ANDROS“As the largest island in the Bahamas, Andros exhibits greater botanical diversity than any other island. The presence of Andros’ barrier reef and the Tongue of the Ocean give the island a great zoological diversity”.
“The Big Yard” is actually made up of 3 islands and the largest of the 26 inhabited Bahamian Islands, with an area greater than all the other 700 Bahamian islands combined. Famous for a unique combination of marine features and ecosystems; The Andros Barrier Reef is the world's third longest running for 142 miles and lies about 1–2 miles off the Andros shore and is home to the world's largest collection of Blue Holes. Outside Alaska, the Amazon Basin and northern Canada, Andros with its 3,000 residents is one of the least densely populated places in the Western Hemisphere but may have the most to offer!
Fresh CreekThe township of Fresh Creek is home to the Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center “AUTEC”, operated by the U.S. Navy, where the United Kingdom and the United States conduct special operations training and sonar and submarine research in the Tongue of the Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard also runs rescue and drug interdiction operations from AUTEC. It is also one of the largest employers on Andros.
A Mennonite mission-run commercial farm was founded near Blanket Sound in 1983, which grows everything from habanera peppers to sorghum and potatoes, and has numerous fruit orchards. Androsia, a handcrafted batik factory founded at Fresh Creek in 1972 produces vibrant, colorful fabric prints, which have become part of the national dress and identity of the Bahamas. Commercial fishing remains a core component of the island’s economy—conch, lobster, snapper and grouper are all commercially harvested for sale locally and in Nassau's fish markets. Seasonal crabbing—catching crabs and fattening them in pens for sale in Nassau—provides a cash crop for locals to supplement their income. Local handicrafts —particularly woodcarvings and woven baskets—are a cottage industry in the settlement of Red Bays. A sample of Red Bays baskets is in the Smithsonian Institution.
Tourism is Andros Island’s largest industry it is the least-explored island in the chain. From Nicholls Town in the north to Little Creek in the south there are 35-40 hotels, motels, resorts, guesthouse and lodges with a total of approximately 400 rooms. Most of Andros's tourism comes from Bone fishing, SCUBA divers—looking to dive the barrier reef, Tongue of the Ocean and the Blue Holes—and those looking for relaxation off the beaten path with easy flight connections.
Bone FishingAndros Island was the site of two of the first dive-dedicated resorts in the world. The island is known as the bone fish capital of the world, but other varieties of fishing are available on Andros. Deep-sea fishing beyond the reef in the Tongue of the Ocean offers among others Dorado, Tuna, Sailfish, Wahoo, and Jack. Locals fish regularly on the reef for abundant snapper and grouper.
Annual FestivalsAndros is home to a number of festivals: CrabFest at Fresh Creek, the annual regatta at Morgan’s Bluff, Conch Festival, Junkanoo, the Pirate's Festival and the Annual Seafood Splash & Chickcharnie Festival. In addition, there are numerous ecologically oriented events for tourists and locals.
“Chickcharney” LegendLike most of the Bahama Islands, Andros has it’s own mythical creature - According to local lore, The Chickcharney, 3-feet tall, has fur and feathers, one red eye and three-toed claws. In common legend, if a traveler meets a Chickcharney, and is good to it, he/she will be rewarded with good luck. But, treating a Chickcharney badly will result in bad luck and hard times.
Andros has the Bahamas’ only fresh water river. Thousands of kilometers of underground water from rainwater collect in aquifers below the island’s surface. Each day the water barge from Morgan’s Bluff delivers nineteen million liters of freshwater to Nassau.
Blue HoleThe island’s blue holes are water filled cave systems, which attract divers from all over the world. Andros has 178 on land with at least 50 in the sea. Blue holes can best be described as entrances to the intricate cave systems that run underneath the island and sea floor. Their openings can be found among the shallow creeks, inland lakes, and the shallow banks of the Bahamas. Noted oceanographer Jacques Cousteau visited Andros Island in 1970 to explore and film the Andros Blue Holes. Cousteau explored several ocean blue holes, and the inland blue holes known as Uncle Charlie’s Blue Hole, Church's Blue Hole and the Guardian Blue Hole. National Geographic has featured the Andros Blue Holes several times over the past thirty years, most recently in August, 2010.
Andros HistoryDuring the late 1600s and 1700s various pirates and buccaneers frequented Andros Island. In 1713 the Bahama Islands were declared a Pirate’s Republic. Morgan’s Bluff and Morgan’s Cave on North Andros are named after the famous privateer-pirate, Henry Morgan. It is said that the Andros settlement of Small Hope Bay was so named because Morgan claimed there would be “small hope” of anybody finding the treasure he had hidden there.