During a delicious Italian lunch at Robert De Niro’s restaurant AGO on Melrose in West Hollywood, I learned all about the beautiful islands in The Bahamas. In Spanish, Bahama is Baja Mar – meaning shallow sea. A two hour informative multimedia presentation enlightened us about 16 of the unique islands. Here are 10 fun facts that I learned about one of the most beautiful places on earth-
1. When astronaut Scott Kelly is flying in space he tweets to his followers and family. On April 26, 2015 the American astronaut tweeted an image of The Bahamas to his daughter with a message “the most beautiful place from space.” A few months later in September he tweeted, “The Bahamas never fails to impress!” and “Been hanging out with The Bahamas again, it never gets old.”
2. Swimming with Pigs. After watching an episode of The Bachelor and seeing a group of ladies swimming in 80 degree clear water with adorable pigs, I yelled out, “I want to do that too!” The Exumas are an archipelago offering 365 cays and islands, just 35 miles away from Nassau. It’s divided into three major areas – Great Exuma, Little Exuma and The Exuma Cays. These friendly pigs live on Major’s Spot Cay. Visitors are welcome to swim and feed these tame mammals. Other notable sites include Loaded Barrel Reef, with large sea beds of staghorn corals. This area is known for its famous regattas.
3. More Flamingos than humans. Inagua is the southenmost island in The Bahamas made of two separate islands – Great Inagua and Little Inagua. There are flamingos and over 140 species of native and migratory birds. Another fun fact is that The Morton Salt Company produces about one million pounds of salt per year at their main facility on Great Inagua. It’s the second largest saline operation in North America.
4. On Long Island the Tropic of Cancer runs directly through the island. It’s name is from Christopher Columbus, because it is 80 miles long and only four miles wide with two different coastlines. There are dramatic cliffs and caves on the east coast and sandy beaches on the other side.
5. Only 60 people live on Rum Cay in the Port Nelson village. The island is known as “Sleeping Beauty”, because its beautiful sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. It’s one of Bahamas best-kept secrets with historical ruins, coral reefs and miles of place to soak in the sun, snorkle and dive. Also, Christopher Columbus made his second stop here during his voyage to the New World in 1492.
6. You must visit Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar on Green Turtle Cay to get some Goombay Smash when you visit The Abacos. The 120-mile-long island chain has its own Out Islands. Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco serve as the “mainland,” with a string of barrier islands separating them from the Atlantic with scalloped bays, coves and protected harbors. This is a wedding destination with “The Light of my Life” lighthouse a popular spot.
7. Andros is known for its crabs. The have an annual crab fest where they release hundreds of crabs and people run to catch them. Andros is the fifth largest island in the Caribbean. It is also home to multiple blue holes that house cave fish and invertebrates. It also has a 190 mile long Fringing Barrier Reef that plunges 6,000 feet in the Tongue of the Ocean. The Andros Barrier Reef is the world’s sixth longest. This island has two nicknames “The Sleeping Giant” and “The Big Yard.”
8. The closest Bahamian island to the United States is Bimini Island. It’s known for its delicious bread and Fountain of Youth. The Fountain of Youth reference by Juan Ponce de León is rumored to exist within the shallow pools of South Bimini. There is a small freshwater well with a plaque commemorating the Fountain of Youth, on the road leading to the South Bimini Airport. On North Bimini is The Healing Hole, a pool that lies at the end of a network of winding underground tunnels. Natural lithium and sulfur are two of the minerals said to be contained in these waters. The Bimini Biological Field Station has captured and recorded 13 species of sharks in the shallow waters around Bimini. The Shark Lab is a world famous facility owned and operated by shark biologist Dr. Samuel Gruber. It offers marine biology internships to people interested in shark research on lemon sharks, nurse sharks and baby sharks. Ernest Hemingway lived on Bimini from 1935 to 1937 writing articles and fished aboard his boat Pilar. Another notable great is Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who visited Bimini in 1964 and found inspiration to write his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
9. Sir Sidney Poitier grew up on Cat Island known for its Rake n’ Scrape music. He left for America when he was a teenager. The island was named after an infamous pirate, Arthur Catt. Limestone under the water gives this island a magical color. This island has the highest elevation at 206 feet above sea level with a medieval Alvernia Hermitage monastery that was hand carved out of rock sitting at the top of Como Hill offering great views as you climb each step.
10. On the east side of Harbour Island is three miles of pink sand beaches with turquoise clear water. It’s one of the safest swimming and snorkeling spots in The Bahamas. Eleuthera is known for its pineapple farming and the most narrow place on earth with one of the 8th wonders of the world – The Glass Window Bridge. On one side of the water of the Atlantic with dark blue raging water and across the narrow road the Caribbean Sea with soft sand and calm waters.
The best way to see all of these islands is by boat. To learn more about The Bahamas, go to http://www.bahamas.com.