From Panama Jack — May 6, 2016 at 5:00 am

Andros Island: A Hidden Caribbean Gem

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©istockphoto/Constantinos-Iliopoulos

©istockphoto/Constantinos-Iliopoulos

An archipelago within the Bahamas, Andros Island is the largest of the 26 inhabited Bahamian Islands, but remains one of the Bahamas’ least known destinations.

The impressive barrier reef, the third largest in the world, the Tongue of the Ocean, thick mangrove swamps, estuaries, rocky tidal pools—everything here provides a unique and robust growth habitat for a diverse array of marine life. Known as the “Nature Island”, Andros presents an onshore and close-to-shore ecosystem unlike any other in the world.

Bonefish Capital Of The World
150 miles southeast of Miami sits the bonefish capital of the world. Andros is composed of hundreds of small islets, coves, and cays connected by tidal pools and mangrove estuaries, with three major islands, North Andros, Mangrove Cay and South Andros. Surrounded by thousands of miles of premier fishing flats, the waters of the island are home to some of the finest fighting game fish found anywhere around the globe: Black Fin Tuna, Yellow Fin Tuna, Dorado, White Marlin, Sailfish, Bonefish, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Grouper, Horse Eye Jacks, and Yellow Snapper. Andros Island Bonefish Club, located at Cargill Creek, is legendary for memory making fishing adventures.

Bonefish | ©istockphoto/FtLaudGirl

Bonefish | ©istockphoto/FtLaudGirl

Blue Hole Dive Destinations
The Andros Barrier Reef runs for 142 miles, approximately one to two miles from the Andros shore, bordered on its eastern shore by the 6000 foot deep Tongue of the Ocean. To the west, the Great Bank of the Bahamas features the world largest collection of “blue holes” (underwater caverns and sinkholes) providing divers with a wealth of challenging dive sites to explore.

Small Hope Bay Lodge, established in 1960, offers divers and snorkelers an unsurpassed underwater world. Featuring more than 60 recreational dive sites with magnificent geological and coral formations, Small Hope Bay Lodge dive center offers guided excursions for both novice and certified divers. The lodge’s staff of qualified dive instructors and dive masters design dives to match the divers level of experience and expertise.

Water, Water Everywhere
Blessed with the only freshwater river in the Bahamas, the island benefits from a water-based economy. Thousands of gallons of rainwater, collected in aquifers deep below the island’s surface, are stored at a pumping station in Morgan’s Bluff and dispersed throughout the island chain.

The Tongue of the Ocean can be seen along the east coast of Andros Island. The top of this picture is slightly east of north. Photo: NASA.

The Tongue of the Ocean along the east coast of Andros Island.  Photo: NASA

Flora And Fauna
Visitors to Andros Island are delighted to discover the lush flora and fauna that blankets the land. To date, more than 50 different species of wild orchids have been identified, the majority of which are endemic including three different species of the elusive Climbing Vanilla Orchid.

With a landmass larger than the State of Rhode Island, Andros Island, once part of the British West Indies, supports a population of less than 8,000. Welcoming guests with a warm, relaxed, “laid-back” lifestyle, Andros residents extend an invitation for visitors to discover and enjoy the charming Caribbean paradise.

A Romantic Retreat
Like the island itself, guest accommodations on the island are unique and unusual. Visitors can choose from a rustic bungalow on the shore, private home rentals, an upscale bed and breakfast accommodation, or a luxury family resort. Andros Island Beach Club, located seaside on the archipelago’s finest white-sand beach, is an all-inclusive luxury dive resort offering prestige oceanfront guest suites, world-class fishing, diving, and dining. When seeking sunny, secluded beaches, serenity, and stellar hospitality, Andros Island is perfect.

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