and the sun with a lot of other tourists, you may go to Morton’s Salt’s Beach and Iron Badge Beach.

 

 

As for fishing, one of the best places to do this is at Lake Windsor.  Here you can catch fish like Tarpon and Bonefish. Other game fish species you can find around the islands are Barracuda, Wahoo, White Marlin and Sword Fish. Fishing lodges are present in the islands as well. If your heart is not at fishing, but you love to get a chance to observe different fish species underwater, then there’s reef diving for you. Inagua’s boasted great reefs are only 30 yards from the shoreline, which is an advantage for tourists with limited swimming skills and time. However, if you are a more experienced one, there is the Great Iguana Wall for you to explore.

Bonefish near Inagua, Bahamas

Bonefish near Inagua, Bahamas

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San Salvador Island, Bahamas

San Salvador Island

Discover the joys of tranquil adventure and history at San Salvador Island, which is located in the Bahamas. The Lucayan Indians originally called the island Guanahani and Christopher Columbus – when he visited it on October 12, 1492 – renamed it San Salvador (Christ the Savior).

The British buccaneer George Watling, however, took over the Island and renamed it Watling’s Island. In 1926, the San Salvador name was restored to the island, which is about 200 miles southeast from Nassau. With a population of around 1,200 inhabitants, San Salvador (which measures 5 miles wide and 12 miles long) is described as the exposed peak of a mountain that rises 15,000 feet from the Atlantic Ocean’s floor.

San Salvador

San Salvador

The island boasts of a wealth of beautiful beaches, undulating hills, saltwater lagoons and fascinating reefs that surround most of the island. San Salvador is also home to some of the Bahamas’s most unique landscapes. The reefs protect the island and a large break near the island’s capital, Cockburn Town, provides boats access to the island.

San Salvador Attractions

Despite being one of the Bahamas’s out islands, you can still enjoy what San Salvador has to offer. With tourism as the island’s main income earner, the locals provide activities like guided tours, sailing, diving and fishing.

San Salvador is known for great diving adventures, with over 50 dive sites on its lee side, which also include shipwrecks and ruins for a more visually appealing diving adventure. The more unusual yet captivating dive sites include French Bay (with staghorn and Elkhorn coral) and Devil’s Claw and Vicky’s Reef (with sharks and stingrays).

Elkhorn Coral, San Salvador Island, Bahamas

Elkhorn Coral, San Salvador Island, Bahamas

Another San Salvador attraction is the Great lake Preserve. Located in the middle of the island, the lake has been declared a protected area to preserve its natural beauty. Stretching for the entire island’s length at 2 miles wide and 10 miles long, the lake connects all of San Salvador’s major settlements.

If you fancy a bit of history, you may be delighted to find a cross at Long Bay. The cross marks the spot where Columbus visited and it is one of the island’s most photographed spots.

A Historical Tour

At San Salvador, you can stay at a wide variety of seaside resorts – one of them being a Club Med resort, which is just north of Cockburn Town. You can also enjoy other man-made island attractions like shipwrecks and lighthouses.

If you want to enjoy a historical and cultural adventure, you will discover that a San Salvador Island vacation is one of the best places to start your journey.

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Mayaguana Island, Bahamas

If you seek to go to someplace tropical and get away from it all, Mayaguana Island in the Bahamas is one of the best places to visit. With a land area of 280 square kilometers, the island is home to just around 312 individuals. The island is considered the halfway point between Puerto Rico and South Florida. It is also 560 kilometers southeast of Nassau and 100 kilometers north of Great Inagua.

Although somewhat a less developed island, Mayaguana is a well-known stopover for boaters on a direct route to the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the island is one of the best destinations for travelers looking for a secluded and charming escape.

Pirate's Well Point

Pirate’s Well Point

The Spaniards inhabited the island until early in the 16th century, when the last of the Lucayan Indians were brought to Hispaniola. Mayaguana was a spot favored by pirates before people from Turks and Caicos started migrating to the island in 1812. Nowadays, the island is composed of three major settlements – Betsy Bay, Pirate’s Well, and Abraham’s Bay.

 

The settlements are rustic, quaint and are located no more than 15 minutes from one another. This makes Mayaguana a closely-knit community within an island. Most of the residents make their living by farming the land or fishing for conch.

Mayaguana Attractions

If you want to look for a quiet adventure, you can avail of a guided tour into the three settlements, reel in a bonefish, or dive through Northwest Point’s sea caves, among other adventures.

One other attraction is Booby Cay, which lies east of the island’s mainland. Its name is taken from the brown boobies that call the cay home. Booby Cay is also the environment for descendants of wild goats left by early settlers. Small rock iguanas also are found in the cay.

Horse Pond Beach is another place to go for a unique isolated adventure. Set 10 miles east of Abraham’s Bay, the beach is the best place to go ‘crabbing.’ You can search for land crabs that live among the rocks and bushes during the day, but walk during the night. The crabmeat is used in various local dishes.

Sand Dollar in Mayaguana, Bahamas

Sand Dollar in Mayaguana, Bahamas

The island’s best attractions, however, are the picturesque footprint-free beaches. The beaches are quiet and perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, snorkeling, and shelling. Offshore, you can find starfish, sand dollars, and coral heads.

If you want to escape from the Bahamas’s noisier parts and indulge in mundane seaside activities, a Mayaguana Island vacation is one of your best escape points.  This is a hidden gem of the Bahamas Out Islands.

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