Crooked Island, (pop: 412) Acklins, (pop: 405 1990 census). Crooked Island, Long Cay and Acklins comprise Crooked Island District, stretching three sides round the Bight of Acklins and bordered by 45 miles of treacherous barrier reef. At Crooked Island Passage, coral reefs can be found in very shallow water, falling sharply in walls housing sponges of every shape and colour. Although at 92 square miles, Crooked Island is larger than New Providence the population is sparce and still declining because of emigration.Tourism is not very developed and there is no electricity or running water in most of the settlements.
Crooked Island: Once as many as 40 plantations thrived here, but as in other islands, the crops failed because of poor soil and the industry declined. Nowadays, two valuable exports from the Crooked Island and Acklins District are aloe vera for use in skin preparations and the cascarilla bark which is sold to Italy for the production of Campari. Remains of the plantation era can be seen in Marine Farm and at Hope Great House in the north of the island. Bird Rock Lighthouse in the north is said to be the site of one of Columbus’ original anchor spots on his first voyage. Close by is Pittstown where you can see the Bahamas’ first General Post Office built in the era of William Pitt. It is now the restaurant of the hotel A Pittstown Point Landings (14 rooms in cottages, T3362507, www.pittstownpointlandings.com), which has its own airstrip, beaches, fishing, snorkelling, windsurfing and diving facilities. Gun Bluff, near the hotel was thought to have been a pirate’s lookout, cannons have been found close by. In the surrounding area many North Americans have winter residences. Two miles away is Landrail Point, the main centre of the island, which has Landrail Point (T3444233, 12 rooms, simply furnished, neighbourly atmosphere, home cooking, inexpensive, a restaurant and store). The people here are Seventh Day Adventists so no pork or alcohol is sold and everything closes on Saturday. Mrs Gibson’s Lunch Room is recommended for its freshly baked bread and simple Bahamian dishes.
Further south at Cabbage Hill B-C Crooked Island Beach Inn and the 6-room Cabbage Hill (both at T3442321, F3442502 at Batelco, fishing available), the former is near the beach and airport, owned by Rev Ezekiel Thompson, who is the Bahamasair representative. The capital of Crooked Island is Colonel Hill. There is a restaurant/baker’s/guesthouse here run by Mrs Deleveaux, called Sunny Lea. Rooms have a good view of Major Cay Harbour. Close to the sheltered lagoon near Major Cay is a large cave; bromeliads can be seen at its entrance.
Acklins: Atwood Bay is recommended as one of the Family Islands’ most beautiful curved bays. Acklins is a few miles from Crooked Island and a ferry operates between the two islands, docking at Lovely Bay twice a day. The island is 192 square miles and was named La Isabella by Columbus before being known as Acklins Cay and then just Acklins. Archaeological evidence points to a large Indian community once existing between Jamaica Cay and Delectable Bay (possibly the largest in the Bahamas). Today, Acklins is not very developed; there are roads but they are not paved.
The main settlement on Acklins is Spring Point, which has an airport. The Airport Inn run by Curtis Hanna is a popular meeting place, with rooms to rent and a restaurant/bar. B Nae’s Guest House, T3443089, run by Mrs Naomi Hanna, five rooms, restaurant, beach. At nearby Pompey Bay it is still possible to see rock walls which were plantation demarcation boundaries. Pompey was once prosperous and busy; today most of the town is deserted and a tall church on the coast is abandoned. There is also a guesthouse at Pinefield run by the Williams family.
Long Cay: To the south of Acklins is a group of uninhabited cays sometimes referred to as the Mira Por Vos Cays. The most southerly is called Castle Island and is distinguished easily from afar by its tall battery operated lighthouse. There is a large seabird population here. South, North Guana and Fish Cay are all noted as havens for wildlife. Long Cay is the largest of the cays in this area and is inhabited. Long Cay was once known as Fortune Island and enjoyed great prosperity in the 19th century as a clearing house for ships between Europe and the Americas. The advent of the steamship made the use of Long Cay port redundant. Today you can see reminders of its former prosperity in the large unused Catholic church, various civic buildings and the relics of a railway system. On the south end of this island there is a large nesting ground for the West Indian flamingo.