Long Island Is Calling
Long Island breeze, I hear you calling; calling me upon the sea, sings Bahamian musician, poet and songwriter Pat Rahming, capturing the nostalgia that Long Island inspires. Once called “Yuma” by the indigenous Lucayans, Long Island was considered the most beautiful of the Bahamian Islands by Christopher Columbus, who renamed it “Fernandina” after Spain’s King Ferdinand. When the island became a British colony in the 1600s, its name was changed again. What never changed was Long Island’s allure.
Split in half by the Tropic of Cancer, Long Island is a place where opposites exist in harmony with each other. A history of slavery transformed into a history of emancipation; the ruins of cotton plantations overtaken by thriving sheep farms. The population a pepperpot soup of African, English, Greek and German ancestries. Nowhere is this sense of contrast more apparent than in the landscape itself. Rugged limestone cliffs rise up along its eastern shores, where the deep blue Atlantic swells and crashes against them, while on Long Island’s western shore gentle white sand beaches slope easily down towards turquoise shallows, clear as glass water. The ebb and flow of the tides give rhythm to bone fish aficionados, who can wade knee deep in Long Island’s shallows for miles.
West of Long Island’s capital, Clarence Town, off the shores of a white sand beach you will find Dean’s Blue Hole. Nestled inside Turtle Cove, the salt water sink hole is encircled on three sides by limestone rock cliffs and coppice. Dean’s Blue Hole is one of the island’s spectacular sights, and one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. It is the deepest salt water sink hole in the world at 663 ft.
Dean’s Blue Hole is a near perfect circle of dark blue waters surrounded by aqua shallows, and is the site of an annual freediving competition in which people from all over the world, including William Trubridge, world record holder, come to test their powers of strength and breath.
The island’s history of boatbuilding conjures to life each year in June the Long Island Regatta, in which skippers from across the archipelago come to race and break each others’ and their own records. One of the Bahamas’ largest festivals, it is an excellent time to experience Long Island’s best – from straw crafts handmade by some of the most exquisite craftswomen in the country, to traditional foods like mutton stew, to local and national musicians, to Long Islanders’ famed ability to celebrate life.