The tiny island of Mayaguana evokes images of the real Bahamas. A tropical paradise free of high-rise condos, souvenirs made in China, and hordes of tourists, Mayaguana is a little known gem. Previously only visited by yachtsman headed further south, this quaint island of 300 residents is now making itself known to eco-tourists and those looking for a quiet getaway.
Mayaguana is the easternmost island in the Bahamas. Travelers can reach this 24 mile long by eight mile wide island by private boat, a commercial or charter flight from Nassau into the Mayaguana Airport, or by mailboat. Mayaguana is located 450 nautical miles from Palm Beach, Florida, 350 miles south of Nassau, and 60 miles north of Inagua, Bahamas. The residents of the island live on three settlements, Abraham's Bay, Pirate's Well, and Betsy Bay.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1492, Mayaguana was inhabited by the Lucayans and is the only island in the Bahamas to retain it’s original Lucayan name. After the the last of the Lucayans were taken by the Spanish to Hispaniola in the early part of the 16th century, Mayaguana remained uninhabited aside from being a favorite base of pirates. Turks and Caicos islanders began to settle in 1812. As part of World War II’s Lend Lease program, the United States government leased the island for a period of 99 years. The island served as a refueling base for U.S. planes during WWII as well as a meteorological facility used for tracking storms and hurricanes. During the beginning of the United States space program, NASA developed a missile tracking station in the location where Mayaguana airport now stands. At this time the population temporarily rose to over 3000. The Bahamian government recently started working with American investors on a project to turn 14% of the island into a free trade zone with tourism facilities. While this project is still in the planning phase, the goal is to create economic growth while maintaining the island as a quiet eco-tourism destination.
While Mayaguana does not have the thriving nightlife and luxury resorts that other Caribbean islands are known for, it does offer some of the most scenic beaches in the Bahamas, unparalleled fishing, and unspoiled reefs for diving. Visitors will enjoy shopping for locally made crafts and dining on real Bahamian cuisine in the islands three quaint settlements. The island is home to a variety of wildlife including wild goats, flamingos, iguanas, and the Bahama hutia, a cross between a rabbit and rat that was believed to be extinct until the 1960's.
Like other islands in the Caribbean, Mayaguana is balmy and breezy. Winter's lovely perpetual spring-like weather brings little rain and averages 80 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit (27 – 30 degrees C). Summer is humid with more rain and average temperatures from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 – 27 degrees Celsius. June 1 through November 30 brings the threat of hurricanes, although the Bahamas are hit less frequently than other parts of the Caribbean.
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