Ecotourism may have began with the 1826 sailing of the H.M.S. Beagle with its soon to be eminent passenger aboard, Charles Darwin, but the practice by no means ended there with ecotourism currently representing a $600 billion dollar industry that draws adventurers to the four corners of the world. For its rich natural biodiversity and commitment to ecological stewardship, the islands of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas presents a rich offering that features everything from diving on coral beds to riding horses on the beach to exploring blue holes with eyeless fish. When plotting out your next adventure vacation, you want to spin the globe and make sure that your finger lands on the more than two thousands islands, cays, and islets that comprise the paradise of the Bahamas.
Ecotourism in The Bahamas
- Andros Islands
- Berry Islands
- Cat Island
- Cay Sal
- Crooked Island
- Grand Bahama
- Long Island
- New Providence
- Ragged Island
- Rum Cay
- San Salvador
Ecotourism in the Abacos Islands
The Abacos Islands are a nexus point for ornithologists and bird lovers alike owing to the fact that it is a bird-watching paradise. Of particular interest to visitors to the South Abaco, near Hole-In-The Wall, is the nesting habits of the Abaco parrot, which is the only know species of bird in the Caribbean that nests in the ground. In addition to adding the Abaco parrot to your observation list, you will have an opportunity to spot the olive-capped warbler, red-legged thrush, the yellow-throated Bahamas, in a addition to an array of waterfowl and other species that call the Bahamas home during the winter months. Horse lovers will want to be sure to slate time for a visit to the Abaco Barb, a critically endangered strain of the Spanish Barb horse breed, to discover their latest efforts to bring these noble animals from the brink of extinction.
Ecotourism in the Acklins Islands
The Acklins Islands, and its nearby neighbor, Crooked Island, are home to wide varieties of marine bird species, which is a magnet for vacationers seeking a look at the wide variety of flocks known to nest on the reefs and along the cliffs of French Wells. A listing of the available species reads like an encyclopedia of exotic Caribbean marine birds and rich local fauna such as rare Acklins orchids, as well as including regular bird sightings of parrots, flamingos, white-crowned pidgins, black-faced grassquits, and greater Antillean bullfinches. The Acklins and Crooked Island comprise some of the most beautiful sections of the Bahamas that includes the Turtle Sound waterway, which is one of the leading natural wonders of the Bahamas Islands.
Ecotourism in the Andros Islands
Its unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems make Andros Island a hotspot for ecotourism in the Bahamas. With the third largest barrier reef in the world, North and South Marine Park, tasked with preserving these beautiful and valuable reef ecosystems, encompasses nearly 65,000 acres along the island’s western side. In addition to hosting the nation’s largest protected park system, Andros Island’s western shores are a breeding grounds and nursery for an array of aquatic and wildlife species. Blue Holes National Park is home to the world’s largest collection of Blue Holes. These geographic formations, created over thousands of years with the erosion of the island’s limestone bedrock, house a myriad of invertebrates and cavefish. With its stellar reputation as a first class ecotourism destination, travelers have an array of ecotourism packages to choose from when exploring the wilds of Andros Island.
Ecotourism in the Berry Islands
The Southern Berry Islands Marine Reserve encompasses more than a dozen cays and islands, and it is home to a rich assortment of bird, marine, and wildlife species, as well as a host of cultural sites that date back to the beginnings of English settlement in the area. For nature lovers, rent a kayak and paddle around the southern most tip of Great Harbor Cay, which offers one of the most fertile mangrove creeks to be found in the Bahamas where you can get up close and personal with the marine life swimming beneath you in the crystal-clear Bahaman water. Explore the breathtaking beauty of Hoffman Cay’s Sugar Beach Cave, which is home to a 600-foot wide and 20-foot deep blue hole that daily witnesses the unique interplay of area marine life. History lovers will thrill at offshore excursions to such storied destinations as Big Whale Cay to visit the first Anglican Church built in the area, or the impressive lighthouses that have guided mariners safely past Great Stirrup Cay since 1863. Many of the ecotourism activities are accessible only by water, so most of the tourist packages are conducted by boat.
Ecotourism in Bimini Island
Owing to its position straddling the famous Gulf Stream, Bimini Island is well- known for its predilection towards exhibiting natural phenomenon that are particular to this specific island. For instance, it was the purported healing powers, the legendary Fountain of Youth, which drew the attention of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon to the Healing Hole noted for the gurgling fresh water that seems to magically escape the saltwater swamp of Bonefish Creek. A visit to the Bimini Biological Field Station will reveal efforts in the works to study the ecological role the ubiquitous lemon shark has on the area while the Bimini Dolphin Communication Projects seeks new ways to interact with these amazing mammals. Organized tours allow you the chance to see every inch of the island without missing a beat from the beauty along the Bimini Nature Trail, which wends its way across the island and is home to an array of plants and animals that call Bimini home.
Ecotourism in Cat Island
Studded with stands of hardwoods and palm trees throughout the Cay, the terrain of Cat Island is a favorite nesting spot for an array of indigenous and migratory bird species, while the bushes of Mount Alvernia house songbirds who delight in making their distinctive warbling sounds. Join a guided tour that can conduct you to blue holes, bat caves, and nature trails that form a tropical backdrop to the region’s many natural treasures. These include Griffin Bat Cave and two inland blue holes, one of which is believed to contain eyeless species of fish and shrimp that call the 75-foot holes home, while the other, Bad Blue Hole, originates as a fresh water lake that flows to the sea via underground caverns with strong undersea currents. Make sure to visit Orange Creek in North Cat Island, and discover how this stretch of water garnered its name from the orange glow that emanates from the surface when certain atmospheric conditions are met including wave conditions, wind factors, and the angle of the sun.
Ecotourism in Cay Sal Island Beaches
The far-flung outer islands of Cay Sal are home to a myriad of migratory seabirds that flock to the isolated islands to breed, feed, and rest before continuing their journey. With thousands of Caribbean seabirds alighting on the shores of Cay Sal Bank, the Bahamas National Trust and Birdlife International Society have listed the area as an Important Bird Area. As such, the area is the ideal stalking grounds for birdwatchers eagerly looking forward to adding rare bird species to their repertoire like Brown Bobbies, Royal Terns, Audubon’s Shearwaters, and Sandwich Terns among others. Popular diving sites include exploring enormous blue holes, diving on coral reefs teeming with aquatic life, or the wreck of the Rompidas for a watery trip back through history. Covering more than 2,000 square miles of ocean front property, only a quarter of Cay Sal is considered dry land, so there is plenty of beach space to call your own in this scantly populated island group that straddles the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Ecotourism on Crooked Island
Crooked Island, and its nearby neighbor the Acklins Islands, is host to numerous bird species, which makes it the ideal ecotourism destination for adventurers seeking a wide variety of flocks known to nest on the reefs and along the cliffs of French Wells. A listing of the available species reads like a encyclopedia of exotic Caribbean marine birds including regular sightings of parrots, flamingos, white-crowned pidgins, black-faced grassquits, and greater Antillean bullfinches. Escorted tours guide you to all the ecological charms that these islands have to offer. Additionally, tucked away on the west coast of Crooked Island, history buffs will delight at the well-preserved historical properties known as Hope Greta House and Marine Farm. These two Loyalist compounds boasts an artillery battery and plantation house equipped with a period kitchen that provides a glimpse into the island’s rich colonial past.
Ecotourism on Eleuthera Island
Nature lovers will have a lot on their plate with a visit to Eleuthera Island and Harbour Island known throughout the island chain for its unrivaled natural beauty and plenty of things to do when on vacation. From an incredible collection of natural wonders ranging from interesting rock formations, exciting caves to explore, and blue holes with such famous names in the area as Boiling Hole, Ocean Hole, and the Queen’s Bath known for its stellar hot tubs. Take a tour of the Medicinal Plant Trail inside the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve to discover the traditional uses made of native trees and plant life in the treatment of ailments and the making of local favorite, “bush tea.” Visitors will need to travel to South Eleuthera for an opportunity to do some birding, but the trip is well worth the effort to see the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird.
The Exuma Island Ecotourism Adventure
The Exumas is home to two expansive national parks. The first, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, comprises 176-square miles of pristine water, soft white sand coastlines, and the shell-strewn sands of Coco Plumb Beach is the oldest combined land and sea park in the world. As a “no-take reserve,” park officials prohibit all fishing within the park, but the wildlife refuge is teeming with animal life and visitors can feed the endangered Bahaman Iguana or catch a view of the ever-elusive Hutia, a large cave-dwelling rodent. The more than 13,000 acres of the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park plays a critical role in the Exuma island marine ecosystem. Visitors will be amazed at the ecological wonders hiding in plain site with a host of caves, blue holes, and trails stand by and are ready for your exploration.
Ecotourism in Grand Bahamas and its Beaches
Whether hiking, kayaking, or exploring from the back of a horse, the island of Grand Bahamas is home to three separate national parks with Lucayan National Park representing the jewel within this ecological crown. Featuring expansive stands of mangroves, palms, and pine tree forests’ studding the park, Lucayan National Park is home to an array of plant and animal life, which you are invited to explore all these ecological treasures at your leisure. Additionally, this is the only place in the entire Commonwealth of the Bahamas where you can see all six of the nation’s ecosystems within one confined space. The park includes miles of white sandy beaches and the opportunity to swim along secluded Gold Rock Beach is an experience not to be missed when visiting the island.
Inagua is a nature lover’s paradise and home to some of the most significantly important geographic areas throughout the entire island chain. The Inagua National Park on Great Ignagua covers half the island’s land mass and is home to the largest breeding colony of flamingos in the world. The park contains the largest lake in the Bahamas, Lake Rosa, and provides shelter to a myriad of other species including endangered Bahamas Parrot nesting sites. On Little Inagua, the largest uninhabited island in the Caribbean is home to the Union Creek National Reserve where they have been studying the habits of the endangered Green Turtle since 1965. The reserve encompasses an enclosed tidal creek that is critical to these turtle’s nesting abilities.
Long Island Ecotourism
Believed to be home to the largest nesting grounds of tropical birds in the Bahamas, the Conception Island National Park is an unspoiled wonderland and sanctuary for migrating birds and green and hawksbill turtles. Guided tours will take you on explorations of Sandy Cay, which is home to the island’s rare rock iguanas, as well as spotting a wide array of birds, fish, and turtles, which rely on the sanctuary of the national park to thrive. Visitors to the island have an a wealth of options when it comes to scheduling great ecotourism packages that include such rare offerings as a chance to visit Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest inland blue hole in the world, and home to all manner of freshwater shrimp. Secluded mangroves and wetland areas provide a perfect place to settle in and get some bird watching done while out on holiday.
Ecotourism in the Mayaguana Islands
Home to more than 100 different species of birds, Black Wood Point is an excellent habitat for an array of indigenous and migratory birds including wild flamingos, ospreys, plovers, and terns. For the best view of this natural phenomenon, tourists to the area are recommended to hire a guided fishing tour to the area to avoid traversing the dangerous rocks and terrain on the landward side of the nesting zone. Additionally, the flora and fauna of the island contains buttonwood trees and native shrubbery that helps conceal nesting birds at Curtis Creek near North Beach. Miles of nature trails wend back and forth over the island thus offering a unique opportunity to sight the amazing wildlife in the area.
Ecotourism in the New Providence Islands
While New Providence teems with the glitz and excitement of a tropical paradise that is a destination point for thousands of visitors each year, the island is also host to a myriad of national parks and gardens that makes New Providence Island a great place to schedule you next ecotourism package. Within minutes of leaving the capital, Harrold and Wilson Ponds National Park boasts the largest concentration of egrets, herons, and cormorants making the park an indispensible habitat for the many species that call Harrold and Wilson Ponds National Park home. Also vying for the adventurers attention on the island, Primeval Forest National Park is a small tropical forest reminiscent of the tropical hardwood forests of the Bahamas, and features limestone caverns that range in size up to 50-foot long, 30-foot wide, and 30-foot deep. Finally, a trip to the island is not finished until you take in the amazing garden of rare and exotic palms and native plants at the 11-acre Retreat.
Ecotourism on Ragged Island and its Beaches
A local, dynamic ecotourism program, established by the local community to better enhance the natural environment on the islands, bolsters ecotourism in the Ragged Islands. Between Ragged Island and some of the larger cays, visitors have miles of trails and sparse beaches to explore and enjoy. All summer long, flocks of birds alight on the islands, and you are bound see any number of different species during the season. Additionally, if you can schedule your holiday in either March or August, you can avail yourself of the seasonal butterfly migration to the island in an explosion of beautiful colors. From discovering endemic animal life to studying unusual plants that Bahamians traditionally used in the production of medicine, Ragged Island is an adventure traveler’s dream come true.
Ecotourism on Rum Cay and its Beaches
Rum Cay’s close proximity to the Conception Island National Park, and its award winning bird sanctuary, means that Rum Cay enjoys a diverse population of migratory marine fowl. Among the nearly thirty species sighted on the island, Herons and songbirds have claimed the cay as home, but the most regular spotting is of the pearly-eyed thrasher. Near Port Nelson, a salt pond forms a protective ecosystem that is home to baby turtles, groupers, lobsters, and an array of other sea life. Indeed, the salt pond provides an excellent sanctuary for the baby sea creatures before they venture out to the dangers of the open ocean. Eco-tourists worried about missing any of the islands natural hotspots can easily hire a tour from one of the local fishing guides to guarantee that they miss nothing on their trip.
Ecotourism on San Salvador Island
Eco-tourism on San Salvador Island begins and ends with a tour of the imposing Great Lake, which covers the majority of the island’s interior, and deemed a protected reserve in order to preserve its natural beauty for future generations. The lake stretches the entirety of the island and connects all the major towns on San Salvador. An excellent way to explore the entire island therefore is to join a boat tour that will carry you along miles of salty lakes where you will have a chance to see enormous cactus, surreal palm trees, and mangrove swamps that literally teem with wildlife.