The Abacos


The attitude of the Abacos might best be expressed by the sign posted in the window of Vernon's Grocery in Hope Town: "If you're looking for Wal-Mart—it's 200 miles to the right." In other words, the residents of this chain of more than 100 islands know that there's another world out there, but don't necessarily care to abandon theirs, which is a little more traditional, slow-paced, and out of the way than most alternatives.

Here you'll feel content in an uncrowded environment, yet still have access to whatever level of accommodations and services you desire. Ecotourism is popular, and aficionados have revitalized exploration of Abacos' Caribbean pine forests, which are home to wild boar, wild horses, the rare Abaco parrot, and myriad other bird and plant life. Hiking and biking through these forests and along abandoned beaches at the forest's edges are popular activities. Sea kayaking in pristine protected areas also provides a rewarding sense of adventure, and more conventional activities such as golf, tennis, and beach volleyball are available, too. But if you don't feel like doing anything at all, that's also a highly rated activity.

Of course, this is the Bahamas, so you shouldn't neglect activities happening in one of its most magnificent assets—the water. Snorkeling and diving have long been staple activities for visitors. Abaconians are proud of their marine environment and have worked with the government to protect some of the more vibrant reefs. The islands' calm, naturally protected waters, long admired for their beauty, have also helped the area become the Bahamas' sailing capital. Man-O-War Cay remains the Bahamas' boatbuilding center; its residents turn out traditionally crafted wood dinghies as well as high-tech fiberglass craft. The Abacos play host annually to internationally famous regattas and to a half-dozen game-fish tournaments.

From island-long stretches to strips as short as your boat, with powder-white to pink to warm-cream sand, the roar of the surf or the silence of a slow-rising tide, the Abacos have a beach suited to everyone's liking. And most likely, you'll find a secluded spot to call your own.

Oceanside beaches are long expanses of white powder that change their form throughout the year depending on the surge brought in by weather. Beaches sheltered from strong winds, on the lee sides of islands, are small, narrow, and stable. Trees are taller on the lee sides of the islands and provide shaded areas for picnics. On the outer cays beaches make popular surf spots and snorkel sites, with the barrier reef running along the shore. Most Abaco beaches are secluded, but if you're looking for a beach party, head to Great Guana Cay for the Nippers's Sunday pig roast.


Elbow Cay

Five-mile-long Elbow Cay's main attraction is the charming village of Hope Town. The saltbox cottages—painted in bright colors—with their white…

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Great Abaco Island

If arriving by air, your trip will begin on Great Abaco, the main island. It's bordered on its eastern side…

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Great Guana Cay

The essence of Great Guana Cay can be summed up by its unofficial motto, painted on a hand-lettered sign: "It's…

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Ready for a trip of a lifetime to The Abacos?