Boating Capital of the World
Welcome to The Abacos. Fall in love with the colonial charm of of this 120-mile-long chain of islands, regarded as the Boating Capital of the World. Enjoy calm waters, warm breezes and the island’s panoramic beauty.
But it’s not just the sea that attracts travelers from around the world. Those who prefer to explore by land will find championship golf courses on Treasure Cay, charming colonial towns on Green Turtle and Elbow Cays, and countless hotels, restaurants and bars throughout The Abacos.
What Makes The Abacos Unique
The Abacos are a group of islands and cays that stretch over 650 square miles. The coastlines are scalloped with bays, coves and protected harbors that feature full-service marinas and resorts. Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco serve as the “mainland.” Marsh Harbour has a lively downtown area with all city amenities. Treasure Cay boasts miles of pristine beaches, including one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Elbow Cay and Green Turtle Cay are old English loyalist settlements, where you’ll find beautifully preserved colonial architecture with a touch of Bahamian pastels, of course. And Guana Cay is famous for Sunday barbecues atop the island’s tall sand dune, which overlooks a magnificent 7-mile–long beach.
120 mile island chain
70 minute flight to the U.S.
Charming colonial towns
Championship golf courses
Pristine white-sand beaches
Boating & sailing paradise
Full service marinas and resorts
Treasure Cay Airport
Marsh Harbour Airport
Discover More About The Abacos
The Abaco Islands lie in the northern Bahamas 180 miles (290 km) east of South Florida with similar weather with the exception of local patterns. They comprise the main islands of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, along with smaller barrier cays. The northernmost are Walker’s Cay, and its sister island Grand Cay. To the south, the next inhabited islands are Spanish Cay and Green Turtle Cay, with its settlement of New Plymouth, Great Guana Cay, private Scotland Cay, Man-O-War Cay, and Elbow Cay, with its settlement of Hope Town. Southernmost are Tilloo Cay and Lubbers Quarters.
Another cay of note off Abaco’s western shore is onetime Gorda Cay, now a Disney Island and cruise ship stop and renamed Castaway Cay. Also in the vicinity is Moore’s Island. On the Big Island of Abaco is Marsh Harbour, the Abacos’ commercial hub and the Bahamas’ third largest city, plus the resort area of Treasure Cay. Both have airports. A few mainland settlements of significance are Coopers Town and Fox Town in the north and Cherokee and Sandy Point in the south. Administratively, the Abaco Islands constitute seven of the 31 Local Government Districts of the Bahamas: Grand Cay, North Abaco, Green Turtle Cay, Central Abaco, South Abaco, Moore’s Island, and Hope Town (from Wikipedia).
With its own calm sea surrounded by charming islands, each worth a visit, the Abaco Islands are known as one of the world’s top boating and sailing destinations. Not that those who prefer to sleep in a bed that doesn’t rock should look elsewhere: With quaint colonial towns, two golf courses, miles and miles of Stellar Beach, great fishing and diving, and a wonderful selection of hotels and resorts and restaurants and bars, the Abacos are a complete vacation destination in The Bahamas Out Islands.
The Abacos consists of its own 120-mile-long island chain, basically a mini-Bahamas complete with its own Out Islands. Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco serve as the “mainland,” with a string of barrier islands separating them from the Atlantic. The body of water between – a turquoise Nirvana for those boaters and sailors – is the calm, shallow Sea of Abaco.
Great Abaco Island is home to Marsh Harbour, the “bright lights and big city” of the Out Islands. And to put that into perspective, Marsh Harbour has exactly one traffic light (the only operative one in all The Bahamas Out Islands!). Along with having a great selection of hotels, restaurants and bars, Marsh Harbour is charter boat central, with several full-service marinas where you can dock your own boat or find a rental – both live aboard sailboats and powerboats are available.
North of Marsh Harbour is Treasure Cay, a hotel, golf, marina and real estate development wrapped around a beach with the whitest, softest sand you’ve ever seen. To the south lies Little Harbour, a picturesque protected bay where you’ll find a small artist colony based around the Johnston family and Pete Johnston’s Pete’s Pub.
Setting out across the Sea of Abaco from Great Abaco Island, and you can steer toward any one of a number of islands — each a vacation destination in its own right. This is an island hopper’s paradise.
THE ABACO CAYS
The Abacos were settled by English colonists who remained loyal to the crown after the American Revolutionary War, which is why the settlements like Hope Town on Elbow Cay and New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay have the look of New England fishing towns complete with picket fences and gingerbread trim – of course with the distinctive Bahamian touch of pastel colors.
Hope Town is home to the famous candy striped lighthouse, a favorite photo subject now, but quite controversial when it was under construction back in 1863 because up until then, the island’s residents had been making a comfortable living by salvaging ships that wrecked on the offshore reefs.
North of Elbow Cay, Man-O-War is another Loyalist settlement, a conservative “dry” island, and the Abacos’ boat-building center, with a wonderful naturally protected harbor and boat-fitting and sail shops. Next up the chain is beachy Great Guana Cay, famed for the Sunday barbecues thrown at Nippers Bar that sits atop the island’s tall sand dune, which overlooks Guana’s magnificent seven-mile-long beach.
The outer islands up to Great Guana are easily reached by the Abacos scheduled ferry service – think local bus, but with a much better view and friendlier passengers – from Marsh Harbour. To reach Green Turtle Cay, you first head north on Great Abaco to Treasure Cay, where you can catch a boat for the short hop. There you’ll find the quaint town along with a full-service marina and hotels and dive and snorkel services.
The diving and snorkeling is excellent all through The Abacos, with several protected underwater areas such as Fowl Cay National Reserve and Pelican Cays National Park, massive reefs with swim-through caves that are seasonally filled wall to wall with silver baitfish, and even dive spots at the edge of the reef where you’re almost guaranteed to see Caribbean reef sharks.
Fishing is huge in the Abaco Islands, from the excellent bonefishing in Cherokee Sound and out in the “marls,” to the blue water big game species like marlin and tuna that prowl the Atlantic side within easy sight of the outer islands.