Elbow Cay & Hope Town, Bahamas
The Elbow Cay is an 8-mile long cay in the Abaco Islands (flanked by Man O War Cay on the north and Tiloo Cay on the South)….traditionally it sustained itself on boat building, fishing and during the piracy era, looting ships. The principal village of Elbow Cay is Hope Town that has a harbor and a 37 meter tall lighthouse that was built in 1863. The Elbow Cay is situated 6.4 km east of Marsh Harbor. Usually tourists fly into the Marsh Harbor and then take a ferry to Hope Town.
The south end of the cay hosts Tahiti beach... which is a principal attraction of Elbow Cay along with the Hope Town Lighthouse.
The famous Hopetown lighthouse was made by the Imperial Lighthouse service of the British to mark the Elbow Cay Reef during the year 1860. Incidentally this is one lighthouse beacon that’s not automated because residents had opposed it. In fact this is one of the very few kerosene fuelled lighthouses left in the world. It runs on a weight mechanism that needs to be hand cranked every few hours to sustain the sequence of 5 white flashes every 15 seconds. The Hope Town Lighthouse is 120 feet high and has dramatic candy stripes…its located on Elbow Cay near a settlement called Hope Town.
The settlement has a cute toy land kind of look with its little pastel shaded gingerbread houses. The Hope Town Lighthouse is a noteworthy attraction of Abaco now but once upon a time it was vehemently hated by the residents of Abaco who used to run a highly profitable shipwreck business where ships were misled by false signals and then looted.
The view from the top is stunning and entry to the lighthouse is free. One needs to climb up 6 to 7 flights of stairs to reach the top. The last flight is a ladder and then there is a 3ft by 3ft opening through which you need to fit through. The lighthouse remains open from 9am to 5pm everyday apart from Sunday when it remains closed. The lighthouse operators and support staff will give you access to guides who will conduct guided tours of the lighthouse and nearby areas.
There is a gift shop associated with the lighthouse…you can purchase something from there… the proceeds will go towards the maintenance of the lighthouse. They have good stuff… shirts, jackets, hats and many kinds of showpieces…. there is also a jar inside where you can make some donations.
The Tahiti Beach has a really nice restaurant and Bar called the Thirsty Cuda… this one is very popular for their frozen/ blended drinks as well as local food like sesame conch fritters. It’s a floating swim up restaurant and it’s located just off the sand bar….so you can basically walk or boat or paddle your way up-to here.
The beach itself is very pretty… dotted all over with palm trees and there are nice coral and limestone formations all around. There is plenty of marine life around including large sting rays and lobsters and even small sharks, so be a little cautious when you dip your feet into the water. It’s advisable to come here during low tide when the waterline becomes accessible and the sand bar can be seen.
One point to remember here is that the road leading to Tahiti Beach is private (once you pass the gate saying Dorros Cove) though tourists and locals are allowed to use this road for access. To reach Tahiti Beach you can rent a golf cart once you reach Hopetown… a bike ride will also be a good option. Incidentally the Tahiti beach is rated as one of the top 10 beaches in Bahamas.
Byrle Patterson Memorial Garden is right at the center of hope town, Elbow Cay and it stands on a small hill. The Byrle Patterson memorial garden was built to glorify the memory of Byrle Patterson who is a 7th generation descendant of Wyannie Malone (she is the lady who founded the well-known historical museum here). The entire garden is dotted by shaded pagodas, palm trees and memorial stones. It’s a good place to sit and relax.
Wyannie Malone Museum is a great place to visit too…here you can learn about how the 19th century Hope town residents lived. Several stunning displays, fishing practices of ancient Abaco and a well-stocked gift shop are the main attractions. Like most public buildings in Hope town this remains closed on Sundays. Open hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every other day. You will find the museum near the Post office dock.
If you visit Hope Town then a visit to the memorial garden is sort of a must do activity. This is not a very wheelchair friendly place though, so people with mobility issues may decide to skip this.
Getting to Elbow Cay
You can take a boat or ferry to Elbow Cay from the Sandy Point Dock or the Marsh Harbor Dock. Taxis to the ferry dock are available from the airport… Albury Ferry and G L Transportation are well known ferry operators.
Map of Elbow Cay, Bahamas
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