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Cruise The Abacos

Why the Abacos are Ideal for a Last-Minute Charter Vacation 

Is winter starting to take its toll on you? Do you find yourself looking longingly out the window for a warm ray of sunshine and daydreaming of sparkling turquoise waters? If so, we have the ideal place to escape on a last-minute charter vacation, and it’s easier than you think!  

On a Friday afternoon in November, my husband called. There was a week of vacation time he had to use immediately. I asked for approval to work remotely for a few days from somewhere beautiful (before using the rest of my own vacation time) and searched for available yachts all over the Caribbean.  

Where yachts were available, the flights were expensive. We almost gave up hope until we found a beautiful new Moorings 4500L sailing catamaran in the Bahamas available to start on that Sunday. The flights were affordable. We confirmed. Spontaneity is among the greatest gifts in life.  

We soon discovered that the Abacos are ideal for a spur-of-the-moment charter vacation. Here are a few reasons why:   

Flights to the Abacos

Flights to Marsh Harbour are quick, accessible, typically affordable, and breathtaking.  

Direct flights are available from airports including Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.  The descent into Marsh Harbour is stunning as you pass over all shades of turquoise and the most beautiful beaches come into focus. The view is otherworldly.  

Ease of Travel

After catching your breath from the views as you land, the customs desk is a quick walk ahead. The agent stamps your passport, and your checked bags are waiting on the other side. Taxis line up all day. They are friendly, welcoming, and fair. This time we paid $35 including a stop at Abaco Grocery and the liquor store next door. It would be a shame to miss the Bahamas’ local beers, Kalik and Sands, or Ricardo’s delicious Bahamian coconut rum.  

Upon arrival at the marina, we discovered that a stop was not even necessary. There is now Abaco Grocery Dockside, right at the entrance to the marina at the Abaco Beach Resort. While smaller, the store offers all you need (yes, including the rum) for a week on the water. The Moorings also offers online provisioning to make it all even easier.  With that, it is now possible to go from boarding your plane in Miami to boarding your yacht in paradise in just a little over an hour. What could be more convenient than that?  

The Abacos Resort Base  

The Abaco Beach Resort and Marina is a place where you can feel stress melt away the moment you arrive. Flowers and palm trees line the pretty driveway that leads down to the docks. Even in the marina, the water is so clear you can spot sea turtles and all kinds of fish swimming between the boats. The loading area is right in front of the dockside office.  Travis, Chelsea, and all the local team will greet you with a warm smile and welcome you home for the next few days. To explain the depth of their care for both guests and yachts would take an article of its own. They are fabulous.  

The charming pool area has a restaurant, a swim-up bar, an outdoor pool table, and several games the bartenders will play with you if you catch them on a slow moment. There is a small beach with a swimming area just down from the pool.  All of this is accessible to charter guests, and it is all such fun! 

Sleep Aboard Your Yacht Charter

Plan for the Sleep Aboard option on your first night – not only to get settled but to enjoy the area and experience the culture. The marina itself is wonderful, but the real show in town is about a ten-minute walk away at the Colors restaurant and Fatty’s Conch Salad right next to it on the beach. For a taste of local cuisine and culture, this is tough to beat. With a front-row seat to the sunset, Colors serves local specialties like conch fritters and the Bahamas’ Mac & Cheese, served casserole style. The special cocktail of the Bahamas is called Gully Wash, or Sky Juice. Here it is made daily, by hand, with fresh coconut water (we will let them decide whether to share the rest of their secret recipe). It is a real must-try.  

Nearby on the beach, a family member of the restaurant owner, nicknamed Fatty, has a stand set up on the water. He catches live conch each day and prepares fresh conch salad, made to order, just for you. The restaurant is happy to let you enjoy it inside at their bar so you can sip a gully wash and watch the colors light up the sky.  

Chart Briefings Before Your Cruise

In the Abacos, chart briefings are done on-site. There is no need for weeks or months of planning. Travis or one of his team will sit down with you and unfold a big paper chart. He will trace the exact route to follow to be sure you stay safely away from sandbars. Onboard you will find a printout of weather and tides for the coming week. While this could be a challenging destination if one has only sailed in deep water locations such as the British Virgin Islands, this team makes it easy. They coach you through the timing of entrances and exits, where to go for which type of winds, and make sure you leave with a safe plan. When you are ready to depart, one of the skippers will take you and the boat to a fuel dock where they can then turn the boat over to you, eliminating the stress of a tight marina. If you have hired a skipper or booked a crewed yacht, your briefing will revolve around your favorite activities and suggestions on the very best experiences this destination can offer you. The skipper or crew will then bring the destination to life for you, one unforgettable experience at a time.  

Flexible Bahamas Itinerary 

One of the charms of the Abacos is that there is something enchanting for everyone.  If you love live music on the beach, with steel drums setting a tropical mood and toes in the sand, you will find it at Pete’s Pub. If you prefer a nice meal, a bit more upscale with sea views for miles, try the Abaco Inn or Firefly on Elbow Cay. Is catching and cooking your own fish without a soul in sight more your style? Grill your catch on the beach at Tilloo Cay. If snorkeling is your thing, just wait to experience it in waters so clear the sun dances in prisms on the sand between coral heads teeming with tropical fish at Fowl Cay Preserve. 

A long favorite, and rightfully so is the famous Nipper’s, on Great Guana Cay, where bright teal waves crash onto powdery white sands framed by the pastel colors of the bar where your Goombay smash awaits. Nippers would convince the greatest skeptic to believe in love at first sight.  When the fun of the day at Nippers comes to a close, Grabber’s waits for you just minutes down the road with breathtaking sunset views. Then, there is Hope Town, where church bells chime in hymns on the hour and the candy-striped lighthouse keeps watch over the boats in the harbor.  

Whether you want to raise the sails and tack for hours in these shining waters or glide swiftly through them from place to place, soaking up the sun on a new power cat, there is a route for you. It is exquisitely beautiful and endlessly fun. Whether you have 5 days or two weeks, there is always something new and wonderful at your fingertips.  

The Yacht Charter Fleet 

The Abacos location offers an ever-growing fleet while keeping its local island feel. For sailors, the Moorings 4200, Moorings 4500L, or Moorings 5000 offers all the creature comforts with Leopard Catamarans’ famous designs. Sip coffee in the forward cockpit as you prepare for the day’s sail and sundowners on the flybridge lounge to celebrate your adventures. For power boaters, the base offers all the latest options from the owner’s version 403PC to the 464PC and the big sister of them all, the 534PC with full-sized refrigerators and spacious flybridges, truly making the yachts feel like a home away from home.  

The People of The Abacos

The part of traveling that takes a beautiful place from somewhere we enjoy to somewhere we love is the people. I love the Abacos. Often the driving force for spontaneous travel is the feeling that we desperately need an escape. The people of the Abacos provide that escape on a deeper level. They welcome you slowly, honestly, and openly to their islands. No need to make elaborate plans or reservations, just show up and you will be made to feel at home.  

Written by: Lindsay Sinko


Dominique Wright

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