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San Salvador (Watling Island)

Listed under Islands in Bahamas.

  • Photo of San Salvador (Watling Island)
  • Photo of San Salvador (Watling Island)
Photo of San Salvador (Watling Island)
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This place is so special to me I probably shouldn’t even be mentioning it. It’s not for nothing that Club Med have set up here with a place devoted exclusively to diving. There isn’t much else to do on San Salvador except visit old ruined plantation houses. But drive a rental car to French Bay on the south shore of the island, near a former plantation called Watlings, and find a white sandy beach all to yourself (not to difficult as you’ll probably be the only visitor on the island apart from the Club Med lot, and they go everywhere by boat.). The water in front of your white sandy beach looks like the water anywhere in the tropics - warm and inviting. What you don’t realise until you step in is that a few yards off shore are the most incredible coral gardens in about five metres of water. I’ve seen the best on many tropical dive sites, including the Maldives, Fiji, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Seychelles, the Tuamotus to name a few, but for sheer underwater splendour this took the prize - there was a forest of giant living elkhorn coral, there were turtles, sharks and fish aplenty. And all stretching towards the horizon from just a few yards off the beach.

Written by  Ian Wilson.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Just bought land at Columbus Landing

I haven't been to the island since 1989 with my fellow Geology majors at Northeastern University. I have always dreamed of building a retirement place there, and finally got the land. I can't wait to return.

How can my family visit Waitling Island?

I last visited Waitling Island in January 1989 or 1990. My trip was with a group of students from Hartwick College. It was the most beautiful place on earth and I have only dreamed of returning. Now I have my own family and would like to visit this Island with my husband, three children and a friend and her family. What is the best way to arrange such a trip? We'd like to stay at either the home south of Grotto Bay or the hotel (if one has really been built).

San Salvador (Watlings Island)

San Salvador is mostly known for its varied marine life and shallow-reef corals and there are many good reef and wreck diving spots. On the north end of the island is a research centre where marine biology, geology and archaeology are studied.

San Salvador is one of the sites claiming to be where Columbus first came ashore during his famous 1492 voyage, and there are several monuments to the spot around Long Bay. Around one thousand people live on San Salvador and despite the main industry being tourism the island isn’t too busy (yet).

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