Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Apple #34: The Bahamas


I've been getting that I'd-like-to-visit-a-tropical-island-feeling lately. Since that's not going to happen, I thought I could at least write a blog entry about some islands. So I looked at a map and decided on the Bahamas.

  • The Bahamas are a collection of islands -- 23, to be exact, plus thousands of islets and uninhabited cays (pronounced "keys").
  • The nearest of the islands is only 50 miles from the coast of Florida
  • The word Bahamas comes from the Spanish "Baja Mar," which means "shallow sea."
  • The islands are mountain plateaus that have emerged from the Atlantic over thousands of years. As they grew, they hosted thousands of generations of coral, which now form the limestone base of the islands.
  • The people native to the Bahamas call themselves the "Lukku-cairi," or island people. They came from South America, coming up through the Caribbean Sea sometime around 900 A.D.
  • The shallow, rocky shores made the Bahamas a favorite with pirates, who liked to lure unsuspecting ships here where they foundered and could be easily looted and plundered, aye!
  • After a guy named Woodes Rogers drove the pirates away in 1780, England recognized the Bahamas as a colony.
  • Although the Bahamians helped the American Confederates by smuggling cotton to English mills in exchange for weapons curing the Civil War, the Bahamas remained an English colony until they were granted self-government in 1964. The island nation still recognizes the Queen of England as its head of state.

Each of the islands are quite different from each other in landscape, history, and flora & fauna. Some of the islands that you may or may not have heard of include:

  • --Grand Bahama: a popular tourist spot, it has resorts and sportfishing, but it also has beaches that are often deserted, towns that used to be hideouts for rum-runners, and ruins from the island's earliest civilizations.
  • --Nassau, Paradise Island: capital of the Bahamas. Where Blackbeard got shipwrecked. Howard Hughes and the former Shah of Iran also used to hang out here. Has lots of old forts, Victorian mansions, cathedrals, observation towers, resorts, casinos, and pastel buildings.
  • --Acklins: one of the least known islands, hilly and desolate, with unusual rock formations and lots of plant and animal life, including an occasional swamp turtle. Here, you're on your own.
  • --Andros: largest island, surrounded by mangroves, great for gamefishing, supposedly has its own Loch Ness Monster, has coastal coral gardens and deep blue holes.
  • --Little Inagua: named for the iguanas that live here. Just 30 square miles in size, it is uninhabited except for herds of wild donkeys and goats, some species of wild heron, and the iguanas. It has a wide reef that keeps boats from coming too close.
  • --Crooked Island: Columbus seems to have sailed by here, maybe even landed. Lots of plantations were started here, and people used slaves to harvest cotton, which didn't grow too well. Then people harvested sea sponges until the sponges got wiped out by fungus.
  • --Eleuthera: colonized by a small band of English pilgrims seeking religious freedom. Has miles of pink and white beaches and lots of pineapple plantations. Pretty quiet and calm, overall.
  • --Cat Island: possibly named for Arthur Catt, who was either a British sea captain or a pirate depending on your history. The island is also overrun with wild cats brought in the 1600s. Has a medieval monastery and used to be home to cotton and pineapple plantations. Now, however, it is "untamed," "lush," and "vine-covered."

I think, of all these, I would pick Andros. I'm curious about those coral reefs and deep blue holes. And you?

This place, called Tiamo Resorts, has 11 beachfront bungalows, each with one king bed in a 600 square foot room. Snorkeling at the blue holes is only one mile away, and the beach is right outside. (If you want to kill the fantasy and find out how much it costs, click here)

Sources's site on
The Islands of the Bahamas
First photo from the Out Islands of Bahamas
Hotel Finder
Second photo from Bahamas Travel Info, Tiamo Resort

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