TOLL FREE USA\CANADA
Getting to Andros Island, The Bahamas is very easy!
We may be slightly off the beaten path, but that's a big
part of our appeal. Even though we're not in the center of a big tourist hub (thankfully!) we're really quite accessible.
(more info on getting to Andros)
Andros Island at 2300 square miles in size, is perhaps the largest tract of unexplored land in the Western hemisphere and also the largest island in the Bahamas. A coral limestone formation, it is dominated by thick impenetrable bush, sliced in pieces by inland waterways, and edged by mangrove swamp. To the north are hardwood and pine forests--including Pine, Mahogany (Madeira), Horseflesh, and Lignum Vitae; along the east coast are the fishing and diving grounds of the Andros Barrier Reef. On the West Coast are the pristine fishing flats of the Great Bahama Bank.
The Barrier Reef, the third largest in the world and the second largest and most unexplored in the western hemisphere, stretches 140 miles along the east coast of the island and rims the Tongue of the Ocean, with its 6,000-foot drop-off. Additionally the island abounds in Blue Holes (underwater cave systems)--which have been the scene of some of the deepest underwater cave explorations in the world.
There are more than 40 known species of wild orchids, as well as endemic and migrating bird and butterfly populations. Other wildlife includes iguanas, wild boars and land crabs. The island has a population of approximately 10,000 people, most of them residing in small towns located on the eastern coast. The island itself is the great provider, with the main occupations being fishing and farming. In addition, the island has long traditions in boat building, straw work, and wood carving.
Small Hope Bay Lodge opened in 1960 as the first dive-dedicated resort in the Caribbean. The Lodge quickly became the backdrop for many of diving's most colorful and historical moments:
Small Hope Bay Lodge guest Canadian diver and photographer Dr. George Benjamin was the first to explore the Blue Holes here in the early 1960's.
Small Hope Bay Lodge guest Canadian diver Betty Singer set the world record for women at 310 feet in 1961.
Small Hope Bay Lodge owner/builder Dick Birch and Canadian physicist Roger Hutchins set the world record for deep diving on compressed air (462 feet) here in 1963.
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau learned to dive at Small Hope Bay Lodge, as did Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling.
Jacques Cousteau and his Calypso crew filmed the blue holes here in 1970.
In the 1987 Andros Project, British cavediver Rob Palmer and his team brought blue hole explorations and penetrations to new levels using the Carmellan Rebreather and heliox.
The Spanish first recorded "discovery" was around 1550. Following Columbus' landfall in 1492, they had come to the Bahamas in search of slave labor, preying on the Caribbean Indian populations. From a population of some 50,000 Lucayans (descendents and offshoots of Taino-Awawaks, who originally migrated from South America) in the Bahamas in 1492, there were virtually no Lucayans left in the Bahamas by 1550, due to disease, slavery, and suicide. Remains of Lucayan settlements can be found throughout the Bahamian archipelago.
By the 18th century, pirates staked positions here in an effort to prey on passing ships traveling between Cuba and Florida. Sir Henry Morgan headquartered at what is known today as Morgan's Bluff, in north. By the 19th century freed slaves found their way along with Seminole Indians from Florida --first as visitors, then as settlers. The two groups inter-married. A small community sprang up around Red Bays, where they farmed corn, harvested fish and plantains, yams, potatoes and peas, and became famous for quality straw work and wood carvings.They also worked in lumbering, sponging, and pirating.
Small communities established them selves up and down the east coast of the island, with the population peaking at about 10,000 where it remains today. With a formidable barrier reef on one side, and the shallow water flats of the Great Bahama Bank on the other-- leaving us overlooked (but saved) for many years from any potential development.
There are over 200 species of birds that inhabit the Bahamas, with its vast undeveloped land, is home to many of them. Among the most common are: The Bahama Woodstar, the West Indian Woodpecker, the Loggerhead kingbird, LaSagre's Flycatcher, the Great Antillean Pewee, the Bahama Swallow, the Bahama Mockingbird, The Red-legged Thrush, the Thick-billed Vireo, the Black-whiskered Vireo, the Olive-capped Warbler, Kirtland Warbler, the Bahama Yellowthroat, the Black-cowled Oriole, the Great Antillean Bullfinch, the Black-faced Grassquit, the Melodious Grassquit, the Least Grebe, Olivaceous Cormorant, the Flamingo, the Bahama Pintail, Osprey, Kestel, Sooty Tern, Roseate Tern, Noddy Tern, White Crowned Pigeon, Zenaida Dove, White-bellied Dove, the Key West Quail Dove, the Great Lizard Cuckoo, the Smooth-billed Ani and the Cuban Emerald Hummingbird.
When the Spanish discovered the island, they named it Isla del Esperita Santo, the Island of the Holy Spirit, a tribute to the abundance of water here. And it's easy to see why:
The island is laced with thousands of miles of inland waterways and fishing flats. North, Middle and South Bights cut right through the island, east to west, creating a natural access to even more flats on the west side of the island. These provide world-class conditions for fly fishermen in pursuit of bonefish and tarpon.
We are also blessed with plenty of fresh water. In fact, nearly 7 million gallons of water are shipped to Nassau every day. The source of the water: rain water, which collects in underground tunnels and caves, and forms a fresh water lens that sits on top of the salt water.
We are also the home of Androsia, the colorful handmade island clothing of the Bahamas. Begun in 1973 as a cottage industry, The Batik Factory is open weekdays for guest visitors to view the batik/dying and sewing process. Great deals on clothing and fabrics can be found at both the Factory Outlet Store and the boutique at Small Hope Bay Lodge, both located near Fresh Creek.
Much of the island is covered with thick bush and pine. Bush medicines and teas, such as Bagerina (Bay Geranium), Jackmada, Jumbey, Cerasee, Grannybush, Fever Grass, etc. are still commonly used in medicinal recipes handed down in lore. The bush also provides a food source--most popularly the Land Crab, and less commonly the wild boar. In addition, a rich mythology has grown around the bush. The Chickcharnee, the most famous of the mythological creatures of the island, is said to live in the tops of the tallest pine trees. If you cross the Chickcharnee, he will turn your head on backwards. Other lesser known mythological creatures include the Lusca of the blue holes, the Bosee Anansee, and the Yahoo.
Built and operated by the Birch Family since 1960, this 21-room resort offers a variety of ways for visitors to explore. The Lodge emphasizes freedom from crowds, a low-impact lifestyle and a natural environment.
Small Hope offers its guests the following activities with which to explore:
For more information, contact Small Hope Bay Lodge direct to the island from the US and Canada: 800-223-6961. Phone: 242-368-2014 Fax 242-368-2015
TOLL FREE USA/CANADA