Abaco is comprised of two main islands – Little Abaco and Great Abaco, joined by a bridge, as well as a scattering of smaller cays, a few of which are inhabited. A paved, 106-mile highway extends from the north end of Little Abaco to the southwestern tip of Great Abaco.
At the northern tip of Little Abaco is the quiet settlement of Crown Haven, home to approximately 200 people, as well as the ferry dock to McLean’s Town on nearby Grand Bahama. South of Crown Haven on Little Abaco are the smaller settlements of Fox Town and Cedar Harbour.
On Great Abaco, Cooper’s Town (population approximately 675) is the third-largest settlement on the Abaco mainland. It’s home to a government clinic and a number of government offices, as well as a large sea port. South of Cooper’s Town are the smaller communities of Fire Road and Blackwood.
Roughly a half-hour’s drive south of Cooper’s Town is Treasure Cay, second-largest settlement in Abaco, with a (pre-Dorian) population of more than 2,000. Despite its misleading moniker, Treasure Cay is not in fact an island, but rather, part of the Abaco mainland.
Home to a large community of second-homeowners, Treasure Cay normally boasts excellent amenities, including a private medical clinic, grocery and liquor stores, a bank, post office, vehicle rentals, a large resort and marina, vacation rentals, restaurants and bars, a golf course and a small airport, which as of October 2020 was open to private and charter flights from the U.S. as well as Bahamasair flights from Nassau.
Sadly, Treasure Cay sustained significant destruction during Hurricane Dorian. Though residents and business owners are working diligently, it will take some time to restore the settlement back to its former glory. For the latest Treasure Cay updates, see the Treasure Cay Community website.
A few minutes south of Treasure Cay is the small residential community of Leisure Lee, a collection of homes built around 5,000 feet of protected canals.
Another half-an-hour or so south of Treasure Cay is Marsh Harbour, the third-largest city in the Bahamas. Greater Marsh Harbour includes the smaller settlements of Central Pines, Dundas Town, Murphy Town and Spring City.
Most visitors to Abaco pass through Marsh Harbour, either via the busy sea port or the Leonard Thompson International Airport. A number of the inter-Abaco ferries depart from Marsh Harbour, and weekly freight boats arrive from the Bahamian capital, Nassau.
With a population of 6,000+, Marsh Harbour serves as a commercial hub for all of Abaco. Amenities include a government mini-hospital, private medical facilities, a government office complex, banks, marinas, restaurants, liquor and grocery stores and more.
Marsh Harbour was devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Hundreds of residents were lost to the storm and resulting tidal surge. Thousands were left without homes, schools, businesses or jobs, and were forced to leave Abaco.
Thanks to the resilience of Abaconians, and a great deal of support from domestic and foreign NGOs and individuals, however, Marsh Harbour is coming back to life.
About 30 minutes south of Marsh Harbour, is a turn off that leads to the small fishing and boat-building community of Cherokee Sound. This quiet, close-knit community (population approximately 175) is the home to the Bahamas’ longest wooden dock, which stretches 770 feet out into the sea.
Between the main highway and Cherokee is Pete’s Pub and Gallery at Little Harbour, a popular day-trip destination.
And beyond Little Harbour is The Abaco Club on Winding Bay and The Abaco Yacht Club, an exclusive, private development on a two-mile white sound beach. Amenities include a world-class marina, tennis courts and one of the Bahamas’ best golf courses.
With stunning underwater caves and blue holes, miles of deserted beaches, mangroves swarming with sea life and unrivaled bonefishing flats, South Abaco is particularly popular with nature lovers and fishing enthusiasts. (Learn more about South Abaco’s spectacular and diverse wildlife by visiting Rolling Harbour, a blog by Keith Salvesen.)
Casuarina Point is a small, residential community offers a beautiful beach and canal access to the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A few minutes down the main highway, Bahama Palm Shores, a small residential area of a few dozen homes, is home to a large flock of Abaco parrots.
Rolling Harbour is home to the Delphi Club, a luxurious, eight-room lodge on a hill overlooking the beach. The resort is open to the public for dinner.
And further down the highway, Long Beach is a residential development with a gorgeous beach and excellent fishing. Situated at the narrowest part of Great Abaco, the settlement of Crossing Rocks allows for water views on both sides.
At the southwestern end of Great Abaco is the small fishing community of Sandy Point, where local residents earn their livings from the sea or through working with Disney’s Castaway Cay (aka Gorda Cay), eight miles off shore.
Here you’ll find accommodations, grocery stores and restaurants, as well as a small airport. Sandy Point is famous for their spring Conch Festival drawing crowds from all over Abaco.
With the exception of Moore’s Island, most of the inhabited Abaco Cays are located along the eastern (Atlantic Ocean) shore of the Abaco mainland.
Located off the northeastern end of Great Abaco, Spanish Cay is a three-mile long private resort, including a large marina with full hookups, paved 5,000 ft. airstrip, a restaurant, bar lounge, tennis courts and freshwater pool. Accommodations include private homes, beach front rooms, marina suites and condos.
GREEN TURTLE CAY
A 15-minute ferry ride northeast of Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay is home to the quaint settlement of New Plymouth, sister city to Key West. Approximately 3.5 miles long and about two-thirds of a mile wide, Green Turtle Cay has a population of approximately 500.
The island boasts two resorts – the Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina and the Green Turtle Club – as well as marinas, rental villas and apartments and more. Beautiful beaches extend virtually the entire length of the island’s eastern shore.
Along with plentiful opportunities for SCUBA diving, snorkeling and boating, Green Turtle Cay is known for a number of cultural attractions, including the Albert Lowe Museum (the oldest historic museum in the Bahamas), the Loyalists Memorial Sculpture Garden, the Island Roots Heritage Festival and the annual New Year’s Day Junkanoo.
Though Green Turtle Cay sustained significant damage as a result of Hurricane Dorian, the island has made good progress in recovery. As of October 2020, power and water have been restored, and limited rental villas and resort rooms are available for rental. For more information on recovery efforts, see about Green Turtle Cay Foundation and Key West Cares.
GREAT GUANA CAY
South of Green Turtle Cay is Great Guana Cay, accessible by ferry from Marsh Harbour. This narrow, 7-mile-long cay is home to about 150 people and features more than five miles of gorgeous, white ocean beach.
At the northern end of Guana Cay is the exclusive, invitation-only Bakers Bay Club, which boasts a golf course, 100+ slip marina and a multitude of villas on the property.
As with the other populated Abaco Cays, Guana Cay sustained significant damage due to Hurricane Dorian. To learn more about the island’s progress and reopenings, see the Great Guana Cay Foundation.
South of Guana Cay is the private Scotland Cay, open exclusively to property owners and their guests. The island is accessible by private aircraft, private vessel, or ferry service from nearby Marsh Harbour, Abaco. There are no public or commercial services (restaurants, bars, stores, etc.) on the island and no unauthorized landings or moorings are allowed without prior approval.
Tourist amenities include marinas and rental villas, as well as restaurants, the Man-O-War Museum and several gift shops. Long known as a boat-building center, Man-O-War is home to the Albury Brothers Boatbuilding Company.
To learn more about Man-O-War’s recovery from damages sustained during Hurricane Dorian, see the Man-O-War Relief Fund.
South of Man-O-War is Elbow Cay, perhaps best-known as the site of the famous, candy-striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse. Built around a natural, protected harbour, the island’s main settlement of Hope Town features narrow roads lined with colourful island homes.
Accessible by ferry from Marsh Harbour, Elbow Cay offers marinas, restaurants, small resorts and a variety of rental houses. It’s also home to the Wyannie Malone Museum, named for the British Loyalist widow whose family first settled the town.
Beautiful beaches line the Atlantic Ocean side of the cay, though perhaps the most spectacular is Tahiti Beach at the island’s south end.
Elbow Cay was the site where Hurricane Dorian first made landfall in the Bahamas, and the island sustained significant damage. However, recovery is progressing well. See Hope Town United or the Elbow Cay Restoration Association for more information.
Across the Sea of Abaco from Elbow Cay’s Tahiti Beach is the tiny island of Lubbers Quarters, accessible only by private vessel or charter ferry. Further south is Tilloo Cay, accessible by private vessel only. There are rental properties available on both cays.
Twenty-eight miles west of Great Abaco is Moore’s Island, a seven-mile long cay whose population of approximately 900 is divided between two settlements, Hard Bargain and The Bight. Accessibly by plane from Marsh Harbour or by sea via boat from Sandy Point, Moore’s Island is frequented by cruisers and sport fishermen.