Abaco Bahamas Vacations
Abaco Island has naturally protected waters and dozens of offshore cays
covering over 130 square miles of aquamarine water in the
Bahamas. The Abacos are a pleasure to
yachtsmen and fishing enthusiasts. It is referred to as the sailing capital of
the world. Here you will find excellent marinas, guides and boats for hire as
well as a championship golf course, one of seven in The Bahamas, the others
being in Nassau, Freeport, Abaco
is the third most populous island in The Bahamas and bears a resemblance
to New England from which it attracts so many of its visitors and winter
residents. Marsh Harbour is the commercial centre located on Great
Home to the famous red and white striped lighthouse, Abaco with
its numerous offshore cays and reef protected waters, once served as a
safe harbor for British loyalists during the American Revolution. The
first settlement on Abaco Was Carleton Point, located at the northern
end of Treasure Cay a luxury resort development. Carleton was settled in
1783 by 600 Loyalists refugees from New York, fleeing the newly
independent United States.
Now it serves a more useful purpose as the one of the most favorite
destinations among yachtsman the world over. Filled with excellent
marinas and boats for hire, not to mention a championship golf course,
Abaco truly is a sailor's paradise.
Its two major islands, Great Abaco and Little Abaco, have
a myriad of small cays flanking the mainland. The sea channel between
the islands allows for good cruising. Abaco, located in the
northern Bahamas, typically boats pine forests and is frequented by
hunters of wild boar and ducks. Its waters abound with fish, including
the marlin and sailfish. It also has bonefishing flats.
Other settlements include its northern cays, such as Walker’s Cay and
the Grand Cays; Crown Haven and Fox Town in Little Abaco, and Cooper’s
Town on Great Abaco; Green Turtle Cay, Hope Town, Moore’s Island, the
tourist resort of Castaways Cay, Great Guana Cay, Cherokee Sound, Little
Harbour, Hole-in-the-Wall, Sandy Point, Crossing Rock, Spring City and
History of the Abaco Islands
The Abacos’ character dates back to the island's Loyalist heritage.
Pro-British colonists left the United States after the American Revolution of
1776 to establish plantations in the Bahamas. Some 600 refugees from New York
founded Carleton, the first Loyalist settlement in the islands on Great
Abaco near the present-day resort of Treasure Cay.
The Loyalists dreamed their town would become King Cotton of the Caribbean
and, for a while, their vision came true. The Abaco Islands' economy boomed
and the population flourished to over 2,000 people. But soon the bloom was off the
cotton blossom and fields failed within a few years because of pests and soil
depletion. Most of the settlers moved away, leaving a population of 400 on the
islands by the end of the century -- 200 white planters and 200 black slaves.
The fifty-fifty ratio has held steady to this day. The Abaco Islands have five
times more white residents per capita than The Islands Of The Bahamas as a
In the 1800s, The Abaco Islands took on an almost New England character as
fishing, wooden boatbuilding and "wrecking" -- salvaging damaged ships while
they were sinking -- became the mainstays of the local economy. It took nearly a
century for the boatbuilding industry to strip the island of its hardwoods, and
today only two firms carry on the tradition. Still, the Loyalist heritage of The
Abaco Islands remains strong. Many island residents, commonly called "Conky
Joes", vehemently opposed Bahamian independence and even tried to secede
from The Bahamas and form their own British colony. Descendants of the original
settlers even went to England to solicit the support of Queen Elizabeth II, but
their efforts were rebuffed.
With excellent boating, fishing and scuba diving, The Abaco Islands rank high
among the tourist destinations in The Out Islands. The historic Loyalist
settlements that survive here offer a fascinating time-travel experience and
striking contrast to both Nassau and Grand Bahama.
Did you know?
- Sunken Treasure. Two Nassau businessmen turned conversation into cash when they
discovered silver and coins off the southwestern tip of Great Abaco island,
traceable to King Philip IV of Spain, and pocketed $20,000 worth of good
- The autobiography, The Out Island Doctor, chronicles the life and
times of Evans Cottman, and is probably the most well known Bahamian book.
Believing in the old adage, a man’s home is his castle, Cottman literally
built his own private castle as his residence on a hillside overlooking
Marsh Harbour. His daughter, Gayle, still shares the spectacular view with
guests who visit the castle’s terrace, now transformed into a popular café
and gift shop.
Areas of Interest
Little Harbour Cay
A short ferry ride from Great Abaco to Little Harbour takes you to the
artist compound of the Johnston family, who started their own version of
Swiss Family Robinson life in 1951, when their sailboat wrecked on this
lovely harbour. Fact mirrors fiction. The Johnstons set up house in their
boat and a nearby cave while building a thatched residence inland. Today
their children and grandchildren still reside in Little Harbour and, as
well-known artists and sculptors in their own right, receive visitors at
their studio. The Johnston story is portrayed in the book, Artist On His
The cay is home to Johnston Studios & Art Foundry, with bronze
sculptures that weigh hundreds of pounds. The sculptures were created by
Randolph Johnston, who passed away in 1992. His son Peter continues the
Elbow Cay & Hopetown
A scant 30-minute boat ride from the
Abaco Beach Resort is Elbow Cay,
the Bahamas tourist attraction probably best known for its candy-striped
lighthouse. But there is more to this charming island than the storied
beacon. Visitors enjoy walking the narrow streets to observe the New
England colonial architecture and the pastel homes of pink, blue, green,
and yellow with multi-color gardens.
For those interested in boating and boat building, this is the best
Bahamas tourist attraction. Perhaps you'll be lucky to run into Joe
Albury, whose family dates back several generations. He continues the
craftsman tradition, from Abaco hardwoods, sailing dinghies, model
hulls, and gifts. Visitors can also observe the fabrication of sails,
canvas bags, and hats.
Great Guana Cay
Completely different from New Plymouth and Elbow Cay, this Bahamas
attraction is popular with snorkelers, swimmers, and sunbathers for its
miles of unspoiled beaches. Guests frequently take time out to enjoy the
food and unique libations at Nippers Restaurant, which is open daily.
This restaurant, a popular Bahamas tourist attraction itself, is also
famous for its weekly pig roast.
Green Turtle Cay & New Plymouth
Just a few miles away by boat or ferry is one of the oldest
settlements and Bahamas attractions in Abaco, appropriately named Green
Turtle Cay for its striking emerald waters. A very popular cruising
destination, Green Turtle provides a variety of well-protected
anchorages for boaters. The quaint, colonial village of New Plymouth
offers visitors the opportunity to stroll down charming lanes filled
with gift shops and restaurants. As with all of Abacos' splendid
islands, Green Turtle Cay's beaches and views are spectacular.
In the 1950s, Treasure Cay became one of Abaco's first major Bahamas
tourist attraction. Accessible by automobile or boat from Marsh Harbour,
it is home to the only 18-hole championship golf course in the Abacos.
Like Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay is a developed, residential community
and has numerous homes, condominiums, shops, and medical clinics. It is
well-known for its picture-perfect, four-mile crescent shaped beach.
- Abaco Bridal Extravaganza Dec 1 - 4, 2005
- Abaco Art Festival 2006 January 27–29, 2006
- Bahamas White Marlin Open April 5–8, 2006
- Bahamas Billfish Championship April 17–22, 2006
- Marine-Max - Hatteras Billfish Invitational April 26–29, 2006
- Shootout May 9–13, 2006
- Roscioli Donzi Yachts Rendezvous May 18–21, 2006
- HMY Billfish Blast May 29–June 2, 2006
- Bahamas Billfish Championship June 18–23, 2006
Abaco Diving Spots
- The Towers - Huge coral pinnacles, 60 feet tall, pierced with tunnels
- Grouper Alley - Numerous tunnels cut through and beneath a monstrous
coral head in 40-foot depths.
- Wayne’s World - A tour of the outside of the barrier reef in 70 feet of
- The Cathedral - A huge cavern where shafts of sunlight dance on the
- Tarpon Reef - High-profile corals provide a home for a school of Tarpon
and a huge Green Moray.
- San Jacinto - The wreck of a large steamship that sank in 1865 in 40
feet of water.
Abaco National Park
This National Park, comprising 20,500 acres in Southern Abaco near Hole In
The Wall, has been designated a preservation area by the Bahamas Government and
is managed by The Bahamas National Trust. Included are 5,000 acres of pine
forest – the nesting area and habitat of about 1000 endangered Bahama or "Abaco"
Parrots. The parrots once lived on as many as seven islands in The Bahamas, but
now only exist in Abaco and Great Inagua.
The forest is valuable to the parrots for several reasons: during the
breeding season, parrots feed on the seeds from the pine trees, which provide a
rich source of protein for developing chicks, and they nest in limestone
cavities on the ground of the pine forest. They are known to be the only species
of parrots throughout the islands of the Caribbean that nests in the ground.
This works against them, though, because they become vulnerable to predators
like wild cats, wild boars, crabs and snakes, plus heavy rains during the
nesting period can flood parrot nest holes, killing young chicks.
A subspecies of the Cuban Amazon parrot, the Bahama Parrot is 12-13 inches in
length and its white head and mostly green body make it easily recognizable. In
fact, the Bahama Parrot’s scientific name (Amazona lecocephala bahamensis)
literally means, "white headed Amazon parrot from The Bahamas.” It has patches
of red feathers on its cheek, throat and sometimes its abdomen; its flight
feathers, usually hidden from sight when it is perched in a tree, are a
beautiful cobalt blue. Another distinctive feature of the Bahama parrot: it has
two toes facing forwards and two facing backwards – a configuration known as
It is said that Columbus was so struck by their numbers when he made landfall
in The Bahamas in 1492, he wrote in his log, "Flocks of parrots darken the sun."
The Bahama parrot was recognized as the official mascot of the 500th Anniversary
of Columbus’ Landfall in the New World in 1992. Bahama parrots bones found on
New Providence have been dated back to the Pleistocene Era, more than 50,000
The Bahamas National Trust reports that there are now less than 3,000 Bahama
parrots remaining in The Bahamas. These birds are protected under the Wild Bird
(Protection) Act and it is illegal to harm, capture or offer these birds for
sale. Stringent rules and regulations are enforced in the event that anyone
tries to harm the parrots. The Convention for the International Trade of
Endangered Species (CITES) list the Bahama parrot in Appendix I meaning that it
is a species that is near extinction or very endangered.
Abaco Wild Horse Preserve
For many years the people of Abaco debated the origin of a herd of horses
that galloped through their pine forest, but in 1998 they came to believed that
they might be “Spanish Barbs.” In August of 2002, their identity was finally
confirmed through three separate DNA analyses, photos and video records. They
were subsequently accepted by the Horse of The Americas Registry as the “Abaco
Barbs,” descendants of horses brought over at the time of Columbus’
explorations. It is believed that Abaco is now the curator of possibly the
purest strain of these horses in existence today.
In the 1960’s, there was a mighty herd of 200 strong, but the Barbs’ journey
to extinction began in the 1970’s when the herd was reduced to only three. By
1992, they had reproduced and increased to 35, and today they are once again
fighting for survival as the herd count has dwindled to nine. Throughout the
world, the Barbs are recognized as critically endangered. With assistance from
the Government of The Bahamas, a preserve area in Treasure Cay was designated so
that they could be back in their ancestral forest home, their normal habitat.
Also playing an active role in their survival is Arkwild, a non-profit
organization that is campaigning for funding and support to ensure the wild
horses of Abaco survive as a living part of the island's history. Tours are
available to persons interested in exploring the habitat of the Abaco Barbs.
Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park
Located 8 miles north of Cherokee Sound, Great Abaco, this 2,100 acre land
and sea area is a sister park to the Exuma Cay Land and Sea Park. It contains
beautiful undersea caves, extensive coral reefs and abounds with terrestrial
plants and animals life. This park is accessible by boat only.
Traveling to the Abacos
TO MARSH HARBOUR, ABACO BAHAMAS (MHH)
Lauderdale, Ft. Pierce
||(888) I FLY
Lauderdale/ West Palm Beach
|Sky Limo Air
& Florida Cities