Throughout this entire experience, I kept thinking to myself, "I can't wait to share this story with our readers." The best part about this entire experience was the moments in between my bike failures. For those of you not familiar with Hope Town, picture a New England, colonial style settlement in the middle of idyllic Abaco. Hope Town is the only settlement of Elbow Cay, which is home to the famous Elbow Cay Lighthouse. It’s located three and a half miles north of Marsh Harbour and was co-founded in 1785 by Wyannie Malone, a widow from South Carolina who settled there with her children after the American Revolution.
Before I jump into the part of the story you’re dying to read about, let me start by saying, I haven't ridden a bike since I had my training wheels taken off. My story has always been, I don't know how to bring my bike to a stop and although I’m sticking to it, the truth is, I don't trust myself to stop it. Apparently, to stop a bike, one must back pedal – this sounds outrageously crazy to me. I’m sure this involves trusting myself to do so without falling off the bike and I’ve got to tell you, that’s a lot on me. I'm a huge scary cat and much worse, I overthink everything; I do. And this was no different.
Our bike riding excursion was just as I imagined it to be. The day began at Albury's Ferry with a thunderstorm catching us on the way to Hope Town from Marsh Harbour. Not a pair to let a little rain deter us, we took our towels out and used them as a cover to walk to Harbour’s Edge to watch the storm pass. Although, I must say, I’m normally easily deterred but because I had convinced myself over and over that this bike excursion would be awesome, much like swimming with the turtles. I dug deep and found my excitement. Luckily, we didn't have to wait long for the rain to end. Within less than an hour, the skies began to clear up.
When we were finally able to see the sky again, we made our way to Hope Town Canvas to rent two bikes and start the day. Bikes at Hope Town Canvas are extremely affordable. Prices start at $12, which is the perfect price for a day of adventure and they even have bikes that ride in sand. If you’re an avid shopper like I am, there’s also no way for you to simply enter Hope Town Canvas and leave. Because like everything in Hope Town, the store has a story. Hope Town Canvas makes unique sail bags out of recycled sails, all in store. The pieces are beautifully crafted and make amazing gifts.
The original plan was to bike to Thirsty Cuda, a floating bar off Tahiti Beach, and spend the day there but I underestimated the entire bike riding ordeal. Yes, I am the less adventurous one, but in my head, I am super adventurous with caution, I guess. Plot twist, to no one’s surprise we did not make it to Thirsty Cuda. After the map explained it would take 30 minutes to get there, I decided I could spend that time not getting in an accident because of my lack of bike riding skills! If this is where you think it got easier, seriously think again.
We decided to ride and see where we would end up. Admittedly, it took me a lot of tries to finally keep pedaling without feeling as if I would run into a tree or off the side of the road. Once I conquered my fears, riding through Hope Town took on a different meaning. I was no longer focusing on keeping aloft my bike in the hope of having a good time. I was riding without a thought in the world, just drinking in my surroundings, spending quality time in Hope Town.
I personally love Hope Town for a few reasons, but my biggest is the feel of the town. Being such an historical town, it has every right to be over the top but instead it’s not; it has a low-key town vibe like Nantucket. The town has preserved several historical houses, monuments and even cemeteries that tell a huge part of its history. The town’s success in historical preservation is attributed to the strong desire of the locals to keep the community loyal to its roots. Even with all their deep attachment to the past, the locals commonly refer to this vibrant community as the “Hollywood of Abaco.” Cars and golf carts are forbidden in the town area of the island and many of the original colonial homes remain, and with their splash of pastel colors, give the nearby translucent, blue seas a run for their money. Beyond the beautiful scenery and famous lighthouse, Hope Town is also a history buff’s dream, replete with colorful stories of ship wrecking and swashbuckling pirates.
If you've ever been to Hope Town, you can most certainly appreciate the roads that are lined with beautiful, lush foliage and the pastel wooden houses that if you aren’t careful can take you right back to the middle of the 1900s when Hope Town became a home for first hotels and vacation homes. Hope Town is a constant reminder of what can happen when things remain virtually untouched.
The cays of the Abacos offer a refreshing break from the bustling scene in Nassau because a lot of the cays still hold true to their historical roots, and this ambience reminiscent of a bygone era is clearly seen all throughout the islands. Not to mention, there’s not a cruise ship in sight and with a well-defined off-season, if you plan your trip correctly you and your spouse can pedal through the streets of Hope Town undisturbed for hours. If this doesn’t sound like the perfect romantic getaway, I can’t imagine what does.
Even though my adventure was short, it was filled with wonderful memories and I’m sure your ride with your significant other or friend will be nothing short of memorable. When you’re visiting Hope Town, be sure to stop at The Bike Shop which is just a short walk, north of the Main Post Office dock, opposite the Harbour’s Edge. They rent a variety of bikes for a minimum of 24 hours and are open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. during December to August