by Sasha Naugler
This past March, I was stressed with my job and needed a break. Plus, I wanted to treat my 80-year-old (but very capable) mom to a trip. I did some searching about locations and found a travel agency that fit my needs. That travel agency was Seadog Travels, based in Tucson, Arizona. After the staff asked some questions about what I was looking for (e.g., beach, calm, adventure, wildlife, local flavor, warm weather), they suggested that I visit Great Inagua, one of the most remote of the Bahamian islands. Before I knew it, we were booked and on our way.
Seadogs Travel also knew a wonderful place to stay on the island, Red Knot Manor, that was complete with an amazing chef. Off we went to find new adventure, meet new people, see the wildlife on the island, and try the local food and drink.
We stayed one night in Nassau on our way as the airplane only travels to Inagua on Fridays and Mondays. Upon arrival, we were greeted by our hostess’s daughter, Krissy (also our chef), with our little rental car. We settled in at the beautiful Red Knot Manor, right on the ocean (WOW!). Soon enough, we were driving (on the left of course, took a bit of getting used to, but not many cars on the road), and exploring the island.
Mathews Town is very small, with only a few streets that are wide and long. At first, finding what we wanted or needed (i.e., groceries, convenience store, etc.) was very difficult, but no worries, as the locals were friendly and helpful. Many “stores” are just some stuff for sale at someone’s house. Be sure and bring cash because we didn’t find anyone that took credit cards. Without realizing it, we were right there with the locals, knowing how to get along and get what we needed.
Things that we really enjoyed included snorkeling, combing the beaches, collecting shells and sea glass, being invited to BBQs, meeting the locals, the infamous lighthouse (amazing landmark), and the most fabulous and favorite Lighthouse Restaurant. We also were taken on a wildlife tour to see the flamingos, many other indigenous and local birds, wild donkeys, and wild cows.
The island is only inhabited by about 1000 people which was originally supported by a Morton Salt plant. However, the plant is ever shrinking, with less support for the island people. They are trying to develop ecotourism, as the island has many birds, wildlife, and pristine oceans. Thanks to their conservation efforts, the West Indies Pink Flamingo population has rebounded from 5,000 to now about 80,000. So many places on the island are virtually untouched. I recommend that you get there FAST to see the unspoiled beauty and be a part of the growth and support for a sustainable ecotourism future for Great Inagua.
I left the island with new friends, wonderful relaxation (which included a massage), many memories, some sea glass and shells, many pictures, and a grand adventure under my belt. Great Inagua is a delicious, must see, hidden gem!!!