You’ll want to take your boots to Andros Island, but as you might expect, a pair of sandals is also in order.
The largest of the Bahamian islands, Andros is still very much on the wild side â€“ great for adventurers and those people who can’t stand gift shops and the usual tourist trash!
If you like quiet beaches, walks in the bush and pine trees and around little villages, Andros is it. The snorkeling and scuba diving is good, bird watching is fabulous, and Kalik Gold is the beer of choice. The operative word for Andros is casual.
Where to stay:
Because Andros is so unsettled, there isn’t a whole slew of hotels, so you really don’t have a ton of choices.
We recommend the Lighthouse Yacht Club (the term ‘yacht club’ is used very loosely here, but it’s clean and comfortable). Rates are between $130.00 to $150.00, and cheaper during hurricane season â€“ just ask them. They will pick you up at the airport, which is about 3 miles away.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling:
We lived on Andros Island for a year, and the best of times were spent under the water with Matthias and Martina Mueller who run a small dive operation at the Lighthouse Yacht Club called Andros Undersea Adventures.
They have a great boat and guide, terrific relaxed attitudes, and really give you the most for your money out on the water. You can reach them by e-mail. Ask them about their package deals with the Lighthouse â€“ a package including accommodations and diving runs $345.00 for 4 days/3 nights.
We enjoyed visiting the settlement of Red Bays. Red Bays is a very different community on Andros â€“ originally settled by the Seminole Indians from Florida.
When the US was putting Indians in reservations, a group decided not to accept that “good deal”, and hopped in their little boats, high-tailing it to Andros Island. The people live in a pretty ‘rough’ style, and it’s fascinating to see.
Here’s Scrap Iron (yes, that’s his name) weaving me a basket on the street in Red Bays.
Where to eat:
There is one most excellent restaurant not to miss while on Andros Island. Just a mile up the road from the Lighthouse, is the Point of View.
When in season, the lobster is THE meal to order! They have an excellent selection of wines, great service and a fun bar overlooking the ocean to sip a few after stuffing yourself with dinner.
Where to drink:
Hank’s Place is the one and only local place to really suck a few Kalik Gold beers down.
Hank makes a Hanky Panky that will put you on the other side of the island without a plane or car â€“ try one!
Hank’s atmosphere is a little weird â€“ a wire fence artistically draped around to call it a wall. However, you’ll enjoy the heck out of yourself talking to the locals and ex-pats from the nearby AUTEC Naval Undersea Warfare base.
Turtles are an endangered species in most places, including Andros Island. But, who’s going to stop them from catching one for dinner? No one.
We arrived one day just in time to see everyone in the darned settlement out for the kill. It was pretty bloody, but quite an event for the town-folks.
How to get there:
Fly from Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach, Florida on Bahamas Air (known to the locals as Bahamas Scare…but, most flights actually make it!). You can reach the airline at (800) 222-4262. You’ll be flying into Fresh Creek.
Things to Take With You:
Take some bug spray â€“ this is jungle after allâ€¦ Evenings can cool down, so you’ll want to throw a sweater or light jacket into your suitcase along with your shorts and bathing suit.
For afternoons on the beach, have a good novel handy. If you have room, take a pair of binoculars. The bird watching and possible sea life sightings will be better up close and personal.
Take your passport or original birth certificate. You won’t get in without one or the other!
Enjoy your visit to one of the wildest of the Bahamian Family Islands!