|Welcome to the Abacos|
The Abacos.....the northeastern Bahamas, have been called Out Islands, Family Islands and the Friendly Islands all of which definitely apply. Here you will find friendly folks, a relatively bustling economy with none of the hassles and hustlers of fast paced Nassau, Paradise Island and Freeport. Evenings are spent with family and friends or fishing buddies usually at the local watering holes, or on your deck or dock. Some bars offer bingo or trivia pursuit for drinks. Darts and karaoke are also popular pastimes whereas native folks can be seen playing dominos. A couple nights a week are highlighted with a local band. And that is it for nighttime excitement, no casinos, no discos. As for weather, it's pretty much the same as southeast Florida with early fall being hurricane season and when many places close. In our book, the Abacos rate high as being a truly homogeneous little spot on the globe with first time visitors returning more often than not.
The Abacos, start in the north at Walkers Cay working their way 110 miles or so, down to Hole in the Wall and Sandy Point on Great Abaco. On Elbow Cay and Green Turtle Cay you'll find the old English loyalist settlements of New Plymouth & Hope Town with their colonial homes in hues of pastel colors. For the most part these Cays parallel the Island of Great Abaco and can be thought of as barrier islands as they are what separate the Atlantic from the shallow Sea of Abaco and Mainland Abaco. Unlike the classical sandy barrier islands of the eastern US, here they consist of limestone with some elevation and are protected on the ocean side by the third largest barrier reef in the world. For the most part the cays are green with mangrove and white sand beaches. Most are uninhabited.
The Atlantic side of these cays are strewn with some of the most beautiful coral reefs you'll find in the Atlantic. Shooting up from the depths one can find reefs in waters from 6 to 200+ feet. They are surely as spectacular, as the Caribbean hot spots of Grand Cayman, Bonaire, Belize etc. There are reefs for snorkelers to the experienced diver. There is even a network of well maintained and protected underwater parks with mooring buoys for rental boats / boaters. It's truly a divers paradise and a well kept secret. And it's only 180 miles from Florida's mainland (Map). The Florida Keys cant even come close and shouldn't even be mentioned in the same conversation. For the fisherman, the fishing is likewise, as outstanding with tournaments at many locations throughout spring and summer and no less comparable than Costa Rica or Cabo San Lucas. A word of caution: Making passage from the Sea of Abaco between the cays to the ocean and the deep sea fishing areas and diving spots is a bit tricky if not impossible in most areas. It is generally forbidden to take a rental boat to the ocean in any case. There are plenty of spots to dive without risk covered later. As for boating at night, forget about it.
We've been vacationing in The Abacos regularly since 1973. That was just months prior to their independence from Great Britain. In early years we stayed almost exclusively on Green Turtle Cay. Moving to Florida in 1990 afforded us the opportunity to see the all the Abacos Cays by boat from the top down. We made six trips all together. I made one solo over and back. Today we mostly fly in and generally split out time between a couple Cays and, when we can, include mainland exploration too.