Covering a relatively vast 5,960 square km (2,300 square mile) just 48 km (30 miles) west of Nassau and 280 km (175 miles) southeast of Ft Lauderdale, Florida, Andros is the largest and yet least explored island in the Bahamas chain. As quiet and unpretentious as its people, the peaceful island is home to the oldest dive resort in the world, the second-largest reef in the Western Hemisphere and crystal-clear waters, which maintain a year-round temperature of 27C (80F).
The sheltered waters of the reef are 1.8m to 4.5m (6 to 15 feet) deep on average, but eventually drop off into the depths of the Tongue of the Ocean. Geologists think that this area was once a prehistoric riverbed, similar to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Blue holes, found both inland and in the ocean waters off the island’s coasts, were formed by water erosion and flooding at the end of the last ice age. The oceanic holes connect to the intricate inland underwater cave system. As the tides rush in and out, ideal feeding grounds are formed, creating an underwater world of prolific and diverse marine life offering tremendous diving opportunities.
According to local folklore, it’s not just the watersports that are legendary – there’s the myth of the Chickcharne, the half-man/half-birdlike figure that is said to protect against evil, and a dragon-like sea monster called the Lusca, believed to lurk in the watery depths of the blue holes.
For those who want to take more than the islands colourful stories home with them, local Androsians are reknown for making the only straw baskets that are actually waterproof and pride themselves on the art of Androsia batik, a colourful printed fabric.
Andros is rich in history, culture and ancient rituals, dating back to before the 1400s, when Africans migrating to South America travelled far across the oceans to settle her shores. These brave voyagers brought with them customs and traditions as varied as the lands from which they came.
After the Africans, came the Spaniards in the 16th century, naming Andros La Isla del Espiritu Santo, ‘The Island of the Holy Spirit’. Some time during the 17th century, the Seminole Indians migrated from southern Florida to Red Bay, on the west coast of the island – an area where a tribe still lives today.
Over the centuries, this melting pot of different races and religions with different economic, cultural and religious backgrounds, have come to live in harmony in Andros, realising that when you live in paradise there are no bad days.