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San Salvador, is also known as Watling Island. It was widely believed that during his first expedition to the new world, San Salvador Island was the first land sighted and visited by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492, a land he named in honor of Jesus the Savior (with ‘San Salvador’ being Spanish for Saint Savior).


Today, thanks to its many sandy beaches, the island’s prosperous main industry is tourism. An interesting geologic feature in Cockburn Town is the Pleistocene Cockburn Town Fossil Reef. Fossilized Staghorn and Elkhorn coral are present near the crest of the fossil reef.
The Gerace Research Centre is located on the north end of the island on the shores of Grahams Harbour. Over a thousand students and researchers use the station every year as a base of operations from which to study tropical marine geology, biology and archaeology.


The island is home to many shallow-water reefs allowing snorkelers to observe hundreds of fish species. It is also known for its quick drop in the continental shelf, allowing for numerous dive sites. The western coast has many wall reefs, with steep drop offs, while the northern coast has many shallow barrier reefs particularly surrounding Grahams Harbour, a large shallow lagoon.


The Dixon Hill lighthouse is located on the island south of Dixon Hill Settlement on the east side of the island. It is approximately 160 feet tall, and was constructed by the Imperial Lighthouse Service in 1887.