The Islands Of The Bahamas, rich in history and tradition, has its share of legends and folklore. Early inhabitants brought some of these beliefs with them when they settled on the islands. Other myths sprang from natural phenomena found in the environment. Whatever their origin, these legends are part of the charm of The Islands Of The Bahamas.
Bimini Road – The lost city of Atlantis?Are the huge, flat stones off the coast of Bimini relics from an ancient civilization? Scientists disagree on the origin of Bimini Road, but some think they are all that remains of The Lost City of Atlantis.
Since Plato’s description of ancient Atlantis and its destruction by earthquake and flood centuries earlier, people have speculated on the city’s whereabouts.
The 1968 discovery of huge limestone blocks located off the coast of North Bimini has fueled this belief. These blocks are neatly aligned and cover about a half-mile stretch. They look like they form an undersea road, which is why some believe they are relics from the Lost City of Atlantis.
Divers have examined Bimini Road and you can, too, because it is near the shore in only 20 feet of water.
Fountain of Youth
Juan Ponce de León discovered Florida in 1513, but what was he really looking for?
Legend has it that the Fountain of Youth lies in Bimini, a tiny group of islands 50 miles east of Florida. Bahamians believe Ponce de León heard about the fountain from Caribe Indians in Puerto Rico.
The Indians said that the fountain could be found in an area north of present-day Cuba in a place called BeeMeeNee.
Ponce de León searched for the Fountain of Youth, but he never found it — nor did he ever find Bimini. What he discovered instead is Florida, which he named La Florida and claimed for Spain.
Is obeah a harmless form of voodoo? The Bahamians are religious, yet some people carry on the cultural tradition of obeah.
Cat Island, a quaint and sparsely developed island, is said to be the center of the practice of obeah — a Bahamian version of voodoo. Obeah, which slaves originally brought with them from Africa, is a type of folk religion that brings together bush medicine and witchcraft.
The Islands Of The Bahamas is a Christian country with the largest number of churches per capita in the world. And yet, you will occasionally run across an obeah man who is the spiritual leader/healer of this religion. Obeah is not spoken about openly by believers, but you might see evidence of it in people’s yards. Some Cat Islanders hang bottles from trees to protect themselves and their families from evil spirits.
Is it safe to explore the blue holes around Andros? Since exploring underwater caves is inherently risky, and since these blue holes are teeming with fish, it is not surprising that ancient people believed that water accidents — like drowning — were caused by a mean-spirited creature named Lusca.
The island of Andros has some spectacular blue holes — underwater cave systems linking freshwater lakes with the ocean. Lusca, a mythical monster that is half dragon and half octopus, is said to live in these blue holes. If you take a boat out on a blue hole to go diving or fishing, be on the lookout for Lusca. He likes to drown unwary visitors.
Do mischievous creatures roam the forests of Andros? Discover why a mythical animal may have its origins in a real bird.
Andros, the largest island in The Bahamas, is said to be the home of chickcharnies. These elfin, birdlike creatures have piercing red eyes, three fingers, three toes and a tail, which they use to hang from trees. Chickcharnies live in the forest and build nests by joining two pine trees together at the top. Since a large, three-toed, burrowing owl lived in these forests until its extinction in the 16th century, it could have been the inspiration for the legendary chickcharnie.
When sightseeing on Andros, carry flowers or bright bits of cloth with you to charm these mischievous creatures. Legend says if you see a chickcharnie and show it respect, you’ll be blessed with good luck for the rest of your life. Be careful not to sneer at it, however, or your head will turn completely around!