[ Long Cay ] • The Biggest Secret Kept
Upon his arrival to the island on the 19th of October in the year of our Lord 1492, the navigator Christopher Columbus, allegedly found a conch pearl on its shores. Today, conch pearls are very valuable and are among the rarest and most expensive of all the pearls in the world. Even in Christopher Columbus’ day, he knew the value of what he found. Because of this, he named this island, “Fortune Island.”
Since then, it has long been changed to “Long Cay.” (A name it shares with another small island found off of the northern coast of New Providence). It’s located about 10 miles off of its neighbouring sister island, Crooked Island.
9 miles in length, the island was once a bustling centre of economic activity in The Southern Bahamas. Long Cay, at one point, was home to a population of 4,000 people living between numerous settlements. The island, because of its location, became a major trading post and a passing point for many ships; an honour it took from Great Inagua further south. Because of its economic prominence, it served as the administrative headquarters for both Crooked Island and Acklins Island. Today, the island is home to but 12 persons all of which residing in the capital and only inhabited settlement of Albert Town. All 12 of them love the island dearly and have no interest in living elsewhere. A little over a quarter mile away was another settlement called Douglas Town which is completely deserted today.
Like many islands, especially those in The Southern Bahamas, the island is rich in history. On Long Cay are the remains of The Bahamas’ first jail which sits empty, home to only the memories that remain etched in its walls. In Albert Town is one of The Bahamas’ oldest churches. Believed to have been built in 1795, the Anglican Church of Saints David & Augustine sits, mainly in rubble due to damage by hurricane Joaquin. Found on the exterior of the church are numerous tombstones believed to be the grave sites of Loyalists that moved to the island in the 18th Century. Despite this, monthly church services are held with the catechist as officiant. This is due to the fact that presently, there are no resident priests between Acklins, Crooked Island or Long Cay.
Apart from picturesque beaches and historic ruins, the island is also home to flocks flamingos that feed in the salt pond found within the island’s interior, which can be seen from Saints David & Augustine’s Anglican Church. But I must be honest and say that the salt pond is a little distance away, and while I was able to see the flamingos it wasn’t up close. It would be best to take a closer walk to the salt pond for a better view of the birds.