Grand Abaco is the second largest island in the Bahamas with the capital of Marsh Harbor, the third largest population center in the country and the main center for Abaco tourism. Founded in 1784 by Loyalists, Marsh Harbor has long been a center of logging and shipbuilding. Today, tourism has replaced logging as the main source of income, and the city’s marinas are now lined with expensive yachts and surrounded by the luxurious homes of the American rich.
Marsh Harbor has eventually become a very quiet place, with only a few excellent restaurants and cultural institutions, and the rest of the resort life takes place in numerous resorts and hotels.
The vast coastal shallows are simply teeming with fish, and marlin and sailfish are found here. Comfortable enclosed bays of the island have long been fancied by yachtsmen, the sailing season here lasts from spring to fall. Many modern marinas have been built on the island.
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At the northern end of the Bahamas is the Abaco group of islands. If you look at these islands from above, you can see a boomerang. The main islands of Abaco are Great Abaco and Little Abaco, but the group also includes 13 other small reefs called Abaco Keys. Some of these reefs are inhabited: Great Guana Cay, Elbow Cay, Volker’s Cay and Manowar Cay. It may be noted that the main islands of Abaco are surrounded by small islets, like a necklace. The total length of all the islands of Abaco is 210 kilometers. The Big Abaco is the largest and yet the most beautiful island.
The Abaco Islands are always warm, and the luxurious nature is beautifully combined with hot beaches. You can always feel like Robinson Crusoe, but you are not alone in this heavenly spot where all the benefits of civilization surround you. Nature lovers will be able to seclude themselves for fishing in one of the many coves located in the territory of the islands. The beautiful beaches of Abaco are inhabited by turtles. It is worth saying that hunters have practically exterminated these animals, but thanks to the titanic efforts of conservationists, today the nature of Abaco reigns in harmony and on the beaches again a huge number of turtles. Two of Abaco’s islands, Great Abaco and Andros, have evergreen and deciduous rainforests and coxcomb palms along the coast. The island has its own airfield, seaport. There are also hotels. Stores that are located on the island, offer a huge variety of products, here you can buy all the equipment you need for diving.
The history of the island begins in 1783, when the first settlers fleeing the American Revolution moved here. The settlers began shipbuilding and logging. Today, Grand Abaco is the sailing capital of not only the islands of the Bahamas, but of the world. Logging has been replaced by tourism. The largest town in Greater Abaco is Marsh Harbor, the capital of all the islands. Marsh Harbor is the third largest city in the Bahamas. Modern Marsh Harbor is the capital of tourism. Rich people try to stay and settle in the city, their yachts and villas can be seen everywhere. The first settlements began to appear in 1784. The town is characterized by tranquility and peacefulness. The locals on the island and in the town itself are friendly and welcoming to visitors, so visitors are greeted with cheers and smiles everywhere. Outside, local delicacies such as baked crabs, anchovies, mussels and guppies are available for tasting.
The city is home to Seaview Castle, which is an architectural and historical landmark in the city. Situated on a hill, Seaview Castle stands out among all the other buildings in the city with its yellow colored walls. The residence was built by Evans Cottman in 1944. Evans Cottman, who was a physician described his own residence in his memoirs, in which he devoted several chapters to his residency at Abaco.
Not far from Marsh Harbor is Hope Town, the most visited place in the Bahamas. The village owes its popularity to the lighthouse, which is called Hope Town. The lighthouse was erected in 1863 on Elbow Reef. It is worth noting that the locals disapproved of the construction, as they thought it would interfere with trade. The lighthouse is a historical monument because it and another lighthouse today are the only non-automated lighthouses, that is, the production of light is done with kerosene. The height of the lighthouse is 37 meters, so Hope Town can be classified as a rather high lighthouse. In order to get to the top of the lighthouse, you must overcome 101 steps. But, overcoming this obstacle will reward you with an unforgettable in its beauty beauty view.
It is safe to say that Great Abaco is a place where there is eternal summer, no cold winters, and the traveler does not leave a feeling of joy and happiness.
During the dry season, which lasts from October to May.
Marsh Harbor’s restaurants are mostly concentrated on the city’s main street, Don MacKay Boulevard. All of the restaurants are monotonous. And on Great Guan’s Reef is the Nativ-Pork Rost, which is the most famous restaurant in town.
Abaco is a true paradise for sailing enthusiasts. Near every cove you can see an equipped marina. Fishing and all known water sports are available to vacationers. The main center of sport fishing in the Bahamas is Valk Cay Reef, which is washed by the warm Gulf Stream.
The town of Marsh Harbour is home to duty-free stores, which are concentrated on the town’s main street, Don MacKay Boulevard.
How to get there
Fly to Nassau International Airport (NAS) or Grand Bahama – Freeport International Airport (FPO). Then fly to Abaco Island at Marsh Harbour Airport (MHH). Some international flights also fly to this airport.
You can also get to Abaco Island by water. For example, the Bahamas Fast Ferry runs from the capital island of Nassau. It arrives at Sandy Point in the south of Abaco Island.
Smaller islands near Abaco Island can be reached by Alburys Ferry Service and Green Turtle Ferry.
Going to the Bahamas, one should be careful in choosing a place to stay. New Providence and Grand Bahama offer lively resorts, while Crooked Island and Acklins offer wilderness and minimal infrastructure. If you’re looking for the golden mean – good hotels, all the benefits of civilization and at the same time the exotic of wildlife – go to the islands of Abaco. Let’s find out what good is the rest here.
The Abaco Islands are located in the northern part of the Bahamas archipelago, 290 km from Florida. This is a group of islands, which has a memorable boomerang shape. Two of them – the largest – are named Big Abaco and Little Abaco. The others are very small, there are 13 of them:
- Man-o-War Cay;
- Wood Cay;
- Moore’s Island;
- Elbow Cay;
- Little Grand Cay;
- Lubbers Quarters Cay;
- Walker’s Cay;
- Green Turtle Cay;
- Umbrella Cay;
- Great Guana Cay;
- Stranger’s Cay;
- Castaway Cay.
The Abaco Islands have a total area of 1,681 square kilometers. On this territory there are such towns:
In fact, they are quite small settlements, but offer visitors to the island a full range of services for a paradisiacal vacation. Greater Abaco and Lesser Abaco are populated by 16692 people (according to 2010 data). The racial ratio of the population is about 60% white and 40% dark-skinned. Local residents are employed mainly in the tourism industry. Besides, the Abaco Islands are also engaged in shipbuilding, logging, lumber export, lobster and exotic fruits.
The best time to visit is from October to May, when the dry season reigns in the northern Bahamas. Monthly rainfall during this time does not exceed 100 mm, and the temperature of the air and ocean water ranges between +25 ⁰С and +30 ⁰С.
A bit of history
Since time immemorial, the Abaco Islands were inhabited by the Lucayans, an ancient Indian tribe. Later they were exterminated by the Spaniards who sailed after Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Abaco was further inhabited by the Loyalists, and in 1783 the British Empire established its rule here.
There were several attempts before the independence of the Bahamas to turn the Abaco into a sort of autonomy under British jurisdiction, but they ended in nothing and in 1973 the islands of Abaco became part of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
Nature is the main treasure of the Abaco Islands. Several national parks have been founded here, which tourists enjoy visiting. These are:
- Abaco and Walker Cay National Parks, where you can see rainforests and rare Bahamian parrots;
- Pelican Key Land Marine Park;
- Black Sand, Tealu Cay and Foal Cay Reserves.
There is also a lot to see in Abaco from the cultural attractions:
- Don McKay Boulevard, Marsh Harbor’s main street. It is filled with restaurants, stores, boutiques, malls, and cafes.
- Seaview Castle, built by an American doctor who decided to spend the sunset of his life in the paradisiacal Bahamas;
- The Pete`s Gallery is an unusual pub that offers entertainment and entertainment with a Bahamian flavor;
By default, the main pastime for tourists in the Bahamas – and Abaco is no exception – is beach vacation. The coastline is covered with white sand and tropical vegetation, and the water is crystal clear and always warm. The most popular beaches in Abaco are Tahiti Beach (shallow, palm-fringed), as well as Treasure Cay, Sandy Point, home to starfish, and Great Guana Cay.
Other recreational activities available to vacationers include:
- Water activities: sailing, diving, snorkeling, surfing, sport fishing;
- a trip to the island of Elbow Key, where tourists are waiting for a fascinating hike through the old gardens and visit the lighthouse of the XIX century construction;
- Visit the historic Hope Town Museum, where a rare collection of Chinese porcelain is on display;
- a deep-sea dive of the 1862 Adirondack shipwreck off the coast of Man Ovo Cay; and a tour of the island’s towns and their few landmarks.
Accommodations on the Abaco Islands are luxurious apartments with everything you need, usually within a minute’s walk of equally luxurious beaches. The only drawback noted by tourists is not very fast staff. The fact that the inhabitants of the Bahamas, mostly natives of African countries, in general, people are slow, affects measured life on the islands – no one is in a hurry anywhere. However, it is offset by stunning views from the windows – the endless coast with white sand, palm trees and turquoise water.
Among the best hotels in Abaco are mentioned:
Abaco vacationers eat mostly in hotel restaurants. However, if you wish, you can also find individual establishments – from modest cafes to chic restaurants, and the latter are much more numerous. The reason for this is simple – Abaco islands have long been fancied by sailing enthusiasts, and in the cozy lagoons of Marsh Harbor throughout the year you can see dozens of expensive yachts, whose owners are used to visiting exclusively expensive restaurants.
As for cuisine, the resorts of Greater and Lesser Abaco offer European, American, Caribbean dishes and, of course, the national cuisine of the Bahamas. It is dominated by seafood, fish, exotic fruits, rice and peas.
Shopping enthusiasts can visit the Bahamas Design Studio, which sells traditional island souvenirs. These are mostly handmade items made of fabric – quilts, bedspreads, pillows with original patterns. Those who want to save money head to the duty-free stores, many of which are located on Don McKay Boulevard in the island’s capital, Greater Abaco.
In addition to handmade goods, on Abaco you can buy such an original item as a shark’s jaw. Of course, it will only be a fragment made as an amulet, but the bone is the real deal – it is harvested by shark hunters from the Cherokee Sound community.
How to get there?
Marsh Harbor has an airport with international status. Flights arrive there from Nassau, Freeport, and elsewhere. Another way to get to Abaco is on the Bahamas Fast Ferry between Nassau and Sandy Point.
Similarly, you can travel between the islands of the Abaco group by water, if necessary. Boats, motorboats, and yachts are used for this purpose. There is no public transportation in the cities – only cabs.