For our first morning in the Exumas we woke just before sunrise to listen to our daily weather report. We had big plans for today, we were going to visit Iguanaland! We had heard a lot about the iguanas that lived on Southwest Allans Cay and we were finally in the neighborhood. After taking notes on the weather and eating a quick breakfast we put the kayaks in the water and began the short paddle to the island just south of our anchorage.
We paddled over to the lone palm tree shown on the charts and headed straight onto the beach. The first iguanas we spotted seemed to be fighting over a particular piece of beach. It was at this time that Stephanie decided that she would rather stay in her kayak and keep a little bit of water between her and any “attack iguanas.”
There was a sign at the top of the beach in very small print, but I never made it quite that far. The sound of my kayak scraping against the sand must have sounded like a dinner bell to the iguanas. Immediately, the sounds of crunching leaves indicated lizards scurrying through the bushes towards the beach, and soon iguana heads began poking through the grasses at the top of the beach. Within just a couple of minutes the beach was crawling with Iguanas.
Stephanie kept a sharp lookout to make sure I didn’t get surrounded as I roamed the beach to get some good photos of these Exuma Iguanas. We learned later that this is one of the most endangered lizards in the world, but that could be forgotten easily while surrounded by so many on this tiny beach. The iguanas would usually move pretty slowly, but occasionally one of the smaller lizards would stray too close to a larger one and get chased away.
The iguanas were not scared of me and I could get as close as I wanted for pictures. Some of them were more aggressive than others and would charge toward me. If I jumped up and down they would run away a couple of steps before turning around to see if I was done. I ended up jumping up and down quite a bit to keep some of the iguanas at a comfortable distance.
After taking a lot of pictures and watching the iguanas we decided to kayak around to the other side of the island. The original plan was to walk across the island, but the lack of trails and surplus of iguanas encouraged us to find another route. The beach on the south side of the island was rocky, and inhabited by exactly one iguana that we could see. We explored the rocks and found another iguana hiding out in the fallen palm branches.
Stephanie watched one of the younger iguanas hop into a plum fruit bush and climb to the top to get a snack. Successfully traversing the island by myself, I was able to read that informational sign. I learned that the iguanas help to spread the seeds of the plum fruit trees.
We were a little sad to say goodbye to such a pretty anchorage, but we are looking forward to exploring much much more of the Exumas.