This lavish green island is one of the least explored destinations in the Caribbean. It’s a place of mystery, astonishing beauty, lost treasures, mythical creatures and natural wonders. Andros Island is home to countless spellbinding blue holes, pine forests, labyrinthine creeks, magnificent beaches and an abundance of wild flora and fauna, making it a quintessential haven for nature lovers, eco-travelers and adventurous thrill-seekers. Even though uninhabited and underdeveloped for the most part, the Bahamas’ largest island offers quaint beachfront accommodation, numerous activities, enticing gastronomy and rich cultural heritage.
The Secret of Blue Hole Island
Andros Island is actually an archipelago that encompasses hundreds of small enclaves connected by mangroves and swamplands. The three major and most populous islands are called North Andros, South Andros and Mangrove Cay. This 100-mile long island complex boasts the highest concentration of deep blue holes than any other place on the planet, with 175 sinkholes on land and —at least—another 50 interspersed through the shallow waters around it. Andros even features a Blue Holes National Park, a vast terrain of wilderness full of exotic endemic birds and mystical gloomy holes.
The cryptic allure of this miraculous phenomenon did not go unnoticed by world-acclaimed activist and oceanographer Jacques Yves Cousteau, who visited Andros in the ’70s to explore and chart the blue holes. Remarkably, he was able to prove that the caverns are part of an immense underground passageway network connected to the ocean and presented his findings in the short film “The Secret of the Sunken Caves”.
Things to See & Do on Andros Island
Andros Island might just be the perfect destination for those looking to explore the secretive underwater world of the Caribbean. The famous blue holes and caves are home to uncommon fish and critters and offer outstanding views of the island’s colorful limestone geomorphology against the cerulean waters. Numerous spots remain unexplored and there is no telling what could be found in a sinkhole. Some previous finds include shipwrecks, fossils and the skeleton of a non-native crocodile. Be warned, though, as legend has it, that a mysterious creature dwells under Andros—a gargantuan octopus called Lusca, that sucks divers into the abyss. Myths aside, it’s highly recommended that you book one of the several guided tours offered on the island and dive in the company of an experienced professional.
Apart from the sinkholes, just off the coast of Andros Island, you’ll find the third largest fringing barrier reef in the world. It’s one of the most sizable living organisms on the planet, stretching 190 miles long and a mile deep, on the edge of a trench that locals call the “Tongue of the Ocean”. The reef is the natural habitat of hundreds of species of fish and lush coral, while the trench below is a passage for humpback whales and other large fish.
Pirate Treasure Hunting
Like every other island in the Caribbean, Andros has its own legendary pirate tales. The most famous among them is the story of how notorious 17th-century buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan used the high grounds on the northern tip of the island as a hideout and observatory. From there he was able to orchestrate the seizing of treasure-loaded European galleons heading for the old continent. According to the legend, Captain Morgan hid a substantial amount of gold and rum in the cave below. The area was eventually named after him—Morgan’s Bluff. If you think you can succeed where everyone else failed and retrieve the mythical treasure, trek up the path and explore the infamous pirate’s lair. And if fool’s gold is all you find, worry not. There’s a spectacular white-sand beach waiting for you just a stone’s throw away from the cave.
With miles and miles of creeks and waterways, broad wetlands and copious freshwater lakes, it’s only natural that Andros is an internationally acclaimed hub for sport fishing and considered the Bonefishing Capital of the world. The island is especially known for an abundance of bonefish moving through the channels between the islets. There are virtually thousands of spots ideal for a laid-back fishing afternoon, but the most ‘fruitful’ are said to be near the West Side National Park. Book your fishing adventure with Andros Island Bonefish Club and let locals teach you the secrets of their trade.
Andros Island being extremely scarcely populated might mean that there is no plethora of luxuries like fancy beach bars or high-end oceanfront restaurants, but it also means that its landscape has remained relatively unaltered, with rich pine forests and mangrove flats dominating the surface. This opulent vegetation offers exceptional opportunities for up and close encounters with some of the region’s most impressive birds. In fact, Andros Island is the only part of the Bahamas where you’ll find six out of the seven species endemic to the region and the only homestead of the endangered Bahama Oriole. And for those of you thinking that you’ll be safe from mythical creatures while on land, keep an eye out for “Chickcharnee”, the legendary three-foot tall bird that lives in the pine trees.
Hit the Beach
Don’t let all these adventurous activities distract you too much. After all, Andros Island is still a part of the Bahamas and, as such, it has plenty of scenic white-sand beaches with aquamarine waters waiting to be discovered. Most of the beaches are not organized and lack facilities. Still, on their sandy shores, you’ll find coconut trees, palm trees and—if you’re lucky—hammocks. Make sure to check out the seashell-covered Somerset Creek Beach in central Andros, the Blue Hole Beach in South Andros where there is a visible sinkhole just off the coast and Swain’s Cay Beach in Mangrove Cay in front of the “Tongue of the Ocean”.
Where to stay
Kamalame Cay is a family-run, private island resort located just one mile off the Andros Great Barrier Reef. This exclusive property is solely accessible by their own private ferry, helicopter or seaplane and it’s undoubtedly one of the most jaw-dropping resorts on the island. Kamalame Cay offers several luxurious accommodation options including beach bungalows, beach suites and extravagant villas. In addition, guests can make use of the private marina, enjoy fine dining at the “Great House” and drinks at the oceanfront “Tiki Bar,” and luxuriate in the only overwater spa in the Bahamas. To top it off, Kamalame Cay offers several activities like diving, kayaking, fishing, beach yoga and beach picnics.
Small Hope Bay Lodge
Small Hope Bay Lodge has a reputation of being one of the most adventurous resorts in the Bahamas. It was founded in 1960 by Dick Birch, the person who discovered the wall of the Andros Barrier Reef and it’s nestled right on its edge, offering a number of secluded beachfront cabins. Apart from enjoying the serenity and breathtaking views, guests of Small Hope Bay Lodge can participate in an array of activities like shark diving, fishing, birding, snorkeling and, of course, blue hole diving. Birch’s family that runs the resort pride themselves in crafting unique underwater experiences for their guests. In the words of the manager Jeff Birch “We can boast that more men have walked on the moon than have been on some of our dive sites”.