Mayaguana: The Future Destination of the Bahamas

Those who recently took part in the groundbreaking for a new 7,300-foot runway and international airport in Mayaguana weren't just paving the way for new planes, but officially beginning a master plan that could result in the next Bahamas hot spot.  One of Mayaguana's many white sand beaches

Never heard of it? Well, why should you have? After all, the island currently attracts only about 50 to 100 visitors a year, mainly sports fishermen, and is home to only one hotel, a 16-room boutique property.

However, Mayaguana should be on all agents' radar screens, as Travel Agent recently learned that the island at the southeastern edge of the Bahamas archipelago has the land, location and now the money to join Nassau and Grand BahamaIsland as major players in the region.

A long-term plan to transform 10,000 acres of vacant land into a tourism attraction recently grew one step closer to fruition as officials broke ground on a runway and international airport terminal there.

Emerging Island Destination

One of the most underdeveloped lands in the Bahamas' OutIslands, Mayaguana is a great setting for a new development that will initially include a luxury boutique resort with modern facilities, restaurants, spa, yoga and fitness center, marina village, private villas and four designated nature preserves.

Two flamingos wade through the water near shore

The Marina will be capable of accommodating yachts up to 100 feet long and will provide a safe anchorage for pleasure craft between Freeport and the Turks and Caicos. The marina area is designed to develop into a marina village including single-unit villas, condominiums and shopping areas for those boaters looking for some diversity in their travels.

The project is a joint venture of the Boston, MA-based I-Group LLC and the government-owned Hotel Corporation of the Bahamas and will cost a total of about $1.8 billion, says David Langer, senior marketing associate for the Mayaguana Management Company Ltd.

Located at the southeastern edge of the Bahamas archipelago, 350 miles from Nassau, this island outpost is currently served by Bahamasair, with three scheduled flights each week. The new full-service international airport, slated to open in late 2007, will accommodate aircraft as large as Boeing 737s for scheduled and charter flights.

Although the airport is still being developed and the resurfacing the runway is still not complete, any personal plane that wants to use the airport can do so now, Langer says. Future plans call for setting up commercial airlines as well, with hopes of some major U.S. carriers getting on board. There are also charter flights available currently from nearby locations in the Bahamas.

"As soon as we can show that there will be a large volume of people looking to travel there, I think they will add us," Langer says of major airlines.

Soaking in the sun off the coast of Mayaguana

Langer says the government agreed to get on board when the company he represents convinced it that this project would help the Bahamas' economy in the long run. The island is home to only 300 native habitants who live on 120 square miles of the 10,000-acre island. You don't have to be a mathematician to know that leaves a lot of vacant land.

The companies involved are basically building a new civilization from scratch. They are installing electricity in most of the area, as well as roadways, something that hardly exists on the island, Langer says.

Excellent Diving and Fishing

So, now that you know a bit about what Mayaguana will become, here are some tidbits on what the island is now and why it could me a big sell for agents and operators who specialize in the Caribbean.

First and foremost, the island is home to some of the best diving and fishing spots in the Caribbean. In fact, Mayaguana was cited as being one of the best fishing locations in the world in several fishing magazines.

Its balmy waters and nearby reef create a protected and desirable climate for many kinds of fish. Recreational fishing on Mayaguana targets bonefish, wahoo, dolphin fish, blue and white marlin, sailfish and tuna. Grouper, snapper, "crawfish" (lobster) and conch can also be caught.

Bonefishing is the most popular, which takes place in small boats in shallow water or flats; the bonefish habitat here is virtually undisturbed, Langer says. Deep-sea sport fishing can be equally as exciting—a wahoo just 10 pounds short of the world record was recently caught just off the coast of Mayaguana, Langer says, and there are frequent stories of people catching fish larger than five pounds. Hired guides will be available for both shallow-water and deep-sea excursions.

There is also a lot for the adventurous traveler to experience. Eco-tourists will also find plenty to do here. Mayaguana's nature preserves are prime spots for animal observations with area guides specializing in educating tourists about the island's wildlife, which includes sea turtles, Bahamian rock iguanas, crabs, barracudas and about 118 species of birds, including West Indian flamingos, all thriving amidst pristine vegetation.

The destination could be pitched to clients before the major developments take place; Mayaguana can be packaged as part of an overall tour of the Bahamas.

Nature Preserves in Development

Plans call for a nature preserve center to be located at NorthBeach. It will include an EnvironmentalResearchCenter and a network of publicly accessible nature trails and interpretive stations that will inform visitors about the area. The waters between Northeast Point and Booby Cay and Booby Cay itself are also set aside to become nature preserves, Langer says. CurtisCreek is also a beautiful area with portions alloted to becoming a nature preserve.

Although Langer says the companies involved have not met with agents and operators yet since plans are still very new, positive feedback has been received from many adventure- and fishing-themed seminars.

To learn more about Mayaguana, agents should visit www.mayaguana-island.com.

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