Footprint Free Utopia
Get lost on the miles of sand touched by only the sea. A quaint community of locals makes Mayaguana one of the most peaceful islands of The Bahamas.
What Makes Mayaguana Island Unique
Mayaguana is the only Bahamian island that still bears its original Arawak name, which is said to refer to a specific species of iguana found nowhere else in the world. The island was a favored base for pirates before residents began migrating from nearby Turks and Caicos in 1812. Today, it’s home to just 300 locals who live in three main settlements—Abraham’s Bay, Pirate’s Well, and Betsy Bay. The villages are quaint, rustic and located no more than 15 minutes from each other, making Mayaguana a very close-knit community. Most residents make a living by fishing for conch and farming the land. Visitors looking for adventure can dive through sea caves at Northwest Point, reel in a bonefish or take a guided tour of the three main settlements.
Mildred Williamson, former Island Administrator welcoming visitors and sharing how Mayaguana fulfills their dreams.
Located 96 km north of Inagua, Mayaguana is the least developed and most isolated island within The Bahamas’ family of islands. That’s a Bahamian way of saying it’s an ideal getaway for travellers seeking footprint-free beaches, undisturbed reef diving and a tackle box of peaceful sportfishing!
Mayaguana remains one of the most pristine and untouched islands in the Bahamas. Yet the island – home to beautiful beaches, unique wildlife and world-class fishing – has never fully reached its development potential. Most tourists who visit, do so for the unspoiled essence of the island. Visitors can also enjoy scuba diving, bone-fishing, snorkeling, white crown pigeon hunting and bird watching.
Ecotourism is also a growing spectrum. Booby Cay is home to hundreds of indigenous species of iguanas only to Mayaguana. There is also an interesting species of booby birds that is also found on a separate cay on the northern side of Mayaguana. Blackwood Point, located in upper Pirates Well is where one would find Bahamian flamingo feeding year round.
The island is accessible by the Mayaguana Airport (MYG), which is located southeast of Abraham’s Bay and is visited by Bahamasair as well as private aircraft.
In 2016, Mayaguana held its first annual regatta festival called the All Mayaguana Regatta. The festival focuses on the sailing competition, food, arts and music. Conchfest is also held as a replacement for the Abraham’s Bay Homecoming in early August.
The least developed Bahamian island, Mayaguana has never really seen major growth largely due to the government taking little interest in the economy.
However, the government has provided some locals with entry level positions at various government offices. Others make a living by either fishing and farming.
Considered the most isolated Bahamian island, Mayaguana uses the country’s mail boat system as its primary form of import and export. Mayaguana is visited once a week for delivery and pickup by M/V Lady Mathilda.
The largest settlement is Abraham’s Bay (pop. 143) on the south coast; other settlements are the neighboring towns of Betsy Bay (pop. 44) and Pirate’s Well (pop. 90) in the northwest with the population slowly decreasing.
There are only two schools on the island. Pirates Well Primary is located in the settlement of Pirates Well. The Abraham’s Bay High school is located in the capital of Abraham’s Bay.
Mayaguana is known for fresh sea food. Sea life regularly caught for commercial purposes include conch, grouper, spiny lobster, snappers and tuna. Marlin and bone fish found in Bahamian waters are fished for sporting activities only.
Discover Mayaguana Island
“Main Street”, Abraham’s Bay Settlement in Mayaguana has a town square circled by remnants of the island’s past and symbols of its cultural heritage. You’ll find the old Charlton House, former homestead of one of the prominent local families; a well shack where locals would gather to collect water from the wells at the four corners of the square, until as late as the 1980s; plus the iconic Zion Baptist Church and Church of God of Prophecy (inset). Nearby is the Local Government complex, housing offices of the island Administrator and other services, plus Reggie’s Restaurant & Lounge, famous for its Conch Chowder. Be sure to visit the square if you take a walking tour of the town; it will certainly be on the list of scheduled stops for any escorted tour.
Betsy Bay is located on the west coast of Mayaguana, three miles northeast of Pirates Well. It is the smallest of the island’s three settlements, with only 16 households, one main road ending at the graveyard, and a beautiful inlet with miles of beach. This secluded little town can be described as lost in time, with the only intrusion the rustling of wild corn plants, saucy hummingbirds, stereophonic birdcalls, and locals riding their bicycles to the “petty shop” or church. There is a small cottage industry, with several ladies producing/selling shell and straw craft from their homes.
The buccaneers that roamed here in the past dug this well for drinking and it gave the settlement its name. Now it is considered just a point of interest, but well worth visiting for its historical significance.
Horse Pond Beach
Mayaguana has some of the most picturesque sandy beaches in The Bahamas, with unbelievable aquamarine water. They are quiet, perfect for picnicking, sunbathing, shelling and snorkeling. Coral heads, sand dollars, and starfish can be found just offshore. Horse Pond Beach is located 10 miles east of Abraham’s Bay.
Booby Cay lies to the east of mainland Mayaguana and gets its name from the flock of brown boobies that call it home. It is also a habitat for small rock iguanas and descendants of wild goats left behind by early settlers.
Mayaguana features many perfect spots to go “crabbing.” That means hunting for land crabs that live in the bushes and crevices within the limestone rocks, but go walking late at night. The meat is used in a variety of local dishes.