When on the island of Inagua, take a deep breath, let your feet sink into the fine sand, listen to the sea gently splashing at the wind’s bidding and relish the sun shining brightly on the Bahamas. Then, prepare to leave the beach; a lot more fun and adventure await you in this little piece of paradise in the Bahamas Out Islands.
What awaits a traveler to the Bahamas aside from the usual basking under the sun and going for a dip in the island’s cool blue waters? Reef diving, birdwatching, snorkeling, beach hopping, and lighthouse tours are the major must-do’s on Inagua – a handful indeed for travelers wanting to make the most of their already splendid Bahamas vacation.
Top 4 Must-Do’s on Inagua, Bahamas:
• Go birdwatching at the Inagua National Park
Nothing quite prepares a visitor for their first sight of West Indian flamingos nesting in Inagua National Park. Seeing a lone flamingo, with a height reaching almost five feet and brandishing enormous black-tipped wings, is a sight to behold, and to see a flock of these pink-crimson birds flying across a pond is truly amazing. With approximately 80,000 flamingos nesting on the island, Inagua has the distinction of being the world’s largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos. Incidentally, the West Indian flamingo is also the national bird of the Bahamas.
Aside from the mighty flamingos, the 743-square km Inagua National Park also provides a showcase of other bird species, many of which are only found in this part of the world. Some of the resident and migrating species of birds found in this protected park and elsewhere on this island are roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets, pelicans, hummingbirds, grebes, kestrels, and whistling ducks. Lucky bird viewers may also spot a white-crowned pigeon or a Bahamas parrot, which are both endangered bird species.
Be prepared for a long but fulfilling day at the Inagua National Park. And while you’re at the park, also check out part of the 12-mile long Lake Windsor. It takes up almost half the island of Inagua and is also one of the largest lakes in the Bahamas.
• Go snorkeling or reef diving
Zip up your suit, wear your fins, mask and snorkel, and prepare to swim with Inagua’s vast sea life. Colorful schools of fish, playful green turtles, and corals that come to life are among the abundant variety of marine life that awaits the adventurous visitor to this Bahamas Island.
Inagua is home to great reefs that lie a mere 30 yards from the island’s shoreline, which makes it ideal for visitors who have limited time and limited swimming skills. For a more serious reef diving experience, however, exploring the “Great Inagua Wall” is definitely a must-do. Meanwhile, those wanting to go the extra mile during their Bahamas vacation by embarking on a shark diving trip should avail the services of licensed local shark diving tour operators to ensure their safety.
• Have fun with friends or family in the water and on the sand
Like any vacation in the Bahamas, a visit to the most beautiful beaches in the area is a must. And having fun in the water and on the sand is best experienced with family or friends. Full-day or half-day boating or kayaking tours can be arranged with tour operators or your trusty boatman for fun-filled snorkeling and exploration of the many nooks and crannies of Inagua’s pristine beach.
You can also book a fishing expedition and revel in the rich assortment of fish and crustaceans inhabiting the island’s waters. You may also opt to serve your day’s catch at a fun picnic at the beach with friends or family amid the sandcastles you built or a bonfire set ablaze nearby later in the day.
• Explore the island’s settlement and get salty
Take a stroll to explore Inagua’s only settlement, Matthew Town, which has a population of only about 1,000 people. The town’s serene appearance belies its salty foundation—the town’s economy has for decades relied on salt production.
Producing more than a million tons of sea salt annually, Inagua is home to the world’s largest saline industry. The island’s premier industry is owned by the Morton Salt Company, which maintains more than 47 square miles of salt reservoir and crystallizing ponds. The company provides free tours of their salt plant, where visitors can see mountains of salt which are also used by the island’s nesting flamingos as their feeding ground.
Matthew Town is also home to this Bahamas Island’s only lighthouse, simply named Inagua Lighthouse. In 1870, it was built to address navigation problems resulting in a number of shipwrecks on the island’s offshore reefs. Some guests may find the climb to the top of the lighthouse grueling, but the sight of Inagua’s craggy coastline and neighboring Cuba’s misty mountains and rugged coastline from the lighthouse’s observation post makes the trip well worthwhile.
Not many traveling souls may choose to get as far as this faraway island in the Bahamas, but those who do are surely in for an adventure of a lifetime.