The Abaco Islands by Yacht: Cruising Guide
In part one of our Abacos by yacht series, we laid out all the logistics and “need-to-knows” that will help you properly plan your trip to the Abacos and ensure it goes smoothly. Once you’ve put your plans in place and set off to make your crossing, your adventure is offically underway. Below we give you a look at a recommended cruising guide for how and where you can enjoy your time yachting in the Abacos Islands. With many idyllic Cays awaiting you, let the island hopping excitement begin!
Welcome! You’ve made it to Spanish Cay, the first stop on your cruising journey through the Abaco Islands! The Spanish Cay Marina sits on the southwest side of the island, protected from the ocean winds and waves and open to a beautiful view of the Sea of Abaco. It is the perfect first taste of the islands serving the tastiest conch salad and, the island favorite, Spanish Fly. Stick around the dock in the evening, and you are likely to catch one of the marina’s grand “shark shows.”
From Spanish Cay, you will travel to Green Turtle Cay, a small island just 3 miles long. On the northernmost part of the island is a small cay, known as Munjack Cay. You can stop by here on the way to enjoy the beach and feed wild stingrays, turtles, and nurse sharks. Green Turtle Cay has lots to offer; you can anchor out in front of New Plymouth Town or enjoy one of the three first-class marinas. The first inlet you will reach on the island is White Sound Inlet; home of the Bluff House and Green Turtle Cay Club, both known for their private beaches and superb amenities. Nestled in the middle of the island is the Leeward Yacht Club on Black Sound. Here there is something for everyone, from white sand beaches to snorkeling spots and scuba diving to paddleboarding. Just south of Black Sound is New Plymouth Town. New Plymouth Town offers you the chance to take a trip back in time when the pace of life was slow and more relaxed. Most explore the town by foot, but there are golf cart and bicycle rentals available. While exploring the town, you must stop by Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, a friendly little restaurant, and the birthplace of the famous Goombay Smash. As you wrap up your time on Green Turtle, you will head to Treasure Cay.
Treasure Cay is a part of Great Abaco Island and is known for its long white sand beach and beautiful turquoise water. This island makes for the perfect stop for lunch as you continue on your journey. Stop in at the Treasure Sands Club on the north side of the beach and enjoy, arguably, the best burger in all the islands. Then head south to the other end of the beach to Cocoa’s Bar and Grille where you can enjoy a game of beach volleyball and the best local cocktails. If you decide to spend more time on the island, there is a gorgeous marina and golf resort located just on the other side of the marina. The Treasure Cay marina offers countless tour and excursion options. Following Treasure Cay, you will head toward Great Guana Cay.
On your way to Great Guana Cay, you can stop by No Name Cay to feed and interact with the well-known swimming pigs. There is one marina and two must-visit bars on Great Guana Cay. Orchid Bay Marina is located at the beginning of the Great Guana Cay Harbour and offers all the most-wanted amenities, as well as a tennis court and swimming pool with a view. To the north of the harbor is Fisher’s Bay, which provides a cozy anchorage option. Fisher’s Bay is also home to one of the must-visit bars on the island. Grabbers is located on the south side of the bay and serves us up the bars exclusive, Grabbers juice, seven days a week. The best place on the island to experience a gorgeous sunset, while you wait for Saturday night karaoke to begin! Oceanfront on the other side of the island lies Nipper’s Bar and Grille. Nipper’s has been one of the most must-hit spots in all the islands for the last 20 years. With its breathtaking views of open ocean and the third-largest barrier reef in the world, it is the ideal place to enjoy one of the infamous Nipper’s juices, delicious and dangerous. After soaking in all the priceless views and enjoying the local bars its time to head to Elbow Cay.
As you travel to Elbow Cay, you come across another ‘stop-by’ island. Man-O-War Cay is a small, quiet boat building island and should be on the map of all tourists. MOW Cay is home to The Albury’s Canvas shop, aka Sail shop, where you will find three generations of ladies making a wide range of bags and hats out of canvas traditionally used for sails. While you’re there head north on the path leaving town by the sail shop. The route will eventually lead to a narrow strip of land separating the Sea of Abaco and the Atlantic Ocean, creating a view so beautiful it will make you feel like you’re the only person in the world.
After your visit to Man-O-War Cay, you will continue south to Elbow Cay. Elbow Cay is a great island to spend a few days. There is so much to see on the island itself, and it is in the middle of a couple very fun ‘stop-by’ islands. Elbow Cay is 8-miles long and has two main towns, Hopetown and White Sound. There is a secure anchorage out in front of the Hopetown harbor or the Hopetown Inn and Marina located right inside the harbor. The marina is one of the newest additions to the Hopetown harbor and is a favorite for its swim-up bar attached to the pool. You can’t visit Hopetown without climbing the Hopetown Lighthouse and enjoying Wine Down Sip-Sip’s famous cheesy doo. This town is filled with amazing restaurants and people, enjoy the best of both at The Hopetown Harbour Lodge on Tuesday night where locals and visitors gather for karaoke night. And don’t forget to stop by Froggie’s for all your diving, snorkeling, and outdoor adventure needs. South on the island is the Firefly Sunset Resort, where you can enjoy a first-class meal front row to the most beautiful sunsets, and even do a little shopping at their boutique which emphasizes their comfortable but classy motto, providing Bahamian beach-friendly looks for everyone. Just around the corner of Firefly is the White Sound Channel, where you will find Sea Spray Resort and Marina and The Abaco Inn. The Abaco Inn Restaurant and, its neighbor, On Da Beach Bar and Restaurant provide the best oceanfront views on the island. At the southernmost tip of the island is Tahiti Beach, the perfect place to relax at the sand bar and enjoy a cold cocktail from the floating bar, The Thirsty Cuda.
While spending time exploring Elbow Cay, you can’t miss out on the ‘stop-by’ islands that are just a short boat ride away. Cracker P’s Bar and Grill is just across the channel on Lubber’s Quarters Cay. Here you can find the best-smoked fish dip in all the islands and a frozen twist on a classic mojito. You not only can enjoy an array of indoor games and beach games at this stop, but you can also get in a game of beach volleyball. And if you’re lucky your trip will align with one of the famous Full Moon Parties hosted here, where you can enjoy an all you can eat buffet and the best live music under a starry Bahama night. A little farther south on Great Abaco Island is a Little Harbour home to Pete’s Pub and Galley, where you’ll have to stop in to enjoy the world-famous artwork and a Pub famous Blaster. Pete’s Pub is the only place in the Bahamas, and one of the few around the world, to have a working bronze foundry! Call ahead and schedule a time to watch this beautiful artwork come to life. On your way back to Elbow stop by Tilloo Cay’s National Reserve, an 11-acre shoreline of outstanding beauty, an important nesting site for many tropical birds. After enjoying all the white sandy beaches and breathtaking views Elbow Cay and its neighboring cays have to offer you will reach your final destination, Marsh Harbour.
Marsh Harbour is a little town located in the middle of Great Abaco Island. Here you can dock up at Harbour View Marina and explore all that Great Abaco Island has to offer. Just south of Marsh Harbour is the Abaco National Park, accessible by car. Take a nature tour and experience all the hidden gems of the island. And don’t forget to stop by Da Blue Hole to enjoy some authentic island cuisine before you go!
If you’re an avid angler chances are, you’d like to use your time in the Abacos to go fishing in unspoiled waters. Read our helpful Fishing Guide which details the ins and outs of fishing in the Abacos.