The Abaco Islands by Yacht: Logistics
If you are searching for a cruising destination by yacht filled with calm waters, beautiful beaches, and year-round fishing, look no further than the Abaco Islands. The Abacos has something for everyone, from first-class golf courses to local beach bars; nobody’s tropical dreams go unmet. The Abaco Islands are 120 miles long and are located just east of Grand Bahama. They are comprised of two major islands, Little Abaco Island and Great Abaco Island, which are protected by a long chain of barrier cays, referred to as the “Bahama Out Islands” or “Family Islands.”
Before you can begin your dream destination travel, there are some “need to knows” that will help your trip to the Abacos by yacht run more smoothly and keep relaxation at the forefront. The Abaco Islands are about 180 miles from South Florida, but you won’t be making that run all at once. The Bahamian officials ask that you clear customs at the first office you reach, which would be at Old Bahama Bay Resort located in West End at the tip of Grand Bahama. West End is between 50-70 miles from South Florida, depending on where you are leaving. Once you enter Bahamian waters, before you clear customs, your vessel must fly a yellow quarantine flag. Upon arriving at Old Bahama Bay Resort, the vessel must have a Bahamas Custom Clearance Form and its registration documents. Each passenger on board must fill out a Bahamas Immigration Card and have a current passport with them. After you arrive, the captain of the vessel will take all these documents to the customs office, declare any firearms on board, and pay an entry fee. The entry fee covers the cruising Permit, fishing permit, and departure tax for up to 3 people. Each additional person will be charged a $20 departure tax. The entry fee is $150 for vessels under 35’ and $300 for vessels over 35’ and is good for a second re-entry up to 90 days. As soon as the captain returns with the go-ahead, you will change your quarantine flag to the Bahamian flag, and everyone on board is permitted to leave the ship and enjoy land.
You can choose to begin your vacation right away at the OBB marina and enjoy the beautiful amenities at Old Bahama Bay Resort, or you can continue on to the final destination, the Abaco Islands. Depending on whether your trip is more cruising focused or fishing focused will determine where you travel to next. If you plan on experiencing the world-class fishing the Abacos have to offer; you will head to Grand Cay, the northernmost barrier cay. It is 77-miles from West End and will take around three hours to arrive, depending on your vessel. If you are traveling to the Abacos to cruise through its blue water and enjoy its sandy white beaches, you will head to Spanish Cay. Spanish Cay is about 100 miles from West End and will take around five hours.
A few other important things to note are that there are two main airports in the Abaco Islands, Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour. The hospital is located on Great Abaco Island in Coopers Town. There are multiple small convenience stores throughout the islands that sell food and drinks, but the largest grocery store is Maxwell’s, located in Marsh Harbour. The Bahamian dollar and the US dollar are interchangeable, but once you start nearing the end of your trip, you are going to want to make sure you are getting change back in US dollars.