Abaco (comprised of Little Abaco, Greater Abaco and the Abaco Cays) is a 120-mile-long chain of islands located in the northwestern Bahamas, 180 miles southeast of Florida.
Prior to Hurricane Dorian (see below), Abaco’s population was approximately 17,000.
Most modern-day Abaconians are descendants of the Eleutheran Adventurers, who first settled in the Bahamas during the 1600s, and/or the British Loyalists, slaves and free blacks who settled in Abaco during the late 1700s after fleeing the United States following the American Revolutionary war. For more information, see A Brief History of Abaco, Bahamas.
Marsh Harbour, located in Central Abaco, functions as the region’s commercial center. A variety of smaller settlements/communities are located through Abaco, including (from north to south) Crown Haven, Fox Town, Cedar Harbour, Cooper’s Town, Fire Road, Blackwood, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Guana Cay, Man-O-War Cay, Elbow Cay, Dundas Town, Murphy Town, Spring City, Little Harbour, Cherokee Sound, Schooner Bay, and Sandy Point.
Abaco is serviced by two airports, the Leonard Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour and the Treasure Cay Airport in Treasure Cay. There are also smaller airports at Moore’s Island, Sandy Point, Walker’s Cay and Spanish Cay.
Visitors are drawn to Abaco for its spectacular, clear blue waters and its safe, relaxed, small-town feel. The region is popular with boaters and fishermen, and the barrier reef that spans much of Abaco’s eastern coast makes for spectacular diving and snorkeling. Abaco is also a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons.
Tourist accommodations range from small resorts and hotels to rental villas and marinas. Regularly-scheduled ferries run between the Abaco mainland and a number of the more populated cays. To learn more, see A Visitor’s Guide to Post-Dorian Abaco.
Abaco is home to six national parks, all maintained by the Bahamas National Trust. They include: Walker’s Cay National Park, Black Sound Cay National Reserve, Fowl Cays National Park, Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, Tilloo Cay National Reserve and Abaco National Park.
In 2019, Abaco suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian. The region’s business center, Marsh Harbour was essentially destroyed by the storm and resulting surge as high as 20+ feet. Other Abaco settlements, including Hope Town, Man-O-War, Guana Cay, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay and Cooper’s Town suffered severe devastation.
Dozens were killed. Several hundred others remain missing and are presumed dead. Thousands of Abaconians lost their homes, schools, churches businesses and jobs. In the immediate aftermath of Dorian, many residents people were forced to leave Abaco. As of September 2020, many had yet to return.
Recovery from Hurricane Dorian has been slow and further hampered by the Covid-19 crisis. Still, businesses have begun to reopen, and despite the many obstacles they have faced, Abaconians are making great strides in rebuilding their lives and communities. Here’s What’s Open in Abaco, as well as How You Can Help Abaconians Affected by Hurricane Dorian.
For more information about Abaco, see Links & Resources.