Two Inaguas, One Paradise
The Inaguas are the hottest, driest, and southernmost district of the
Bahamas. They consist of the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua.
A birdwatcher's paradise, the Inaguas are home to the world's largest
breeding colony of West Indian flamingos. While both islands are stunningly
beautiful, they differ in one aspect - one is inhabited, the other is
a national park.
Located five miles to the northeast of Great Inagua, Little Inagua is
uninhabited and designated a national park by the Bahamas government.
It is the largest uninhabited island in the wider Caribbean. It is a protected
nesting location for a few species of endangered sea turtles. Its surrounding
waters contribute to the supply of fish eggs, larvae, and sub-adults that
are swept into the remaining Bahamian marine territory. It is also home
to herds of wild donkeys and goats. Little Inagua has a large protective
coral reef that prevents boats from coming close to shore.
The third largest island in The Bahamas, Great Inagua encloses several
lakes, the most important being the 12-mile long Lake Windsor (formerly
known as Lake Rosa) which occupies nearly one quarter of the interior.
The island has some 969 inhabitants, and its capital and only harbor is
Matthew Town, named after a 19th century Bahamian governor. The Morton
Salt Company has its main facility in Great Inagua. The company is known
for seawater salt recovery, and produces about a million pounds of salt
per year, making it the second largest operation of its kind in North
America. In fact, salt is the Inaguas’ main industry.
A haven for bird-watchers and nature lovers, Great Inagua is home to one
of the world's largest colonies of flamingos. There are more than 80,000
West Indian Flamingos (the national bird of the Bahamas) residing in the
Inagua National Park, a large bird sanctuary in the middle of the island.
Other exotic birds found on Great Inagua include roseate spoonbills, pelicans,
herons, Bahama parrots, egrets, and Bahama pintail ducks.
What’s in a name?
Contrary to popular belief, Inagua is not an anagram for iguana. Its name
originates from ‘henagua,’ a Spanish word that stood for ‘full’
(lleno) and ‘water’ (agua); it well-described the large amount
of water found on Great Inagua. The name was eventually adapted for the
non-Spanish speaking inhabitants of the island; thus, the Inaguas were
The Inaguas are an ideal destination for travelers in search of truly
untouched nature in the midst of the Caribbean. This peaceful district
is home to friendly locals who enjoy the simplicity of life amongst fauna
and flora. These majestic islands are abundant with wildlife. It is no
wonder that many visitors fall in love with The Bahamas.
Read about the history of Inagua Island.