South Andros, Bahamas

Photo: Tiamo Resorts

Overflowing coral gardens. Fast Atlantic sailfish. Submerged caves. Florescent parrotfish. Limestone walls. Snake-like barracudas. Bottom-dwelling nurse sharks. A sea dragon named Lusca. You’ve spent the day searching for all of these things—and finding all of them, save for Lusca—in the third-largest barrier reef in the world.

The Andros Barrier Reef lies off the east coast of Andros, an archipelago in the western Bahamas. Though Andros is collectively the country’s largest island and it’s just 200 miles off the coast of Florida, the island and its surrounding jade waters are largely unexplored. The mail arrives once a week from Nassau. Ferries connect the islands, which are separated by bights and creeks. A single paved road links the small villages on the east coast of South Andros, the southernmost island. While crowds on the pink-sand beaches consist of greater flamingos and Cuban parrots instead of people.

So it’s only fitting that you’re staying at an eco-friendly resort on this trip. Tiamo is surrounded by a 125-acre nature preserve on South Andros. It’s accessible only by boat. The resort is tucked in between dense palms and sea grape trees on the island’s northeast coast. If it weren’t for the dock and the boats bobbing beside it, it’d be difficult to find the property, as you return from your scuba-diving adventure. Even the glass kayaks are hard to spot.

Photo: Tiamo Resorts

The pool’s turquoise water—and its terrace lined with sun loungers and couches—are the first things that come into view. The whitewashed Great Room, which feels like an upscale beach shack, is behind that. Though you still can’t see the stilted wooden villas that extend from there.

Rather than a loud pool party, you’re greeted by Ponpon, Chip, and Dale when you get off the boat. Ponpon, a reddish egret, thinks he’s the guardian of the beach. Chip and Dale are his seagull friends. You spot Big Boss, or maybe it’s Agnes, an Andros Island iguana, as you walk toward the Colonial Bar for a celebratory cocktail. You’ll find any excuse you can to imbibe in your new favorite Haitian rum.

Then, cocktail in hand, you stroll over to your villa. It’s so peaceful that you decide to finish your drink and enjoy the view of the calm water from your balcony. But it only leaves you time for a quick shower to make yourself presentable for dinner. Your mouth is already watering for snapper—whether it’s served with caramelized pineapples or a Key lime glaze—that will be served after sunset tonight. Flickering candles, a bottle of chilled white wine, and the smell of barbecuing seafood will be awaiting your arrival on the deck. It feels like you’re so much farther away from home than you really are.

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