The Abacos are an alluring magnet for scores of Northeast Floridians.
An island getaway is a dream envisioned by countless vacationers. In Jacksonville, many of those dreamers find their way to The Bahamas, specifically the string of small islands known as the Abacos. Beautiful beaches, swaying coconut palm trees, amazingly clear water, coral reefs—the sandy archipelago, located just a 45-minute flight east from Ft. Lauderdale, has them all in spades.
For many, Hope Town is the heart of the Abacos. Most visitors arrive in the islands via the airport at Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, but nearby Elbow Cay and Hope Town are the desired destinations for many. Arguably the prettiest of all the settlements in the area, Hope Town is distinguished by its cozy harbor and the 120-foot, candy-striped lighthouse. Built in 1863, the tower remains the signature landmark of the Abacos, as well as a vital navigation aid.
At its narrowest point, Elbow Cay is just a couple of blocks wide from the open Atlantic Ocean to the bay. Walking east to west is almost always a short trip. A rented golf cart or bike will be needed to explore the island from north to south. And while there are ferry services that link the many islands together, a boat of your own is really the only way to enjoy the Abacos. Rental services are readily available; however, make arrangements before you arrive.
Attractions? In the Abacos, not so much. Same goes for shopping. There are a few assorted art galleries and small gift boutiques in Hope Town and on other islands but on the whole, one doesn’t journey here in search of duty-free goodies. Still, it’s worth noting that rum can be purchased for rock-bottom prices.
Speaking of rum, there are a handful of must-visit eateries. The restaurant at the oceanside Abaco Inn on Elbow is as fine as dining gets in these parts. The food is good (we recommend the blackened grouper) and the view is fantastic. Cracker P’s Bar & Grill is a short boat ride away and an ideal spot for a frozen drink and an order of hot fish dip.
Little Harbour is a beachy outpost on the eastern edge of Great Abaco. It’s worth a visit, if only to enjoy a plate of fried conch and a few cold beers at Pete’s Pub and Gallery, a spot where the phrase “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” is well suited. The phrase fits the islands of Guana Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Treasure Cay as well. Most locals and visitors wear shorts and swimsuits 24/7. Don’t pack a tie. Nor heels. As should be expected, the pace is slow here. Island time means no hurry, no worries. Of course, days full of snorkeling, deep sea fishing, boating and swimming in azure blue waters shouldn’t be rushed.
Get started at Bahamas.com or call (242) 367-3067.