Category Archives: Hope Town Lay Day

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.