With just under 100 miles of sheltered waterway known as the Sea of Abaco, The Abacos have long been known as the boating capital of the Bahamas, a place where one can enjoy pristine beaches, discover bountiful reefs and explore the surrounding cays and barrier islands.
Today many of the villages in the surrounding area still reflect the New England characteristics of their 1800s settlers, dating back to a time when fishing, wooden boat building and wrecking, (salvaging damaging ships) became the mainstays of the local economy. As one travels through the surrounding settlements, the beautifully restored cottages, churches and historic museums seem almost untouched by time, taking travelers on a journey to the past dating back to when the first Loyalist settlers arrived from the United States in 1783.
These fascinating settlements and cays are easily accessible by ferry or you can rent your own boat and spend the day exploring at your leisure. The cays surrounding Abaco Beach Resort and Marina are Elbow, where Hope Town is located, Man-O-War, Scotland, Great Guana, Green Turtle, Spanish, Lubbers, Matt Lowe’s and Grand Cay, which was once a favorite retreat of former U.S. president Richard Nixon. The cays boast a number of restaurants, bars, art galleries and of course beaches, each cay offering their own unique experience.
While visiting the cays, a few of the stops you may want to visit include the Albert Lowe museum on Green Turtle Cay, a restored 150 year-old mansion that houses exhibits on local history and the landmark candy-striped lighthouse at Elbow Cay is a must for any visitor as it is one of the last operational kerosene-fueled lighthouses in the world! One can witness first-hand the craftsmanship of boatbuilding and the making of canvas goods on Man-O-War Cay, a tradition that has been passed down for centuries.
Those looking to explore natural wonders above and below the water should set out for Pelican Cay National Park, an underwater preserve, or the Abaco National Park, a 20,000 acre site south of Marsh Harbour settlement, encompassing the nesting area and habitat of the Abaco Parrot.
Within five miles of Marsh Harbour one will find themselves at the center of some of the best fishing grounds in the world. Whether chasing elusive bonefish across the shallow, crystal clear sand flats or wrestling enormous marlin offshore, the waters of Abaco offer a diversity of highly coveted game fish. Anglers can choose from a wide range of professional fishing charters, helmed by expert skippers who know just where to find the fish or head out and explore the limitless possibilities with their own crew.
The commercial hub and capital of The Abacos is right here in Marsh Harbour, which offers a number of restaurants and several local night spots where one can enjoy live music and entertainment. There are also many local shops offering art, jewelry, perfumes and locally made products. For those looking to explore the many settlements of the main land from Sandy Point in the south to Crown Haven in the north, rental cars are available as are rental boats. Throughout the year Marsh Harbour plays host to a number of local cultural events, including the Junkanoo Summer Festival, the Annual Regatta sailing event, which goes through The Abacos each year in July, and a variety of cultural events.