The Abacos - Off the Beaten Path.
Great Abaco, & the Overlooked Out Islands
Most of the folks vacationing in Abaco head to the Cays and mainland areas of Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour. Seldom to folks take the time to explore mainland Great Abaco. From top to bottom (north to south) we'll explore many of the small settlements of friendly folks, most all supporting welcoming smiles. It's where folks make their living from the sea - lobster, conch and of course fishing. From Abaco's almost forgotten cay, Moore's Island to Southeast Abaco's newest resorts, they are all covered here.
The Logistics:How to best go about this one might ask? Abaco Exploration, needless to say will require a rental car which can be rented at agencies in Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay. Be sure to get a road map. There are numerous ways to go about mainland exploration as part of a trip to the cays, all of which we have done at one time or another.
1) Arriving Marsh Harbour - Staying at Green Turtle Cay or the Treasure Cay Resort area. We would pick up a rental car in Marsh straight away and drive to the Green Turtle Ferry Dock (30 mi.) (Video) or T.C. Resort area (25 mi.) saving the $100 taxi fare . Staying at the Green Turtle Cay one can leave your car in the lot at the ferry dock - no charge. Don't leave anything visible in the car. The following day we would buy a same day round trip ferry ticket, saving a few bucks that way, and head back to our car and go exploring. This works for exploring the Treasure Cay Resort Area, Blue Holes, Wild Abaco Horses and the settlements northward such as Coopers Town, Fox Town & Crown Haven.
2) Arriving Marsh Harbour - Staying there or at the southern cays of Guana, Man-O-War and Elbow Cay (Hope Town), it would be our suggestion to return to Marsh Harbour a couple days before departure. Use Marsh Harbour as your base to explore the settlements southward such as Little Harbour, Cherokee and Sandy Point, not to mention the Abaco National Forrest and the Abacos other light house at Hole-in-the-Wall. This works well especially if you have an early departing flight and an early ferry connection from the cays is not possible.
3) Arriving at Treasure Cay - Staying at Green Turtle Cay or the Treasure Cay Resort area we'd rent a car at Cornish Rentals near the Treasure Cay airport. Our experience with them let us pick up the car at T.C. and dropping it off in Marsh (at a small fee) if need be.
Settlements NORTH of Treasure Cay
The Treasure Cay resort area and environs has been written about on our TREASURE CAY page. We will start by heading northward from just outside the resort with these two local attractions then all the way head north. Upon our return it will begin southward from Marsh Harbour.
The Blue Holes of Abaco
Blue Hole near Ferry Dock at Treasure Cay.
The Wild Abaco Barb!
Abaco's Wild Horses (Barbs) sadly now extinct!
Coopers Town (Video) will be our first stop - 16 miles north of the ferry dock at Treasure Cay. It houses the government offices and is the seat of the commissioner for northern Abaco. For a bite to eat there is Netty's Restaurant, Bar and Souse House. There is also a gas station, food market and a couple shops. Visiting by boat can be difficult at its docks are on the exposed part of the open bay and best in a west wind. Coopers Town is also the home of the past Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and a celebrity of note from this area is Sevatheda Fynes a gold & silver medal winner as a member of the Bahamas Olympic Relay Team.
Big things are scheduled for this region of Abaco as construction began for a state of-the-art 45 acre port project which will be three times Marsh Harbour's port area. (Artist rendering) By January 2016 the harbour stood 50% complete and promised to open summer 2017 (Bahama time). The project is partnership with Government of China, so expect to see a Chinese restaurant soon. This writer wonders what it will be like all the container truck traffic on the fragile Bahamian roads.
Heading north about 6-7 miles you cross a little bridge, you are now on Little Abaco Island although you may not have noticed crossing a bridge. You are now approaching the settlements of Cedar Harbour, Mount Hope and Wood Cay where you'll find the Tangelo Hotel & Restaurant, a popular spot for bonefisherman and Bahamian cookin'. Next we come to, scenic village of Fox Town / Crown Haven. Although separate it's hard to distinguish the separation of the latter. In Fox Town you cant help but notice the prominent new pink Government Health Clinic that serves the settlements. It one of the biggest building north of Treasure Cay.Fox Town Government Health Clinic (Shown without overhead wiring)
Fox Town & Crown Haven. as mentioned they are hard to seperate but Crown Haven is the end of the line. It's on the top of Great Abaco where the road ends facing the Little Abaco extension. From here there is a passenger ferry that can take you to Mclean's Town on Grand Bahama Island, where can catch a bus for the 60 miles to Freeport. More info on our
On one trip we couldn't help bur notice a small 12 x 12 store called Tit's Take Away and yes we stopped and chatted with Tits, bought a couple sodas and were on our way. For a more serious bite to eat try Chill Bar 1 in adjacent Fox Town. If you decide you want to spend the night at Fox Town, Millie's Guest House is the place to go for clean comfortable roms. Near by, let chef Judy Russell cook you a delicious Bahamian style grouper at Da Valley Restaurant. It's adjacent to the Shell station right on the water. We hear tell the crancked conch is like tempura. Here there is also a convience store, part of gas station, and they even have a boat rental agency. So why not head on over to Ronald's Boat Rentals. If you are an experienced boater, head out the 9 miles across the Sea of Abaco to lovely Moraine Cay and spend the day.
The northern part of our exploration is basically complete. Our Journey only gets better from here.
Between Treasure and Marsh Harbour there is of little interest with one exception. You will be passing the highest point in Abaco. And that be 134 feet! Not very high I know, but a lot higher than the costal keys and barrier islands of the US. (Map) Just off a dirt road heading east you'll see a tower erected in earlier times by real estate interests. On my last visit I climbed to the top and took the picture shown below.
Settlements SOUTH of Marsh Harbour
Chances are you'll depart from Marsh Harbour. So why not spend a couple days exploring before you head home. When we stay in Marsh, we often stay at the
Conch Inn Hotel & Marina. or across the street at the
Lofty Fig Villas. Both can be rented for night or two and they are on restaurant row and within walking distance to almost everything and written about on our
MARSH HARBOUR page. On one occasion we checked into the
Pelican Beach Villas. - brightly colored cottages directly on the Sea of Abaco and close to the popular Mermaid Reef. You'll need a car staying here as it's quite a trek to town. The Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room, is only 100 yards away. Their Saturday Grill Night "special dinner", cant be missed.
Neem; On the road leaving Marsh Harbour to the airport you might want to stop at the Abaco Neem. It is on the roundabout you'll pass coming or going into town from points south and the airport. More than likely you meet the owners wife Daphne who can explain the healing qualities of the many forms of Neem and it's popularity in Asia and India. More importantly Neem is being grown in Abaco hence it's name. Their orchard of Neem trees has been in operation for a couple decades at least on 120 acres and with advance notice, they will take you on a tour. All Neem processing is done locally from drying the leaves and extracting the oil from it's olive like berries. It's available in extract, cream lotion, oil etc. etc.
Heading south on Scherin Bootle Hwy, AKA The Great Abaco Highway, about 10-11 miles from the roundabout, you'll see a major turnoff (left while heading south) leading your towards Cherokee & Little Harbour.
LITTLE HARBOUR: About five miles down the turn off to Cherokee you'll see a dirt road on the left that leads to the celebrated Pete's Pub and Gallery (and foundry). It's right on the beaches edge of Little Harbour. It makes for a great day trip by boat or car from Marsh Harbour. Little Harbour is a protected anchorage with an occasional turtle poking his head out of the water. Pete's Pub serves freshly caught fish or hamburgers at lunch and dinner.
More importantly, Little Harbour is the home of the late Randolph Johnston, Pete's father who made this his home about 60 years ago after being marooned during a hurricane. You can even Explore the Caves where he and his family took shelter and made their home. Mr. Johnston then a professor at Smith College, was an artist and set up a small foundry where he made his bronze castings which he sold to visiting yachties. Soon his fame spread till the point where the Government commissioned him to make his now famous statue in downtown Nassau. Unfortunately Mr. Johnston passed in 1992 and today his son Pete runs the foundry (and beach bar) and continues the artistic traditions. Foundry tours are available where one can see an actual casting, Call ahead for schedule 366-3503.
CHEROKEE: The same road off the highway going to Little Harbor runs directly to the Settlement of Cherokee (just don't turn at the dirt road to Pete's). Enroute you pass the Abaco Bay Club at Winding Bay. It's definitely the getaway spot of the rich and famous located on over 500 acres with with probably the finest golf courses in all the Bahamas. Add to that 2 miles of white-sand beach. Management has changed over the years including names such as The Ritz and Marriott. In 2015 Southworth Development an internationally recognized developer and manager of residential resort communities (best-known in Europe as the owner of The Village at Machrihanish Dunes in Argyll, Scotland) has acquired The Abaco Club on Winding Bay. Little can be seen from the road and their entrance is gated. The Luxury homes behind the gates can be rented through Abaco Club Homes.
At Cherokee the shoals there seem to go on for a miles before becoming deep enough for a boat hence their long and quite spectacular dock, all 770 feet of it, the longest wooden dock of its type in the Bahamas. Still the shallow harbour permits only the shallowest of draft vessels which questions why this settlement was originally settled. And as for it's name, legend has it one of the original settlers has a Cherokee Indian wife. It's a typical settlement with quite a few homes, a grocery store a weekend only restaurant called the Sand Bar and lots of fisherman of the bonefish guide variety. From here south is Bonefish Territory. Quite a few of the homes, are available for rent, with or without a bonefish guide. See our Accommodations & Services page.
Southeast Abaco Aerial Image / Map
CASUARINA POINT is the next community south of Cherokee. Turn off the next easterly road from the highway when heading south. One can almost consider it an extension of Cherokee as it is only a short walk to Cherokee across the sandbar (at low tide), which by the way is loaded with shells and sand dollars. The white sandy beach here stretches for miles and is protected by a barrier reef offshore.
The flats around these parts are noted for their bonefish, explaining why a good many guides live in the area. Casuarina Point is essentially a cluster of small homes. Abaco Palms Properties. represents four of them. Founded by Kathy Heacock, who hails from the small town of Talladega Alabama. She and her husband Gary decided on investing in a rental property which turned into two, three and soon to be five homes! All are on the beach.
On the highway you'll pass the community of Bahama Palm Shores. It's the home of Susie & Al, Abaco regulars from CT who have a home there and have prepared a one page synopsis (2011) of Mainland Abaco south - Sandy Point to Marsh Harbour. Click Here
Still on the road, the next point of interest is ROLLING HARBOUR and the inviting Delphi Club. It is essentially a new luxury bonefishing lodge furnished with antiques ala British Country Style and with numerous amenities and worthy of a stay bonefishing or not. The hotel owned by former Financial Times journalist Peter Mantle. They're perched on a hill over looking a lovely deserted ocean beach. Turn left when you see a large white rock on the right hand side of the highway. Regular visitor and naturalist, Keith Salvesen, often hangs his hat here. His Fascinating Blog of area environs is quite impressions.
Sawmill Sink, is Abacos most popular and most studied Blue Holes lies to the west of the highway. It was originally studied by National Geographic along with three other blue holes in the area. A great blog on this regions blue holes has been written by the aforementioned Keith Salvesen. It is here. Their access is left somewhat hidden due to the fragile environment of the area. In addition see our page on Blue Holes referenced in our Treasure Cay segment above. It includes links to the myriad articles and videos on the Abaco Blues Holes.
SCHOONER BAY: At about 31-32 miles from the roundabout, you'll come upon the only harbour in Southeast Abaco's mainland- the newly dredged Schooner Bay. It is the home of the The Black Fly Bonefish Club, which was followed by The Sandpiper Inn. Both are centered around a 14-acre harbour, with egress directly to the ocean. The harbour provides slips and fuel for the boating folks along with a general store. The Cabana Beach Bar is the harbours fun spot.
Just a mile beyond heading south you are at the narrowest part of Great Abaco enabling on to see water on both sides followed by the small settlement of Crossing Rocks where you'll find Trevor's Midway Restaurant & Bar (366-2199) and small motel.
Still further, about 6 miles you will come to a fork in the road. Actually it looks like just another unpaved turn to the left. It takes you on an arduous 15 mile journey to the Hole in the Wall Lighthouse - Abaco's other lighthouse. Don't take it unless you are in a four wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance and have specifically planned for this trip. Don't misunderstand me, it's a great trip for the adventurous and a whole day affair. To the roads east lies the Abaco National Park and one of the primary habitats of the endangered Bahamian Parrot and many other native birds.
Staying on the paved road will take you to the settlement of SANDY POINT. It's the end of the line (Video)
Additional details of: Off the Beaten Path Abaco
Hole in the Wall
Beautiful Places Great Abaco
A Three Park Story