Discovering The New World
This adventurous island, full of history, welcomed Christopher Columbus to “The New World.” The lakes are sparkling and the waters as clear as they were in 1492.
San Salvador is home to many monuments, ruins and shipwrecks that directly reflect its rich history, including five memorials that commemorate Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492. One of them, an underwater monument, is said to mark the spot where the Pinta dropped anchor. In addition to its profound past, the island showcases miles of secluded beaches, crystal-clear seas and sparkling inland lakes. Visitors looking to embark on an adventure full of history and culture will find that San Salvador Island is the perfect place to begin their journey. It’s no wonder that Columbus dubbed it “The New World.”
What Makes SanSalvador Unique
Originally called Guanahani by the Lucayan Indians, the island was renamed San Salvador by Christopher Columbus, which means Holy Saviour. It’s actually the exposed peak of a submerged mountain that rises 15,000 feet from the ocean’s floor. The land is full of undulating hills, beautiful beaches, numerous salt water lakes and amazing reefs that surround the greater part of the island. It has one of the most unique-looking landscapes in The Bahamas. Just over 1,000 people call San Salvador home. They’re descendants of slaves brought to the island by British Loyalists. Today, these San Salvadorans provide visitors with tourism activities such as fishing, diving, sailing and guided tours.
San Salvador has been recognized – with much debate amongst researchers – as Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the New World in 1492. To date, four separate monuments mark the ‘exact’ spot where he came ashore; however, it is generally recognized that the landing occurred at Long Bay, currently commemorated by a simple white stone cross.
Named Guanahani by the original native inhabitants – the Lucayan Indians – Columbus promptly renamed the island San Salvador or ‘Holy Savior’. Later, San Salvador was taken over by the British buccaneer, George Watling who renamed the island Watling’s Island after himself. It was not until 1926 that the island’s name was restored to San Salvador which it remains to this day.
Set on the Atlantic side of the archipelago of The Bahamas, the island of San Salvador is about 200 miles southeast of Nassau, about a 1-hour flight from Florida. The island’s capital, Cockburn Town, is located on the tranquil west coast of San Salvador. One of the most southeastern islands of The Bahamas, San Salvador is actually the exposed peak of a submerged mountain that rises 15,000 feet from the ocean floor. Only 12 miles long and 5 miles wide with a population of 1,200 San Salvadorians, the island has miles of pristine and secluded beaches and emerald blue sea. San Salvador mostly consists of dune ridges, with troughs forming sparkling lakes that make up nearly a third of the interior of the island. Surrounding reefs protect the island and a large break near Cockburn Town, provides access to the island for boats.
Discover San Salvador
Great Lake Preserve
This lake in the middle of San Salvador has been designated a protected area to preserve its natural pristine wonder. The lake stretches the entire length of the island at 10 miles long and 2 miles wide and connects all of the island’s major settlements.
Over 50 Dive Sites
San Salvador is renowned for great diving, with more than 50 dive sites on the island’s lee side, including ruins and shipwrecks. Unusual ones are Devil’s Claw and Vicky’s Reef, with stingrays and sharks; and French Bay, with Elkhorn and staghorn coral.
Gerace Research Centre
Formerly known as the Bahamian Field Station, this educational and research institution is located on an old US Navy base. The Centre has been studying the island’s Archaeology, Biology, Geology, and Marine Science for over 30 years
Christopher Columbus reportedly made his first landfall at Long Bay, San Salvador on October 12, 1492, during his historic voyage to the New World. A big stone cross now stands on the spot and it is the most photographed site on the island.
Beaches on San Salvador
The beaches of San Salvador are secluded and expansive, with clear emerald-blue seas and provocative names. Bonefish Bay is a beautiful sandy beach known for its abundance of bonefish, Dim Bay is located near the original Columbus Monument, Grotto Beach has a nice little grotto, Long Bay is at the Columbus Monument site and at Snow Bay the sand is fine like snow. Not to be outdone, the unique beach at Sandy Point features water of several different hues, and the sand shifts from one side to the other with the change of season between summer and winter.
Take a step back in time and stand face-to-face with the origin of The Bahamas; see the archeological evidence of the indigenous Lucayan Indians, the multiple monuments commemorating Columbus’ landfall in the New World, and the present carved from the past!