Resting in the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast of Florida the Bahamas have become a sought after destination for travelers seeking an intimate paradise. The chain of more than 700 islands, both sprawling and shallow, rise from the sea and greet visitors with cays surrounded by barrier reefs and delightful island culture. Sail to Great Abaco Island, circled by a number of smaller islands and home to picturesque colonial towns. Billowing sails dot the Sea of Abaco where under the water walls of coral and schools of tropical fish provide divers an excellent opportunity to experience the vibrant sea life at its best. Trade winds dance across the sheltered waters lending to the region’s popularity as a sailing destination. Countless activities, ranging from visiting historic sites to snorkeling to taste testing local dishes, will fill your days with unforgettable memories. Look around, what you’re searching for may be closer than you think.
Fair winds and a peaceful sea are what usually wait for sailors cruising through the Bahamas. During the winter months cool breezes from the northwest fill the air and a stronger wind fills the sails of cruising yachts. Routes along the Sea of Abaco consist of short passages and line-of-sight navigation making for a tranquil trip. Some sailors may find a challenge among the shallow waters where it is necessary to take note of the tidal range, which can fluctuate during a full or new moon. It’s in these same waters many sailors have gone from novice to expert and where they continue to return. The area is also ideal for families and groups of friends in search of a pleasant cruising experience in an amazing natural setting. Balmy weather can be found in the summer months surrounding July and August while cooling temperatures can reach the low 60s between December and February.
It could be the gentle trade winds, the serene beaches or the picturesque villages, but the islands of the Abacos have an appeal that continually lures in travelers from across the sea. Sailors will fall in love with the nautical ambience where shoreside there is no lack of harbors, pleasant anchoring and dazzling ocean sunsets.
North of Marsh Harbor, surrounded by a jade-green sea, sits the scenic stretch of Green Turtle Cay. Natural beauty and modern day charm come together in the harbors of Black and White sounds, the food of local restaurants, and the stories surrounding significant sites. Dive into a unique learning experience to understand the ecology of the Bahamas’ reefs with exhibits at Captain Roland Roberts House Environment Center. Those with a predilection for history may find themselves strolling through the Albert Lowe Museum’s art and photography exhibits about New Plymouth. Like many areas in the Bahamas, Green Turtle Cay became a new home for former British colonists after the American Revolution ended. These long-gone, but not forgotten, British settlers are commemorated with a bronze sculpture that stands in the Memorial Sculpture Garden.
Anchoring at White Sound in Hope Town you will immediately feel the same draw to this area as Elbow Cay’s first residents did so many years ago. A sense of island pride can be found among the lapping waves and in the design of the red and white Elbow Reef Lighthouse. Since 1863 the 89-foot lighthouse has guided boats through the Abacos to safely bring them into the harbor. To this day the keeper still follows the traditional method of maintaining a steady beam shining across the sea by burning pressurized kerosene, a method only a handful of lighthouses use today. Climb the 101 steps to take yourself back in time as you gaze out over the Sea of Abaco from a new perspective.
Step into the middle of a 2,100-acre preserve where diverse species of birds, fish, and plants have made their home. About 20 nautical miles south of Marsh Harbor, the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park is a nature-lover’s paradise. In the center of the preserve are the delicate coral reefs and tranquil undersea caves of Sandy Cay and the Pelicans. Go below the surf to snorkel and scuba dive in the nearby waters that feel worlds away. Gentle winds and curving beaches call you from the deck of your yacht to sunbathe or walk in this Caribbean haven.
Anchor on Great Abaco and lose yourself in the endless views that spread across the Atlantic and into the horizon. At Little Harbor you might just choose to linger on your boat as the sea softly calms you with its song of lapping waves and whispering winds. The harbor was founded as art colony 60 years ago and still retains an air of whimsy and imaginative design. Before exploring the art scene on land dive down to the nearby coral reef or explore the caves on the west side of the harbor. When you do decide to dry off and visit the shore head east across a narrow spit where an abandoned lighthouse is the perfect place to gaze out over the sea. Continue to the wide Bight of Old Robinson where creeks twist through the land and the scene looks like a painting from one of the area’s original artists.