Christopher Columbus’ landfall, The Bahamas’ first plantation, and Dixon Hill Lighthouse make this our most historic island.
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. It has one of the most unique-looking landscapes in The Bahamas. The land is full of undulating hills, beautiful beaches, numerous salt water lakes, and amazing reefs that surround the greater part of the island. Plus, there are a few substantial plantation ruins that are important reminders of the island's Loyalist past — Watling's Castle at Sandy Point and Fortune Hill Plantation at Fortune Hill. 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.
The preserve includes a large interior lake — 10 miles long and 2 miles wide — stretching through the island and connecting the major settlements. It protects the endangered San Salvador Rock iguana and several different bird species.
Renowned for great diving, most of the island's dive sites are on its lee side, including reefs, ruins, shipwrecks, and walls. Devil's Claw and Vicky's Reef are home to stingrays and sharks; French Bay has unique Elkhorn and staghorn coral.
Formerly known as the Bahamian Field Station, this educational research institution, located on the site of an old US Navy base, has been studying the island's Archaeology, Biology, Geology, and Marine Science for 30+ years.
The Italian explorer 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 marking the spot is the most photographed place on the island.