You expected to find bright white sand and even brighter blue water on the largest salt-water lake in the Bahamas. But the only color you see is pink. Long, pale legs. Dark, curved necks. Feathers ranging from blush to crimson. An endless sea of flamingos.
Welcome to Inagua National Park, a bird sanctuary that’s home to the largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos—or fillymingos, as they’re known on the islands—in the world. The flamingos were nearly extinct when 200,000 acres surrounding Lake Rosa were protected in 1965. Today, more than 40,000 pairs of the vibrantly colored birds live on the lake near red mangroves. And right now, there’s a lot of posturing and squalling going on. It’s mating season.
Inagua National Park is on the island of Inagua, the third-largest island in the Bahamas. The country’s southernmost district is actually closer to Haiti and the Turks and Caicos than Nassau. Matthew Town, the capital and the only harbor, is home to 19th-century buildings and the Great Inagua Lighthouse. The Morton Salt Company, by far the island’s largest employer, is the second-largest solar saline operation in North America. Salt lakes fill the island’s interior. While it’s, not surprisingly, known as the birding capital of the island nation.
It’s difficult to notice anything else besides the flamingos on 12-mile Lake Rosa, but there are lots of other birds here too. Bahama parrots have green feathers and rose throats. Reddish egrets stalk their prey in shallow water using their wings to reduce the sun’s glare. Pink roseate spoonbills could pass as flamingos if they weren’t so short and wide. Plus you may not be able to see little western spindalis, but you can certainly hear their melodic songs. You may not have found an empty beach on Inagua, but you certainly found a peaceful and beautiful spot.