June 8, 2024, 12:32 PM ·

Never have I wanted so much to share a destination with you, while also fearing to share it.

I my post yesterday about the art and music of Disney Lookout Cay, I mentioned the term “observer effect.” In science, this is (simplistically) the idea that the very act of observing something changes it. In tourism, you see this wherever the number of tourists begins to approach the number of residents in a neighborhood, a community, or even a country.You especially see this in nature, where the presence of only a few human visitors can destroy fragile natural environments. Even hardier environments can show damage when crowds grow large. From litter and graffiti to even just the erosion of paths, too many people can too easily destroy what they came to see.All it takes can be one viral post to draw more people to a location than it can physically support. Part of the social appeal of theme parks, ski resorts, and private island destinations is that they can be designed to accommodate the crowds that their owners market them to attract. Place them in the proper locations, then build and maintain them the right ways, and you can minimize the environmental impact of putting tens of thousands of people into a single, popular tourist destinations every day. That does not always happen, but at least that is the ideal.But when the viral mobs descend upon undesigned spaces, the beautiful can turn ugly, quickly. So with that in mind, I humbly report to you that I enjoyed Lookout Cay’s Nature Trail more than anything else I have experienced as a tourist in a long time.
All photos by Robert NilesWalk to the southern end of Lookout Cay – past the Reef & Wreck Bar – to begin the Nature Trail, which will take you about a half-mile or so down to the southern edge of Eleuthera. That’s where you will find an old, abandoned lighthouse that gave this area its name, “Lighthouse Point.”

As you walk along this sandy trail, the vegetation transitions from cultivated to wild. Every hundred yards or so you will find a display station that tells you about the local wildlife, including the Curly-Tailed Lizard – which you might remember as one of the audio characters you heard from on the tram ride over from Mabrika Cove. More educational elements are on their way for the trail, as Disney fine-tunes its preservation and education initiatives for this land.
As you walk farther south, the air cools. The sounds of Disney attractions fade. All you hear are the crunch of your shoes upon the sand, birds and insects chirping, and the surf crashing behind the trees. It is peace. Turn left at a fork and you will head past some impressive Limestone Cliffs, above. Disney has placed a discreet sign with a QR code that allows to learn more about the location, via the Disney Cruise Line’s Navigator app. Just past the cliffs, on your left, you will come to Lighthouse Beach, below, and a glimpse of what this entire secluded coastline was like before Disney developed the beach just to the north as Lookout Cay.Head back up and take the other side of the fork to complete your journey to the Historic Lighthouse.I tried, and failed, to find a definitive history of this lighthouse online. It is not on the UNESCO list of historic lighthouses in The Bahamas, which likely helped make Lighthouse Point available for Disney to buy. One source I found online said that the lighthouse structure was built before 1900, with the beacon entering service around 1903. As intriguing as the structure may be, the real attraction lies just to its south. Turn around, and enjoy this view.Spend some time here, not just to sit with this amazing space, but also to catch your breath for the hike back to Lookout Cay. Lighthouse Point is one of the most beautiful places that I have had the privilege of visiting on this Earth. I understand now why so many Bahamians have argued to protect it. Yet Disney is a master at managing crowds. I have faith that the company has the resources and talent to find a way to allow more people to enjoy the sublime beauty of Lighthouse Point and to enable them to understand and appreciate it, while also working to protect that beauty. But all that will take work, and Disney will be the responsible party if it fails.In the meantime, if you are on a Disney Cruise that calls at Lookout Cay, make time in your day for the Nature Trail. Just don’t too many of you do that at once, please.
Previously:* * *
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