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really good reasons to visit The Abacos

The Abaco Islands absolutely, positively, definitely aren't for everyone!

In general, if you find your vacation time is spent exploring a place and its people, actively seeking out new experiences, new friends and, in general, making your own vacation "happen", you're probably a true "traveler" and will find a myriad of "remember forever" vacation experiences in the Abacos.

If you expect your vacation experiences to be brought to you, require on-time room service and eat all your meals in 20 minutes or less, you may be a tourist. If you're not sure whether you're a traveler or a tourist, please CLICK HERE.

Avoid The Abacos at all costs if your personal definition of an ideal island vacation includes rubbing elbows with crowds of people wearing funny-looking flowered shirts, black socks & sandals, hanging out in a senses-numbing disco 'till 4AM with hundreds of like-minded folks, packaged tours, high-rise hotels & neon-lit casinos, 24-hour room service and American-style fast food.

We have nothing in The Abacos that even comes close!

Also, if you're a clock-watching (on your wrist or elsewhere), time-challenged person, The Abacos will cause anxiety attacks similar to those brought about by a greeting from the IRS that unexpectedly informs you that you're scheduled for a tax audit.

However, if your description of a perfect vacation includes waking up each morning to the sound of island breezes whispering through seaside Casuarinas and coconut palms, where the "dress code" is always "island casual" (you probably should wear something on your feet in most places, you probably should NOT wear your smallest bikini in town, and wearing a shirt of some kind is usually expected), where you can easily explore a different deserted island every day, where your dinner menu is likely to offer such home-cooked island delights as Scorch- or Cracked-Conch, Peas 'n Rice, Guava Duff, Boil Fish, Johnny Cake and Soursop Ice Cream, and where the almost blinding electric blue of the surrounding waters is so bright it reflects off the bottoms of the islands' occasional afternoon thunderheads ... then The Abacos and its picturesque offshore cays [pronounced "keys" by Abaconians] are definitely deserving of your consideration.

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Reason # 1 -- The WATERS of The Abacos' islands offer world-class diving, snorkeling, "beaching" [a 90K download - but worth it!] and boating in, around and over the world's third largest barrier reef:


Regardless of your previous level of diving or snorkeling experience, or where you choose to stay in our islands,
there's a reef that's just right for you within 15 minutes of your door. To make things even easier, boat rentals are readily available on just about every populated cay and settlement contained in Go - Abacos.

There are also snorkel and modern dive equipment rentals (bring your own regulator if you've got one) available in The Abacos larger cays and settlements. After all, since The Abacos boasts one of the largest barrier reefs in the world ... we should be able to provide you with safe, dependable and affordable snorkeling and diving gear! Diving in uncrowded, gin-clear water around our rarely seen reefs and snorkeling on coral heads that rise to within 1 foot of mean low water level is an experience which has to be lived to be believed. Wreck diving, beach-access diving, reef diving, cave diving and all sorts of other underwater wonders are waiting for you in The Abacos.

Our underwater visibility often approaches 200 feet, and rarely goes below 60-75 feet 'cause we experience very little land-based precipitation run-off and we have absolutely no industry to pollute our waters. Additionally, our sand is salt white carbonate and fast-settling (except after a rare, multi-day "rage"). [Please visit Go - Abacos' Diving and Snorkeling pages for more information.]

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Our deserted beaches invite exploration. There are literally hundreds of 'em on our islands. No matter where you decided to stay, a readily available, modestly priced boat rental will easily and safely get you to a wide selection of snow-white, picture postcard, virtually unspoiled beaches. As a matter of record, some of The Abacos' beaches have been selected by internationally recognized island travel authorities (and more than a few magazines!) as ranking among the top 10 in the world! Whether "your" beach is one of the "miles long" expanses found on Guana, Manjack or Green Turtle, or a secluded 100 yard wide cove you just discovered ... if you're a "beach person", The Abacos are an experience you'll never forget. [Please visit Go - Abacos'
beach pix pages [80K file - but worth it!] elsewhere in this site].

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Extending for approximately 120 miles from Walker's Cay to the tiny settlement of Hole In The Wall, The Abaco Islands are surrounded by shimmering iridescent waters that many
experienced yachtsmen consider unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Our islands offer safer and more enjoyable cruising than any other Bahamian island group as a result of the Sea of Abacos' protected waters (probably the safest in all the Bahamas), the relative abundance of modern marine & marina facilities, the diversity of "things to do" ashore, and the genuinely friendly residents. In short, The Abacos are a sailing, cruising and fishing paradise with over 1,000 square miles of relatively undeveloped islands, settlements and deserted beaches to explore. Reliable island cruising guides estimate the number of safe (and picturesque) "island anchorages" to be in excess of 60.

The Abacos' extensive reef system (3rd largest in the world - about 85 miles long) and the islands' myriad offshore cays (numbering over 100 mostly uninhabited islands and extending for almost 100 miles from Walkers Cay south) form a natural barrier against the Atlantic Ocean's swells and "rages" and create the Sea of Abaco, one of the safest and most rewarding cruising grounds in all of the world. Ranging from 1.5 miles to over 5 miles in width, and approximately 100 miles in overall length from Little Harbour north to Walkers, this protected body of water maintains a relatively shallow depth (10-20 feet) throughout its length, thereby making for calm, safe cruising on waters among the clearest in the world.

According to the internationally noted cruising authority, Julius Wilensky (Author of "Cruising Guide To The Abacos") ...

"I've explored the Biminis, the Exumas, the Berry Islands ... and the Abacos wins hands down for variety and interest ashore; excellent harbors; interesting and hospitable settlements and excellent beaches. (The Abacos waters) are among the world's clearest and most colorful, (and) Abaco fishing equals that of Bimini, which is among the best anywhere."

While most of the Abacos' smaller and more remote cays are still uninhabited, others such as Green Turtle, Man 'O War, Guana and Elbow (Hope Town) Cays have quaint settlements which date back to the American Revolution. Modern full-service marinas are available in some cays and settlements, and a full service boat yard (Abaco Yacht Services - lift capacity up to 50 tons) is centrally located in Green Turtle Cay.

The fact that 35 foot and larger sailboats are widely available for crewed or bareboat charter is further proof The Abaco islands are easily "cruiseable" by just about anyone who is familiar with basic charts and rudimentary navigation. Just about every one of the boat rental (such as Rainbow Rentals in Marsh Harbour or Reef Rentals in Green Turtle) or "bareboat" charter operators will provide a complimentary "short course" in safely navigating The Abacos' waters.

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Reason # 2 -- A real sense of HISTORY and island heritage is evident through The Abacos' cays and settlements:

As the boat-building capital of The Bahamas for more than a hundred years, as the original colonization site for the Loyalists who fled America's Revolutionary War due to their "loyalty" to the British Crown, and as a uniquely connected group of islands now populated by industrious and friendly people who are proud of their heritage, you'll feel an almost tangible sense of history on every Abacos' street you stroll.

The Abacos are currently leading The Bahamas Out Islands in their Architectural Preservation efforts. The islands' settlements resemble brightly painted pastel versions of New England's quaint fishing villages, with many of the homes well over 100 years old.

As you explore Go - Abacos, you'll begin to get a clearer picture of what we mean. Although The Abacos and the United States were "born" at about the same time since there were virtually no Abaconians prior to the arrival of the American Loyalist settlers in the late 1700's -- the original island settlers, the Arawak Indians, had long since perished or were "kidnapped" by slavers and sold to plantation owners and merchants in various southern Caribbean ports.

The Abacos probably have more museums and historically significant sites per capita than just about anywhere else in The Bahamas or the Caribbean. Collections of historically relevant art and artifacts are preserved and proudly displayed in just about all The Abacos' cays and settlements. If a sense of history is important in the place you're visiting, you'll remember alot more about The Abacos than our friendly residents and our exceptional beaches and diving.

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Reason # 3 -- Abaconians are aware of the importance of preserving their natural ENVIRONMENT:

While much of the better known Bahamas [Freeport and Nassau] has been covered with cement, asphalt and all the other trappings of a concrete environment, The Abacos, its residents and the Bahamian government have gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve the integrity of our island "ecosphere". As proof of the islands' dedication to environmental preservation, The Abacos has set aside a multi-thousand acre preserve to protect the environment of the endangered Abaco Parrot, and there are more government protected undersea preserves and parks in The Abacos than you will find anywhere else in The Bahamas.

Regarding Abaconian environmental preservation efforts, toward the end of 1997 the fieldwork phase of the historic architectural survey of New Plymouth was completed. Conducted by a volunteer team consisting of Professor David Woodcock, head of the Texas A&M Historic Imaging Laboratory; a practicing Preservation Architect, Mr. Jack Pyburn of Atlanta, Georgia; Dr. Gail Saunders, Director of the (Bahamian) Department of Archives, and Mrs. Grace Turner & Mrs. Kim Outten-Stubbs, curators of the Pompey Museum, Department of (Bahamian) Archives.

The team examined almost 100 buildings in New Plymouth and identified eighty which were of historic significance. Interestingly enough, the fact that historic preservation efforts have become an increasingly important influence on tourism and community pride has been well documented. This survey is the first of its kind to be undertaken in the Out Islands and will, hopefully, lead to the designation of New Plymouth as a Historic District.

As an additional stimulus to maintain the environmental balance of the Abaco islands, primarily as a result of the difficultly of obtaining "new" materials and products from America or elsewhere (primarily as a result of extraordinarily high duty rates and complicated shipping transport regulations), the vast majority of Abaconians "make due with what they've got". Abaconians recycle, fix, repair, rebuild, refit and "imaginatively innovate" far better than their countrymen in Freeport and Nassau. The Abaconians' inherent sense of respect for the environment and self-sufficiency is due in large part to the island group's austere beginnings as well as a wide-spread and very real recognition that their environment is their island home's most valuable asset.

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Reason # 4 -- A vacation in The Abacos is an ADVENTURE based (in large part) on "unexpected opportunities":

The Abacos attracts discriminating Travelers from all walks of life and from all over the world. Abacos Travelers (with very few exceptions) don't "wear" the traditional costumes of their occupations or their positions in life. The Abacos doesn't encourage one-up manship or "keeping up with appearances". The "dress code" in our islands is as casual as our lifestyle, and ostentatious dress or mannerisms are frowned upon. At the table next to you at dinner, or in "the next cove over" from your "island-for-a-day", you are just as likely to start a conversation with a Fortune 500 executive or a European diplomat as you are with a carpenter from Chicago or a chip engineer from Silicon Valley. While many languages may drift through The Abacos' unpolluted air, none of their tones are anything other than friendly. If you are willing to "realize the opportunity", the couple you unexpectedly meet at dinner may well become your best friends in years to come.

In The Abaco islands' unstressful environment, people are naturally open, friendly, relaxed and honest. If you're a card-carrying member of the "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" club, The Abacos is not your cup of tea. If you are easily upset by people who don't see time as an important element of their lives, you should probably avoid visiting The Abacos. However, if you're willing to make the most of the moment, to seize an unexpected opportunity and make it yours, we have a room with a comfortable bed waiting for you in Green Turtle.

Your vacation in The Abacos is not composed of a series of carefully planned, scheduled and timed events. Rather, it is an adventure you create as a result of your own open-minded curiosity, your willingness to "try something new" ... and your genuinely out-going personality. Introverts need not apply. Your individual actions or lack of actions will, to a very large extent, determine how much you enjoy your sojourn in The Abacos.

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Reason #5 -- Our islands' simple, honest, sincere and extraordinarily uncomplicated LIFESTYLE:

It's not unusual to walk down one of our settlement's streets and be greeted in a warm and sincere fashion by one of the settlement's residents ... and then be invited back to your "greeter's" home for a taste of fresh-baked Bahama bread or conch salad. You might even be invited to join your host's family for church services or Sunday Abaconian dinner!

Although the "Information Super-Highway" has finally reached The Abacos ("reached" in Abaconian means "arrived" ... as in "he done reached"), most of our islands' roads are receiving a much-needed "roll and resurface" (thanks to our recently re-elected Prime Minister whose home district just happens to be the Abacos!), and mostly dependable electrical and telephone service is being "piped in" from Marsh Harbour to our outlying settlements and offshore cays ... The Abacos are not about to jump into the 21st Century with both feet.

Most of the smaller settlements and cays still have "all grades" schoolrooms, at least one of our cays doesn't allow cars, and much of the commerce occurring in our less populated areas is still partially based on barter [10 tomatoes equal 1 lobster and 1 conch, or something like that!].

That's the way our islands have been for hundreds of years, and they're not going to change overnight. Even with the recent (the last decade) influx of new-to-our-islands Travelers, The Abacos' uncomplicated version of "fast food" usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to prepare ... and it's worth every minute of the wait! "Fried everything" is the norm [peas 'n rice, all kinds of fish, potatoes, the omni-present hamburger, conchburger or fishburger and a whole lot of other island treats]. While Marsh Harbour has seen the introduction of a Pizza Hut (which is no longer part of the franchise) and various other Abacoized versions of American fast food institutions, this variety of eating experience is avoided by the vast majority of Abaconians.

"Simple is better" has been a guiding principal in the lives of Abaconians for a long, long time, and this philosophy is plainly evident in just about everything that happens in our islands. A handshake is still binding. A promise is still a statement made to be kept ... or not made at all. And a warm Abaconian welcome is exactly what it appears to be ... a sincere, uncomplicated, person-to-person greeting, not an artificially uttered sentiment or a "canned", rehearsed or practiced group of words written by a faceless, passionless tourism board.

If you are truly a Traveler and a lover of sparsely populated islands, we warmly welcome you to The Abacos - a truly multi-faceted, uniquely pleasurable grouping of under- or un-populated "tropical" islands. We realize we're far from perfect, but at least we realize this and we're working on it!

In addition to revelling in our islands' natural beauty and pristine environment, a trip to The Abacos can be an enjoyable education in human values and human nature, so please visit us with your eyes and your mind open. If you're an Island Traveler, you won't regret for a minute the time you spend in our islands, and you'll probably remember your Abacos adventures for a lifetime.

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