Visit The Abaco Islands
This is actually a 120-mile long island chain located in the northern Bahamas and is about 180 miles east of Miami, Florida. The mainland of this island chain comprises of the two islands Great Abaco (which forms the central and southern Abaco) and the Little Abaco (forming the northern Abaco). The two together make the largest landmass of the island chain and are joined by bridges, and roadways going all the way from south to north connecting important places across Great and Little Abaco.
The most important place here is Marsh Harbor
located in Great Abaco, which is the main city of Abaco offering bustling island city life with a number of resorts, dining choices, bars and pubs. This is where the main airport of Abaco is located (Leonard Thompson International Airport, formerly known as Marsh Harbor International Airport). The airport has flight connections with Nassau, Freeport in Bahamas, several destinations in Florida (USA), etc.
Marsh Harbor. Photo: Tommy Miles, flickr, cc by 2.0
located north of Marsh Harbor and easily accessible by road in about 30-40 minutes drive, is a picturesque place dotted with picture perfect beaches of white powdery sands... one of them, Treasure Cay Beach
, ranks in World's Top 10 beaches. This place is centered around a resort complex having a golf course, marina, a lovely beach and a residential area. Treasure Cay too has an airport.
Treasure Cay Beach, Photo: Tommy Miles, flickr, cc by 2.0
Great and Little Abaco are surrounded by numerous cays and islets many of which are uninhabited. However there are several which make compelling tourist destinations of their own.
Location/Road Map of Abaco
Hope Town in Elbow Cay
(20 minute ferry ride away from Marsh Harbor) is one place where you can go back in time and experience the old colonial charm. It retains the architecture and lifestyle of the early English settlers. It has a distinct resemblance with New England. It's a sleepy village with quaint little white and pastel houses where battery operated carts are the main transport on the road, and boats on water. It has resorts, lodges and vacation rentals for tourist accommodations.
Hope Town Lighthouse. Photo: Nancy Sims, flickr, cc by 2.0
Elbow Cay has wonderful secluded beaches that offer magnificent swimming and snorkeling. This is where you can experience a real out island Bahamian life ... a laid back life in a slow paced fishing village. The Hope Town Lighthouse (also known as Elbow Reef Lighthouse) is a famous photo stop for tourists. Hope Town has a great harbor. Elbow Cay as a whole offers excellent boating opportunities.
If you visit New Plymouth town in Green Turtle Cay
(15 minute ferry ride from Treasure Cay Airport Ferry Dock), it would be a similar experience like Hope Town in Elbow Cay. New Plymouth
is a sleepy 18th century village with houses having steep gabled roof. There are several small gift shops & galleries, restaurants, museums and historic sites. You can stroll around to explore the quaint town or rent a golf cart or a bicycle. There are several restaurants serving local Bahamian cuisine such as McIntosh, The Wrecking Tree, Harvey’s etc. Plymouth Rock Liquor Store & Cafe is popular for breakfasts.
New Plymouth. Photo: Tommy Miles, flickr, cc by 2.0
Another island... Great Guana Cay
(35-40 minute ferry ride away from Marsh Harbor ferry dock) is very popular to islanders and tourists for the Sunday barbecue held atop the tall island sand dune which overlooks the wonderful beach. The ferry often stops at Scotland Cay on its way to Great Guana Cay.
Beach at Great Guana Cay. Photo: kitchenerd, flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
which can be easily reached by boat from Sandy Point at the southern end of Great Abaco, is a Disney operated island. It too has lovely beaches.
A Short Video on Abaco
It's a mini Bahamas by itself offering a mix of everything. While you can get modern and exciting city life in Marsh Harbor with elegant resorts, villas, restaurants and bars, the outer islands of Abaco offer a wonderful serene and secluded life style with lovely white sandy beaches.
Nestled in the Sea of Abaco, the Abaco is a group of cays and islands located in the north-eastern zone of the Bahamas. Out of these the two major islands are Great Abaco and Little Abaco which are flanked by numerous cays and strips of land extending into the ocean. Abaco is not as glamorous as Nassau or even Grand Bahama but it has unbelievable diversity in terms of marine life and geological wonders.
Abaco is known as the Yachtsman's paradise ... Boating & Sailing activities are huge here. 62 mile long Sea of Abaco, which is the lagoon off the eastern coast of Great Abaco reaching up to the chain of small islands known as Abaco cays, is the main marine channel. The average depth of the Sea of Abaco is only few meters and despite the shallow reefs and shoals posing navigational hazards, the Sea of Abaco remains as a popular marine route for the sailors.
Photo: Killian77, flickr, cc by 2.0
There are a number of boat operators in Abaco who offer sailing charters... you can get both crewed charters as well as bareboat charters (the latter only if you are a certified sailor). Go through Sailing Charters in Abaco
to get details of the operators and also know about the marinas in Abaco.
The waters of the Sea of Abaco is calm and sheltered due to the fringing chain of cays as well as mangroves. The shallows are teaming with colorful marine life and corals offering numerous reef and wreck sites for Snorkeling
. There are also a number of Dive Sites
(reefs, wrecks, blue holes, underwater caves & channels) in Abaco that are in the depths of 20ft to 200ft. Go through Snorkeling and Diving in Abaco
for details including the best snorkel & dive sites and the operators.
Fishing too is a big time activity in Abaco. Main catches in deep sea water includes Marlin and Tuna. Deep sea fishing can be done only a few miles off the shore as the drop off in Atlantic here is huge. There are great shallows for bonefishing as well.
There are several inland Blue Holes in Abaco. In fact, these blue holes which are sink holes filled with water, lead to the largest underwater cave system of Bahamas which runs for about 50,000ft. One of the most well known blue holes is the Sawmill Sink located in south Abaco (26 miles away from Marsh Harbor). This is also an archaeological site. You will see the signage here that says 'Restricted Site'.
You need to go down the Great Abaco Highway and then take a right turn into a dirt road and drive on that for the last 1.2 miles before reaching a rocky pathway on the left which leads to the blue hole. There is a dive platform here and aladder leading down to the water... you can swim if you want.
Treasure Cay Blue Hole. Photo: Tommy Miles, flickr, cc by 2.0
Another well known Blue Hole in Abaco is the Treasure Cay Blue Hole located north of Marsh Harbor in Treasure Cay. It's surrounded by pine forests. The water here is a mixture of saltwater and freshwater. The depth of water is 254-feet.
There are six National Parks
in Abaco for nature lovers and those who want to explore the flora and fauna, several of them including Abaco National Park
, Tilloo Cay National Reserve
etc are bird watchers paradise. You can find abundance of pine forests in Abaco which also happens to attract hunters looking for wild boars and ducks. Read National Parks in Abaco
to get insights into all the national parks in Abaco, their flora & fauna and how to explore them.
Tilloo Cay (Abaco)
Abaco is an ideal place for nature lovers... you can hike for miles to explore the verdant landscapes, there are kayaking tours through the mangroves where you can see the birdlife and explore many limestone formations and tunnels along the coastline. There are also hiking trails to explore the national parks and the flora & fauna. Go through Hiking and Eco Tours in Abaco
There are many historical sites and attractions in Abaco as well... the island was occupied by the Lucayan Indians (who later became slaves of the Spaniards). The loyalists who settled here in late 1700’s post the revolutionary war also form a great part of its history.
Come to the Abaco armed with plenty of cash (most places do not accept cards) and plenty of patience (time runs slowly and peacefully here).
Getting to & around
Reaching Abaco is easy. There are regular flights to Abaco from Fort Laderdale (Florida), West Palm Beach (Florida), Atlanta etc connecting Marsh Harbor. There are also ferry connections between Nassau and Abaco with average sailing time of 5 and 1/2 hours each way.
And there are numerous ferry services between the Abaco's own chain of islands. Once in Abaco, you can use taxis and car rentals to get around the main island easily (i.e. Great Abaco and Little Abaco). You can also find many charter boat rentals at Marsh Harbor including motor boat rentals and live-aboard boats. Read How to reach and get around Abaco
Cabs at ferry dock, Great Abaco. Photo: Tommy Miles, flickr, cc by 2.0
Hotels & Dining Venues
There are some nice budget as well as a few upscale dining venues in Abaco. Most of them serve local Bahamian food (conch salads and fritters being a staple), although you will get American, Asian, Italian, Mexican and other cuisine as well. Read Great budget & fine dining restaurants
Bars and grills are common in the islands here including in some of the popular cays. Although not known for great nightlife, there are few nightclubs and sports pubs here as well. Go through Great Bars, Nightclubs & Discos in Abaco
to know about the top nightlife venues.
Visitors' Reviews and Comments