Our Visitor’s Guide to Abaco provides all the information you need to get here, stay here, eat here and play here.
If you visit the Bahamas and don’t get beyond Nassau, you’ve barely scratched the surface. For a truly authentic Bahamian experience, you really need to visit one of the country’s out islands, also known as the “Family Islands.”
Among the most popular family islands is a 120-mile-long island chain in the northwestern Bahamas, comprised of Abaco, Little Abaco and a scattering of smaller cays, and collectively referred to as “The Abacos.”
Here, there are no duty-free shops or noisy casinos, no high-rise hotels or smoke-belching Jitneys, no Bay Street peddlers hawking cheap t-shirts.
Instead, we have vast stretches of pristine beaches, spectacular clear, aquamarine waters, quaint fishing villages, welcoming locals, and a relaxed, family-friendly feel. Abaco is popular with boaters, fishermen and lovers of all water sports. It’s a favourite destination for spectacular weddings, memorable honeymoons and unforgettable family vacations.
Most international visitors to Abaco arrive via commercial airliner into the Leonard Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour. (There’s another, smaller airport at Treasure Cay, but currently, the only flights landing there are Bahamasair from Nassau, charter airlines and private planes. There are also smaller airports at Moore’s Island, Sandy Point, Walker’s Cay and Spanish Cay.)
Abaco is served by American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Silver Airways, as well as several smaller, charter carriers, all of whom fly direct from Florida or other southeastern U.S. states. See HERE for a list of commercial airlines currently serving Abaco.
You can also fly to Abaco from the Bahamian capital of Nassau. The flight takes a little over 30 minutes.
BY PRIVATE VESSEL
Given that Abaco boasts some of the most spectacular boating waters on the planet, it’s not surprising that many visitors arrive by sea. If you’re entering the Bahamas aboard a private vessel, you’ll first need to obtain a cruising permit. you can do this online or upon arrival at Bahamas Customs and Immigration.
Upon arrival (whether or not you obtained a cruising permit online) you’ll need to clear customs and immigration.
To do this, you’ll need to go to one of the official ports of entry, and present the following:
- A completed Bahamas Customs Clearance Form
- One Bahamas Immigration Card per person on board
- Proof of Citizenship (i.e., passport) for each person aboard
- Registration documents (title/proof of ownership) for the vessel
For the latest list of official ports of entry for Abaco, and other detailed guidelines, see Bahamas Boating Regulations.
If you’re arriving by sea or plan to rent a boat during your stay, Steve Dodge’s book, The Cruising Guide to Abaco is considered a vital resource by visitors who spend time on the local waters.
At some times of the year, you can travel to Abaco by passenger ferry from Nassau. For more information, visit Bahamas Ferries.
Not a fan of flying? It’s possible to get from Florida to Abaco by taking the Balearia Caribbean Fast Ferry from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Bahama, the Bahamian island immediately west of Abaco, and then a short ferry ride to Crown Haven, at the north end of Little Abaco. Rental cars and/or taxis can be pre-arranged to meet you upon arrival in Crown Haven.
If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s also possible to travel from Nassau to Abaco via mailboat. The M/V Legacy sails weekly between Nassau, Marsh Harbour and several of the Abaco Cays. The trip takes about twelve hours, and provides a fascinating glimpse into Abaco’s past, when mailboats were the only travel option available to most Abaconians.
For more information, contact Dean’s Shipping at (242) 367-2653, (242) 394-0245 or email@example.com.
Want to learn more about mailboat travel in Abaco and throughout the Bahamas? Fred Braman’s book Cruising by MailBoat: History, Culture and Adventure in the Bahama Islands is an excellent guide.
If you arrive at Marsh Harbour or Treasure Cay on a regularly scheduled flight, there will most likely be taxis waiting. Still, it’s a good idea to pre-book your transportation.
If you’re travelling from Marsh Harbour to Treasure Cay or the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock, budget about 45 minutes and $100 or so, one way. Most taxis are minivan-type vehicles that comfortably seat at least four adults plus luggage.
Here’s a recent list of taxi services on the Abaco mainland.
To get from the Abaco mainland to the cays, you’ll need to take a ferry. Regular ferry service is available on the following routes:
- Crown Haven (on Little Abaco) to/from Maclean Town, Grand Bahama
- Treasure Cay to/from Green Turtle Cay
- Red Bay to/from Guana Cay
- Marsh Harbour to/from Man-O-War, Guana Cay, Scotland Cay and Elbow Cay.
Click HERE for full details, schedules and pricing. Note that some ferry services also offer charters above and beyond their regular schedules.
If you’re staying on the Abaco mainland, or if you’re staying on one of the cays but want to explore the mainland, cars are available for rent in both Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour. Here’s a list of CAR RENTAL AGENCIES. Tip: be sure to check in advance, because some of the rental agencies accept cash only.
GOLF CART RENTALS
For visitors to the Abaco Cays or to Treasure Cay (which, despite its name, is actually on the mainland), golf carts are the most common mode of transport. Here’s a list of GOLF CART RENTAL AGENCIES. Note that it’s illegal in the Bahamas for minors to operate a golf cart.
From cheap-and-cheerful efficiency apartments to beach-front villas and luxury resorts, Abaco offers accommodation options for every budget.
Here’s a current list of Abaco resorts and accommodations.
If you’re staying aboard on a vessel, here’s a list of marinas and marine suppliers. You’ll also find lots of great info at the Association of Bahamas Marinas website and terrific anchorages in the Cruising Guide to Abaco.
As with accommodations, Abaco offers a range of dining options from elegant, world-class dining to casual, homemade fare. Establishments – even bars – are kid-friendly, and while the resorts may be a bit more formal, dress codes are pretty casual. Here’s a list of Abaco RESTAURANTS, BARS & TAKEAWAYS.
Between the commercial center of Marsh Harbour and smaller shops throughout Abaco and the cays, you can find virtually anything you might need. For further details, see the Abaco Business Directory.
Deep sea fishing with a local guide? Visiting the swimming pigs at No Name Cay? Picnicking on a deserted island? The waters around Abaco provide a myriad of opportunities for fun and relaxation. For more information, see Boat Rentals, MARINE SUPPLIES, Marinas, Fuel and Fishing Guides.
From windswept ocean beaches to shallow turquoise lagoons to mile-long sandbars perfect for walking, there’s an Abaco beach for every mood. Many fishing guides offer beach picnics, and snorkel gear, paddleboards and kayaks can often be rented from local dive shops.
For centuries, fishing has been a way of life for Abaconians. And whether your tastes run toward pier fishing, bonefishing or trolling for big game, you’ll find an experienced guide to help you hook your perfect catch.
Prefer to fish on your own? There are plenty of flats perfect for bonefishing, spots where you an anchor and catch your dinner, and docks from which to cast in a line. Here’s a link to the Bahamian fishing regulations.
Abaco offers live music, cultural experiences, historic museums, nature tours, bird-watching and more. Here’s a list of TOURS, ATTRACTIONS OR SITES OF INTEREST.
Questions? Drop me a note and I’ll do my best to help.
Have I overlooked your favourite Abaco destination or experience in this guide? Let me know and I’ll gladly add it!
COVID-19 – To protect our residents and visitors, the Bahamian government implemented a variety of protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 2022, many protocols were relaxed, particularly for fully vaccinated travellers. See COVID-19 to learn more.
HURRICANE DORIAN – On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian devastated many Abaco communities. And though COVID-19 has hindered their recovery, Abaconians are making progress and rebuilding their communities. While I do my best to keep the information on this site updated, please understand that details can be fluid, and it’s a good idea to confirm information directly with businesses. Abaco needs your support now more than ever – please help our recovery by planning an Abaco vacation sometime soon.