Abaco Escape is all the first time visitor needs to know and then some.
Includes lodging, rentals, accommodations and services.
And it's being updated all the time.
For our abbreviated version, you might want to try
Warning: You Will Fall in Love with Abaco
I did back, in '73 and have been going ever since. A recent contemporary puts it this way on a post on an Abaco bulletin board "I thought this site had some people who seemed just a little over enthused about a vacation destination. Now I fully understand. This place has grabbed me heart and soul.... I can't say I came home from there. I feel "there" lies my home I never knew existed... Hope that doesn't sound too corny... We're already discussing our next trip." - by Bruce & Lesley of Pasadena, MD,
I have been vacationing in The Abacos regularly since 1973. (Map) That was just months prior to their independence from Great Britain. In early years we stayed almost exclusively on Green Turtle Cay. Moving to Florida afforded us the opportunity to visit more often and see the all the Abacos Cays by boat from the top down. Today we mostly fly in and generally slpit out time between Green Turtle Cay and Elbow Cay (Hope Town), All of the Cays will be covered here and for those who want to head off to mainland places less traveled, the off the beaten path settlements and places of interest they are covered too.
We will start in the north and work our way southward, as one arrives from Florida by boat starting with Spanish Cay, Green Turtle Cay and the Cays to their south. All places covered are accessible for the fly-in traveler via the mainland airports of Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay via numerous Air Carriers. Once you arrive, it's just a short taxi ride and then either a ferry or rental boat to get to the outlying cays.
As mentioned this site is intended for the fly-in vacationer. Where they overlap with the cruising yachtsman is in the pages of the Cruising Guide to the Abacos. It's a must have for anybody visiting the Abacos especially if renting a boat. It's updated annually and authored by state side professor and Elbow Cay resident, Steve Dodge. His guide, although geared to the cruising folks, it's jam packed with useful info not found in any Fodor's or Frommer's etc. It's colorful and so inviting. Every nook and cranny is mentioned including many not covered here, and it's updated annually. It also has a "Yellow Pages" listing of services, shops, restaurants, fishing and diving guides etc. etc. Lastly, upon your arrival be on the lookout for the biannual and less technical publication "Destination Abaco" which you'll find in the shops and resorts. It's free, and it too is packed with info in a convenient carry about size.
RENTING A BOAT when visiting the Cays, for us, it's a must, at least part of the time. The Abaconian waters are the appeal to this part of the world. You'll want to explore the beauty of uninhabited island beaches for some frolicking fun, fishing, picnicking, snorkeling, beach combing etc. etc. There are easily attainable islands where you can feel like the only people in the world. Then there are the out island watering holes - great places to meet new friends and end a day on the water with a Goombay or Kalik. If you are not a boatsman be sure to familiarize yourself with the necessary protocols on our Boating Abaco page. Finally, as an alternative you might consider chartering a vessel and have your captain guide you around to places often over looked. Many charters come provisioned and just about all include a dinghy for local exploration and getting ashore when anchored out. Check out Chartering on our Boating Abaco page.
POLARIZED is the magic word here in the Abacos . Get yourself a pair of Polarized Sunglasses if you don't already have them. They remove glare and reflection accentuating the turquoise, green and blue of the Abaco waters. And their through water penetration is amazing. If you are like myself and use glasses to read, consider a pair of polarized glasses with readers on the bottom and no magnification on the top, They're found at sporting goods departments. You might also want to consider a polarized filter on your camera. Your photos will amaze you.
COMMUNICATIONS: The answer is yes to both cell service and internet, however check your American carrier first. The Bahamian area code (from the outside) is 242. Skipe works well when you know what you are doing. There is Island wide WiFi, plus a plethora of hot spots and even internet cafés. For details on a mobile WiFi account when in Abaco, check out, Out Island Internet or BahamasWiMax, both cover from Green Turtle Cay to Little Harbour. Expanded full island wide coverage is planed for the near future. Many resorts also offer an on premises computer terminal for guests. Still with all this technology available, you'll be hard pressed to find a telephone or TV in a resort room. Oh, stay away from those "BLUE PAY TELEPHONES". They will take any credit card but hit you with an exorbitant charge! Finally, the Abacos are a place to disconnect and unwind but if you must bring your lap top, and need an excuse, this will do the trick. It's made for the Abacos and fun too.
PROVISIONING: For folks renting a home and or have cooking facilities, small grocery stores can be found on all the cays but variety is limited. Produce is generally poor and some canned items have been on the shelf for a while. Still many offer fresh baked bread and pastries and local favorites like conch salad. Fish Markets seem to come and go on the Cays so ask around. The Solution is shop in Marsh Harbour, The stores are larger, cheaper and some are close to stateside supermarkets like Maxwell's. Here, produce is fresher, there is a good selection of meat and the turn over is greater. Prices are closer to stateside, with some items twice the price. Resort villas often offer frig with microwave only for cooking. Keep that in mind.
MONEY: The Bahamian dollar is on par with the US dollar. Both are used interchangeably and you can request your change be in US as we do usually near the end of our trip. Your credit card company will probably tack on a "foreign transaction fee" (1-2%) for each charge.
On Fishing: Due to over fishing, the Gov't saw to tighten their fishing regulations. That includes Shellfish too - Lobster & Conch. If you are going it alone, those regulations can be found here. Using a local guide or local charter - dont worry. On the other side of the coin, recent times have see the incursion of the stinging spiny Pacific Lionfish reeking havoc on the reef dwelling populace. They are a free for all. Fact is, there are now numerous Lionfish Derbies to rid the reef environment of this plight. You'll even see then on your menu - delicious.
Marine VHF Radio: Another practical item that we always bring is a Marine VHF Walkie Talkie. It's fun and invaluable tool for use in making a dinner reservation, booking a golf cart or boat rental and even hailing a taxi in Marsh Harbour. Even listening to the island chit chat is fun. But most importantly, you'll be able to listen to the Cruisers Net on CH 68 every day at 8:15 for a broadcast of the islands happenings and weather, and even a period for you to ask a question. More than likely your rental boat will be equipped with one. More info on the Cruisers Net, a recent broadcast and VHF protocol can be found on our Flotsam & Jetsam page.
Bulletin boards: There are two relating to Abaco for specific questions you may have. They can be found under POPULAR LINKS in the sidebar, bottom left.
The Abaco Cays
...... have been called Out Islands, Family Islands and the Friendly Islands all of which definitely apply. Here you will find friendly folks, a relatively bustling economy with none of hassles and hustlers of fast paced Nassau, Paradise Island and Freeport. Evenings are spent with family and friends or fishing buddies usually at the local watering holes, or on your deck or dock. Some places play bingo or trivia pursuit for drinks. Darts and karaoke are also popular pastimes. Weekends are highlighted with a local band. And, that is it for nighttime excitement. Still, as far as "islands" go, the Abacos rate high as being a truly homogeneous little spot in the globe with first time visitors returning more often than not.
The Abaco Cays start in the north at Walkers Cay working their way 100 miles or so down to Little Harbour. For the most part they parallel the Island of Great Abaco and can be thought of as barrier islands as they are what separate the Atlantic from the shallow Sea of Abaco and Mainland Abaco. Unlike the classical sandy barrier islands of the eastern US, here they consist of limestone with some elevation and are protected on the ocean side by the third largest barrier reef in the world. For the most part the cays are green with mangrove and white sand beaches. Most are uninhabited.
The Atlantic side of these cays are littered with some of the most beautiful coral reefs you'll find in the Atlantic. Shooting up from the depths one can find reefs in waters from 6 to 200+ feet. They are surely as spectacular, as the Caribbean hot spots of Grand Cayman, Bonaire, Belize etc. There are reefs for snorkelers to the experienced diver. There is even a network of well maintained and protected underwater parks with mooring buoys for visiting boaters. It's truly a divers paradise and a well kept secret. And it's only 180 miles from Florida's mainland . The Florida Keys cant even come close and shouldn't even be mentioned in the same conversation. For the fisherman, the fishing is likewise as outstanding with tournaments at many locations throughout spring and summer and no less comparable than Costa Rica or Cabo San Lucas, A word of caution: Making passage from Abaco Sound to the ocean between the cays to the fishing areas and diving spots is a bit tricky if not impossible in most areas. And it is forbidden to take a rental boat to the ocean. There are plenty of spots to dive without risk that are covered below.
The North Abaco Cays
WALKERS CAY - is the northern most tip of the Abaco Cays. In its heyday a major sport fishing and diving center with resort and it's own operating air strip where you may also clear customs. The resort is closed now as a result of the devastating hurricane season of '04, and a mysterious fire afterwards. If you want to know more about it's glory days and rumored renovation Click Here. The air strip remains open servicing the folks of Grand Cay to its south.
GRAND CAY the island just to the south of Walker's is the first cay you come to with a settlement and where many of the Walkers workers lived. It's number one attraction is Rosie's Place who provides a full service marina and air conditioned rooms in addition to his famous eatery. There is really no way go get here except by boat. Still, Grand Cay is an increasingly popular spot for Florida boaters who can make the trip in about 5 hours. Today many of the cays folks make a living fishing and lobstering. Richard Nixon regularly vacationed here. Info & picts here.
Southward from Walkers & Grand, you will pass a dozen or so uninhabited cays, some for sale, with the names of Double Breasted, Stranger, Carter, Moraine, Ambergris and Allen-Pensacola. Most have their own protected and secluded spots where you will always find a few boats anchored.
... is the next of the outlying cays heading south that has any populace and those folks are attached with the resort there. Like Walkers, Spanish Cay is a point of entry with operating airstrip and customs. There is a fine large marina attached to the Resort at Spanish Cay once owned by, Clint Murchison who owned the Dallas Cowboys. The resort has changed hands a couple times since then and has gone thru a couple of hurricanes and undergone a major overhaul including brand new docks. As part of the renovation they've added tennis courts a new air conditioned restaurant and game room/bar overlooking a fresh water swimming pool and the sea of Abaco. They claim three lovely beaches and golf carts are available to explore the island. Their Wreckers Bar, not always open, is the only eatery in the Abacos suspended over the Ocean. If peace and quiet is what you are looking for, this is the place with snorkeling, fishing and shelling at your beckoned call. Throw in a good book and a Pina Colada from their bar and your in business. Across from Spanish Cay on Abaco's mainland and 42 Miles from Marsh Harbour, 22 from Treasure Cay, lies the settlement of COOPERS TOWN. It's about a $45 taxi ride from Treasure Cay. The government dock is where you'd pick up a ferry to Spanish Cay. Unfortunately there are only two scheduled, early morning and late afternoon and primarily intended for the resorts day workers. A charter is about $200. So it looks like a late arrival and early departure is the only way to go. Call them on this in any case. Note: the Resort at Spanish Cay is only opened in season. Information on Coopers Town, Fox Town, Crown Haven and other mainland settlements can be found in our new page, "Abaco - Off the Beaten Path."
Green Turtle Cay & New Plymouth
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The next cay you come to with any population (20 Miles south of Spanish Cay) and where it all started for us, is Green Turtle Cay (See Map). (Aerial) It is the island that we spent our early days almost exclusively. Needless to say things have changed a lot in 40 years. During those early trips we would take our kids. It was a great place when they were growing up. They were both good swimmers so we didn't have to worry about a thing. They could run around all they wanted, as kids still can today.
The Village of New Plymouth (Map) was originally settled by the loyalists in the 1770's. The quaint brightly colored picturesque village can be walked in less than 10 minutes end to end or about two hours covering all the side streets and stopping in every store including having a Goombay Smash at Miss Emily's. Finding any of the named places in this guide is as easy as asking somebody in the street and then it wont be more than 5 minutes from where you're standing.
Lobstering and tourism are the main industries of the island today while the village serves most of the Islanders needs. There are hardware stores, gift shops and food markets in New Plymouth. Merchandise arrives regularly from Marsh Harbour or directly from the states. The Bahamian Government places a hefty duty on many items which makes some items a bit costly.
Occasionally a doctor sets up practice and usually leaves as there just was not enough "business" to keep him or her there. Today you will find a clinic with a nurse. For anything more serious you'll have to go to Marsh Harbour or Florida.
Be sure to stop by for a visit at the Albert Lowe Museum for a peak at the settlement's earlier times. You'll also find here beautifully crafted model ships built by late Mr. Lowe and art works by his renowned son Alton. Alton has a gallery in his lovely home. It's a 15 minute walk on the other side of the settlement's big hill. For more information see Abaco Art. The model ship building continues by still another son, Vertrum, whose work can be found along with other local artists at Vert's Model Ships. Other points of interest is the Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden featuring Bronze busts of many of the influential folks of days gone bye. It's in the middle of town, you cant miss it.
Every year in May is the annual Annual Green Turtle Heritage Festival. The well received intent of the event was to establish a "Sister City" concept between historic Green Turtle Cay (New Plymouth) where the Loyalist first settled in 1784 and Key West, Florida, where many Green Turtle Cay residents relocated in the ensuing 150 years. So if you are planning a trip to the Abacos and more specifically Green Turtle Cay, you might want to consider this event. But book early. (We should mention that as of 2010/11 Hope Town & Man-O-War have begun their own, albeit smaller versions of their heritage day. Want to know more go to Flotsam & Jetsam).
Access to New Plymouth and Green Turtle Cay is of course only by ferry- the "BOLO". Nigel, Larry or Curtis will probably be your captain. The BOLO runs from anywhere on the island to a dock on the mainland serving the airport (by land Taxi) at Treasure Cay. Connecting commuter flights here are to Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale. and Nassau. More on our Air Carriers page.
New Plymouth ies on the western side of settlement harbour. The lovely and quaint turn of the century New Plymouth Inn, reminiscent of Bogey and Bacall, opens and closes at the whim of it's proprietor. Still it has one of the most romantic restaurants in all the islands. In it's prime, it would have been an inspirational place for playwrights, novelists and poets. As of spring 2011 it was open and can frankly report it was as charming as ever - the romance still there. Weather it will remain open, is all up to Wally, their a bit eccentric, long time owner. It's location in the middle of the village, away from beaches and marinas, probably has something to do with past difficulties.
New Plymouth eateries: in no particular order there is the "Wrecking Tree" one of the few places that will make conch salad to order, and the popular "McIntosh's Bakery & Restaurant". It's on the street going up the hill facing the cemetery. Then there is everybody's all time favorite "Laura's (carbohydrate) Kitchen". You'll find it just up the street from the town dock. Here you will get your plate piled high with food reminiscent on an Amish restaurant and all for a reasonable price (no alcohol here). A reservation is strongly suggested. Now we come to Mikes Bar & Restaurant, now called Mikes Sundowner. Mike's is another on again, off again place but recently caught on again. It's right on the water facing Abaco Sea. Like so many others their schedule is sporadic. Hail them all your VHF. On the "bottom" of the main street next to the freight dock is Plymouth Rock Bar, Restaurant, Liquor and cigar store. counter seating only and for about eight. Pineapples Bar & Grill has a great pool for luncheon and dinner guests and on occasion has live music in the evening. It is located on the eastern side of Settlement Harbour located at and part of the Other Shore Club and Marina on Black Sound which also has cottages for rent. Both sides are accessible by boat. Give them a call on your VHF. And finally the newest restaurant is Harvey's Island Grill on the harbour side of town. No alcohol is served but BYOB is OK. Here the menus consists not your typical Bahamian fare, but state side favorites such as duck and lamb etc. and all at reasonable prices. For more first class dining, you'll have to head to the north end resorts.
For decades the favorite night (& day) spot for the visiting yachtsman has been "Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar". Miss Emily was the originator of the Bahamian national drink - the Goombay Smash. Sadly, she passed away in 1997 but the traditions of her "establishment" are now being run by her daughter Violet. Recently she has added an attractive dinning room serving lunch and dinner. The house specialties are Goombay Lobster or Blue Bee Special Grouper. Just up the hill from the Blue Bee is the island's hot spot, the "Roosters Rest" home of Kevin and the Gully Roosters playing Reggae and Soca (Calypso). They too, I hate to say, open with a west wind, but can be found playing at the G.T.C. every Wednesday.
Rental homes, villas and cottages are scattered through out the island. At the pristine north nestled between a lovely ocean beach and Coco Bay are the Cocobay Cottages. (golf cart needed here). Their beach is great for snorkeling and it is not uncommon to see a lobster or two (which may be taken in season only). And not far from them on the other side of Coco Bay you will find Turtle Dreams Cottage. Closer to New Plymouth, a few names that come to mind are Linton's Cottages, Long Bay House and Bita Bay House. which are on or near beaches and a 15 minute walk to town. Also there is Robert's Cottages on Black Sound. A couple agencies dealing with rental homes are Green Turtle Rentals. and Abaco Property Management. Still more can be found on our Accommodations and Services page.
Leaving the settlement for the north end of the island on its "Queens Highway" you will pass the relatively new Leeward Yacht Club and Marina. It's on Black Sound and many of the owners condos are for rent. It offers a pool and restaurant. Their Lizard Bar & Grill is turning into a regular hangout with the Gully Roosters appearing on occasion. On the north end of Green Turtle Cay on White Sound, you will find The Green Turtle Club and the Bluff House. Each has a marina, pool and offering rooms and villas for rent. There had been a long standing rivalry between them as the managing owners of each were sisters (and their husbands). Seems even in paradise there are family feuds. But in 2005 the Green Turtle Club was sold ending the family ownership I've known since my first visit in '73. By 2011 the Bluff House also had new owners.
The Green Turtle Club has a first class restaurant, comparable to state side fine dining. It's restaurant is adjacent to their Tipsy Bar and steps from the marina. They offer cottages right on the water where you can tie up your rental boat as we often do. Pool side villas are also offered. The Gully Roosters usually stop by for a gig on Wednesdays playing under the stars on the marina deck. This writer finds the Club a little more upbeat and an easier location to get "to and from", and explore the north end and its beaches. Add to this the fact the paved town road ends at the Club. Still a rental cart or boat is needed. The Club is within a 10 minute walk to a lovely bay beach at Coco Bay and 20 minute walk to a beautiful stretch of ocean beach with all the diving and snorkeling you may want.
Bluff House has elevated seaside cottages with a great view of the Sea of Abaco. In 2010 the Bluff closed their elegant hill top restaurant and pool which could easily have won the fantastic view award. By 2013 new ownership had completed most of the planned renovations with the exception of the hill top facilities. Their more casual marina side Jolly Roger Bar Bistro and pool remains open and is a popular spot. The Gully Roosters also play once a week. The Bluff has a small beach and Tiki Bar on their property facing the Sea of Abaco. The Ocean Beaches are a bit of a trek from the Bluff House (30+ Min) as compared to the Club. A golf cart would be recommended and mandatory for getting to town.
The local Hertz is actually a rent a cart which you may want to use to get around. A couple of agencies that come to mind are, Marilyn Sanders' Sea Side Cart Rentals 365-4147. She is also the proprietor of Green Turtle Property Rentals mentioned above. Her office & dock are located conveniently next to the ferry dock in New Plymouth (her customers are free to use her dock). Donny & Giselle McIntosh's also rent carts and can be found by clicking D&P Cart Rentals 365-4655, located at the G.T. Club. Another alternative is Omri's on again - off again Taxi. Again, all can be reached using your VHF Marine Radio and calling on 16. If all else fails just get out to the road and stick your thumb out, the old fashioned way. You needn't fear and its guaranteed to work.
The Green Turtle Club Bar is a typical island haunt with dollar bills and boaters burgess tacked to the ceiling. You can find my "Motu Iti" burgee hanging there. It's a lively spot hosted by the ever smiling Debbie. She has been there for over 25 years and is everybody's best friend. She recently won the prestigious Bahamian "Cacique" award for sustainable tourism. She or Julie will gladly provide a "Tipsy Turtle" (which will do the job for which it is intended). The Green Turtle Club Bar has long been a favorite stop over for the cruising yachtsman and private pilots alike. Often the nights are spent in conversation with them and of their travels. One night a week the Gully Roosters come over from town (with half the population) to play at the club. The Roosters have been around for years. They call themselves "The No.1 Band in the Nation".
Note: (a/o 2013) Both the G.T.C. and the B.H. do not provide "gratis on call transportation" to and from New Plymouth and its shops or restaurants. They do not transport guest to N.P, nor pick up visitors staying elsewhere who want to visit or dine with them. On Elbow Cay the two south end resorts, the Abaco Inn and Sea Spray do provide "gratis on call transportation" to and from Hope Town. They will chaufeur folks to town for dinner or shopping and pick up tourists staying elsewhere coming to their establishments for lunch with a swim in their pool
At this point we have to mention our friend of close to 30 years, Brendal Stevens. I'd call him the unofficial Ambassador of the Goombay Spirit. He is also the co namer of the Goombay Smash. See short video. He once entertained at the Club bar with his one man band and ran the clubs dive shop for many years. Eventually he and his wife Mary and with her full time assistance, opened their own dive shop adjacent to the Green Turtle Club. He is very popular and attracts divers from all over the world. He's too has won the celebrated Bahamian "Cacique" award. As far as diving goes, Brendal can take you on any type dive you want, however our favorite is the day trip where he will catch your lunch and cook it for you on an uninhabited beach. Depending on the season, it will be lobster or grouper, with conch salad and his special punch. You may have seen Brendal featuring this picnic on the cooking channel and his diving adventures on ESPN. If you'd prefer a fishing picnic, some of the fishing guides provide the same thing. Lincoln Jones is no doubt the main man in this regard 365-4223. If sport fishing is your thing, whether it be inshore bonefishing to offshore game or reef fishing contact the Sawyers, a family of fishing guides starting with "old Joe" 365-4173 or his sons Ronnie or Rickie at 365-4261. More guides can be found listed on our Services & Accommodations Page.
There are three boat rental agencies on Green Turtle Cay. The oldest is Donnie Sawyer's whom we've been using since day one. Recent times have seen "newer boats" as part of his fleet. A 15-17 footer is all you'll need to get to Green Turtle's adjacent cays, assuming typical summer type weather. Other rental agencies are Reef Rentals and the newest, as of 2010 is Sunset Boat Rentals. The latter offering bait & tackle. Be sure to see our page on (Boating & Rentals).
EXPLORING THE NEIGHBORS: To the north is Manjack Cay (See Map). At it's northern end you will find the quintessential white sand beach one only dreams about. At it's southern end two smaller cays Crab & Fiddle seem to have broken away from Manjack. It's hard to notice their separation until up close. They make for interesting exploration and have beautiful beaches too. The northern end of Fiddle has a great beach and is a short hop from G.T. We often go there and wade the pass between Fiddle and Crab Cay. You'll see its beautiful white sandbar upon approach. But don't anchor over it if the tide is going out - stay slightly to its south in the grassy deeper water. Fiddle Cay is the location of the annual Stranded Naked party which kicks off the Regatta Season in July. Don't let the name fool you though, it is actually a family event and a fun-for-all happening.
The island to the south of Green Turtle Cay is Noname Cay. It's about the same size as Green Turtle Cay but uninhabited except for a few pigs. It's suitable for exploration and picnicking when renting a small boat and is about as far as you should go south of Green Turtle in a 15-17 footer. It's northern end and closest point has a another beautiful crescent beach running from west to north and whose bottom is a patch work of sea grass, sand and flat coral rock bottom. Just go slow getting to the beach. Behind is a beautiful stand of Casuarina's trees. It's a favorite spot for picnicking.
Heading south from Noname Cay you come to an area of some repute. It's called the Whale Cay Passage. It is what separates Green Turtle from the other major cays and Marsh Harbour to its south. Whale Cay, is just another uninhabited cay in the chain the borders the eastern edge of Great Abaco. It is not worth a visit. The difference is there is considerable shoaling on the inside of Whale Cay preventing larger craft and sailboats from passing on the protected Abaco Sound side. They have to head out in the ocean around the cay and back in. Small power craft don't generally have this problem except in strong off shore winds and or swells which at times can be considerable and given the name "The Abaco Rage". First timers should be aware of the latter and, be sure to use the chart found in the Abaco Cruising Guide mentioned earlier. This inside passage is called the "Don't Rock Passage" for the large rock in the middle. It's a pretty sight. Just to the West of Whale Cay and Don't Rock lies..........
It may surprise you but, Treasure Cay is not a Cay "any more" but rather the name of the resorts, region and airport serving that area of Great Abaco Island. There are two resorts here, the largest is the Treasure Cay Resort and Marina and the upscale Bahama Beach Club. In addition there are numerous rental homes and villas. (map)
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Most accommodations are in the form of condos, villas and homes which the resorts manage or private agency rents to vacationers. Many condo owners have their own website, use the likes of vrbo.com or can be found on our Accommodations and Services page or with a Google/Yahoo search. One that we thoroughly enjoyed staying is Sanddollar Dreams, which is right on Treasure Cay's famous beach.
Within Treasure Cay Resort and Marina area, are pools, bars and restaurants, gift shops, grocery store and Florence's Bakery. There is a diversity of rental properties pretty much clustered by style. As mentioned villas, townhouses, condos and single family homes. All focus on the beach and marina, pool bar and its restaurants. As part of the resort you'll find Spinnakers Restaurant. It's a first class restaurant where we once dinned on their delicious 9 oz lobster tail - fantastic! And the conch chowder, exceptional. Ask for table 6, 7 or 8 in the Bar area. The Hangout spot in the evening is the Tipsy Seagull Bar - right at the marina and steps from Spinnakers. The house drink is the Tipsy Seagull and if there happens to be one of their fishing tournament taking place in season, it'll make for a lively occasion. If you are lucky, usually "Pizza Night", Chris "The Burner" Russell's, band may be playing. Chris leads one of the best bands we've heard in the Abaco and written about in one of our updates. He is not just limited to "Island Music", his country repertoire is great too. When not playing, you'll find him at his new restaurant, "Burners". Bring cash - no credit cards accepted (a/o Spring 12).
As for other activities, be sure to advantage yourself of their renowned 18 hole golf course. Afterwards a swim at their quintessential crescent beach with lunch at their beachside Coco Bar is a must. The marina is also the home of Treasure Divers a full service, well provisioned dive shop owned by Brent and Caroline White, and run with their able-bodied assistants Sandy Roberts. Excursions are part of their offerings too. At the Treasure Cay Marina you'll also find the fishing charters are endless, ranging from deep sea to bay or bone fishing. The Marina is also the home base of the ferry "Prozac" which runs to Guana Cay / Nippers and places elsewhere. Check with them first. (365-8749)
Outside the resort area you'll find the popular Touch of Class restaurant. They will send a courtesy shuttle to pick you up and bring you home after dinner. Closer in but just outside the resort gate is Treasure Cay's newest resort which includes a Mediterranean style restaurant called "Treasure Sands Club. It's right on the beach front and has had some very positive reviews.
For things to do, you might want to check out Abaco Ceramics. Here you will find all sorts of lovely handcrafted items which are made on the premises. The shops owner Karen McIntosh has won many awards and has cliental world wide. It's also just outside the gate. All in all the Resort area is a great location for day trips to Green Turtle and Guana Cays with a rental boat from one of the agencies in the area. See Boating Abaco And remember the reason why you came to this part of the world- the waters. Treasure Cay boasts the most beautiful crescent white sand beaches in all the Abacos and in the worlds top 10. It's beach is on Great Abaco Sound.
Finally the Treasure Cay Area offers some interesting exploration of Abaco Blue Holes and the Wild Abaco Barbs, a type of horse left by the Spanish centuries ago. (For a tour of the latter contact Mimi Rehor 367-4805). The location for both can be found only a few miles from the resort near the Green Turtle Ferry dock. More of both has been written about in some detail and who's links can be found in "Abaco - Off the Beaten Path" and in our sidebar. Also you might want to check the Videos of the Treasure Cay resorts, beach and the two aforementioned on our Video Page.
Great Guana Cay
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After skirting Whale Cay you'll first encounter will be at Bakers Bay, a lovely crescent mile long beach on north Great Guana Cay. Disney used to use Bakers Bay as their "out island" and tendered guests ashore or to New Plymouth. Sea conditions at Whale Cay often made mooring treacherous and Disney eventually pulled out. Disney still has their island in the the Abacos, although it's nowhere near the cays and more importantly has no impact on this region. Then in 2006, a major resort was started simply called The Bakers Bay Club. It consists of a golf course, 200 plus slip marina and hundred plus condos on the property. I, like many of the islanders worried that this mega-undertaking will kill the fragile environment of Guana Cay who's reefs are world renowned. It became a classic battle of jobs versus the environment. Today the marina is complete as is the golf course, restaurant and sales office. Celebs fly in now and then to play on the course and advantage themselves for photo ops for the resort's promotional material.
Great Guana Cay's picturesque small settlement lies three miles south of Bakers Bay with limited accessibility between the two.(map), It has a couple souvenir shops, food store and liquor store. The settlement here makes one feel you are really on an "Out Island" unless you are caught in the foot traffic headed to Nippers. Here though, Milo is the man. His shop and produce stand has been at the same location for a generation. You'll no doubt pass him on your walk along the harbour road. Be sure to stop by and say hi. You'll also notice the remains of the old fig tree surrounded by benches, the settlements version of the "town square" where local folks gather to chat and play dominos.
The reef strewn ocean beaches that line the 5.5 mile of coast are reputedly the most beautiful in all the Abacos. The white sand beach is bathed in waters of every shade of blue, aqua marine and turquoise. The settlement adjoins the "Great Guana Resort" property whose main building burnt down and which was the premier resort on the island. The Guana Beach Resort which was the grand daddy of all resorts on Guana, was for all practical purposes, destroyed by Floyd and Fire. Despite that fact, their Sunset Bar at pool side was resurrected from the debris and is now called Grabbers, Light food is served and naturally the "Guana Grabber the drink of choice". The original motel type cottages that remained have been renovated plus an additional five condo/apartments in place of the old hotel. All available for rent. Grabbers is a popular spot especially with the cruising folks who anchor just off its beach in Fishers Bay.
1996, saw the opening of Nippers, now one of the hottest spots in all of the Cays (supposedly named after the no-see-ums). It is a trendsetting place that lives up to its reputation. It's on a bluff overlooking their snorkeling beach and ocean - Spectacular. It really packs them in. As of 2011, you can now "dine in style at Overso", Nippers new enclosed air conditioned restaurant. Chef Debbie also includes many state side favorites in her menu of local fare.
For those not staying on Guana, access to Nippers is only by boat of course or ferry from Marsh Harbour. Often you find Johnny Nipper himself bartending. (see food & drinks). Every Sunday they serve a Hawaiian style pig roast which attracts folks and yachtsmen from all over the cays. Tickets are sold on a first come first served basis. It's generally very crowded. The Barefoot Man, who's CD's are in every gift shop and hotel makes an annual appearance here. Nippers had its own webcam focused on their beautiful beach below. A storm knocked it out a couple years back and it's never been replaced. If anyone should have a webcam, it's Nippers. Abaco Webcams.
At the harbours edge across from the settlement youl'll find Orchid Bay Resort, a resort, marina and restaurant with sales office. You cant miss their a large stone jetty protecting its marina. Orchid Bay has been off again - on again the last couple years. Sometimes open sometimes closed. As of May 2013 their website shut down. We'll leave it linked just in case? As for home and villa rentals, they are numerous, too many to mention here. Some being quite a trek from the settlement on this five mile long island. One rental, self described, "Our cottage is right in the settlement and I find it alot of fun to hang out on our deck and meet new friends and see old ones", and that be Rick & Tina's Beach Walk Cottage. For a rental agency you might want to check out Guana Luxury Villas. Sea Shore Villas (AKA Guana Cay Villas) is not an Agency but a cluster of appartments centrally located on the main drag in the settlement facing the harbour. They are part of Pirates Cove & gift shop. You cant miss them - right in front you'll see their Tiki Bar making for a perfect pit stop when making the rounds between Grabbers & Nippers. Finally we should mention the Dolphin Beach Resort. All of their units come with views of the ocean or Sea of Abaco. They have a pool too. It's located north just ten minutes north of the settlement on Fishers Bay. They are adjacent to another of the Abaco's premiere dive shops, Dive Guana, who will come pick you up even if you are not staying on Guana. The Dolphin Beach Resort also acts as rental agent for many of the homes on Guana. For more Guana homes for rent, go to Sandy's Quick Links to Accommodations & Services.
The Hub of Abaco
Heading south from Guana, we enter the Hub of Abaco, a triangular area whose three points are; Man-O-War Cay to the north, Marsh Harbour to the west and Elbow Cay (Hope Town) to the southeast. It's a busy area relatively speaking, with boats and commerce bustling back and forth.
Man O War Cay
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Our route will take us southward passing private Scotland Cay with it's lovely homes, marinas and airstrip. It seems almost attached to Guana Cay and is separated by a narrow creek. There is nothing here for the public, so its on to Man-O-War Cay. Man-O-War is a busy boat building island of God fearing (no alcohol sold on this island), hard working folks. This is the island of the Alburys, 70% of which can trace their ancestry to the first Albury who settled on this island in the 1870's. Ironically Man-O-War is typically the island most overlooked. Offsetting that fact, in 2011 was the opening of the island's new Heritage Museum and associated Heritage Festival (2009). Check their website for more info and the incredible Albury Family Tree.
Man-O-War is a great spot for all kinds of quality boat work and parts. No yachtsmen should miss it especially if in need of repairs. Marina facilities are available however restaurants and lodging is sparse as compared to the other cays. Still, rental homes and cottages are available on Man-O-War from Schooners Landing. or from Water Ways Rentals. And as the name might imply, they also rent boats, which they will deliver to you at neighboring cays.
Man-O-War is a quiet island but still an island not to be missed if staying at one of the neighboring cays. The islands center of activity is the Man-O-War Marina adjacent to the Albury "ferry depot" and Dock and Dine Restaurant. The Albury's Canvas Shop, AKA Sail Shop, is the place to see. Here you'll find the town ladies making all sorts of bags and hats out of canvas. On previous visits I had suggested their styles haven't changed in years. Well that's all changed and I have to say so have the prices, now more in line with Gucci and Prada. Still, a worth while stop if you find yourself on this Cay. It has always been the main event on Man-O-War, only now more in keeping with fashion of the times.
Despite the enterprising nature of it's residents, restaurants were in short supply until the opening of the Dock and Dine Restaurant, by Joshua Malone and family back in '08. They are now serving dinner seven days a week and lunch, (Mon - Sat). They can be reached at 365-6139. Also on the premises is longtime favorite "Island Treats." It has been recently renovated and is strictly an ice cream parlor and snack bar. Aside from the aforementioned that leaves the not to be over looked, Hibiscus café. Ask any islander where they're located. You wont be more than 100 yards away. Before we leave M-O-W, you might want to check the website of Edwin's Boat Yard for his map of the cay and a little island history.
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Marsh Harbour is the Bahamas third largest city (after Nassau & Freeport) and the Abaco's commercial hub. It is the only area providing the medical of the island folks which in 2011 saw the opening of the new Auskell Medical Center. Additionally there are grocery stores, liquor stores, auto rental agency, gift shops, hardware stores and tradesman to fill specific needs. Maxwell's supermarket has reopened (after closure due to fire. Marsh Harbour is the place to stock up before heading to your rental home or charter.
Boat rental agencies proliferate in Marsh Harbour. Regular visitors often go straight from the airport to their rental boat and head to the Cay's saving the ferry fare and wait time. Our choice in this regard has been Rainbow Rentals. They are on the edge of the harbour making for a quick exit to your destination. See our boating page.
The "Eastern Shore" of Marsh Harbour is the region where lovely rental homes, cottages and villas can be found. Geographically speaking Eastern Shore is at the northeastern most mainland point of the island of Great Abaco. The homes here are right on Abaco Sound facing the Cays and many have a dock on the protected creek facing Sugar Loaf Cay. One such home is "Done Reach". It's perfectly positioned for quick getaways by boat ether heading east to Hope Town or White Sound on Elbow Cay or the cays south, Lubbers to Little Harbour. Don Reach offers a full size home plus a charmingly furnished boat house on the creek side. Still others can easily be found with an internet search or checking our Accommodations and Services page.
Beaches are limited in and around Marsh Harbour, but they do boast of one very popular snorkeling spot called Mermaid Reef, and it's accessible by land or sea. Be sure to check it out. It's on the "Eastern Shore".
If you're one headed to Cays you will likely arrive and depart from Marsh, so why not consider spending part of your trip there. There is plenty to see and do. And there is one thing you can do in Marsh that you cant do on the Cays and that is rent a car. This can make for a great adventure and exploration to the south like the quaint settlement of Cherokee and its neighbor Little Harbour. Further south you there is Sandy Point and the old light house at Hole in the Wall. Or you can head north to Treasure Cay and its famous beach and nearby sites mentioned above. This is what we do on occasion and is written about in an Update or see Side Bar for, The Abacos, off the Beaten Path.
When we cruised the Abacos by boat and were in Marsh Harbour, we always stayed at the close to everything Conch Inn Hotel & Marina. It has, in recent times been taken over by the Moorings Charter Fleet operation (See Chartering). The Inn's rooms are pretty much geared to short stays, perfect before or after a charter and a great place to stay before an early flight out before the ferries are running from the Cays. They offer a pool and two restaurants, the Conch Crawl Restaurant and a new 2nd floor bar & restaurant called Curly Tails. The Conch Inn offers an easy walk to town the the multitude of shops and restaurants the line this side of the harbour. Also at the Marina is Dive Abaco, Marsh Harbour's oldest dive shop. Just across the street is the Lofty Fig Villas, a lovely place we sometimes stay in the heart of harbour front. They have only six units, so book ahead.
Marsh has a large cruising community moored in it's harbour and is lively spot. As mentioned there a good many restaurants are within a short walking distance of the Conch Inn. From here to the center of town is just a 15 minute walk. Other hot spots are, Mangoes, Sapodilly's, which had a serious fire and may not yet be opened. The newest place is, Snappas which is located at the Harbour View Marina along harbour's edge near by. Also in the area is Wally's - It's voted the best restaurant in Marsh Harbour on a regular basis by Abaco bulletin board members. In town there is a luncheonette style restaurant called the Golden Grouper. It's been there for years and popular with the locals. Still a little furthure and highly rated with lobster lovers is Junovia's. It's next to Island Bakery on Don Mackay Boulevard. On the other (Eastern Shore) side of the harbour is the active Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room.Here on Saturday night in season, it's barbecue night, when as many as 300 steaks are served. Chicken & fish are also served. Reservations required. Their steaks are absolutely the best in all the Abacos. Many of the restaurants have their own "special night" offering special meals and or drinks and are announced on the cruisers net daily. Be sure to plan ahead. Recently we hit on Jamie's Place, a popular place with local business folks and a 10 min. walk east of the Conch Inn. It's a great for breakfast and lunch. For those seeking the night spots, where the native folk go, nobody can tell you better than Abaco local and musician, Stone McEwan. Check out his article.
The largest marina and hotel in Marsh is actually not on the harbour but rather on the less protected Abaco Sound side. It's called the Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour. It's a full scale resort. It seems there is always something going on here especially for the sport fisherman. It is here they hold the annual shootout - the by invitation only, fishing tournament for Hatteras and Bertram owners. There are two dive shops at this location, Abaco Dive Adventures, who wins the niftiest website award, and a more recent arrival named Above and Below Abaco, whose proprietors are Dr. Vic (Politano) and his wife Kay along with partner Chris Smith.
One of my favorite things when in the Abacos, is sampling the Conch Salad from the markets and street vendors. It is this mans very favorite food in the Bahamas. It's refreshing, non fattening and tasty - sort of a crunchy gazpacho. It's better than Ice cream. Our favorite conch salad can be found at the street vendor you will see just a couple hundred feet north the Conch Inn in Marsh Harbour. The stand that has been there for years although the vendor may change. Get your self a pint. See Sandy's Conch Salad Recipe and Video.
Elbow Cay & Hope Town
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Heading over to the third point in the Hub of Abaco triangle we come to Elbow Cay (Map) and its quaint village of Hope Town (Map) with lots of paths and lovely beaches to explore. Here you will find the famous red and white striped lighthouse seen in many of the Bahamian tourist brochures. It is described as the most photographed island in the Bahamas and we concur. Hope Town is a photographers delight. From the lighthouse to its brightly painted houses all punctuated with flowering shrubs and plants. Hope Town was the home of a celebrity of sorts and now Sarasota resident Robert Carey MD, Phd. This little settlement begot a pioneer in the field of medicine. His biography is here.
When in Hope Town a must see experience is a visit to the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. Here you'll step back to earlier times in this island settlement surrounded by artifacts of a bygone era. Check first to be sure they are open as their hours are irregular.Just steps away is the newly opened (2013) Hummingbird Cottage Art Centre. It is one of the most charmingly restored historic Loyalist cottages in Hope Town.
In Hope Town, island life surrounds the harbour which has a narrow and shallow opening for the many visiting yachtsmen. As you would expect there are grocery stores, gift shops and a liquor store. Vernon's grocery and bakery is the oldest. Be sure to stop by for a homemade pie. Buy the way, Vernon moonlights as the town justice of the peace and minister. In other words he marries lots of folks. We were number 618! He's definitely one of a handful of folks in all the cays that I'd call an Abaconian "Damon Runyon character". You'll see him about for sure.
Note: Hope Town Harbour's western side and the Lighthouse are only accessible by boat. Another reason to rent a boat. If you don't have a boat at your disposal, head down to one of the town dock and ask for a ride. Someone is usually heading out and will drop you off as they pass by. Even the ferry will drop you off for free but you'll have to hitch a ride back. It's only a 5 minute ride. A trip to the top is worthwhile and free, so make the effort and bring your camera.
If you can't rent a boat, consider renting a golf cart for getting about for island exploration. The newest on Elbow Cay is owned by one of the cays "Nine Sisters" and that be Wilma at Elbow Cay Cart Rentals. A couple others that come to mind are Island Cart Rentals and T & N Cart Rentals (Wanda at 366-0069). All are often booked during peak periods, so plan ahead. For a inter island guided trips of all kinds stop by Froggie's. They offer snorkeling and dive trips with or without lunch at a neighboring island restaurant. In addition they offer all sorts of out door activities, like hiking, kaiaking etc.
It's time we define a resort in the Abacos: Includes hotel and or rental villas with bar(s), restaurant(s), pool, beach, and marina . Some times the marina, or beach is optional but near by. In the village of Hope Town there is one resort, The Hope Town Harbour Lodge. It is on the edge of town and where we sometimes stay. It has a most marvelous reef for the beginner snorkeler right in front of the Lodge. Add to that it's lovely pool bar with the ever popular bar tender Gary turned Bahamian TV star & naturalist, you've got a fun place to spent the day. At the Lodge, lunch is served on the patio deck pool side and dinner in their lodge restaurant whichi s in our opinion, is the finest restaurant on the island.
Just up the street from the Lodge is the school house. It's so cute to see the children going past all dressed in their tidy uniforms. Too bad we don't have that in the States. The Lodge has no marina, just a small dock for bow in parking of small boats for guests and visitors. It is also a ferry stop so dock your boat on the side. The Lodge offers cottages, pool side cabanas and of course rooms in their main building. But check the water pressure on the top floors.
A twenty minute walk south of town you'll find The Turtle Hill Villas, An assemblage of 2-3 BR homes for rent. It's also the home of On Da Beach Bar and Restaurant (& Rotisserie), the only place where you can order a rotisserie chicken to take home. Just call up in the morning 366-0558 and have a lovely crispy rotisserie chicken ready for you by 6:00. The restaurant/bar, as you'd expect, is right "On Da Beach".
Through out Hope Town and Elbow Cay there are numerous rental homes represented by a half dozen rental agencies which are listed on our Accommodations & Services Page.
On the other side of the harbour you'll no doubt spot the Lighthouse Marina which is point of entry to the Lighthouse. They house a well stocked gift shop and Wine and Spirit Shop that, "will deliver". Remember this side of the harbour is only accessible by boat. Early 2012 saw a lot of changes on this side. The marina folks after buying Club Soleil now bought the Hope Town Hideaways cottages, in effect making the west side of the harbour one establishment now called Hope Town Inn & Marina. My apprehension about their dinghy dock being large enough to accommodate crowds at cocktail / dinner hours proved correct as Carrot Top found out in 2013. Get there early.
Friends, After a day of Boating at the Abaco Inn Bar / Their Report
On the town side of the harbour, you'll find Captain Jacks restaurant which is right on the water. Here trivia pursuit and bingo are played a couple nights a week for 80% of the pot and free drinks. Their newest event is Wallmart Night when everybody dressed in "Walmart clothes" for prizes. Red neck drinks sold. Just down the harbour is the Harbour's Edge, another lively spot. Both have music a couple a nights a week and both are closed one night too. Cruising through Hope Town you'll no doubt noticed the new coffee shop in town, WiFi and all, called appropriately enough the Hope Town Coffee House, and offers fresh baked pastries, quiches and stratas all based on family recipes. The town's newest spot is, "Sip Sip" - a common term in the Bahamas meaning meaning to Gossip. It's proprietor is Bonnie Hall, preacher Vernon's daughter. Sip Sip is a wine bar that includes after dinner drinks and cordials. No Pina Colada here. If you want a cigar, you have to step out onto the back porch. She's located on the upper road next to the liquor store.
White Sound Area of Elbow Cay
Three miles south of Hope Town you'll find Elbow Cay's two other resorts located between White Sound and the Ocean. They are Abaco Inn. where we've stayed on occasion and Sea Spray. We should mention, this area usually suffers serious damage by passing hurricanes as it did with Floyd in '99, then by Jeanne in '04. See Weather & Hurricanes. Just south of the Abaco Inn during both of those years the island was cut in two with the opening of a pass between White Sound and the Atlantic Ocean isolating the Sea Spray and the whole south end of the island. The locals, true to form, had the pass filled in, in no time at all. Today there is no sign of the devastation. Fact is things were pretty much rebuilt in time for the next tourist season. Imagine that happening in the US.
The first resort you'd come to on your southward trek is the Abaco Inn. Under new management as of 2009 they are under going some re-modeling and renovations including a new deck facing White Sound adjacent to their bar. They offer ocean front and bay front accommodations. Our Choice has always been Cabin #5. If you go by rental boat, the Inn's bow-in docking facilities will accommodate you, but are limited to a dozen boats under 26 foot. The Abaco Inn's restaurant over looks the ocean with pool below with an absolutely beautiful view on fair weather days. The Abaco Inn's bar is another upbeat spot facing the bay & White Sound. Seems everybody from south island stops by for a drink when passing by cart. Oh they have music a couple times a week too, As a guest they will run you into Hope Town and back on request. This is where that VHF radio comes in handy.
Just a 10 minute walk further south you'll come to The Sea Spray resort which opened the in the early 90's. It is managed by the able-bodied Junior Maynard whom you'll no doubt run into if you visit. He is a great guy and will make you feel at home. The facilities here include a large fully equipped marina, with ships store and shop. They offer cottages for rent some of which are on the ocean. They have a lovely pool side restaurant and lively tiki hut bar, all positioned adjacent to the marina. The "Hope Town Islanders" play once a week in season.
At the Abaco Inn, where we alternate our stays, we became engaged in conversation with a couple who turned out to be the parents of comedian Carrot Top. We stayed in touch and met up with them usually every year. You just never know who you might see or meet in the Abacos. In '07 this time they stood in for us at our wedding by Preacher Vernon at St. James Church in town.
I'm often asked to compare the The Sea Spray and Abaco Inn. All I can say is, the Abaco Inn restaurant wins the in the best view category but it can sometimes be windy. On the other hand, there is a lot to be said about romantic dining on the marina deck by the Tiki Bar and pool at the Sea Spray. Still, the Tiki bar and restaurant are outside, so weather must be taken into consideration. And in June as the schools let out in the states, the many families that live on south Elbow seem to congregate at the Sea Spray with children out numbering adults. They have a small inside dining area incase of rain. Both have efficiency Villas and will provide transportation to and from Hope Town even if staying elsewhere. Use your VHF to hail them.
Just north of White Sound there opened in late 2011, Elbow Cays newest resort, The Firefly Sunset Resort. It faces the Sea of Abaco side of the island and offers two pools, villas and their already popular "Last Light Restaurant" AKA Firefly Bar & Grill. We hear the Hope Town Hideaways handles their booking.
On the southern end of Elbow Cay facing Lubbers Quarters, is a popular spot called Tahiti Beach, supposedly for its stand of coconut palms (many of which were wiped out by hurricanes). It's sometimes crowded but still fun for a day trip preferably by boat as we hear golf cart parking can be a problem. If you do have a boat, in my opinion, there are so many other beaches further south where you have a better chance to be alone.
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Working your way south by boat of course, facing Tilloo Cut, the pass between Elbow Cay and Tilloo Cay, lies
It's a small island with a picturesque beach on its western shore often overlooked by most as they head south. And as with every out island, Lubbers too has its popular watering hole Cracker P's. It is named after a somewhat of an eccentric character of years back. Cracker's is also known for their full moon parties. Food wise, it would be a cheeseburger in paradise of course or their house specialty, coconut marinated conch grilled and served in a pouch. It's a great spot for an afternoon Kalik or dinner on the way back from wherever, or Tahiti Beach just across the way. It's perched high and has a great view of the Abaco Sound and it's within walking distance to many of the rental homes.
On Lubbers you will find a mix of old and new homes for rent, many of which are geared for the eco tourist (solar powered with gas stoves and no A/C). But dont let this deter you as lubbers is pretty breezy most of the time - just think of it as a romantic return to nature. One such house that comes to mind Moonrise Cottage owned by local artist Marlee Mason and who is highlighted on our Abaco Art page. Additionally you might want to look into Lubbers Landing, they also describe themselves as an eco-resort offering multiple cottages and boat rentals. They've also opened up a second restaurant on the island serving light island fare. Try their Island Burger made of ground yellow fin tuna.
David and Patti Hanafourde visited Lubbers Quarters and went absolutely bananas over the island and built their cottage by the name, you guessed it, Gone Bananas. And yes they have electricity, with even a backup generator plus Wi-fi and DirecTV. You can say the same about Patti and Eddie Davis' newly refurbished Summerview Cottage. It's been completely renovated after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. If you are looking for a different approach to island rental, you might want to consider Watercolours Cottages. It's run by Mark & Patti Gonsalves and in addition to their cottage, Mark can put you up "afloat" on one of his yachts and give you a tour of Abaco only visiting yachtsmen see. And finally if you want to make sport fishig part of your package, check out Pura Vida Cottage -the good life. Still more can be found by visiting our Accommodations & Services Page. Reminder, if you plan to stay on Lubbers you will require a boat for sure. Finally we should mention, Lubbers Quarters is also the home of the elusive Yahoe or Chickcarnie as it is sometime called.
Still further south, in the Sea of Abaco, on the ocean side of your journey you pass a 4 mile long string bean of an island, called Tilloo Cay, the last inhabited Cay of the Abacos. There are quite a few homes here, yet no public access. One resident of some notoriety whom we befriended during an earlier trip, is Brigitte Bower Carey. She too is a resident artist who is also featured on our Abaco Art page. She and her husband moved here in '91 before electricity which only arrived in '98. Telephone followed a few years later and today it's regional WiFi. On Tilloo southern end is a large shoaling area and beach which makes for some great exploration. If it's low tide, go slow here, it gets shallow and you might have to go around the bank to it's west to get further south (see Dodges book). Beyond that there are three islands referred to as the Pelican Cays. The first and third have lovely white sand beaches as does Tilloo. West of the Pelican Cays, you'll pass Sandy Cay, one of many protected underwater parks in the Abacos with its impressive stand of Elkhorne coral anywhere. You'll see the half dozen or so mooring balls provided for small boat tie up. These parks ranging from Walkers in the North all the way down to Little Harbour. As with all these preserves, it is forbidden to remove or kill anything and don't anchor in coral, only on sandy bottom if mooring balls are not available. Details and their location are best described in the Cruising Guide to the Abacos. Or you can inquire at any dive shop mentioned. Click here for listing.
Motoring southward with uninhabited Lynyard Cay to our left, we have reached the final stop Little Harbour. Little Harbour is actually on Abaco's mainland and makes for a great day trip by boat or car from Marsh Harbour. Here you will find the celebrated Pete's Pub & Gallery (& Foundry) a beach bar that serves fish or hamburgers at lunch and sometimes dinner. But there is more to Little Harbour, and since it's on Abaco's mainland is a story unto itself which can be found on the left side bar in the section entitled "Off the Beaten Path."
As of the mid 90's "Family Islands" have taken on new meaning, especially on Elbow Cay. Here because of it's village of Hope Town and proximity to Marsh Harbour and surrounding Cays, it has become a popular vacationing spot not unlike some coastal US cities where families gather. It's proximity to Florida, making it a relatively easy cruise brought the boaters to the many marinas resulting in hardly a slip to be found during spring & summer months. The catalyst in all this is was the building boom kicked off in the dot com days and a foreign investor friendly Bahamian government. Despite the dot com's bust, new home construction kept right on growing until the real estate bust of '07. Today, growth is spotty with many developments suspending construction. An exception seems to be the development on mainland Abaco's Southeast Coast. Just make a trip to a favorite spot of ours Sandy Point. It already has a sizable airstrip and a steady economy due to the employment of many of its town's folks by Disney who operates their cruise ship pit stop just offshore. Fact is the whole area south of Marsh is being developed which started in 2006 with the grand opening of the grandest of all resorts in the Abacos, The Abaco Club at Winding Bay (A Ritz-Carlton). It is definitely for the rich and famous and a half an hour ride south of Marsh Harbour. It is an all inclusive resort with golf and a multitude of amenities. Rates start at $1,500 a night. Homes may be rented through Abaco Club Homes. Communities such as Casurina Point, Rolling Harbour with its lovely and impressive hill top Delphi Club at Rolling Harbour, styled after an English Country Home make for a worthwhile visit for a few days. Check Keith Salvesen's fascinating blog on area impressions and natures changing scene. It's where I go when stateside and need an Abaco fix. Schooner Bay is another new project anchored by the new (2011) Black Fly Bone Fish Club. More info on Abaco's mainland amenities can be found on our new page "Abaco - Off the Beaten Path".
In Abaco, you can still find pristine out of the way remote islands and beaches where you'll have a good chance to be alone to yourself. Green Turtle, being geographically separated from the "Hub" of Abaco and is the place to go. Assuming you have, or are renting a boat, the uninhabited islands mentioned earlier to it's north are loaded with beaches on the protected bay where you can pretend to be the only people in the world and their only minutes away. If your looking for a little more activity - just a little, stay south of the Whale Cay Passage. This area is called the Hub of Abaco for good reason. The main islands are linked in commerce and by ferry to Marsh Harbour. Here though, it's more of a challenge to find a quite spot to be alone. Even on the lovely and numerous islands south of Elbow Cay you'll more than likely have company. Better yet, why not combine both? If you are a boater with some navigation experience, you might want to try what we often do. Pick up at least a 22 footer in Marsh Harbour upon arrival, trek north the 30 miles for Green Turtle for a few days then south to Hope Town for a few more using each as a base to see the surrounding cays. As said, this inter island approach will require some boating and navigation experience OR common sense added to a copy of the Cruising Guide. Finally if you want to make it a trifecta. Check into a Marsh Harbour hotel, rent a car for a couple days and Explore Great Abaco as outlined in our sidebar - The Abacos, off the Beaten Path."
I have been going to Abaco since 1973. In the 90's and early 2000's we have made six trips by boat from Florida's west coast. (First Trip) Two in my 29' Phoenix Sportfish, (270 hp Crusaders). Two in my 34' Catalina Islander Fly Bridge (250 hp Cummins Diesels) (Fourth Trip) and finally 2 aboard my 26' Glacier Bay Island Runner Catamaran (130 Honda 4/stroke outboards.) The first trip in the latter boat was made SOLO over and back. All boats were named Motu Iti. Details aforementioned links..