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The Bahamas

Main attractions

Dean's Blue Hole, Bahamas
Dean's Blue Hole / Ton Engwirda, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-3.0 Netherlands

The low lying, comparatively small Bahamas are quite popular destination for mass tourism. Most people enjoy here a complete relaxation without bothering too much about travelling around and researching the intricacies of local history and nature.

Interested visitor though will be rewarded with many unique monuments of nature and also several exciting cultural attractions. Islands are rich with legends including stories about unusual creatures looming in the wild forests and swamps.

Natural landmarks

Blue holes and black holes

Islands consist of limestone of the former coral reefs rised above the sea level. Here have formed thousands of sinkholes and similar formations. Most of them are small and often the indigenous Lucayan people used them as "flowerpots" for cultivated plants in the past.

Some sinkholes though are large and unusual. Many large sinkholes and cave systems are connected to the sea and during the tides can be observed either incredible funnels sucking out the water (even a boat can disappear in these funnels) or giant bulges from the incoming water. Even more exotic are black holes - these formations are unique in the world as they contain bacterial layer which generated heat - heating the water up to 40°C hot!

Church's Blue Hole, Bahamas
Church's Blue Hole / Tim Horton, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5
  • Big Blue Hole of Cat Island - north of Cat Island. Legendary lake - here supposedly lives a monster which devours horses. Deep karst sinkhole, well connected with the sea through underwater cavities. Strong sea induced currents may bring objects from the lake into the sea.
  • Black Hole of Andros - South Andros. 300 m wide and up to 47 m deep round water filled sinkhole with a layer of violet jelly layer of bacteria at 18 metres depth. Microoganisms have heated up the water to 40°C.
  • Church's Blue Hole - North Andros. 140 m wide, beautiful, almost perfectly round water filled sinkhole, one of the many in this area. Covered with 18 m thick layer of freshwater. Sea water starts below it.
  • Dean's Blue Hole - Long Island. World's deepest sinkhole in the sea, 202 metres deep and only 25 - 35 metres across.
  • Ocean Hole - South Eleuthera. Rounded sinkhole filled with sea water, for most part up to 30 m deep. It experiences sea tides as it is connected to the 300 m distant sea with underground passages. At the southwest corner is located very deep, unexplored hole - possible entrance in such passage.
  • Thunderball Grotto - Exuma. Beautiful underwater cave - sinkhole under the limestone cliffs of small island near Staniel Cay.

Caves

Sinkhole in Preacher's Cave, Bahamas
Sinkhole in Preacher's Cave / Paul Schultz, / CC BY 2.0

There are numerous and very diverse caves in Bahamas, many still waiting for their explorers. It is speculated that below the sea level here can be found very extensive cave systems. Many of these caves have impressive dropstone formations (also below the sea level) and some contain artefacts and petroglyphs left by the extinct Lucayan people.

Many caves with valuable finds are kept secret from tourism industry to prevent damage to ancient artefacts and dripstone formations.

  • Dunmore's Cave - Long Island, near Deadman's Cay. Cave with 2 tunnels, one unexplored tunnel leads to the sea. Contains Lucayan petroglyphs.
  • Hamilton's Cave - Long Island, near Deadman's Cay. One of the most impressive cave systems in Bahamas, 460 m long, contains beautiful dripstone formations and ancient Lucayan artefacts.
  • Hartford Cave - Rum Cay. Seaside cave with the carvings, possibly even writings of Lucayans.
  • Mystery Cave - Stoking Island, Exuma. Underwater cave system with three known entrances - Mystery Cave, Angelfish Cave (both in the ocean) and the Bottomley's Blue Hole on the island, total explored length exceeds 3 km, some tunnels are very large. Contains large amount of endemic species of sea organisms.
  • Preacher's Cave - North Eleuthera. Large niche - burial site of early Lucayans from the 8th century AD with few petroglyphs. First home of European settlers in Bahamas in 1640.

Other natural landmarks

  • Bimini Road - Bimini. Unusual natural monument - some 0.8 km long geological formation which resembles ancient man-made linear structure, located in 5.5 m depth. For a while it was considered to be a unique megalithic structure. There are several more similar sites in the Bahamas - f.e. Andros "Temple".
  • Chickcharney - mysterious bird in Andros Island - forests of Andros Island. According to tales of locals in the forests of this island lives approximately 1 m tall creature which resembles an owl. There is a possibility that here survives the flightless owl Tyto pollens, which was 1 m tall and was last reported in the 16th century.
  • East Plana Cays - Acklins. The only island where survived Bahamian Hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami (J.A.Allen, 1891)). Population of these large rodents on this narrow, 10 km long island could reach 12,000. Later hutia has been introduced to several more islands of Bahamas.
  • Lusca - giant octopus of Andros blue holes - blue holes around Andros Island. There are numerous stories about giant squids which reportedly live in the sinkholes near the coast of Andros. According to these stories this monster is up to 23 m or even 60 m long.
  • The Healing Hole - Bimini. Unusual, mineralised spring coming up from the cave in the salt marshes of North Bimini. Considered to have unique healing powers, although this seems to be largely exaggerated.
Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas
Atlantis Paradise Island / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Culture monuments

  • St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church - Long Island. Beautiful Art Deco style church built after 1946 by Father Jerome Hawes.
  • Grey Lady of Great Isaac Cay - Bimini. Small island - site of legends, reputedly haunted by a spirit of mother deceased in shipwreck nearby and looking for her child. Rich with other stories as well.
  • Atlantis Paradise Island - New Providence. Enormous resort complex with the first highrise building in Bahamas, which in many respects symbolises contemporary Bahamas. Built in 1997 - 2007, impressive Postmodern architecture.

List of described attractions by districts

The Bahamas are divided into 31 districts and the capital province of New Providence.

Acklins
Berry Islands
Bimini
Black Point
Cat Island
Central Abaco
Central Andros
Central Eleuthera
City of Freeport
Crooked Island
East Grand Bahama
Exuma
Grand Cay
Harbour Island
Hope Town
Inagua
Long Island
ArrowDean's Blue HoleSinkhole
Mangrove Cay
Mayaguana
Moore's Island
New Providence
North Abaco
North Andros
North Eleuthera
Ragged Island
Rum Cay
San Salvador
South Abaco
South Andros
ArrowBlack Hole of AndrosSinkhole, Biotope
South Eleuthera
Spanish Wells
West Grand Bahama

Map of The Bahamas

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