[ You: Long Island ] • Me, an Intellectual: The #FatherLand
It’s not the longest Island in The Bahamas. At 110 miles long, the longest island is Eleuthera. Nor is it even the second longest; Andros is 104 miles long. However, it just may the most beautiful island in The Bahamas. I’ve seen it be referred to as, “the most picturesque island in The Bahamas” and visiting the island allows you to see why anyone would ever refer to it as such.
I’m referring to Long Island or as I’ve nicknamed it, the #FatherLand. Long Island is just 80 miles long and, at its widest point, is a mere 4 miles across. As is the case with the other islands in The Bahamas, Long Island was first inhabited by the Lucayan people (the indigenous Bahamians) and was called Yuma by them. Upon the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the island on what was his third landfall in The Bahamas and the New World, the island was renamed, Ferdinanda. Its present name is believed to have come about when a sailor felt as if it took too long to sail past the island.
After the extermination of the Lucayan people at the hands of our dear friend, Christopher, the island was uninhabited until the arrival in American Loyalists in 1790. Today it is home to about 3,000 people (most are descendants of the original Loyalists and their slaves) and is one of the major islands of the archipelago. It’s renowned for its boat building, sheep farming and fishing. It’s also home to one of the largest regattas in the country, which is held in the settlement of Salt Pond every year during the Labour Day holiday weekend (save the date). Most importantly, it is the island where the vast majority of my father’s side descends from. Thus, the island has been dubbed the #FatherLand by myself.
Apart from the copious amounts of sheep, goats and pigs found on the island, it is inundated with rolling hills and on its eastern coast and breath-taking cliffs that dramatically drop into the ever-raging Atlantic Ocean. (Also, the eastern waters are phenomenal for big-game fishing.) On the western side, the shores are draped with cloudy-white beaches along the Great Bahama Bank and spotted with pockets of mangroves. An extra treat for me during my visit were the flocks of flamingos that migrated to the island before the passing of Hurricane Irma a few weeks ago. Salt ponds are also in an abundance and dot almost all of the island. Pans and canals from its salt raking past remain as relics around the island. I can see how the island can easily be dubbed the most picturesque island in our archipelago due to its awe-inspiring geographical contrast.
Long Island is rich history with attractions. It was one of the islands involved in the original salt industry in The Bahamas. It's steeped in Anglicanism and is home to the most Anglican churches in all of the family islands, including Grand Bahama. The island is home to the 2nd deepest blue hole in the world (Dean's Blue Hole), historic churches (St. Paul's Anglican & Sts. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic) and monuments (Columbus Monument), an unending supply of “water holes” (like Lloyd's Restaurant & Sporting Lounge) that serve Kalik Gold and one of the longest cave systems in The Bahamas (Hamilton's Caves). Hill-top views overlooking natural harbours are also plentiful.
Unlike with a lot of the other family islands, getting to Long Island is pretty easy. What is similar to other family island travel is that it can be a little costly. There are two airlines to choose between and both offer daily flights. Southern Air travels twice daily at 8:30 am and 1:00 pm to Long Island. Stopping first in Stella Maris in the north before going to Deadman’s Cay further south. The only deviation from this is on Tuesdays when the airline only offers their afternoon flight. Bahamasair is your second option. They service the island once daily and only fly into Deadman’s Cay. It is important to bear in mind, however that the airport is not unlike the other airports in most family islands; very small & quaint. If you’d prefer the wide open seas, you also have a few options. The first is the Mia Dean which arrives in Clarence Town on Thursdays from New Providence. Your second choice would be Bahamas Ferries which arrives in Simms on Tuesdays from New Providence (with a stop in George Town, Exuma). Travelling by boat is cheaper, but a 40-50 minute plane ride vs half of a day on the sea can’t be beaten.
The people of Long Island have always been regarded as self-sufficient people. Their pride in their island is unmatched. It only takes one visit to see why. Waters so blue they rival Exuma’s. With breath-taking cliffs and gently sloping hills, it makes for really scenic views. This quiet island dotted with its numerous sleepy villages offers a relaxed environment that’s incomparable.