Long Island Bahamas Travel Guide [y]
Long Island is an island in the southeastern Bahamas and is about 80 miles long. It’s the widest point is approx. 4 miles wide and the Tropic of Cancer runs through it. It is described as The Most Scenic Island in The Bahamas and has a population of approx. 4,200 people. The capital of Long Island is Clarence Town and is located near the southern end of the island. It is about 185 miles southeast of Nassau which is the capital of The Bahamas.
Long Island is an island of contrast and has high cliffs with scattered beaches on the eastern side. The western side consists of more lowland and lots of beautiful beaches. Throughout the island, the terrain ranges from flatland to steep hills with lots of ponds scattered all over. There’s also a lot of wetlands and inland blue holes, but the most recognized blue hole is Dean’s Blue Hole which is located in Dean’s close to Clarence Town. Dean’s Blue Hole is The World’s Deepest Blue Hole with seawater and has a depth of 202 meters (663 ft) and is also listed as the World’s Second Largest underwater cavern.
Long Island Bahamas Tourism
Long Island’s main economic industries are Tourism, Fishing, Construction, and Farming. There is a large export of fish, crawfish and conch from the island along with a significant amount of mutton, fruits and vegetables also. Tourism has been increasing more and more every year with visitors from all over the world. There are lots of great activities for a tourist like fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling, shark diving, kayaking, jet skiing, hiking, biking and much more.
Attractions on Long Island Bahamas
There are quite a few attractions on the island worth mentioning, but in actuality, Long Island itself is just one big attraction. It has so much to offer and it will take me all day to list but below are a few of the main attractions:
Long Island is best known for its various caves, historical churches, plantation ruins, Columbus’ monument, blue holes, breathtaking beaches, incredible fishing, annual sailing regatta, scuba diving, free diving, great snorkeling, laid back relaxing lifestyle and much more. There are also lots of small cays and beautiful reefs all around the island for great exploring in the boat. The people here are really friendly and hospitable and welcome everybody with open arms. You would notice people are always hailing each other and greet you with a big warm smile even if they don’t know you. There is very little crime and is actually one of the very few places on this planet you can leave your doors unlocked at night without worries. There is so much more the island offers you just gotta come and see for yourself.
Columbus’ Monument / Point
Located in Seymour’s at the very northern end of the island is Columbus’ Point and the location of the Columbus Monument. Atop of a high cliff overlooking the ocean is a monument that was built as a memorial of his landing there on his first voyage in 1492 and it is believed to be his 3rd stop after San Salvador and Rum Cay. There is a spectacular view from the top of the cliff and is a very popular place for tourists.
Adderley’s Plantation Ruins
These ruins are located in Stella Maris and their construction began in 1790 on over 700 acres of land by a British man named Abraham Adderley of Nassau, Bahamas. This property was increased in size to 2,500 acres by his son William Adderley and was used to raise livestock and grow cotton for work and transport. Later the property was taken over by Long Islanders Uriah and his son Alonzo Knowles (both from the Simms area) for one shilling per acre, utilizing some of it for farming and residing on the remaining portion. Various parcels of the property were passed on to subsequent family members until in the 1950s when most of it was sold to a German industrialist, Herbert Schnapka, who was connected with the Grand Bahama Oil Storage Project. Land development was established in 1963, and over time it evolved into today’s “Stella Maris Estate.”
There are hundreds of caves scattered throughout the island but these are the most known. They are really large cave systems and have a huge labyrinth of underground tunnels and caverns. Some parts have never been seen by human eyes and hold lots of secrets yet to be revealed. Salt Pond cave is not known by too much of the locals but I grew up here all my life and spent countless hours with friends playing in this cave system. What I found unique about Salt Pond’s cave is there are huge boulders all along the bottom and this creates dual layers. There is a top layer and below the boulders are another underground layer throughout most of the cave.
Hamilton, Mortimer’s & Deadman’s Cay’s Caves
You can hire cave tour guides to explore Hamilton, Dunmore’s, Mortimer’s & Deadman’s Cay caves and they are all unique in their own way. Mortimer’s cave is the site of the Cartwright Duho Cave where 3 Lucayan duhos (ceremonial Stools) were found by Carlton Cartwright in 1988.
Dunmore’s cave has 2 old Indian drawings on the wall and two tunnels, one which leads to the ocean.
Shark Reef, Comberbach
The Shark Reef, Comberbach, and Conception Island Wall dives are coordinated by Stella Maris Resort which is one of the longest-running dive operations in The Bahamas. The 30ft. dive that set the standard for shark encounters around the world is an accelerating experience where you are surrounded by a shark feeding frenzy right in front of your eyes mainly consisting of Reef Sharks.
Conception Island Dives
Conceptional Wall Dives consist of diving along the edge of 40ft. walls that drop vertically to more than 6,000 feet. Comberbach Dive is a dive to a 90ft. A wreck with an intact wheelhouse and a shattered bus in a forward hold.
Dean’s Blue Hole
Dean’s Blue Hole, in my opinion, is the most popular attraction on Long Island. It is a spectacular, breathtaking and mind-blowing site all wrapped up in one. It is the world’s deepest blue hole in seawater with a depth of over 202 meters or 660ft and is also the second-largest underwater cavern. It is situated just north of the capitol Clarence Town in a bay in Dean’s and has a beautiful beach that drops right into the hole with high rise cliffs around about 2/3 of the hole. It is tidal and is believed to be connected to the ocean. The cliffs are overlooking the ocean and there is a beautiful harbor leading into the inlet where the hole is located. It is a very popular beaching location for the locals and is host to multiple World Champion Free Diving Competitions with competitors from all over the world. Dean’s Blue Hole is a MUST SEE!
There are several churches on Long Island and all are unique in their own way. Three of them are of special interest. In Clarence Town, Father Jerome Hawes, the Catholic missionary who built the Hermitage on Cat Island, was also responsible for two of the main churches and one was Anglican (St. Paul’s) and the other Catholic (St. Peter’s). Both showcase his great skills at building churches. Then there’s the Spanish Anglican Church (St. Mary’s) in The Bight, once part of an early Spanish settlement and it is believed to be the oldest Spanish Church in the Bahamas. There are many other beautiful churches on the island and all are worth taking a look at.
Long Island is known as The Most Scenic Island in The Bahamas and is for good reason. There are literally hundreds of beautiful beaches on the eastern and western sides of the island. All of these beaches are stunning but there are a select few that are simply breathtaking. The most notable one is near the northern tip of the island close to Columbus’ Monument and is called Cape Santa Maria Beach. This beach is out of this world with it’s silky white powdery fine sand and tantalizing emerald green and turquoise crystal clear waters. It was listed as one of the World’s Top Ten Most Beautiful Beaches and is definitely worthy of that title. There are a lot more beaches worth mentioning also like Deal’s Beach, Salt Pond Oceanside Beach that run for miles, Galloway Beach in Clarence Town and Gordon’s Beach at the southern end of the island just to name a few. All these beaches are unique and have so much to offer for swimming, fishing or just plain relaxing.
Long Island Bahamas Activities
There are tons of activities you can do on Long Island and have lots of fun in paradise. Below are some of the main activities to enjoy:
Beaching is by far one of the most popular activities on Long Island because there are a large variety of breathtaking beaches and even one that was listed as one of the top ten most beautiful in the world. Most beaches have fine silky pearl white sand with pristine multi-colored waters. Some run as far as the eyes can see and there are lots of lagoons and safe harbors. So get your beach chairs, umbrellas and grill ready to enjoy a lazy laid back day of beaching in paradise.
Another very popular activity, boating is an awesome way to experience the real beauty of Long Island. There are thousands of reefs, small cays and hidden coves around the island. With a nice boat and lots of time to spare, there will be no end to boating adventures. So full her up with gas and press the throttle.
Fishing is one of the favorite activities here and whether it be reef fishing, deep-sea fishing, bonefishing, fly fishing or just fishing’ off the rocks it’s an incredible experience. There’s a large variety of fish ranging from bonefish, groupers, jacks, snappers, tuna, wahoo, Baracuda, dolphin, tarpon, permit, sharks and so much more for your reeling pleasure. Get out your rod and reel in a big one.
Hiking & Biking
There are unlimited areas on the island to hike and bike. Hundreds of unpaved side roads and ‘bush’ roads to explore makes Long Island a perfect hiking and biking place. There are lots of hills, caves, hidden beaches and ruins for your exploring pleasure. So get out your bikes and running shoes and go ‘wild’ exploring.
With hundreds of different cave systems throughout even undiscovered ones, Long Island is a cave explorers dream. The caves here consist of both inland underwater caves with no water to underwater blue holes. The most popular blue hole here is Dean’s Blue Hole in Dean’s Long Island just north of the capitol Clarence Town and is the world’s deepest at over 220 meters or 660 ft. The inland waterless caves are spectacular places to explorers with endless underground passages and caverns, but not all are waterless there’s some with seawater holes within the cave even with shrimp and some small fish. There’s also a lot of fruit bats sometimes with thousands of them in one area along with other misc. insects and small animals. So get your flashlight out and get dirty.
Scuba Diving, Free Diving
With endless coves, caves, lagoons, reefs, and wrecks I would have to say Long Island is “THE” place to be when it comes to diving. There’s the world-famous Shark Reef Diving offered by Stella Maris Resort where you dive in a spot surrounded by hungry reef sharks and other types of sharks where ‘get this’ they feed them right in front of you. You’re surrounded by sharks in a feeding frenzy and saying to yourself ‘I hope they don’t eat me’ but yet the entire experience is so exciting those thoughts go away very quickly.
There are lots of old sunken wrecks all around the island and make for a great snorkeling experience along with breathtaking reefs, underwater caves, and lagoons. Freediving is a great activity around these parts too and lately, it has been gaining a lot of popularity. There have been various diving competitions held at Dean’s Blue Hole in the recent years and free diving champions from all over the world have been competing including William Trubridge who holds the world record in the discipline of Unassisted Constant Weight (no fins), and can dive to 95 meters (288 feet) without the use of fins, rope, weight, or any other form of assistance. In 2010 he also broke the world record in the discipline Free Immersion, with 116m (380 feet). He currently trains in Tenerife, at Tenerife Top Training Center during the summer and Dean’s Blue Hole in the winter. So grab your mask and bask in the underwater world that Long Island has to offer.
Sailing, Kayaking, Jet Skiing & Other Water Sports
These are all really popular water activities here and will allow you to enjoy hours of fun. Sailing is the most popular water sport for the locals is enjoyed the most during the annual Long Island Sailing Regatta that happens every year around May and June. Bahamian built sailing sloops throughout the Bahamas come to compete for money and prizes. While the sailing is going on in the harbor the fiesta is going on on the land at the regatta site. There’s lots of native food, drinks, music, and gaming activity going on with thousands of people from all over the Bahamas. It’s a great event and a time for people to just mingle and relax together. The local resorts have kayaks, jet skis, sailboats and other water gear available for their guests or to rent every day. So grab your life jacket and a ‘whale’ of time on the crystal clear waters.
The island was originally called ‘Yuma’ by the local Arawak Indians and was then later changed to ‘Fernandina’ by Christopher Columbus. Columbus landed on Long Island in 1492 on his first voyage and it was believed to be his third stop in The Bahamas after San Salvador and Rum Cay. The Lucayan Taíno tribe settled on Long Island and is believed to have lived in the island’s cave systems. After the demise of the Lucayans, who were carried as slaves to Hispaniola and Cuba, there was no large settlement until the arrival of the Loyalists. The Loyalists were from New Jersey and New England and they came here to escape the American Revolution. These families started the first farms, primarily raising cattle and sheep. By the 1790s, settlers began to arrive from the Carolinas and proceeded to set up cotton plantations. The plantations flourished for only a few years and, by the time of the abolition of slavery in 1834, most had collapsed and been abandoned. There are many ruins from this era today, the majority of which are overgrown by bush.
Long Island has a number of settlements scattered throughout the island. Starting from North to South there is Seymour’s, Glinton’s, Burnt Ground, Stella Maris, Bunches, Millerton, Oneil’s, Simms, Wemyss, Miller’s, McKann’s, Salt Pond, Pinder’s, Gray’s, Deadman’s Cay, Cartwright’s, Mangrove Bush, Petty’s, Hamilton’s, Dean’s, Clarence Town, Dunmore, Hard Bargain, Roses, Mortimer’s, Gordon’s. Seymour’s is best known for the location of Christopher Columbus’ Monument. Cape Santa Maria and Stella Maris have two of the biggest resorts on the island – Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort and Stella Maris Resort. Stella Maris also has one of the two airports on the island called Stella Maris Airport. My hometown Salt Pond is best known for The Annual Long Island Regatta, Deadman’s Cay is the most populated area and has the next airport which is the main airport on the island called Deadman’s Cay Airport. Mangrove Bush has the best sailing sloop builders in the Bahamas. Clarence Town, of course, is the capital and is a port of entry for one of the mail boats and other ships.