How to reach and get around Abaco islands
The islands of Abaco are situated in north Bahamas thatís about 180 miles to the east of south Florida. The islands comprise of great Abaco, little Abaco and a bevy of small barrier cays like Walkers cay, Grand cay, Spanish cay, Green Turtle cay, new Plymouth, great Guana Cay, private Scotland cay, Elbow cay, Man o War cay, Castaway Cay, Mooreís Island etc. The airports of Abaco are in Marsh Harbor (which is the commercial hub of Abaco) and Treasure Cay thatís primarily a resort hub.
There are many ways of getting to the Abaco like via flights and by ferry. However you need to remember that Abaco is not that well connected as Nassau so there is a limit on the number of flight operators who service the islands. Cruises from USA donít visit the Abaco islands apart from the Disney Cruise Line. Whatever mode of conveyance you might decide upon for travelling to the Abaco IslandsÖ remember that the schedules fluctuate a lot depending upon the weather.
The connect or origin of all Abaco air trips are mostly either in Atlanta or Florida. Most tourists who plan to fly into Abaco Island, make plans to land at MHH (Marsh Harbor Airport, now renamed to Leonard Thompson International Airport) which is the usual starting point for most trips though there is another airport at Treasure Cay.
Airport in Marsh Harbor. Photo: Tommy Miles, flickr, cc by 2.0
MHH is serviced by many airlines from several points in Florida like Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami. Common destinations that connect MHH airport are Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Beijing, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid, Singapore, Shanghai etc.
Schedule might change pretty frequently subject to weather and other conditions. However some airlines like the American eagle and Bahamas Air, Silver Airways operate flights to MHH daily from prominent Florida locations and so does Continental Connection which operates flights to Marsh Harbor and Treasure Cay from many Florida locations. Twin Air operates flights from Fort Lauderdale to Treasure Cay on some days.
Itís suggested that you check with the individual operator before making your holiday plans.
Phone: 1-800-222-4262; www.bahamasair.com
Ft Lauderdale to Marsh Harbor
West Palm Beach to Marsh Harbor
Phone: 1-800-523-3273; www.silverairways.com
West Palm Beach to Marsh Harbor
Orlando to Marsh Harbor
Ft Lauderdale to Marsh Harbor
Phone: 1-800-428-4322; www.aa.com
West Palm Beach to Marsh Harbor
Phone: 1-800-433-7300; www.ae.com
Miami to Marsh Harbor
Phone: 1-904-641-0300; www.craigaircenter.com
Daytona Jacksonville to Marsh Harbor
Phone: 407-585-3546; www.flyairgate.com
Dayotona beach, Orlando to Marsh Harbor
Phone: 1-800-455-2720; www.delta.com
Atlanta to Marsh Harbor
Another airport of Abaco islands is Treasure Cay International Airport (TCB). Some operators which run flights to Treasure Cay from different Florida locations are
(locations: Miami, Fort Lauderdale)
Tropical Ocean Airways
(location: Fort Lauderdale)
Phone: +1 800-767-0897; www.flytropic.com
(location: Sanford Orlando)
Phone: 1 407-585-4300; www.flyairunlimited.com
Island Wings Charters
(location: Fort Lauderdale)
Phone: +1 242-472-8888; www.flyislandwings.com
Inter-Island flights on the Bahamas are pretty common as many tourists go island hopping. Some airlines operators which run daily inter island flights to Abaco Islands are:
Flight number UP135 from NAS (Nassau) (departure 6.30 a.m.) to MHH (Marsh Harbor) (arrival 7.05 a.m.) every day
Flight number UP335 from MHH (Marsh Harbor) (departure 7.25 a.m.) to NAS (Nassau) (arrival 6.30 a.m.) every day
Flight number UP235 from NAS (Nassau) (departure 9.30 a.m.) to MHH (Marsh Harbor) (arrival 10.05 a.m.) every day except Tuesday and Wednesday
Flight number UP236 from MHH (departure 1.55 pm) to Nassau (arrival 2.30 pm) every day except Tuesday and Wednesday
Flight number UP337 from NAS (Nassau) (departure 4.00 p.m.) to MHH (Marsh Harbor) (arrival 5.10 p.m.) on Monday and Thursday
Flight number UP 338 from MHH (Marsh Harbor) (departure 5.30 p.m.) to NAS (Nassau) (arrival 6.05 p.m.) on Monday and Thursday
Flight number UP 137 from NAS (4.45 p.m. Departure) to MHH (5.20 p.m. arrival) on Tuesday and Wednesday
Flight number UP 138 from MHH (Marsh Harbor) (departure 5.40 p.m.) to NAS (Nassau) (arrival 6.15 p.m.) on Tuesday and Wednesday
Flight number UP 137 from NAS (5.45 p.m. Departure) to MHH (6.20 p.m. arrival) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Flight number UP 138 from MHH (Marsh Harbor) (departure 6.40 p.m.) to NAS (Nassau) (arrival 7.15 p.m.) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Flight number 550 from NAS (7.00 A.m. Departure) to MHH (7.30 a.m. arrival) daily
Flight number 551 from MHH (7.50 Am. Departure) to NAS (8.20 a.m. arrival) daily
Flight number 560 from NAS (11.00 a.m. Departure) to MHH (11.30 a.m. arrival) daily
Flight number 561 from NAS (11.50 a.m. Departure) to MHH (12.20 p.m. arrival) daily
Flight number 570 from NAS (4.00 p.m. Departure) to MHH (4.40 p.m. arrival) daily
Flight number 571 from NAS (4.50 a.m. Departure) to MHH (5.25 p.m. arrival) daily
Flight from MHH (7.55 a.m. Departure) to FPO (Freeport) (8.35 a.m. arrival) daily
Flight from FPO (7.00 a.m. Departure) to MHH (7.40 a.m. arrival) daily
Flight from MHH (4.55 p.m. Departure) to FPO (Freeport) (5.35 p.m. arrival) daily
Flight from FPO (4.00 p.m. Departure) to MHH (4.40 p.m. arrival) daily
Private Chartered flights in Abaco
You can also plan to charter your own plane if you are travelling in a group of 6 or more people. There are several chartered airlines that service Abaco Islands like Abaco Air, Cherokee Air, Flamingo Air, and Regional Air Charter
They are based out of Marsh Harbor (Abaco) and also have an operation in Palm Beach, Florida. They offer chartered flights for inter-island travel in Abaco as well to/from nearby Florida.
Phone - Bahamas: +1 242 367 1900; U.S. †Toll Free: +1 866 920 9971
Flamingo Air charter operator office
Phone: 242 351-4963
GPS Bahamas operator Office
Phone: 242 367-0400
Regional Air Charter at MHH
Phone: 242 367-0446
Regional Air Charter at TCB
Cruises from USA donít visit the Abaco Islands apart from the Disney Cruise LinesÖ you need to take a ferry, mail-boat or a private boat from Nassau or Grand Bahama (two major Bahamian destinations that receive USA cruise ships). The Abaco islands are a powerhouse of beautiful cays and protected harbors and many who love these experiences are actually thankful that mainstream cruise ships havenít spoilt the ambience with tourist overloads.
Disney Cruises offers all inclusive options of a cruise from several Florida locations (port Canaveral, Florida, Texas, New York) to several Bahamian locations including Castaway Cay thatís a part of Abaco Islands. The cruise duration ranges from 3 nights to 7 nights depending upon the locations you want to visit but Castaway Cay is a part of all of these cruises. However Disney Cruises are availed as an all-round entertainment option rather than just a means of visiting any particular island. Also these cruises follow a fixed schedule with pre planned activities and pre-determined stopover durations.
Phone: (800) 951-3532; Call between Mondays to Friday (8:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern Time)
One option of travelling to Abaco from islands like Exhuma, Eleuthera and Nassau is to come by private charterÖ though this falls into an adventure travel category rather than just a regular route. Most cruising companies will insist that you hire a captain who has years of experience in navigating the Atlantic, and the costs are going to be hefty. However if you are a seasoned sailor or a passionate adventure seeker with no strict limitations on budget then this might work for you.
This is one of the well-known captained and bare boated charters that run in Abaco and Eleuthera and Exhuma Islands. You can charter these for sailing to and fro from Abaco to Exhuma and Eleuthera as well as sailing around the cays and islands of Abaco. Trips are customizable in terms of duration and experiences
Cruise Abaco, Boat Harbor Marina, Marsh Harbor
This is a similar sailing company offering the option of bareboat and captained charters. The offerings include everything from day sails to fully inclusive term charters that can be used to travel to and fro from other islands in the Bahamas. Captain Bruce has a lot of experience and he also happens to be an accomplished musician who is not averse to taking out his guitar and stunning a few songs for guests onboard.
Sail the Abaco' Bay Street, Marsh Harbor
Phone: +1 610 628 4407
(Marsh Harbor local land line): (242) 367-3591
From Exhuma to Abaco it will take you about 30 hours to reach if you sail nonstop. If you stop and explore Eleuthera islands on the way the route will be longer and it might take you a few days. Usually interisland journeys by sea include Little Harbor as the arrival or departure point as itís the south most part of Abaco Sea after which one falls into the Atlantic Ocean.
These cruises can be captained or bareboatÖ for bareboat charters an application has to be filled up which is then reviewed and then accepted subject to the certifications, licenses and boating courses accomplished by the person chartering the boat.
There are multiple marine parks in the Sea of AbacoÖ one cannot fish, take out samples of shell, coral etc. or tamper with marine life while sailing in the Sea of AbacoÖ this is a punishable offence. Waivers must be signed at the base location once the charter leaves the Sea of Abaco. The cruising zone is limited to the Sea of AbacoÖ major area is Great Abaco region along with some subsidiary cay waters. Itís necessary to stick to these zones only as there are many lethal offshore reefs. It is important to check the weather conditions thoroughly before scheduling a sail.
If you want to explore all cays and islands of Abaco thoroughly then a 2 week charter is recommended
Apart from Marsh Harbor (that has maximum ferry connections) other cays of Abaco Islands can also be reached by ferry service. The southern cays are reachable from Marsh Harbor and a ferry leaves from Treasure Cay Ferry Dock (this is just half an hour away from Marsh Harbor) to the southern cays. Nassau to Sandy point (south end of Abaco) is also serviced by a ferry service that operates only around the weekend.
Bahamas Ferry Services
Bahamas Ferries runs a direct ferry service from Nassau to Sandy Point via the Sea Wind... it takes roughly one hour 50 minutes to reach sandy point on Abaco from Nassau. They have a fully air-conditioned vessel as well as a mail boat that services several locations in Abaco. This ferry service also runs to locations like Spanish Wells, Harbor Island, Three Island Dock, Governors Harbor, George Town, Fresh Creek and Freeport.
The ferries to Marsh Harbor run only from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Ö however the schedules might change due to weather and other conditions. Itís best to confirm the ferry timings by phone before planning your journey
Nassau, Phone: 242-323-2166
Marsh Harbor Abaco, Phone: 242-808-0581
Alburyís Ferry Service
Marsh Harbor to Hope Town
Ferry service starts at 6.20 a.m. and ends at 10.00 a.m.
Marsh Harbor to White Sound
Ferry service starts from 7.15 a.m. and ends at 4.00 p.m.
Marsh Harbor to Man O War
Ferry Service starts from 9.00 a.m. and ends at 5.45 p.m.
Marsh Harbor to Guana Cay
Ferry Service starts from 6.30 a.m. and ends at 6.30 p.m.
Marsh Harbor to Scotland Cay
Ferry Service starts from 6.30 a.m. and ends at 4.30 p.m.
Alburyís Ferry can be reached at
Phone: 242-367-0290; www.alburysferry.com
Hope Town to Marsh Harbor
Ferry service starts at 7.15 a.m. and ends at 5.00 p.m.
Man O War Cay to Marsh Harbor
Ferry service starts at 6.30 a.m. and ends at 5.00 p.m.
Guana Cay to Marsh Harbor
Ferry service starts from 6.30 a.m. and ends at 4.30 p.m.
Phone: 242 359 6208
Treasure Cay to Guana Cay
Departure 11.00 a.m. and return 3.30 p.m.
Round trip Treasure Cay to Hope Town
Departure 9.30 a.m. and return 2.00 p.m.
Phone: 365-8749; 375-8123
Pinders Ferry Service
Mc Leans Town Grand Bahama to Crown Haven Abaco
7.00 a.m. departure and 8.30 a.m. arrival
2.30 departure and 4.30 p.m. arrival
Mail Boat Service
The mail boat thatís called MV Legacy sails every Tuesday from Nassau to Hope Town, Marsh Harbor, Green Turtle Cay and Turtle Cay and then returns to Nassau on Friday. The total trip time is 12 hours. MV Legacy is owned by Deanís shipping company that has more than 70 years of experience.
Phone: (242) 394-0245; (242) 394-0246; www.deanshipping.com
Mailboat schedules are subject to change. The details about changes can be known from all major relevant docks. A good place to get information is Nassauís Potters Cay Dock (Phone: 242/ 393-1064)
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