Caribbean Snap Shots: Bahama Banks

A bird's eye view highlights the beauty of the Bahama Banks


The Bahamas are often described as a nation of islands. There are in fact more than 700 charted islands and more than 2,000 smaller bits of land – often known as cayes – scattered across the 5,000-plus square miles of ocean within the country’s sovereign boundaries. Much of the remaining area is given over to a pair of gigantic shoals known as the Big and Little Bahama Banks. These expanses of shallow sea floor are actually the tops of huge limestone plateaus—underwater mesas that rise from miles deep to within a few feet of the surface. Colorful coral reefs decorate some areas of the banks, while other portions are covered in shifting sand banks. As currents ebb and flow across the banks, they create channels that, when seen from the air, form intricate curves and whorls of white sand and blue water. Most, like these tidal channels south of the island of Andros, can be reached only by a long boat ride. But when flying into or over the Bahamas, they provide an interesting diversion or photo op for any passengers seated by a window.