Category Archives: Bahamas

Abacos – Man-O-War to Marsh Harbour – And Other Options

There are other choices for the last night of the cruise instead of Man-O-War – and we have tried most of them:

Matt Lowe’s Cay – If an early morning schedules dictates being really close to Conch Inn Marina. Matt Lowe’s Cay is a snug anchorage an hour from the base. And a good place to settle in for a banquet of “what’s left in the fridge”. Once an uninhabited island, it is now home to a new very high-end development; a canal system has been dredged to provide access to the 17 home sites. Still, for the time being, it’s a pretty spot just a short sail to Marsh Harbour.

Or Back to Cracker P’s – especially if it just happens to be a Full Moon. They have an infamous Full Moon Party

Or head to the base – The last option, of course, is just to head back to Conch Inn Marina and spend the last night dockside – where there’s a bathhouse, pool, restaurant, Wi-Fi and, even, a conch salad stand.

Whatever your choice, it’s 1-2 hour easy sail back to the base on Tuesday morning.

Abaco Day 10 – Fowl Cay Reef to Man-O-War

Capital of the 200-year-old Bahamas’ boat-building industry, this is certainly one of the most culturally interesting stops on the cruise.

Rent a golf cart. Shop. Eat. Hit the beach – the same magnificent one that edges all the other cays. Visit a well-known local boat builder. Or just walk. Man-O-War is an endlessly fascinating place to stroll – lovely villas, modest cottages, “doorbells” that are real bells, surprising landscapes, churches, hard-working boatwrights, long-term cruisers cleaning a table-full of conch (with licenses we assume), the island graveyard……

There really isn’t room to anchor in either the North or South Channels, so call Man-O-War Marina (242/365-6008) to ask if anything is available – dock or mooring. It is not possible to reserve in advance here. The North Channel is nearest the village and ferry landing. If you are not successful in securing moorage, then a good alternative, in settled weather, is the anchorage just outside the north end of the harbor – near Old Scopley’s Rock. It’s an easy dinghy ride between Dickie’s Cay and Man-O-War Cay to the public dock in the settlement.

Man-O-War Marina offers slips with power, cable and telephone, moorings, fuel, a pool, dive and gift shops, recycling bins, heads, showers and laundry. And, by May 208, the Dock ‘n’ Dine eatery overlooking the harbor.

Most of the families of Man-O-War trace their history back to the late 1700s when their Loyalist ancestors fled the States in protest during the Revolution. They became boat builders and shipwrights, and today Albury Brothers’ center-cockpit, 23 foot deep-V boats (some of which are now built in Florida) have a passionate following that extends far beyond the Bahamas. Edwin’s Boat Yard also has two full-service facilities with an extensive marine parts inventory.

Both Albury’s Harbour Grocery and recently expanded Man-O-War Grocery (the “Upper” store) deliver to the docks and are well-supplied – with every-thing but alcohol since Man-O-War is a “dry” island. Island Treats Take-Away, at the edge of the marina property, serves up conch fritters, cracked conch and everything else conch – plus all kinds of ice cream concotions. Adjacent are a bunch of picnic tables. But we decided the cockpit was the most attractive dining spot in the harbor, so we hauled our bags full of conch back to the boat for a lazy evening.

Hibiscus Café, the only other place to eat on Man-O-War, offers both lunch and dinner – lots of seafood in coffee shop/cafe atmosphere right next to Joe’s Studio. However, when it opens, the marina’s Dock ‘n Dine eatery will expand the options immeasurably If you want bread or cinnamon buns, Lola’s Bakery is a good bet and she delivers everywhere on the island – including the docks.

The village has two “roads” that parallel the harbor so it’s easy to make a long loop and see everything in an hour or two – including The Sail Shop’s hand-made duffels, bags, hats and jackets (no more sails) run by Caroline Albury and her daughters, Man-O-War Hardware, a gold mine for boaters, (Willard) Albury Bros Boat Building, Edwin (Albury)’s Boat Yard, Andy Albury’s boat model and furniture shop, and Joe’s Studio featuring housewares, serving pieces and tropical attire (but they wouldn’t let us take pictures so we can’t show you!).

Abaco Day 10 – Lunch Hook – Treasure Cay to Fowl Cay Preserve

After our short stop at Treasure Cay, we headed south toward Fowl Cay Preserve for an afternoon of snorkeling.

Scotland Cay

But first we realized that we’d hit low tide at just right for a change – and dropped an anchored off Scotland Cay. A huge sand bar is exposed a low tide so we dinghied in and made camp for the morning. Then we headed over to Fowl Cay Reef.

Fowl Cay Reef and Preserve

Just south of Scotland Cay, this is reportedly one of the best snorkeling spots in Abaco. We dropped an anchor on the east side of the Cay and dinghied to one of the designated moorings near the Reef. It gave us a chance to test our new underwater digital while the brightly colored, friendly fish produced a few qualms about yesterday’s dinner.

Abaco Day 9 – Green Turtle to Treasure Cay

Ready for an easy sail, we headed back through Whale Cay Passage south to Treasure Cay. One of the few big yacht options in Abaco, the 150-slip Treasure Cay Marina and Hotel complex had just opened when we made our very first cruise up Abaco Sound (25 years ago) – it was, for its time, dazzling. Today it is a modest vacation development with a pool, 18-hole golf course, 100-room hotel, rental villas and condos, and tennis courts – that, on the approach, is showing its age.

But its spectacular three-mile arc of powder-sand beach is still dazzling and well worth a visit. Tipsy Seagull Bar is dockside and the low-key, upscale Spinnaker Restaurant, where we dined that night, overlooks the pool and harbor. Nearby is the studio for Abaco Ceramics which is featured in shops all over the Bahamas. There are also direct flights from Treasure Cay to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

Abaco Day 8 – Great Guana to Green Turtle Cay

Ready for a long, leisurely sail up Abaco Sound, we headed for our northernmost destination on this trip. Green Turtle Cay requires a short outside passage around Whale Cay. When the ocean is “raging,” this passage is not recommended so we listened in on Patti and Bob Toler’s Cruiser’s Net (Channel 68, at 08:15) for up-to-date weather reports. We learned lots of other interesting tidbits as well and – voyeurs all – we listened every morning just for fun.

The weather was kind and we cruised Green Turtle’s northern White Sound and southern Black Sound trying to decide where to stay. We chose Black Sound for its proximity to the historic village of New Plymouth on Settlement Harbour (which is just too tight and shallow for boats over 15 feet or so) and picked up a rental mooring from the Other Shore Club with a view of the travelift bay at AbacoYacht Services on the far shore. We headed over to New Plymouth and stumbled on a home-based golf cart rental agency. It was time for some land fun, and the four of us climbed aboard for an island tour.

New Plymouth’s narrow cement roads are all one-way because they’re too tight for two golf carts to pass each other. The history of the settlement is chronicled in the Albert Lowe Museum. Across the roadway, the Memorial Sculpture Garden features a monument that commemorates the arrival of the Loyalists; it’s surrounded by dozens of bronze busts of key players in Bahamian history, many of whom are still living. We stopped at all three groceries – Lowe’s, Curry’s and Sid’s – mostly to sample the home-made ice cream – and passed by two hardware stores, three churches, several eateries, the harborfront and the Roland Roberts House Environmental Center.

Next we headed to White Sound – this time by road – to explore the quietly elegant Green Turtle Club and Marina. The 40-slip marina manages vessels to 120 feet with up to 100 amp service, cable, and Wi-Fi. Ashore, the Club features a pool high above the harbor, cottage accommodations and an old Bahamian-style fine-dining restaurant that serves three meals a day – all painted a soft yellow. A sport fish boat was just pulling in as we were contemplating what we would do for dinner, and we were lucky enough to garner a couple of beautiful Yellowtails carefully filleted by the captain himself. We stopped at Bluff House Yacht Club and Hotel to admire their gorgeous Ipe docks – filled with big sport fish boats – and their two pools, two restaurants and first class amenities – then hurried south to Black Sound to get our fresh-off-the-hook fish ready for the grill.

Abaco Day 7 – Great Guana Cay – Nippers

Nipper’s Beach Bar & Grill is probably the most famous place in all of Abaco. From the Orchid Bay Marina, walk along the curve of the bay, then turn right at the Nippers sign. Nippers is directly across the island from the docks. If you aren’t up for a walk, call Nippers to arrange for a pick-up.

Often called a Spring Break Party for Adults, Nipper’s amazing location, rainbow-colored multi-tiered playhouse and carnival atmosphere coupled with the strongest rum punches on the planet – try their version of a tropical smoothie – makes it an Abacos “must.”

Right on the ocean dunes, forty feet above the ocean, it’s fronted by one of the best stretches of the Great Abaco Barrier Reef. Bring your snorkel gear if you are arriving early. Walk down the steps, across the sand and swim fifty feet out. There’s Elkhorn, brain and star coral.

Picnic tables, chairs, and deck railings are painted every color in the crayon box. A shallow two-level pool is designed mostly for pool bar access. And a fifty-five foot high covered viewing platform – with more then a dozen picnic-style tables – provides a panoramic view of the harbor.

Nippers serves lunch and dinner every day ($9-18) – but on Sunday, Nippers throws a Pig Roast ($20). Required Nipper Juice (regular and frozen) is is deliciously lethal and its impact become more obvious as the day wears on. The whole harbor turns out for this ccasionally R rated event. Eat, swim/ snorkel off Nipper’s Beach, relax at the pool bar, dance, have fun…

WILD BOAR PIG ROAST

All You Can Eat Buffet

Wild Boar
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Peas & Rice
Cajun Coleslaw
Potato Salad
Corn Custard
Bread pudding & Gravy

Kids’ Menu available

Abaco Day 7 – Hope Town to Great Guana Cay

One of the best things about laid-back Great Guana is that it’s a large island with virtually no “must sees” or “must dos.” Barely 150 people permanently inhabit this cay. Yet, six miles of spectacular, wide, untouched beach fringed with palm trees sports a reef just 50 feet offshore. There’s good swimming, snorkeling and beachcombing. Plus a few eateries, some provisioning options, and infamous Nippers Beach Bar.

Great Guana has two side-by-side harbors – Fisher’s Bay and Settlement Harbour. Fisher’s Bay has moorings maintained by Dive Guana. Just inside Settlement Harbour – on the south side protected by a breakwater – is spiffy Orchid Bay Marina www.orchidbay.net ($2.25/foot – cash or credit card)

Orchid Bay Marina is an upscale complex of four buildings, topped by pyramid-shaped roofs, edged with verandas populated with Adirondack-style rockers and picnic tables. 32 slips it in nine feet of water, with 50 and 30 amp power, ice, laundry and showers, a pool, a small clothing shop in the office plus weather service, Wi-Fi, Fax, FedEx and UPS & recycling bins! They also have the best heads in the Abacos each with three private showers with dressing rooms.

The marina can also arrange scuba trips. and rent golf carts ($25 for three hours). The mostly windows Orchid Bay Restaurant & Bar (Tues-Sun 11am-9pm) serves lunch and dinner.

The Great Guana Cay settlement is tiny but the surrounding island has met some developers who just couldn’t resist that beach – and the local residents, not too happy about the incursion and the resulting tourist boom, have been hanging their objections on the potentially negative environmental impact of the development. The biggest issue is over the former cruise ship landing that is now being developed as the Baker’s Bay Club. This has been pretty much resolved, but protest signs still abound and the local committee is now talking to the Bahamian Court of Appeals. In the meantime, Bakers Bay promises six miles of waterfront, an 18-hole golf course and 300 houses – take a drive around to understand the objection.

Guana Harbour Grocery (8am-5:30pm) is good for topping off the larder (especially on “freight days” – Thursdays & Fridays) as is Fig Tree Wines. A favorite, the Arts Café & Bakery is now closed (and for sale for $1.6 million!). A small stand on the main “street” sells fresh produce and hand-made jewelry.

Word has it that the very best conch salad in all of Abaco can be found at a home-based little stand in front of Miss Luv’s Kitchen “Bess on the Island” – which also serves three meals a day “all tings Bahamian.” Alas, it been closed each time we’ve visited, so we are unable to confirm its highly favorable press. And this last time (early Spring ’08), it was closed again – word is that it may re-open summer ’08.

Other food possibilities include Orchid Bay at the marina, Docksiders Grill, formerly called Blue Water Grill (242/365-5137) on Fishers’ Bay serves dinner only (entrees $26-44) and also has a dinghy dock. Grabbers at Sunset Beach near the ferry dock (entrees Lunch $8-16, Dinner $22-38) is a popular, casual spot (242/365-5133)

Dive Guana (242/365-5178) is a full service dive shop, and also organizes snorkel trips and rents bikes, kayaks and paddle boats. Golf carts might be rentable from Donna Sands at Guana Cay Rentals (242/365-5195) on the north side of the village or from Orchid Bay. Virtually everyone responds to a hail on Channel 16.

But the world-famous attraction on Great Guana Nipper’s Beach Bar & Grill…..

Abaco Day 6 – Hope Town Lay Day – Things To Do

Hope Town offers a plethora of things to do in gracious, pretty surroundings: Go deep sea fishing or flats fishing. Sign up for a dive or snorkel boat trip. Camp for the day on the talcum-powder beach. Swim in one of the pools. Snorkel the Hope Town reef right from the beach. Surf in White Sound (3 miles south, the Atlantic offers 6 of the best breaks in the Bahamas). Shop – start at Iggy Biggy our favorite. Wander. Relax. Read .…

Snorkel & Dive Shops:

Froggies Out Island Adventures, Hope Town 242-366-0431

Dive Abaco Marsh Harbour 242-367-2787

Abaco Dive Adventures Marsh Harbour 242-367-2963

Fishing
Sport fish offshore for marlin, sailfish, dolphin (also known as mahi-mahi) Wahoo, tuna and more. Reef and bottom fish for grouper, snapper, and yellow tail. Or test your patience with bone fishing on the flats. See the fishing regs at the end of this guide. The Bahamas takes its protection and conservation laws very seriously – and ignorance is no excuse.

Fishing Guides:

Maitland Lowe “Bonefish Dundee” Bone Fishing/Reef Fishing/Bottom Fishing 242-366-0033, 366-0234

Robert Lowe “Seagull” Deep-Sea Fishing 242-366-0266

Ira Key “A Salt Weapon” Deep-Sea Fishing 242-366-0245 www.asaltweaponcharters.com

Truman Major “Lucky Strike” Deep-Sea Fishing/Reef Fishing 242-366-0101

Will Key “Day’s Catch” Reef Fishing/Snorkeling/Sightseeing 242-366-0059

Michael Schreiner “Down Deep” Deep-Sea Fishing 242-366-3143

Jay Sawyer “The Marls of Abaco Inn” Deep-Sea Fishing/Bone Fishing 242-367-3941 flyfishabaco@coralwave.com

Golf Cart & Bike Rentals :

Hope Town Cart Rentals 242-366-0064

Island Cart Rentals 242-366-0448

T&N Cart Rentals 242-366-0069

JR Cart Rentals 242-242-366-0361

The Bike Shop 242-366-0292

Sundried T’s 242-366-0616 (bikes and surf board rentals)

Abaco Day 6 – Hope Town Lay Day – Dining Options

There are a surprisng number of easy to get to eateries stretched out along Elbow Cay from the the northe end of the village sout to White Sound. And everything is accessible by dinghy, van or golf cart.

From north to south:

Cap’n Jack’s (242/366-0247) is Hope Town’s other waterfront eatery – a casual down home atmosphere, it’s a little closer to the harbor’s mouth. On Wednesday and Friday nights, there is usually live music. A dock is adjacent to the outdoor, covered deck. Lunch & Dinner $9-$22

Harbour’s Edge (242/366-0087) is probably the most popular restaurant in Hope Town. Its blue clapboard house sits on a pier above the water – an inviting, open air dining room sprawls to the waterside deck that doubles as a dock. Reserve on Channel 16 or by cell; then tie up the dink right next to your table. Lunch $10-18, Dinner $15-40. (also has a pool table)

Club Soleil (242/366-0003) Small snack bar.

Hope Town Harbour Lodge (242/366-0095) has itsown dock topped by a brightly colored pergola and poulated with pastel Adirondack chairs. HTHL serves breakfast on their Upper Terrace from 7-10am ($8.50-12), lunch at the Reef Bar next to their fresh water pool ($ 7-12), and dinner on the Terrace or in the cozy rattan furnished dining room ($20-38).

Munchies Take Away (242/366-0423) – across from Vernon’s

On Da’ Beach (242/366-0558) – casual beach shack that serves from 11:30-6pm. Appetizers, sandwiches, salads and kabobs. $5-10

Abaco Inn (242/366-0133) is ocean front in White Sound. For light lunches ($8-12) or fine dining at dinner ($15-35). They will send a van to Hope Town harbor to pick up customers. Just radio for reservations. They serve breakfast, too.

Sea Spray Boat House Restaurant (242/366-0065) also in White Sound, Sea Spray serves casual breakfast and lunch around the pool at the Garbonzo Reef Bar and traditional Bahamian dinners in their waterside eatery.

Abaco Day 6 – Hope Town Lay Day

Founded in 1785, by Loyalists, Hope Town’s red and white candy-cane lighthouse, totally protected harbor and picturesque streets make it the poster child for the Abaco archipelago.

If you’re feeling energetic, begin the day with a tour of the still active 1863 Elbow Reef Lighthouse – a short walk from the marinas on the western shore. The structure launches a beam that can be seen for nearly twenty miles; and the 101 steps really demand to be climbed – with a camera. At the top is a massive 140-year-old rotating Fresnel lens floating in mercury with a small kerosene-fueled mantle – powered by a mechanism that is weighted by pirate’s cannon balls. The views extend as far as the beam – out past Parrot Cay on the sea side plus an aerial view of the harbor. Awesome pictures are guaranteed.

Next dinghy across the harbor and land at either the southern Public Dock in front of the Clinic and Post Office. Or the northern Public Dock. Stroll Back Street, the upper of the two village lanes that parallel the harbor. Lovingly restored brightly colored structures, dripping with Bougainvillea and edged with white picket fences, house shops, private homes, galleries and B&Bs. The narrow side-walk-like streets are designed for walkers and golf carts – with nary a car in sight.

Well-stocked Harbour View Grocery also boasts its own dock, and if they don’t have what you need, Vernon’s Grocery and his Upper Crust Bakery – likely will. If your boat needs a sugar fix – try one of Vernon’s pies (especially the Key Lime). On Back Street, just beyond Vernon’s look for a home-made blue sign advertising “Fresh Fish.” Turn east down the side street to the blue and white house. A knock on the door may bring Alan Albury, the fisherman himself, who will tell you what’s fresh that day – If it’s conch and you’re planning to build your own conch slad, Mr Albury may add a few fresh tomatoes picked right from his garden.

Near by is the entrance to North Beach – a favorite for surfing the waves and Iggy Biggy with the fun cartoony signs. We have found this a great stop for souveniers, gifts, island jewelry and pottery from the only studio in the archipelago.

Even if your or your kids are not museum fans, the compelling Wyannie Malone Historical Museum is worth a quick stop (Mon-Sat, 10am-3pm). Docented by a knowledgeable and passionate American transplant, the exhibits and artifacts help to decipher the history of the village and the larger archipelago. The double building is modeled after a early Hope Town residence and the upper floor is furnished as it would have been in the 19th century – including children’s rooms.

On the first floor are photo montages of early Abaco life, on the native Lucayan Indians and some quiet exhibits on the artifacts collected by the infamous wreckers. Just like Key West, Hope Town owes some of its early affluence to a group of locals who enticed passing vessels with false signals to make them crash on the rocks and reef – and then salvaged the cargo.

Head south along the upper roadway, back toward Hope Town Harbour Lodge Resort – consider just pulling up a poolside chaise for the day or making camp at their ocean beach. If you’d rather try something new, one of the public beach entrances, marked by a gazebo, is just beyond HTHL. From either entrance, you will find a sweep of gorgeous, pink powder ocean beach that is protected by an offshore live coral reef. To snorkel, just swim a mere thirty feet out to the reef.

Nearby is the above-ground Settlement Cemetery with spectacular views of the ocean.