Top Things to do on the Abaco Islands, Bahamas

Sailing in The Bahamas

Great and Little Abacos are the sparkling jewels in The Bahamas’ crown. Comprising a 320km crescent of soft white sand, coral reefs and crystalline waters, this destination is everything from a snorkeller’s dream to the ultimate sailor’s playground.

To get a real feel for The Abacos, its best explored on the water. Set sail from the bustling metropolis of Marsh Harbour towards the vast turquoise mangroves of Abaco National Park, and you’ll soon find a unique archipelago filled with lush pine forests, historic towns and National-Geographic-worthy beaches. Not sure where to start? Read on for a comprehensive guide on things to do in the Abacos.  

Where is The Abacos?

The Abacos is located about 290km east of South Florida. This long chain of islands and barrier cays lies at the northern tip of The Bahamas, and consists of two main islands: Great Abaco and Little Abaco. Consisting of coral and relatively flat limestone, their vibrant reefs and crystal-clear waters continue to attract travellers from all around the world.

Treasure Cay

We’d recommend your first stop would be to dock in Treasure Cay, a well-protected 164-slip marina and one of the largest marinas in The Bahamas. After stocking up on supplies and taking advantage of the laundry facilities, you should head out to explore its Treasure Cay Beach Marina & Golf Resort, award-winning beaches and more.

Bahamas Marina

Located on the north coast of Great Abaco, Treasure Cay Beach, is known for its turquoise waters and soft white stretches, but it also has an eclectic mix of restaurants fit to satisfy the pickiest of palettes. We’d recommend the Spinnaker Restaurant and tuck into their their Creole red snapper with onion ragu or Abaco conch chowder, for an interesting take on American and Caribbean fusion. Or, head to the local hangout – Tipsy Seagull and soak up their lively atmosphere with a bushwacker or salty seagull margarita! For a light lunch, wander on down to Café La Florence for their lobster quiche or spicy, Jamaican-style meat patties. This is café is a good choice if you’re on the clock, as anglers and sailors have the option to order a picnic lunch to go.

Another point of interest in the area is Windward point which is a must do at low-tide. Windward Point, can be found at the tip of Brigantine beach at the very end of Treasure Cay Road. What makes it so special is that it’s an extended sand bar off the beach that allows you to wade out 200-300 yards in crystalline waters. Here, you will find the sea teeming with marine life, from small spotted rays and starfish to sand dollars and leatherback turtles!

Marsh Harbour

The 75-slip marina in Marsh Harbour has the capacity to accommodate yachts up to a maximum of 85 feet with drafts of up to 9 feet at high tide and 6 ½ feet at low tide. Marsh Harbour Marina’s amenities include: fuel; electricity; ice; shower facilities; laundry facilities; pool; telephone; cable TV and Bahamas port of entry for customs and immigration clearing. It’s also conveniently located near souvenir stores, art galleries and a lively downtown area.

If you’ve docked for the afternoon, we’d recommend heading to Wally’s Restaurant for the best Goombay Smash in the Abacos. This dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and bitters infusion mixed with their Bahamian minced lobster or blackened mahi-mahi with coconut curry sauce is enough to whet your appetite for next day’s sailing. Or, if you’re wanting a view overlooking Marsh Harbour’s picturesque waters, head to Curly Tails for cracked conch and quesadilla jerk chicken, just in time for sunset.

Bahamas Sailing

The Abacos is the third largest barrier reef in the world. Encompassing over 300km in length, the Great Abaco is unsurprisingly one of the most popular diving spots in the Atlantic Ocean, with several protected underwater areas, such as Pelican Cays Land, Fowl Cay National Reserve and Sea Park. Boasting massive reefs and blue grottos that are teeming with silver baitfish, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to snorkelling opportunities, you can even scuba dive around an historic Civil War gunboat wreck nestled in the reef of Man-O-War Cay.

If you’re looking for top diving centres, we’d recommend diving with Dive Abaco at the Conch Inn Resort & Marina in Marsh Harbour. Join Captain Keith and his friendly team for an epic dive with star coral, angelfish, moray eels, stingrays and large schools of snappers in the turquoise waters of Mermaid Reef. Or, explore coral catacombs with Brendal’s Dive Centre around Green Turtle Cay and Manjack Cay and No Name Cay, where you may be lucky enough to feed stingrays, swim with pigs, and catch a glimpse of nurse sharks up close!

South Abaco

No trip to The Abacos is complete without a stop at the spectacular Abaco National Park. Situated at the south-eastern part of Great Abaco, it comprises over 20,000 acres of lush pine forests, broad mangroves and deserted beaches. The park is most famously known as home to the endangered Bahama Parrot — a bird once so common that Christopher Columbus referred to its flocks 'darkening the sun'.

If you’re looking for a guided tour of this preservation area, contact Abaco Tours & Activities. This operator offers a 5 hour trip that includes, hiking, kayaking across the flats, Blue Hole jumping and snorkelling with prices starting from $99. Or, arrange a tour to explore the undiscovered parts of the Abaco on a day-long hiking trip involving Abaco parrot spotting, Abaco Caves and a trip to the Hole in the Wall Lighthouse.

Another area to visit while you’re sailing in the Abacos is Sandy Point. This settlement, is located on a narrow peninsula in southwest Great Abaco around 50 miles away from Marsh Harbour. With inviting turquoise seas and extremely shallow shores, this white sand beach is a hot spot for young families. If you have time, spend the afternoon relaxing, collecting conch shells and watch magnificent man O’ war birds fly overhead.

Abacos weather

Bahamas weather

The Abacos enjoy a tropical maritime climate, which means the winters are mild with endless amounts of sunshine and the summers are hot and wet. We’d recommend the best time to visit the Bahamas is from mid-December to mid-April during the country's peak season, when the temperature comfortably sits around 24°C. In the summer, temperatures can reach up to 32°C, with occasional tropical showers. The wet season may last from the end of April to October, but some still like to travel within this time to beat the crowds.

Getting there

British Airways offers a non-stop 9 hour 30 minute flight from Heathrow to Nassau's Lynden Pindling International Airport five times a week. As the Sunsail base is located 3.5 miles away from Marsh Harbour Airport, you will have a short connection through Nassau to Marsh Harbour Airport, which should take around 15-30 mins from Nassau.

When connecting from Nassau, we’d recommend flying some of the most popular local airlines offering services to the Out Islands which include Bahamas Air, SkyBahamas, Flamingo Air and Western Air.

For visa information and entry requirements to the Bahamas, click here.