The Abaco Islands are a sailing and boating universe. The major islands of this small archipelago are Great and Little Abaco, with the off-lying cays of Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Guana Cay, Stranger’s Cay, Umbrella Cay and Walker’s Cay completing the string. Somewhere in this 120-mile necklace of islands and often uninhabited cays and beaches, you’re sure to find the ideal private spot for some chilled champagne and a good book.
The Abaco Islands’ sheltered harbours create a haven for yachtsmen and the slumber-struck alike. Here, colonial towns are gems of New England architecture waiting for those who love to roam secluded villages and taste a bit of history.
For the action and adventure prone, surfing, diving, snorkelling and spectacular fishing await, as well as plenty to interest the nature lover, such as the Abaco forest, flora and fauna – even special resorts for the ecotourist.
Fishing is excellent throughout The Abaco Islands, with Walker’s Cay, Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay and Green Turtle Cay attracting many fishermen for summer tournaments. Record catches of marlin, sailfish and tuna are common here. The shallow, marshy flats west of Great Abaco are a haven to bonefish, while deep-sea fishing is easily accessible a short boat ride from the cays where the drop-off from the reef to the Atlantic is steep.
Abaco Sight-seeing and Tourist Attractions
Because of its proximity to most of the Abacos’ enticing cays, Marsh Harbour is the natural gateway to many local tourist destinations. Regular ferry service is available to Hope Town in Elbow Cay and to Man-O-War Cay. Additional means of transportation are available to the other towns and cays, including automobiles, mopeds, bicycles and boats.
Years ago, this quaint community on Great Abaco Island was only accessible by boat, but, due to the recent development of roadways, is now accessible by car from Marsh Harbour. Probably the most significant attraction here is the Johnston Studios & Art Foundry, housing the artwork of Randolph Johnston, internationally known for his wax-casting bronze sculptures.
Since his passing in 1992, Randolph’s son, Pete Johnston, continues to preserve this history, combining the works of his father with his own life-size bronze sculptures and exquisite jewelry. His book, Artist on His Island, chronicles the lives of the Johnston family who had left civilization in the 1950’s in search of a pure and simple lifestyle and settled the town of Little Harbour.
Elbow Cay & Hopetown
Located on Elbow Cay, Hopetown is a very short distance from Marsh Harbour by ferry. Noted as one of Abaco’s most charming villages, Hopetown’s picturesque colonial architecture clearly reflects the New England heritage of its residents.
Pastel homes of pink, blue, green and yellow are surrounded by gardens bursting with vibrant color. One of the island’s most prominent views is Hopetown’s famous candy-striped lighthouse. Built in 1863, this historical monument remains as one of the few manned lighthouses in the Bahamas today, still utilizing the original brass weight mechanism.
Hopetown offers a wide range of sights and activities. The Wyannie Malone Museum houses the rich history of Hopetown and Elbow Cay, displaying fascinating artifacts which date back to the earliest settlers. Numerous shops feature local island art, crafts and gifts, and small grocery stores and bakeries are on virtually every corner. Some of the most superb beaches and snorkeling can also be found on Elbow Cay.
Also easily accessible from Marsh Harbour by ferry, Man-O-War Cay is the most active boat building center in the area, known as the “nautical capital” of the Abacos. Boats of all types visit Man-O-War for maintenance and repair.
The famous Joe Albury, whose family dates back several generations on this cay, continues to craft sailing dinghies, model hulls and gifts in his studio, all made from Abaco hardwoods. The Sail Shop offers visitors the opportunity to observe the process of sails and canvas bags being created.
Man-O-War is quite a conservative, family-oriented town. It is a “dry” island – there are no liquor stores but many shops, bakeries, quaint churches and a lovely beach. Renting a bicycle is a perfect way to explore Man-O-War.
Great Guana Cay
Epitomizing the laid-back atmosphere of all the settled cays, Great Guana, about ten miles from Marsh Harbour by boat, is one of Abaco’s most idyllic destinations. The care-free spirit of Guana is the very definition of Abaco life, inherent in the genuine warmth of the friendly residents who occupy this beautiful island – and, in fact, all of the Abaco Islands.
Great Guana Cay offers the ultimate in pure island activities and relaxation. Known for having one of the most unspoiled, private and breathtaking beaches in the Bahamas, stretching for nearly the full five-and-a-half mile length of the island, this cay is perfect for those with a passion for the sea. Visitors can walk, swim, sunbathe, picnic – or snorkel on Guana’s fabulous reef – the options are endless and limited only by the imagination. Nippers Bar & Grill, perched on the edge of a bluff overlooking the crystal turquoise water, offers the ideal spot to wile away the afternoon, admiring the awe-inspiring view.
Treasure Cay & Green Turtle Cay
In the 1950’s, Treasure Cay became one of Abaco’s first major tourist destinations. Accessible by automobile or boat from Marsh Harbour, it is home to the only 18-hole championship golf course in the Abacos. Like Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay is a developed, residential community and has numerous homes, condominiums, shops and medical clinics. It is well known for its picture-perfect, four-mile crescent shaped beach.
Just a few miles away by boat or ferry is one of the oldest settlements in Abaco, appropriately named Green Turtle Cay for its striking emerald waters. A very popular cruising destination, Green Turtle provides a variety of well-protected anchorages for boaters.
The quaint, colonial village of New Plymouth offers visitors the opportunity to stroll down charming lanes filled with gift shops and restaurants. As with all of Abacos’ splendid islands, Green Turtle Cay’s beaches and views are clearly spectacular.
Pelican Cays National Park
Dotted with islets, small bays, and seemingly endless reefs, this 2,000 acre park is one of the best in The Bahamas.