Encompassing 2,300 square miles, Andros Island is the largest and least
explored island in the Bahamas. The Andros Barrier Reef is the third largest
in the world and the second largest in the Western hemisphere. It stretches
140 miles along the Eastern coast of the island and has a 6,000 foot drop-off.
diverse geography provides a wide variety of flora and fauna unique to
the island. There are more than 40 types of wild orchids as well as rare,
endemic birds, wild boar and four-foot long iguanas. These iguanas make
their home in the thick bushes and swamps and on deserted beaches.
The population of Andros Island is approximately 10,000 people. Most Androsians,
whose origins date back to the Seminole Indians, live on the East coast
of the island in small towns. The residents’main occupation consists
of fishing and farming. When the Spanish discovered Andros, they named
it La Isla del Esperitu Santo which translates to the Island of the Holy
Legends and Myths
There are a number of legends or myths that surround Andros Island
of which two are referred to as the Chickcharnies and the Lusca. The Chickcharnies
are believed to be magical; half man/half bird-like elves with red eyes,
feathers, three fingers and three toes. They are said to live in the tops
of pine trees and according to the myth, will cause considerable trouble
to those who look upon them and grimace. However, they will cast lifelong
good luck to those who show them respect. The Lusca, an octopus-like creature,
whose legend has it that it takes pleasure in dragging men and small boats
down to their doom, is the island’s version of the Loch Ness Monster.
Andros Island has many underwater cave systems known as Blue Holes.
Some of the deepest underwater cave explorations have been conducted here.
In 1960, Small Hope Bay Lodge, a resort dedicated to diving, opened in
Central Andros. Thereafter, a number of historic moments took place including:
- Diver / photographer Dr. George Benjamin was the first to
explore the Blue Holes of Andros Island in the early 60’s.
- Canadian diver Betty Singer set the world record for women
divers at 310 feet in 1961.
- Physicist Roger Hutchins, owner of Small Hope Bay Lodge, set
the world record for deep diving on compressed air in 1963 (462 feet).
- Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau learned to dive at this
resort, as well as Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling.
- Jacques Cousteau and his Calypso crew explored and filmed the
Blue Holes in 1970.