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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- black-necked stilts
- 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.
If 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.