Andros Island is the largest land mass, yet least inhabited of the 700+ Bahamian Islands. It is approximately 140 miles long and 40 miles wide. Andros lies 155 miles to the east of Miami, Florida and 20 miles to the west of the nation’s capital city of Nassau. Here flourishes the world’s third largest barrier reef.
Andros Island is rich in natural beauty and has a unique ‘mystique’ as well. Legends account for gremlins, known as “Chickcharnies” lurking about the island. This mysterious island is known for its sprawling white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, lush green foliage, friendly land crabs and wild orchids of every color. Come and enjoy the natural splendor of deep coral canyons and the magnificent Blue Holes of Andros Island.
The Lucayans (“Island People”) were the first inhabitants of the Bahamas from 500-1000 A.D. They were originally driven to the Bahamas by the Carib Amerindians who were often described as aggressive people. The Lucayans were a friendly, non-aggressive people who thrived from the rich fisheries of the Bahamian waters.
The Bahamian islands were first visited by Christopher Columbus, Ponce de Leon and their crews. The first European map in 1500 depicted the Bahamas Islands as "Juan de la Costa". After their discovery, these islands were generally avoided by mariners for 150 years due to the treacherous waters and uncharted reefs. However, this did not deter the slave trading business.
During the 1500’s the Bahamas was a Spanish province. The English claimed the Bahamas in 1629 in response to French attempts to colonize the area. This was a period of pirates, privateers and buccaneers that lasted through the 1800s.
The population of the Bahamas had been drastically reduced due to foreign disease and the slave trade. By the end of the American Revolution, Loyalists (sympathetic to England) immigrated to the Bahamas. They settled on Cat Island, Exuma Islands, Long Island, San Salvador Island, and Rum Cay.
Colonial Andros Island
The island was originally given the name “Espiritu Santo” (“Island of the Holy Spirit”) by the Spaniards. However, early maps of 1782 referred to the island as "San Andreas". The modern name is believed to be in honor to Sir Edmund Andros, Commander of Her Majesty’s Forces in Barbados in 1672 and later Governor of New York, Massachusetts and New England.
North Andros was also settled by Seminole Indians who had left Florida in the early 1800s. The Loyalists who had arrived in the Bahamas with their slaves settled on North Andros in the late 19th century. Here they grew cotton and sisal. The pine timber was taken from North Andros and used in the tar making and charcoal industries. The loggers cleared much of the land for agriculture. Over time these techniques had destroyed the soil in many places and inhabitants of Central Andros moved to the southern part of Andros Island.
As soil was again depleted in South Andros, farmers went to sea to work in the lucrative sponge fishery. Sponging became a major industry following the American Civil War. The population of Andros thrived. However, sponge beds became overworked and the industry declined. Hurricanes destroyed many sponge beds in the early 1900’s.
1929 saw the most destructive hurricane in Andros history. The storm surge, as great as 20 feet eroded topsoil, damaged Mangrove Cay in the south, and swept away the entire settlement at Deep Creek in the south.
The North Andros sponge beds finally recovered in the 1950s from a blight that had caused these beds to become virtually extinct.
A exclusive resort was built on 1000 acres of land at Fresh Creek in 1953. This resort was to establish farms in Central Andros to provide fresh meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables. This resort failed and was later resold in 1985. It is now the Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina on Fresh Creek.
Andros has four airports and three official ports of entry. It is home to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), a US-British undersea research facility. The Androsia factory is located in Fresh Creek and produces batik clothing and materials with exquisite local designs.
Andros is home to one of the largest populations of bonefish, as well as the third largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. There are bone fishing lodges and dive resorts that attract avid fishermen and divers from around the world.