The Magic of Andros
Since its beginnings, Andros has been called by many names: Santu Spiritu by the Spanish and Andrews Island by the English. Local Androsians simply know the island as “The Big Yard”, the sleeping giant of the Bahamas. Andros is the largest of all islands in the archipelago with one of the lowest population densities. In fact, after Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, Andros is the biggest island in the Caribbean.
World renowned for its highly favoured fishing flats, Andros draws fly fishermen from all over the world as predictably as it attracts hundreds of species of migratory birds. Bird watching and bone fishing are two of the popular attractions that make Andros an ecotourism Mecca. Andros is the only place where you can find the Giant Lizard Cuckoo, and the Bahama Oriole, a little black and yellow bird that builds its nests in the Andros pine.
Where land and sea intertwine
Blue holes appear like polka dots from a birds eye view, so plentiful that they constitute the Blue Holes National Park. You can easily stumble upon these quiet and magnificent crater-like giants in the bush. Brimming with blue-brown water, suitable in many cases for swimming, many of these watery holes lead to the sea through underground caverns, making Andros part land, part water. The magic of Andros is its duality of pine/coppice and mangrove wetlands. Despite the salty sea that crisscrosses the island through creeks and inlets, Andros contains the largest source of freshwater in the Bahamas.
Just beyond Andros’ Eastern shore sits the third largest barrier reef in the world, teeming with every colour of fish imaginable, dancing sea fans and staghorn corals. Divers plunge hundreds of feet below to glimpse the famous Andros Wall, a vibrant marine ecosystem encasing the ink blue Tongue of the Ocean. The mythical abyss descends more than 6000 feet into the deep.
Myth and Folklore
Myth and folklore is what defines Andros more than any other island in the archipelago. Although elusive today, the legends of ancient Obeah priests still possess the minds of Androsians. Traditional knowledge of bush medicine has become widespread and is well utilized by young and old in secular rituals. Plants to treat high blood pressure, fevers and remedy cuts and soothe bruises are found in abundance in the forests of Andros.
If you're paying attention you may see an elder on the side of the road chapping bark from the pine tree and collecting its sap; they know the secrets of the garden well and hold them in high regard.
Androsians still talk old story – legends about mythical creatures like the chickcharney occupy the imaginations of children. If you’re lucky enough you might catch a glimpse of a bird-like creature larger than life, atop the limbs of two crossing pines. If you find favour with the chickcharney it may even grant you a wish.
Sixteenth century pirates like Henry Morgan buried their treasures in Andros. The settlement of “Little Hope Bay” is rumored to take its name from the boastful claim that there would be little hope of anyone ever finding pirate’s gold.
Seminoles from Florida and escaped African slaves ran away on a stolen ship named the Steerwater and made a home in what is now known as Red Bays, Andros. After the slave trade ended, several illegal ships carrying Africans for trade were sunk, and their passengers freed on Andros’ shores. The Seminole tradition of basket weaving, which has been passed down to modern day Androsians, has infused Andros’ rich cultural tradition.
In the wake of the slave trade sponge fishing became the mainstay of the Androsian economy, bringing with it an influx of Greek fishermen and spongers. But a fungus known as the “Red Tide” swept through in the early 1930s, all but ending the sponging trade, sending Greeks and black Bahamians alike out into the diaspora along Florida’s southern coast. While the commercial stocks faded, sponge farms have healed over the years and are still a sight to behold when diving in Andros.
Best for Whom and for What
Travel to Andros is best for backpackers, ecotourists, mature travellers, bachelors. The best Things to Do in Andros are fishing, boating, diving and snorkeling, eco-tours, bird watching, off the beaten path experiences, cave exploration, swimming in blue holes, crabbing.