Excerpt...Hidden Bahamas Ordering Information
Chapter 6 --The Abaco Islands
If you want a good introduction to Out Island life, without going to a frontier-like extreme, the Abacos are a perfect choice. Often called the top of the Bahamas, the Abacos are the furthest north of the Bahamian islands and stretch for about 125 miles from north to south, but rarely more than four miles in width. They are situated about 200 miles off the coast of Florida and encompass a total of about 650 square miles.
In many ways, the Abaco Islands are similar to Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, in that you have the mainland of Great Abaco and Little Abaco and then you have several offshore Cape Cod-like Loyalist cays, which are similar to Harbour Island and Spanish Wells. The development pattern of the Abacos was also similar, with a few twists.
The Spanish, including Ponce de Leon, really didnt pay too much attention to the Abacos at first. As with many other Bahamian islands, however, they did eventually enslave the Lucayans inhabiting the islands and eventually erased the population.
As with several other islands in the Bahamas, many Loyalists came to the Abacos in the 1780s and later, first establishing themselves on the mainland and then moving to establish major settlements on Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Green Turtle Cay. The first settlement was near what is now Treasure Cay. It was called Carleton after the settlers military leader back in New York.
Though the original settlement in Carleton failed, the other settlements slowly grew and thrived. They tried farming, but failing that, became first-class boatbuilders and fishermen. Many of these early settlers were from New York, but some were from New England and already had strong boatbuilding and fishing skills. Wrecking was also quite profitable.
These settlers were also joined by other Loyalists from Harbour Island off Eleuthera. The descendants of these early settlers from the U.S. mainland and from Harbour Island form the core of the population on the outlying islands today and total almost 50% of the entire population in the Abacos (compared to about 10% in the Bahamas as a whole). The total population is around 7,000.
The Loyalist background of the Abacos is so strong that many residents vehemently opposed the independence of the Bahamas. Leonard Thompson (see Elbow Cays Hopetown Hideaways under Lodging) and many other descendants of the original settlers even went to England to solicit the support of Queen Elizabeth II, but their attempts failed.
Today, the Abacos have developed into one of the major tourist destinations in the Out Islands. Along with the excellent boating, fishing and scuba diving, the Abacos are a major tourist attraction because of this Loyalist background. The three major settlements mentioned above are a fascinating trip back in time and something that many visitors to the Bahamas would never expect.
No matter where you choose to stay, youll probably end up in Marsh Harbour at some point. Centrally located on the mainland (Great Aboco and Little Abaco), its the third largest town in the Bahamas, but well behind Nassau and Freeport/Lucaya. From here, its easy to explore all of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, which are connected by a bridge, as well as reaching all of the interesting offshore cays, which are covered from south to north. Marsh Harbour can be a great base if you want to explore many parts of the Abacos.
There really isnt much to see in Marsh Harbour proper and its easy to walk around most of it, though the town does tend to spread out pretty far. The busy harbor and marinas can make for interesting pictures. Some of the best shopping and boat services in the Out Islands lure boaters for at least a day or two and the many outstanding outfitters lure divers, fishermen and other watersports enthusiasts.
The main road, called Bay Street, has most of the shopping and other services. Queen Elizabeth Drive, which has one of only two traffic lights in the Out Islands, has the rest of the commercial activity on it or nearby. The other traffic light is on Eleuthera, in Governors Harbour.
Sitting atop a small hill overlooking town, look for the bright yellow castle-like building. This was the home of Dr. Evans Cottman, an American who moved to the Abacos in the 1940s and wrote a fascinating account of his experience, called Out Island Doctor. You should be able to find a copy in one of the stores. His second book, My Castle in the Air, relates his experience building the castle on the hill. Both books make for interesting reading during a stay in the Abacos and provide interesting insight into the Abacos and many other Out Islands.
Though the doctor and his Abaconian wife have passed away, their daughter Gayle runs Castle Cafe & Seaview Gift Shop on the ground floor and she still lives upstairs. This historic place offers a nice view of Marsh Harbour and a slice of an unusual life. Closed Saturday and Sunday. ~ Marsh Harbour; 367-2315.
Marsh Harbour is also the base for Novembers Abaco Week Festival. This interesting event celebrates the arrival of the Loyalists in the 1780s, with a parade, food, fishing and other fun events.
While youre in Marsh Harbour, be sure to stop by the friendly Ministry of Tourism Office, located on Queens Highway near the stoplight in Marsh Harbour. They can help with virtually any request in the Abacos and have lots of brochures and other published information, including copies of Abaco Life, a wonderfully informative publication. They can also provide information about the excellent People-to-People program in the islands (see Special Feature in Chapter One). These are fabulous islands in which to meet locals and learn about a unique culture. ~ Queen Elizabeth Drive, Marsh Harbour; 367-3067.
For further exploration of the mainland, you should also consider contacting Curtis Sands at Sand Dollar Tours. Mr. Sands has a comfortable van in which he conducts several types of tours each week, with a different tour running each day or special private tours. The possibilities include: several beaches, historic sights, snorkeling, golf, native dining and trips over to Green Turtle Cay. Mr. Sands is a knowledgeable and friendly guide and his reasonably-priced tours are recommended. ~ P.O. Box 20538, Marsh Harbour; 367-2189.
Another option is to hire one of the local taxi drivers to take you to specific spots you choose together. Any one of the friendly Marsh Harbour drivers is a good choice, but Fabian Archer (367-3780) is a particularly enjoyable guide and companion throughout Great Abaco.
South of Marsh Harbour
Heading south out of Marsh Harbour, the road passes through a quiet Bahamas National Trust sanctuary. This is a preserve for the endangered Bahamian parrot, but there are also many other birds to seen. For more information about exploring the sanctuary, visit the Ministry of Tourism office in Marsh Harbour, consider joining one of the Island Vacations tours (see Outdoor Adventures) or contact the Bahamas National Trust at P.O. Box N 4105, Nassau, Bahamas; 393-1317.
Further south, about 20 miles out of Marsh Harbour, the little village of Cherokee Sound has about 150 friendly residents. Just a few miles out of town, Different of Abaco is a truly different hotel and restaurant (see Lodging and Dining). Even if youre not staying here, be sure to visit if youre exploring the southern half of the island. Along with friendly lodging and meals, owner Nettie Symonette also offers a small museum displaying dolls made by her daughter, Lorna Miller.
Near Cherokee Sound sits Little Harbour, the home of artists Randolph and Margot Johnson. This interesting couple came to the Abacos in the early-1950s with their family and lived an interesting existence on their own. Randolph cast bronze sculptures, while Margot worked with porcelain figures and glazed metals. While Randolph has passed away, Margot is still alive and living in Florida. Their son, Pete, still lives in Little Harbour and sells his own jewelry, as well as his parents work, in the gallery and studio. Theres an adjoining bar and an overall festive atmosphere for those who make it out here. Theres also an lighthouse on the peninsula. You catch a ferry to this paradise from Marsh Harbour, but be sure to make arrangements in advance to visit the studio. ~ P.O. Box 20530, Little Harbour; 367-2720.
Also lying off the coast of this area as a sort of sister to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park features sensational undersea caves and seemingly endless coral reefs. Its located eight miles north of Great Abacos Cherokee Sound. Many divers and snorkelers enjoy exploring this protected park, which is mostly underwater. ~ Bahamas National Trust, P.O. Box N 4105, Nassau, Bahamas; 393-1317.
Visitors rarely venture further south. There is, however, a little fishing village to the southwest at Sandy Point. Adventurous beach-lovers will also find a good secluded beach there. Even further south, Hole-in-the-Wall has a lonely lighthouse that is seen mainly by boaters who recognize it as the southern tip of Great Abaco.
North of Marsh Harbour
Heading north out of Marsh Harbour, smooth Sherben A. Booth Highway leads through pretty pine forests to Treasure Cay. Though this was once an island, its now connected to the mainland. It was in this area that the original Loyalists settled in an area called Carleton.
Treasure Cays beautiful beach is the big draw here and its so nice that an entire resort community, marina, hotel and private homes have developed here. The first such tourist development in the Bahamas, it was the brainchild of Leonard Thompson. This Exumas native wrote a wonderful account of his life in and out of the Out Islands, called I Wanted Wings. He still lives in Marsh Harbour and his son and daughter-in-law are tourism entrepreneurs over on Elbow Cay. Along with the books by Dr. Evans Cottmann mentioned above, Mr. Thompsons book provides interesting insight into local life.
Along with Marsh Harbours airport, theres another airport a bit north of Treasure Cay, which people staying here or over on Green Turtle Cay use. Treasure Cay is also the place to catch a ferry over to Green Turtle Cay (see below).
Theres really little to see north of Treasure Cay and few visitors head further toward Little Abaco, which was one separated by the mainland but is now joined by a bridge.
Starting with Elbow Cay in the south, the cays of the Abacos are still really the heart and historic soul of this island group. Elbow Cays village of Hope Town is another one of those Loyalist villages that will make you think youve reached Cape Cod instead of an island in the Bahamas. The prettily-painted clapboard cottages surrounded by white picket fences are easily seen on foot (the town proper doesnt allow cars).
The population on Elbow Cay is made up mostly of the descendants of British Loyalists. On Sundays, many of the friendly and quite religious residents attend an interesting outdoor service right on the waterfront.
The tiny main road along the waterfront has the elaborate name of Queens Highway and there is another small road running parallel to it just above town. On this upper road, be sure to stop by the Wyannie Malone Museum and Garden (H), which is usually open for a few hours in the morning. This phenomenal South Carolina woman was the founder of the island (now including lots of Malones) and the museum has a wide range of island exhibits starting in the 1780s. Donation recommended. ~ Hope town; no phone.
Outside Hope Town, by far the biggest highlight is the lighthouse. Built in 1863, this red-and-white tower actually met resistance from some locals because it would reduce the chances of shipwrecks, from which some islanders made a living. The kerosene-powered light is still hand-cranked by two islanders. The view from the top is well worth the climb. From here, youll probably notice a pretty palm-fringed stretch of sand, appropriately called Tahiti Beach (see Beaches and Parks).
The next cay to the north is Man-O-War Cay, which in many ways is similar to Elbow Cay in its Loyalist background. But this island is much less-developed and is generally popular as a daytrip. The subdued, but friendly, islanders (many of whom have the surname Albury) have a reputation as being some of the finest boatbuilders in the world. Though the demand for handcrafted wooden boats has diminished, you can still see them plying their craft in the harbors boatyard.
Be sure to stop by Alburys Sail Shop for a look at how the islanders have adopted sailmaking to clothing. Nearby, Edwins Boat Yard is a great place to observe the process of sailmaking and repair.
The next island in this cay escapade is Great Guana Cay, at seven miles the longest of the eastern chain. In the islands small village, theres a sign the says, Its Better in the Bahamas, but its Gooder in Guana. As with the other islands, youll find New England-like Loyalist cottages. But youll also find one of the finest beaches in the Abacos, stretching the entire length of the island. This is a tough daytrip and most people come here if they are staying or have their own boat.
Next to the north, Green Turtle Cay is a real gem and well worth a visit, even if youre not staying on the island. The highlight of the Green Turtle Cay is definitely the village of New Plymouth, yet another quaint Loyalist village where most of the islands 400 or so residents live.
Though the colorful clapboard houses are reason enough to come to New Plymouth, the Albert Lowe Museum (H) provides additional impetus. This is one of the best Out Island museums youll visit. This former Loyalist home was wonderfully restored and a tour includes the stone kitchen, the upstairs bedrooms and an incredible array of island photographs and artifacts, as well as interesting paintings by Alton Lowe, son of boatbuilder and museum founder Albert Lowe. Several of Lowes paintings have been used for Bahamas postage stamps and more of his work (and other local painters) can be seen in the museums basement. Admission. ~ Parliament Street; 365-4094.
One other sight thats hard to miss in town is the Memorial Sculpture Garden (H). The unique layout in the pattern of the British flag and the plaques describing those honored with sculptures make for an interesting stroll. Along with early island residents, Alton Lowe is honored with a statue. ~ Across from the New Plymouth Inn; no phone.
If you happen to be on Green Turtle Cay on New Years Day, youll be fortunate to experience New Plymouths Bunce Celebration. This local parade and party celebrates the legend of Bunce, an 19th century character supposedly caught by the Loyalists.
To the northwest by about 12 miles, Spanish Cay is another popular outlying island. This is not, however, a daytrip destination. You go there because youll be staying at the one inn or in a private home at The Inn at Spanish Cay (see Lodging). While there, life revolves around where youre staying, with typical pursuits including boating, diving and dining.
Even further north, Walkers Cay is at the top of the top of the islands. You generally reach this island by plane or boat from Florida and most visitors come for the world-renowned fishing. Other than that, onshore life revolves around well-known
Walkers Cay Hotel and Marina (see Lodging). There is a also a tropical fish commercial operation, called Agualife, where you can arrange a tour of the operation. Most of the locals live just across the water on Grand Cay.
With one of the most-developed tourism industries in the Out Islands, the Abacos feature a wide range of lodging choices and experiences.
Marsh Harbour has a number of nice hotels, starting with Great Abaco Beach Resort. This 80-room hotel is a Marsh Harbour tropical oasis to watersports enthusiasts, with a marina on one side of the property and a nice beach on the other. This is probably the most resort-like hotel in the Abacos. The rooms are modern and clean, with balconies offering nice views of the Sea of Abaco. You can also rent one of six moderately-priced two-bedroom villas (with kitchens). Surprisingly, there are even phones and televisions in every room. There are two pools, diving, tennis, watersports and many other active offerings right at the hotel. The restaurants and bars are popular with guests and non-guests. ~ P.O. Box 511, Marsh Harbour; 367-2158, 800-468-4799, fax 367-2819. Moderate.
If you want to be right in Marsh Harbour and want lots of space, try Abaco Towns by the Sea. They have more than 60 large two-bedroom timeshare units for rent, including modern kitchens. Many of the apartments overlook the Sea of Abaco and the propertys small beaches. The staff here is especially helpful and friendly and most of Marsh Harbour is just outside your doorstep. ~ P.O. Box 486, Marsh Harbour; 367-2227, 800-322-7757, fax 322-7757. Moderate.
Just across and up the street a block, the Conch Inn Resort & Marina (The Moorings) is popular with sailors looking for a bed and bath, divers diving with Dive Abaco and island wanderers on a budget. There are only nine hotel-like rooms and they all overlook the marina. The restaurant and bar (see below) is a popular Marsh Harbour hangout. ~ P.O. Box 20469, Marsh Harbour; 367-4000, fax 367-4004. Moderate.
Across from the Conch Inn, The Lofty Fig Villas are another good option for small groups and families. The six one-bedroom villas also have sleep sofas, kitchens and balconies. Theres a pool set amidst the pretty gardens. Its a very peaceful setting and a good Marsh Harbour value. Started by the Dawes family of Canada way back in 1971, youll feel like a member of the family by the end of your stay. ~ P.O. Box 20437, Marsh Harbour; 367-2681, fax 367-2681. Budget To Moderate.
Outside Marsh Harbour
If youre looking for something completely different on Great Abaco, head about 20 miles south of Marsh Harbour to Different of Abaco (H). The truly adventurous will appreciate this genuine Out Island inn, owned and operated by friendly Nettie Symonette, known for her bush teas--five fingers, love vine, madeira, strong bark stiff cock and many others. The eight rooms, with pleasant screened-in porches, are very simple and so is the lifestyle of the surrounding community. If you dont get into the rhythms of local life here, it wont happen anywhere. The inn is the base for one of the ecotourism tours offered by Island Vacations (see Outdoor Adventures) and is also very popular as a bonefishing base. Nearby, youre sure to see flamingos and many other feathered creatures. All meals (excellent Bahamian cooking) are included, but the restaurant also accepts non-guests who call in advance. ~ P.O. Box 20092, Casuarina Point; 366-2150, fax 327-8152. Moderate.
Up in the Treasure Cay resort community, you have several choices. Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina has hotel rooms overlooking the marina and villas spread throughout the sprawling property. You can choose standard hotel rooms, suites and two-bedroom villas with ocean views. Along with the stunning 3 1/2 mile beach (often included in lists of best beaches), amenities include: boating, tennis, golf, diving, fishing and many other watersports. Many guests staying here, at other complexes or in a private homes rent golf carts to get around the area. If you stay here, you just may end up taking advantages of one of their many real estate offerings. ~ P.O. Box 22183, Treasure Cay or 2301 South Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316; 367-2570, 305-325-7711, 800-327-1584, fax 367-3362 or 305-525-1699. Modreate To Deluxe.
Though there are also many other complexes on this great beach where you can rent condominiums, Banyan Beach Club is one of the best choices. Set on the beach away from most of the other developments, these pretty two-bedroom (plus loft) and three-bedroom condominiums are modern and nicely-furnished. There close enough to everything Treasure Cay has to offer, but still quiet enough for a secluded getaway. As with Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina can arrange for any activity nearby. ~ Treasure Cay or 2720 Biarritz Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; 365-8111, 888-625-3060, fax 561-625-3501. Moderate To Deluxe.
On Elbow Cay, there are several varied options. Overlooking the village and water, Hope Town Harbour Lodge is a convenient hotel-like property that has tropical-motif rooms overlooking the harbor and small cottages overlooking the ocean on the other side. There are two restaurants and a full-service marina offering a range of watersports. If you want to experience staying right in a Loyalist town, this is a good choice. ~ Hope Town, Elbow Cay; 366-0095, 800-316-7844, fax 809-366-0286. Moderate.
About 1 1/2 miles south of Hope Town, the Abaco Inn has just 12 cabins situated throughout its quiet hillside property, all with modern amenities and popular hammocks. Nearly hidden in the lush tropical palms, seagrapes and silver buttonwoods, youll either look out over the Atlantic or the Sea of Abaco, with each room featuring its own patio and hammock. This congenial place has a fun bar where guests and non-guests tend to congregate at night. ~ Hope Town, Elbow Cay; 366-0133, 800-468-8799, fax 366-0113. Deluxe.
Another mile or so south of town, Monty and Ruth Alburys Sea Spray Villas & Marina is a good all-purpose Elbow Cay choice. The six one- and two-bedroom villas overlooking the water are perfect for housekeeping holidays and the marina offers every outing imaginable. The Alburys, who both grew up on Man-O-War Cay will provide a good local island experience to every guest and can help with any arrangements (theyll even prepare an authentic Bahamian meal for you to enjoy in your villa. ~ Elbow Cay; 366-0065, fax 366-0383. Moderate.
Across the harbor, Hopetown Hideaways (H) offers a perfect hideaway housekeeping opportunity, with five large two-bedroom units offering unusually modern amenities (direct phone, VHF radio) and exceptionally-equipped kitchens. This waterfront property is ideal for a family or two couples. Though you can reach it by land, its easier to ride across the harbor in one of the many boats guests can use. They also have a new 12-slip marina and deck pool. Chris and Peggy Thompson can help you arrange almost anything on or off Elbow Cay and past guests cant say enough positive things about this couple or their perfect hideaway. Chris can also find the perfect house rental (or purchase) for you (see end of Lodging) Chriss father was an early Abacos developer and his book, I Wanted Wings, makes for a wonderful read while youre there. ~ Hope Town, Elbow Cay; 366-0224, fax 366-0434. Moderate To Deluxe.
Next door, Club Soleil Resort is another hotel-like property that offers standard accommodations in one of the most quiet settings imaginable. There are just six standard rooms, but most people spend their time by the pool or taking advantage of the marina and the many activities possible. Rudy and Kitty Malone are the helpful hosts at this popular little resort. ~ Elbow Cay; 366-0003, fax 366-0254. Moderate.
Man-O-War Cays best option is Schooners Landing and its ideal for a housekeeping holiday. There are only four two-bedroom duplex townhouse apartments on a hillside overlooking the beach, all with kitchens (be sure to stock up before arriving or get them to call in your groceries order). A wide variety of watersports are available right at the resort. Keep in mind this is a very quiet and quite religious little island. ~ Man-O-War Cay; 365-6072, fax 365-6285. Deluxe.
Situated right on Great Guana Cays seven-mile beach, Guana Beach Resort is the islands only choice and its a true hideaway. The 15 renovated rooms and suites feature kitchens and tropical furnishings. Though boating is the main pursuit, the marina can arrange almost any watersport imaginable, when youre not drawn by just lounging on one of the best beaches youll ever see. ~ P.O. Box 530218, Great Guana Cay or P.O. Box 530128, Miami, FL 33153; 367-3590, fax 305-751-9570. Moderate To Deluxe.
If you can afford to stay here, then you probably already know about the Green Turtle Club. This place has the feel of a ritzy Florida yacht club right in the middle of the Bahamas. Situated right on a beautiful beach and overlooking a yachty harbor, this exclusive club does have actual members, but they also allow visitors to stay in one of more than 30 rooms and suites. The feel is definitely upper-class and the staff is trained accordingly. Its a few miles into New Plymouth, but most visitors either dont worry about the cost of a taxi or they simply take their own boat. ~ Green Turtle Cay; 365-4271, fax 365-4272. Deluxe.
More subdued, many people will find the Bluff House Club & Marina to their liking. Set on a hill overlooking a pretty beach, the heavily-wooded and peaceful property has standard hotel rooms, as well as stunning suites and villas. The secluded hillside rooms are particularly popular. Mary Lewis (Miss Molly) McIntosh is your personable hostess. Theres a small marina, five-minute ferries to New Plymouth, a very popular restaurant (try the blackened grouper), tennis and lots of watersports and activities. ~ Green Turtle Cay; 365-4247, fax 365-4248. Moderate.
If you like to live in the midst of history, then the New Plymouth Club & Inn (H) is a perfectly historic choice. Owner Wally Davies has turned this wonderful old New Plymouth house into one of the most interesting B&Bs in the Bahamas. There are only nine simple and clean rooms, but they all have private bathrooms. Theres a nice garden, a small pool and popular hammocks, a solid dining room and any activity you care to ask Mr. Davies to arrange (hes a devoted scuba diver). ~ New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay; 365-4161, fax 365-4138. Moderate.
If youre traveling as a group or family and want to experience Green Turtle Cay, then contact Coco Bay Cottages about one of their four cottages. The small oceanfront resort at the northern end of the island, where only 600 feet separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Sea of Abaco, has two nice beaches and four modern cottages that have two bedrooms and full kitchens. One of the cottages faces the Atlantic, one faces the Sea of Abaco and the other two have views of both sides. If you eat at least some meals in, its a good deal. Owner Nicole Fleming is a perfect hostess. ~ Green Turtle Cay; 365-4464, 800-752-0166, fax 365-4390. Moderate.
Another good cottage choice is found at Lintons Beach and Harbour Cottages. Just two two-bedroom cottages overlook a 3,500-foot secluded beach. One cottage sits slightly behind a dune in a palmetto grove and the other sits right atop a crest. Both have full kitchen facilities. The Linton family purchased these cottages more than 20 years ago and have been welcoming many first-time and repeat guests ever since. Their manager can take care of any on-island needs and activities during your stay. Youll find a truly quiet island experience here, but its still within walking distance of New Plymouth. ~ New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay or P.O. Box 158601, Nashville, TN 37215; 615-269-5682. Deluxe.
Spanish Cay only has The Inn at Spanish Cay, which offers several expensive rental options, including a total of 14 one-, two- and three-bedroom garden suites and four large homes. Most of the suites and all of the privately-owned homes have kitchens. The inn (and the island) are for those who want to get away from it all and can afford to do it in luxury. Along with the boating out of the marina, primary activities include diving, heading to one of several quiet beaches and dining at one of two restaurants. You typically reach Spanish Cay by your own boat, by air charter or by flying into Treasure Cay and boating over from there. ~ Spanish Cay or Investco, Inc., 35 Nottingham Boulevard, Suite 2, West Palm Beach, FL 333405; 365-0083, 407-655-0172, 800-688-4752, fax 365-0083. Deluxe To Ultra Deluxe.
Way up on Walkers Cay, the boating set stays at Walkers Cay Hotel and Marina. The hotel part features more than 60 varied rooms and several villas, which have ocean views from their balconies. They also have Harbour House, a three-bedroom/three-bath house with an extended patio. The food is upscale continental and quite creative. The Lobster Trap is a popular place for the sailing set to grab a drink. You typically reach Walkers Cay by your own boat or by using the hotels air charter service. ~ Walkers Cay; 359-1400, 800-432-2092, fax 305-359-1400. Moderate To Deluxe.
If you want to rent a house in the Abacos, there are lots of options and contacts. In and around Marsh Harbour, Patrick Bethel Real Estate (367-2806) should prove helpful. Up in Treasure Cay, contact PGF Management & Rentals (367-2570) or William (Bill) Hertz (365-8061). On Elbow Cay, contact friendly Chris Thompson (366-0224), who knows this island about as well as anyone. On Great Guana Cay, Edmond Pinder (367-2207) and Donna Sands (365-5195) are good resources. Abaco Vacation Res (508-874-5995, 800-633-9197) represents cottages, villas, houses and small resorts throughout the Abacos.
The quality and service of restaurants in the Abacos is among the finest in the Bahamas. Several hotels have nice restaurants that might not be covered specifically below.
In Marsh Harbour, my favorite restaurant is Mangoes. The waterfront setting at sunset, the smiling service staff, the fun bar and the food make for a good combination frequented by those staying in Marsh Harbour, boaters anchored nearby and even people staying out on one of the cays. The conch chowder is a tasty appetizer. For entrees, any of the fresh fish dishes prepared in simple and sometimes creative ways are excellent. The seafood plate is always popular, typically offering fresh fish, cracked conch and shrimp. The desserts, including key lime pie, are superb. ~ Bay Street, Marsh Harbour; 367-2366. Moderate To Deluxe.
Across the street, Wallys is located in a two-story pink building that offers inside and outside dining. Wally Smith is the friendly owner and guests sit in large wicker chairs to enjoy native cooking for lunch and dinner. Of course, seafood is a specialty. ~ Bay Street, Marsh Harbour; 367-2074.
The Conch Inn Cafe at the Conch Inn Resort & Marina caters to the boating set with good basic seafood amidst the expected nautical setting. The varied snapper, grouper and conch dishes are consistently good. If you like rum drinks, try the Conch Killer. ~ Bay Street, Conch Inn Resort & Marina, Marsh Harbour; 367-2319. Moderate.
Across the harbor, youll find The Jib Room. Theres a downstairs restaurant and an upstairs bar thats popular with locals. Steak, ribs, conch sousse (stew) and seafood are the specialties at this casual, but high-quality, establishment. Boaters say the restaurants rooftop creates a yellow glow at night that acts like a beacon light. ~ Marsh Harbour; 367-2700. Moderate.
If you have a hankering for a good old pizza (with a Bahamian twist), stop by or call Sharkees Island Pizza. This wonderful little restaurant has lots of different sandwiches, but the freshly-made pizzas, including versions with spiced local chicken or conch, are what draws crowds of locals and visitors. You can eat it there, take it along or have them deliver it. ~ Bay Street; 367-3535.
Outside Marsh Harbour
Located about two miles north of Marsh Harbour in Dundas Town, Mother Merles Fishnet (H) is one of the more traditional native restaurants on Great Abaco. Merle Thompson cooks some of the islands best fish and chicken and serves it in a simple candle-lit restaurant. ~ Dundas Town; 367-2770. Moderate To Deluxe.
Further afield, 20 miles south to Casuarina Point, Different of Abaco (H) (see Lodging) owner Nettie Symonette fixes excellent two-course native meals for her guests and anyone else who happens to be out exploring the southern end of Great Abaco (call ahead). ~ Casuarina Point; 366-2150. Moderate.
Up in Treasure Cay, Spinnaker offers good seafood and continental dining, overlooking the marina. There are two nice bars overlooking the water that are typically active with the boating set and guests or residents. Many people rent units with kitchen facilities, in that the dining and drinking choices in Treasure Cay are rather limited. ~ Treasure Cay; 367-2570. Deluxe.
Over on Elbow Cay, theres an unusually large number of good restaurants relative to the size of the island and the number of guests who can stay there. This makes dining out one of the biggest daily events of a stay there. If youre just, sadly, going for the day, be sure to at least try lunch at one of these places. Right in town, you cant go wrong with casual lunches and dinners at Harbours Edge (366-0087) or Capn Jacks (366-0247), as well as interesting healthy choices prepared by Norris Smith at Munchies (366-0423). For fresh baked goods, Bessies Bakery is easily found by following your nose. Moderate.
The most talked-about restaurant on Elbow Cay is the Abaco Inn (see Lodging). This is serious continental cuisine, with a Bahamian twist. The conch chowder or another special soup is typically followed by a choice of expertly-prepared seafood or beef. The view of the sea matches the ambiance and the food. ~ Abaco Inn, Elbow Cay; 367-2666. Deluxe.
With a nice setting looking across the harbor at Hope Town, the restaurant at Club Soleil is another good choice, even if youre not staying there. The seafood platter is well worth the trip, though there are also many excellent individual fish and meat dishes for lunch and dinner. ~ Hope Town; 366-0003.
Finally, in the middle of the island, Rudys Place draws lots of repeat business from Elbow Cay veterans. Chef and owner Rudy Moree will send a van to pick you up and take you back to your lodging. In between, youll be treated to incredibly creative native concoctions like local lobster in changing sauces. Depending on your entree, its a fixed price for a special three-course meal. ~ Center Line Road, Elbow Cay; 366-0062. Deluxe.
Up on Man-O-War Cay and Great Guana Cay, youre pretty much limited to the lodging choices on the island (Schooners Landing, 365-6072, Guana Beach Resort, 367-3590, respectively) . But keep in mind that service and food quality is quite good in the Abacos and that youll never tire of the creative dishes offered. If you do, just head into Marsh Harbour or even over to Green Turtle Cay or Elbow Cay for something different.
Up on Green Turtle Cay, the choices are excellent at all of the previously mentioned lodging choices. Green Turtle Club (365-4271), Bluff House Club & Marina (365-4247) and New Plymouth Inn (365-4161) feature elegant island settings and fresh seafood.
But Green Turtle Cay also has several great native restaurants that day-trippers and those staying on the island shouldnt miss. Right in town, Lauras Kitchen (365-4287) offers chicken and fish dishes in a casual setting. Nearby, look for the sign to Rainbow Restaurant (365-4210), just off the main road. Right on the water, The Wrecking Tree Restaurant & Bar (365-4263) offers local cooking and outdoor dining under the shade of a huge casuarina tree growing right through the restaurants deck. Just down the street, McIntosh Restaurant & Bakery (365-4625) serves hearty meals and lots of fresh bread, pies and cakes. On the edge of town, but also on the main road, Roosters Rest Pub and Restaurant (365-4066) features native cooking and local company (see Nightlife).
You dont exactly head to the Abacos for duty-free shopping. However, Marsh Harbour has lots of commercial activity and youll easily find most anything you need, including groceries and souvenirs. You should also be able to find the books previously recommended (Out Island Doctor, My Castle in the Air and I Wanted Wings), as well as Abaco Life, the informative island magazine.
In Marsh Harbour, good overall stores include the Loyalist Shoppe (Don MacKay Boulevard, 367-2701) and Abaco Treasures (Don MacKay Boulevard, 367-2701), but there are also several other good souvenir and duty-free shops (Island Gallery, 366-0354 and Barefoot Gifts, 367-3596) along the water on Bay Street (along with a small straw market). Also on Bay Street, Cultural Illusions (367-4648) offers a wide line of unique Bahamian creations, including quilts, dolls, food items, straw work, candy, books and music. For groceries, Bahamas Family Market (367-3714) on Queen Elizabeth Drive has a good selection. If you want some wonderful smelling and tasting fresh bread, head right to Lovelys Bakery (367-2710) on Queen Elizabeth Drive or Island Bakery (367-2129) on Don Mackey Boulevard.
Elsewhere in the Abacos, the shopping opportunities are rather limited. There are several interesting tourist-oriented shops in Hope Town on Elbow Cay and in New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, as well as a few small shops in Treasure Cay on the mainland. In each case, they shops are on one of two main drags and will be easy to find.
Two neat shops that youll want to visit on Man-O-War Cay are Alburys Sail Shop (365-6014), which sells sailcloth clothes and other items and Joes Studio (365-6082), which carries stunning ship models and other nautical artwork and items.
Most of the nightlife centers around the lodging and restaurant choices, with the proprietors sharing schedules so that there is music or a special event almost every night in Marsh Harbour or on Elbow Cay.
On Green Turtle Cay, the lodging recommendations mentioned above often have entertainment. But be sure to check out the scene on any day or night (except Sunday) at Roosters Rest Pub and Restaurant (see Dining, 365-4066) or Miss Emilys Blue Bee Bar (365-4181), where Emily Cooper and her drinks are a Green Turtle Cay legend with lots of good island stories. Her daughter, Violet Smith, is following in her famous footsteps. A trip to Green Turtle Cay isnt complete until youve stopped by Miss Emilys.
Beaches and Parks
As a sort of sister to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park features sensational undersea caves and seemingly endless coral reefs. Its located eight miles north of Great Abacos Cherokee Sound. ~ Bahamas National Trust, P.O. Box N 4105, Nassau, Bahamas; 393-1317.
There are literally dozens of excellent secluded beaches on the mainland on on the various cays. Wherever youre staying, youre almost certain to be within walking distance of a nice beach.
Often included on lists of best beaches in the world. This pleasant 3 1/2-mile stretch of sand has lots of activity and activities at the eastern and lots of solitude to the west. Many people fall in love with this place and end up buying somewhere on Treasure Cay or at least returning often.
Elbow Cays pleasant beach suits the seclusion of the rest of the island just fine. Many people that come to Hope Town and Elbow Cay are more of the boating set, so youll often find seclusion on Tahiti Beach and other sandy stretches on the island.
Guana Cay Beach
This beautiful seven-mile beach is typically uncrowded, thanks to the relative seclusion and lack of facilities on Great Guana Cay. If youre boating, this beach makes for a great boat trip. If youre not, your best bet is to stay at Guana Beach resort for at least one night.
Though ecotourism is a buzzword thats overused by many commercial operators, you can find the real thing in the Bahamas. One of my best finds was a Nassau-based company called Island Vacations. Theyve worked closely with the Bahamas National Trust and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism to develop escorted ecotourism group excursions throughout the Bahamas.
There are three tours for the Abacos. Bahamas Naturalist Expeditions is available in a land- or marine-based format. The land tour includes excellent birding, hiking, caving, kayaking and sightseeing. The marine tour includes lodging in two cottages on quiet Tilloo Cay, dolphin excursions, nature walks and birdwatching. Different of Abaco involves a stay at the unique hotel of the same name, providing the opportunity to view iguanas and flamingos, as well as many other birds and medicinal plants.
Though the tours are designed for three nights and four days, they can be adjusted to your time and interests. ~ Contact Island Vacations in the U.S. at 4327 Reflections Boulevard North, Suite 104, Sunrise, FL 33351; 305-748-1833, 800-900-4242, fax 305-748-1965 or in the Nassau at P.O. Box 13002, Town Centre Mall, Nassau, Bahamas; 356-1111, fax 356-4379.
If youre really into the outdoors, you should also contact Bahamas Naturalist Expeditions, a Bahamian eco-tourism company dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of the natural beauty in the Abacos and throughout the Bahamas. Their tours include nature walks, birdwatching, snorkeling and wild dolphin watches. There are full-day and half-day tours, all conducted by local and knowledgeable guides. ~ Marsh Harbour; 367-4505.
The Abacos offer very popular cruising grounds and boating services. Many boaters make the crossing to Walkers Cay from Palm Beach and then head over to Grand Bahama. There are a wide variety of anchorages and marinas, including Walkers Cay, Grand Cay, Coopers Town, Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour and Elbow Cay. Off Little Abaco and Great Abaco, there are d ozens of little cays and islands ideal for exploration by boat.
In Marsh Harbour, good boating contacts include Sunsail (305-484-5246, 800-327-2276); Boat Harbour Marina (367-2736); Gratitude Yachting Center (410-639-7111); The Moorings (367-4000); Richs Boat Rentals (367-2742); and Sea Horse Boat Rentals (367-2513), along with the various lodging options. Marsh Harbours Regatta Week in July is one of the premier boating events in the Bahamas, with a wide variety of races and serious or not-so-serious activities. Up in Treasure Cay, Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina (367-2750) and C&C Boat Rentals (365-8582) offer a wide range of boat rentals.
Over on Elbow Cay, Abaco Bahamas Charters (800-626-5690); Hope Town Marina (366-0003); Island Marine (366-0282); Lighthouse Marina (366-0154); Sea Horse Boat Rentals (367-2513) and your lodging choice can help with any boating arrangements on this water-oriented island. Daysail possibilities include the deserted Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park and Tilloo Cay.
On Green Turtle Cay, your choice of lodging can arrange any boating options, since they all either have marinas or have access to one. One favorite destination is deserted Manjack Cay. Similarly, up on Spanish Cay and Walkers Cay, both of the lone lodging choices can help with any boating arrangements needed. On Man-O-War Cay, call Man-O-War Marina (365-6008).
In Marsh Harbour, your hotel can help with any arrangements. Also on the mainland, Different of Abaco (366-2150) is a great find for bonefishing. You can stay there and they will arrange guides and details. Up in Treasure Cay, Treasure Cay Hotel Resort & Marina (367-2750) offers a wide range of fishing options, including bonefishing on nearby flats.
Over on Elbow Cay, contact Days Catch Charters (366-0059) for fishing. On Man-O-War Cay, call Man-O-War Marina (365-6008).
On Green Turtle Cay, fishing contacts can be made through your choice of lodging. Joe and Ronnie Sawyer (365-4173), a father-and-son combination, offer excellent deep-sea fishing excursions, as well as other activities. Bonefishing is also popular and is easily arranged with Lincoln Jones or other guides through the hotels. In May, the Green Turtle Club Fishing Tournament draws many participants for fish and fun.
Up on Spanish Cay and Walkers Cay, both of the lone lodging choices can help with any fishing arrangements needed. Of course, Walkers Cay is world-renowned for its deep-sea fishing and you have a chance at a fishing grand slam (catching a blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish all in the same day).
Serious anglers may also want to contact World Wide Sportsman. They offer bonefishing packages at Different of Abaco, as well as other spots around the Bahamas and the world. ~ P.O. Box 787, Islamorada, FL 33036; 305-664-4615, 800-327-2880, fax 305-664-3692.
The only game of golf you can play on the Abacos will be at the Treasure Cay Golf Club (367-2570). This pretty Dick Wilson course is rarely crowded and youll find the course is well-maintained and fun to play (i.e., not too difficult for most duffers).
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
The Abacos offer one of the largest barrier reefs in the world and several excellent dive operators to show it and other underwater spectacles to divers and snorkelers. Though you probably wont come to the Abacos specifically for the diving, you should definitely try it while youre there.
The Wreck of the San Jacinto is one of the most famous sites in the Abacos. The first ocean-going steamship built in the U.S. (1947), she sunk long ago in 1865 and has had plenty of time to develop lots of marine life. Theres a huge green moray eel and lots of fish and coral, all at just 40 feet. This is a popular night dive.
The Pillars is named for the abundant and spectacular pillar coral that stretch from 35 feet to the surface. This is another excellent night dive, when youre likely to see lots of sleeping parrot fish.
The Tarpon Dive is named for the huge size and number of tarpon that youll see at about 50 feet. However, youre also likely to see a green moray eel or two and maybe some stingrays and turtles.
Other dives that you may enjoy in the Abacos include: The Barge (a WWII landing craft); Coral Gardens (a garden of fan corals, gorgonian coral and sponges); Coral Canyons (an underwater canyon at 55 feet); and Hole In The Wall (a huge swim-through coral head).
Ideally situated at the Conch Inn Marina right in Marsh Harbour, Dive Abaco has one small boat and caters to small groups with personalized trips. They offer packages with the Lofty Fig, Abaco Town and Conch Inn, providing the perfect combination for Marsh Harbour and Abacos diving. ~ Conch Inn Marina, P.O. Box 20555; 367-2787, 800-247-5338.
Also on the mainland, up in Treasure Cay, Divers Down (365-8465) offers personalized diving and snorkeling trips. However, service seems to be limited.
Over on Elbow Cay, Hope Towns Daves Dive Shop is another small operator with flexible trips. Youll find seriously personalized outings from this friendly little shop. ~ Hope Town, Elbow Cay; 366-0029.
On Green Turtle Cay, Brendals Dive Shop offers great personalized service and lots of different dives, thanks to owner Brendal Stevens and his wife Mary Deutsch-Stevens. Along with an array of one- and two-tank dives, they also offer a unique Scuba dive & Picnic Lunch package thats lots of fun. Most of the dive trips also offer good snorkeling. You could easily justify a trip to Green Turtle Cay just for diving with Bahamian Brendal. ~ Green Turtle Cay; 365-4411, 800-780-9941, fax 954-467-7544.
Up on Spanish Cay . Though not as well-known, the diving is still quite good off of these more remote islands. You can dive through the Inn at Spanish Cay (365-0083, 407-655-0172, 800-688-4752).
If youre heading up to Walkers Cay, be sure to contact Walkers Cay Undersea Adventures. They have a many dive packages through Walkers Cay Hotel and Marina. ~ 800-327-8150.
The Abacos offer some of the finest and most numerous snorkeling site of anywhere in the world. Jean-Michel Cousteaus Out Islands Snorkeling Adventures, outlined in the Special Feature in this chapter, is a great way to experience Family Islands snorkeling. Current Abacos participants include: Abaco Inn (366-0133, 800-468-8799); Bluff House Club (365-4247, 800-688-4752); Great Abaco Beach Resort (367-2158, 800-468-4799); Green Turtle Club (688-4752, 800-688-4752); Guana Beach Resort (954-423-9796, 800-227-3366); Hope Town Harbour Lodge (366-0095, 800-316-7844); Pelican Beach Villas (367-3600, 800-642-7268); Spanish Cay Inn (365-0083, 800-688-4752); and Walkers Cay Hotel & Marina (954-359-1400, 800-WALKERS).
Sandy Cay Reef often has spotted eagle rays and large southern stingrays in the sandy patches. Fowl Cay Reef has many large fish, including Gillie the friendly grouper. Mermaid Reef often hides big green moray eels. Angelfish Reef has many of its namesake angelfish, while The Pillars was named for its large pillars of coral and Elkhorn Park features acres of elkhorn coral and several octopus. Pelican Park often has sea turtles and eagle rays.
Theres a shallow plane wreck at Smugglers Rest, but porcupine fish are now at the controls. Crawfish Shallows offers a great place to find local lobster and sleeping nurse sharks. For those who like exploring shallow arches and caverns, try Pirates Cathedral, White Hole and Spiral Cavern.
Compared to many Out Islands, the Abacos have frequent and flexible air service.
Youll either want to fly into Marsh Harbour or Treasure Cay, depending on your final destination. Be absolutely certain that you are flying into the right airport relative to your lodging. As with all of the Out Islands, service and routes can change often. Dont be surprised if your flight stops at another airport along the way.
American Eagle offers service to Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay from Miami. Bahamasair offers frequent flights from Nassau to both airports. They also have less frequent direct flights from Miami. Gulfstream Airlines flies in to both airports from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Island Express flies to both airports from Fort Lauderdale. USAir Express offers flights to both airports from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Majors Air Services flies between Marsh Harbour and Freeport. Pan Am Air Bridge flies their fun seaplanes from Fort Lauderdale to Walkers Cay.
Charters and Private planes are definitely another viable option for conveniently reaching the Family Islands. Though it may appear expensive at first, the convenience, flexibility and price-per-person may surprise you.
One of the best companies with the most service is Trans-Caribbean Air (954-434-5271 or 888-239-2929). They offer flights aboard their five-seater Piper Aztec from Fort Lauderdale International Airport or Miamis Opa Locka Airport to Spanish Cay, Marsh Harbor or Treasure Cay. The price is the same for one to five people, so this is especially popular with families or small groups.
Other possibilities include: Abaco Air; Cherokee Air; Congo Air; Pinders Charter Service; Reliable Air Service; Sky Unlimited; Taino Air Service or Vintage Props and Jets.
The Abacos are also a relatively easy mailboat trip, but be sure to read the Special Feature on mailboat travel before deciding to try this. Two boats, the M/V Deborah K and the M/V Champion II, leave Nassau for the Abacos during any given week, with stops throughout the islands (both standard and small ports). Contact the dockmaster (393-1064) at Potters Cay Dock in Nassau for the current schedule, which can change often and is subject to weather conditions.
Once there, you may use a taxi to get to certain parts of the mainland, but youll mostly use boats and ferry service to travel around the rest of the islands.
Taxis generally meet incoming planes at Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, taking passengers to mainland hotels or to the ferry docks, where you board a ferry for one of the outlying cays. Fabian Archer (367-3780) is a particularly good contact on Great Abaco. During your stay, youll either require a taxi or rental car to travel any distance on the mainland. On the offshore cays, taxis really arent needed.
If youre staying for any length of time on the mainland and want to explore more than your immediate surroundings, a rental car is a wise choice, even if its just for a day or two. Ask at your hotel for rental car options or call A&P Auto Rentals (367-2655); Agatha Archer Car Rentals (367-2148); H&L Car Rentals (367-2840); or Reliable Car Rentals (367-4234). If youre staying on Elbow Cay, you may also want to consider renting a golf cart from Kevin and Yvette Albury at Island Cart Rentals (366-0332). Carts on Green Turtle Cay are available from Cay Cart Rentals (365-4406).
Off the mainland, most travel is done by boat. Frequent visitors love using Alburys Ferry Service (367-3147), one of the most dependable transportation operations in the Bahamas. They offer service several times a day to Elbow Cay and Man-O-War Cay from Marsh Harbour. The boat rides are typically enjoyable and comfortable and the service is excellent in all respects. To get to Green Turtle Cay, you take one of the frequent ferries (365-4054) from the dock near Treasure Cay. It makes several stops on the island.
While most of the mainlands distances are too far for biking (except around Marsh Harbour), the outlying cays are great for biking and youll find yourself using bike often. Your lodging choice can probably arrange a rental or complimentary use of a cruiser. In Marsh Harbour, contact R&L Rent-a-Ride (367-2744) at the entrance of Abaco Towns By-the-Sea on Bay Street.
Though you dont see much hitchhiking in the Abacos, its usually easy to catch a ride on the mainland. Rather than sticking out your thumb, just ask around for a ride. Many locals will even go out of their way to get you to a restaurant or back to your hotel. Especially in less-traveled areas, however, you cant assume youll get picked up by a friendly local. You should always be prepared to walk to your destination, though you probably wont have to. On the outlying cays, you can typically ride your bike, walk or catch a ride with someone.
*Take a trip back in time to the Cape Cod-like Loyalist islands of Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Green Turtle Cay.
*Live like a Loyalist by staying at one of the small in-town inns on Elbow Cay or Green Turtle Cay, several of which are run by Loyalist descendents.
*Eat like a Loyalist, at the Wrecking Tree Restaurant & Bar, where you can enjoy native cooking and outdoor dining under the shade of a huge casuarina tree growing right through the restaurants deck.
*Hit a fishing grand slam at Walkers Cay Hotel and Marina, where theres the possibility of catching a blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish all in the same day.
*Loyalist descendants make up about 50% of the population in the Abacos, compared to about 10% in the rest of the Bahamas.
*Nettie Symonette at Different of Abaco brews a wide variety of bush teas for locals and guests.
*Dr. Evans Cottman moved to the Abacos from Indiana in the 1940s and went on to treat Bahamians throughout the Out Islands. His books, Out Island Doctor and My Castle In the Air, provide great insight to life in the Out Islands.
*Many Loyalist descendants opposed Bahamian independence, desiring to remain tied to Great Britain.
*The Loyalist islands of Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Green Turtle Cay provide interesting insight into a different side of Bahamas history.
Out Islands Snorkeling Adventures
One of the best watersports developments for the Out Islands of the Bahamas has been the creation of Jean-Michel Cousteaus Out Islands Snorkeling Adventures.
Calling the Bahamas the Snorkeling Capital of the World, Cousteau, the Out Islands Promotion Board, U.S. Divers and American Airlines/American Eagle created this unique snorkeling program that is definitely worth consideration for anyone who likes the water and plans on snorkeling.
The moderately-priced package includes a snorkeling instruction and tip book, snorkeling instruction for those who need it, three guided excursions to some of the best snorkeling sites, excellent marine life reference books and a custom t-shirt. Within ten days of your return home, youll also receive a U.S. Divers mask, fins, snorkel and gearbag, a personalized certificate and letter from Cousteau, the book Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life, underwater identification cards and a gift from the Out Islands. They may also offer a package for experienced snorkelers who already have gear.
Current Abacos participants, as well as specific snorkeling recommendations, are listed in this chapter under Outdoor Adventures. On Andros, contact Small Hope Bay Lodge (800-223-6961 or 368-2013). On Bimini, the Bimini Big Game Club (800-737-1007 or 347-3391) participates in the program. Cat Islands Fernandez Bay Village (800-940-1905 or 954-474-4821) and Greenwood Beach Resort (800-272-9122 or 342-3053) are participants.
Over on Eleuthera, contact Cambridge Villas (800-688-4752 or 335-5080); Coral Sands Hotel (800-468-2799 or 333-2320); Cove Eleuthera (800-688-4752 or 335-1830); Palmetto Shores Villas (800-688-4752 or 332-1305); Rainbow Inn (800-688-4752 or 335-0294); Romora Bay Club (800-327-8286 or 333-2325); Unique Village (800-688-4752 or 332-1830); or Valentines Yacht Club (800-323-5655 or 333-2142). On Great Exuma, Club Peace and Plenty (800-525-2210 or 336-2551) and The Palms at Three Sisters (800-688-4752 or 358-4040) offer the program.
Finally, Long Islands Stella Maris Resort (800-272-1492 or 954-359-8353) and San Salvadors Riding Rock Inn (800-272-1492 or 954-359-8353) are also active participants. For updates on the programs and participating properties, contact the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board at 800-OUT ISLANDS or 954-359-8099.