Visit Long Island, Bahamas
The name originated when the sailors found it took too long a time to sail past along the coastline of this 80 mile long island (not wider than 4 miles anywhere). However in the early days when the only inhabitants of this island were Lucayan Tribes (i.e. Arawak Indians), it was called 'Yuma', and later it was renamed to 'Fernandina' when Christopher Columbus landed in the island in 1492.
Long Island is about 165 miles south-east of Nassau on New Providence Island. While the capital of this district is Clarence Town located in the southern-central part, the main settlement is in Deadman's Cay township located centrally which also has the main airport by its name.
However from tourism point of view Stella Maris located in the northern part is the settlement which has maximum resorts and lodges and it too has an airport of its own. All these main settlements are located along the eastern coast line (i.e. north-eastern coastline) of Long Island.
Permanent settlement in the island took place when the British Loyalists returned from the United States after the American Revolutionary War in 1790s along with their slaves and like in many other islands in the Bahams, many of them started to settle in Long Island as well.
They initially engaged in fishing, farming and growing livestock like pigs, chickens, sheep, goats etc. But they soon engaged into cultivating cotton by using the slaves, a short yet successful venture that lasted until the slaves were all released in 1834 during emancipation. Most settlements in the island are named after the family names of those who were mainly responsible for settling the area.
Map of Long Island
So what is in store for visitors in Long Island?
Actually plenty... the entire long Island is also known as the Country of Contrast. The eastern coastline faces the Atlantic and have ragged high cliffs and reefs that drop down to depths and take on the lashing Atlantic waves and protect the island. There are numerous lovely beaches along this coastline most of which are secluded paradise and some even have pink sands. They are ideal for lounging, swimming and enjoying at your own pace... some of the most notable ones here includes the Pink sands of the Lovers Beaches.
The eastern coastline is also a haven for divers and those exploring some of the great caves of Bahamas. The famous Dean's Blue Hole is one of the deepest sinkhole in the world (about 660ft) having three sides fringed with rocks and one side by a beach. This is where most experienced scuba divers and even free divers would head for. Salt Pond is the venue for annual Long Island Regatta (boat race) which attracts huge number of participants and tourists from all over the world.
The Hamilton's Cave in the eastern coast line is the largest in Bahamas... in one area it's about 15 meters in depth with ceiling as high as 3 meters. This is where it is believed that the Lucayan tribes once lived. The walls of the cave are inscribed with drawings of Lucayans and as a tourist you can explore the cave drawings here. The eastern coastline is also a great attraction for deep sea fishing. There are well known operators for diving and fishing close to Clarence Town.
The western coastline faces the Bahama bank and offers more tranquil and turquoise waters ideal for bonefishing, snorkeling and even kayaking through the mangroves. The western coastline has several lovely soft sandy beaches. The Cape Santa Maria beach near the northern tip has been consistently figuring as one of the best beaches in the world.
If you look at the entire landscape of Long Island, you can see so many variations .... sloping high hills in the north, swamplands, white flat expanses in the central area where salt, lobsters and fish processing is done, so many lovely beaches, and low hills towards the southern end.
While tourism is one of the economic contributors in this island, farming and fishing still dominate. So you can imagine the kind of sleepy slow paced Bahamian life you can expect here. In fact the main road that runs across the full length of the island was originally designed for carriages, and even today remains the only link across the island for all transportation.
While there are many luxury resorts, standard hotels and even fisherman's' lodges here offering a range of accommodations to tourists as well as food, there are also island style casual yet friendly restaurants many of which are located by the popular beach side. You can enjoy true Bahamian island cuisine here freshly prepared in front of you... try out the conch salad, or fried fish with peas and rice, seafood platter, or mutton (a signature dish of Long Island prepared with goat meat).
Taxis are available particularly at the airports and between Stella Maris, Clarence Town and Deadman's Cay. You can also rent a car to get around. There is no public bus service here though.
There are regular flights from Nassau to Deadman's Cay Airport, and also from George Town of Exuma to Stella Maris Airport. Mail Boat (slow ferry) services are also available between Nassau and Long Island (takes about 12 hour one way). There is a no cruise ship service to Long Island.
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