The Ultimate Guide to Island Hopping in the Abacos without Breaking the Bank
In the summer, your hair gets lighter, skin gets a little darker, the ocean gets warmer, drinks get colder and The Bahamas gets better and better.
The Bahamas, as you know, is comprised of 700 islands with 16 major islands. Each island has its own story. Most people visit one island or one city and it doesn't even graze the tip of the iceberg of what The Bahamas has to offer.
Which is why we are inviting you to come back, year after year, and each time try something new. Try a different island and use our guides to help you; after all, we're here to help.
As mentioned, every island has its own story and some islands are even a mini Bahamas in their own right. The Abacos is that island; it consists of a 120-mile long island chain. Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco are considered the "mainland" while the other islands are the "out islands," a term that is used to describe all of the islands of The Bahamas outside of Nassau and Paradise Island.
The best part about visiting the Abacos is while most islands use golf carts and cars to get around, in many parts of the Abacos, boats are the main mode of transportation. Cutting to the chase, we want you to see everything Abaco has to offer without breaking the bank. Get ready to bookmark, share and bookmark again this ultimate guide to Island Hopping in the Abacos.
First things first, fly to the Abacos. Regardless of where in the world you’re flying from, there are two airports you can fly into: the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour (MHH) and the Treasure Cay International Airport (TCB), commercially. Charter planes can also land on Sandy Point, Scotland’s Cay and Spanish Cay but there are no terminals at any of these points.
If you’re coming from Nassau, you can choose between air and Bahamas Ferry Services. From Grand Bahama Island, Pinder’s Ferry operates twice a day from McLean’s Town. Anywhere else in The Bahamas, unless you’re flying a charter, chances are you will have to first fly to Nassau then Abaco.
Once You’re Here:
Welcome to Abaco. We have lots to do so make sure you have your camera, sunblock and a tumblr! For the point of this guide, we’re going to start in Marsh Harbour and make our way around to Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Hope Town and Sandy Point.
Note that most of the settlements in Abaco can be accessed by car but when you’re traveling to the cays if you’re not taking the ferry, you can also rent a boat and be your own captain or rent a boat with a captain. With the right group of friends, drinks, you can make an adventure out of it. Be sure to visit Guana Cay on your boat days!
Recommendations for Boat Rentals
- Abaco Dorado – Boat rental rates vary depending on if you’re renting during off-season or not but the cheapest rate for a day rental with this company is $215 (off-season) and $310 (during season).
- Cruise Abaco Day Trip – This choice gives you the option of a day trip from Great Abaco Beach Resort (Boat Harbour Marina) in Marsh Harbour from 9:30am returning at 4pm. They allow a maximum of 12 people and with all the costs involved, the total cost is $1,520.00, which split between 12 people is $126.67. Sounds like a bargain, right?
- Seahorse Boat Rental: the cheapest boat rental is a 17’ Boston Whaler which is $175 per day.
Marsh Harbour is the third largest city in The Bahamas. It is the portal to other settlements in Abaco. Once you’ve flown into Marsh Harbour, there are several places you can stay to receive the best bargain for your money. For tourists, there’s the Conch Inn which has a very reasonable rate (they also offer a Bahamian rate) and the Lofty Fig Villas For locals, Island Breeze and Abaco Hillside Hotel are the most economical. While here, these are some price hacks to help you save money so you can spend it where it really matters, whatever that is!
Breakfast – Junovia’s. Specialty, sheep tongue souse; it's not as bad as it sounds. Prices start at $3
Lunch - Chef Creole. Specialty is griot. Prices start at $12
Dinner - The Bae. Specialty, Barracuda and Banana Pancakes. Prices start at $3
While in Marsh Harbour, make sure visit Abaco Neem which is a full product line of health, body and pet care products made from the medicinal tree Neem that is grown on the organic farm in Abaco. When you’re done learning about the medicinal powers of Neem, stop by Calypso Coffee House for your coffee fix and round up your visit with a stop by the Eddie Minnis Family Art Gallery.
No trip to Marsh Harbour is complete without taking a short ferry ride to Hope Town. You can do this by hopping on Albury’s Ferry for $30 round trip (adult) and $17 (child). This location is great for exploring and IG photo shoots. It has a New England style to it which makes it a great location for all your vacation needs. For the traveler wishing to stay in quaint Hope Town while saving money, the Hope Town Harbour Lodge is great on the pocket. Here are some price hacks to save you money!
Breakfast -Willie’s Kitchen. Specialty: Bahamian Breakfast, the prices start at $5.
Lunch - Mackey's Takeaway. Fun fact: This restaurant is owned by the daughters of the original Elbow Cay Lighthouse keeper. Specialties: fresh pastries and daily specials. Starts at $10 for lunch
Dinner - Wine Down Sip Sip. Specialty: flat bread pizza. Prices start at $14.
A little fun fact, Treasure Cay was once known as Sand Banks Cay before the name was changed to attract foreign investment. What began as a hotel and marina development is now a community of Abaconians and second home owners. Treasure Cay is also about 25 miles north of Marsh Harbour which makes it about a 30-minute drive from Marsh Harbour. Pack snacks and make sure your playlist is loaded. The best bang for your buck can be found at Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort. Here are some price hacks for Treasure Cay!
Breakfast – Café La Florence. Instead of breakfast at the hotel, try Café La Florence known for Bahamian breakfast. Fun Fact, when this café first opened, the only thing that was on the menu was the owner’s now famous cinnamon rolls. Prices start at $5
Lunch - Mac’s Food Truck – Located in the Mini Market Parking Lot across the street from Corbett Medical. Food is delicious and prices start at $5.
Dinner - Touch of Class. Delicious Bahamian food. Specialty: cracked lobster. Prices start at $22.
Green Turtle Cay
Historically, Green Turtle Cay is one of the earliest settlements in Abaco. If you’re already in Treasure Cay, it’s unacceptable for you to not visit Green Turtle Cay as it’s a short ferry ride from Treasure Cay. If you’re looking to save money, we recommend staying on Treasure Cay but if you want the full Green Turtle Cay experience then we recommend Bluff House Beach, Resort and Marina and Green Turtle Club Marina. Now on to our price hacks for food!
Breakfast- McIntosh Restaurant & Bakery. Specialty - chicken souse. Prices start at $15.
Lunch - Plymouth Rock Liquors & Café. Imagine lunch in a liquor store. Specialty - roast beef sandwiches prepared with fresh homemade bread. Prices start at $5
Dinner – Pineapple's Bar & Grill. Specialty- conch fritters and jerk fish. Happy Hour prices begin at $5 for 2 for 1 rum punch. Happy Hour runs daily from 4 p.m. – 6.
Sandy Point is located on Abaco’s mainland about 50 miles south of Marsh Harbour. It’s most known for being a fishing village and it’s literally the best place to go fishing while in Abaco. While in Sandy Point, we recommend staying at Oeisha’s Resort and Pete & Gay’s Guest House. Unfortunately, our price hacks for Sandy Point are a bit limited because there are only a few restaurants open but they are Nancy’s Seaside Restaurant and Pete Gay’s. Both are fantastic choices and you can find something reasonable.
Hopefully, this ultimate guide has been helpful. We hope to see you soon in the Abacos. Be sure to tag us on social media using #itsBetterinTheBahamas!