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The best guide to visiting Hope Town and Elbow Cay, Abaco, Bahamas - Help with getting here, where to stay, real estate, things to do and so much more!

About Hope Town

Hope Town has far exceeded our expectations. The moment our ferry pulled into the harbor and we saw the sign that said “Slow Down, you’re in Hope Town” we know we had stumbled upon something special. The historic Hope Town Lighthouse stood proud over the quaint settlement as it has since 1963. The islands locals and visitors alike welcomed us onto this beautiful island and we in turn welcomed them into our hearts forever. We know that you will love Hope Town just as we do.

- Mr. and Mrs. Adam Wall

Just a 45 minute flight from Florida; you’ll find one of the best island destinations in the Bahamas…The Abacos! One of The Abacos’ more popular island hideaways, and certainly one of the largest, Elbow Cay is unique in its diversity, and offers a real potpourri of island style diversions. Visitors can venture out on snorkeling and SCUBA tours, visit the famous candy striped lighthouse, walk the romantic white powdery beaches, or simply relax in the warm sun of the Bahamas.

Hope Town is clearly one of the most picturesque settlements in the Bahamas. Its candy-striped lighthouse was built by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service in 1863, and still uses a wind-up brass mechanism to send a beam of light which can be seen for up to 20 miles. The town has many charming old houses, some of them beautifully restored. The ocean beach, just to the east, has powdery pink sand and is protected by an extensive offshore reef. Founded by loyalists in c. 1785, the community maintains the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum, which has many interesting artifacts, photographs, and documents.

Hope Town provides all services for visitors. There are four grocery stores- Harbour View Grocery, Vernon’s Grocery, LVA Convenience Store and “The Foodstore”. Vernon’s includes the Upper Crust Bakery where pies and bread are baked daily. Vernon’s business slogans-”Let Them Eat Key Lime Pie” and “Pies ‘R’ Us” exemplify his delightful sense of humor. Harbour View Grocery is on the waterfront, and has its own dock. Both stores are well stocked; what one does not have can likely be found at the other. Lowe’s Fish Market, located up Nigh Creek, sells fresh (frozen) fish.

There are three marinas on Elbow Cay, Lighthouse Marina near the harbour entrance, Hope Town Inn & Marina further in along the harbour’s west side and SeaSpray Marina in White Sound. The marinas are well equipped and offer fuel, wet and dry storage, and well-stocked marine stores. 

The Hope Town Harbour Lodge is also a resort-restaurant complex, and has recently been completely refurbished. It offers snorkeling just off its ocean beach and pool bar. Other bars and restaurants include Harbour’s Edge, located on the water north of the main (upper) public dock, and Cap’n Jack’s, located further north on the water. Hope Town Coffee House, Munchies and Sugar Shack offer snacks and light meals. Abaco Inn and Boat House Restaurant, both located at White Sound, serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Da Beach Bar and Grill and Last Light Bar and Grill are located in the middle section of the island and each has it’s own unique charm. One over looks the ocean and beach and the other overlooks the Sea of Abaco and has the most amazing view of the sunset. All offer excellent food and friendly service-and provide the visitor with exceptional variety in a small town.

There are several excellent gift and souvenir shops- Iggy Biggy, Da Crazy Crab, El Mercado and Ebb Tide Shop offers Androsia Batik clothing, and all have a good assortment of other clothing, jewelry, T-shirts, books, and various gift items. 

Bicycles can be rented at Sundried T’s located right next to the Post Office on the bottom floor of the Sugar Shack. Golf carts are available for rent but are located outside of town; with a phone call, they’ll deliver the cart to you. White Sound is a 3-mile ride; Tahiti Beach is another 1+ miles over some rough road. Hope Town Point is a short ride north of town. Motorized vehicles (including golf carts) are not allowed in town without prior approval. 

Elbow Cay is conveniently located in “The Hub” of Abaco so island hopping from Hope Town is a not hard at all. Rent a small power boat from the handful of rental companies while you’re in town and do some exploring. Man O Way Cay, Guana Cay, Lubbers Quarters, Little Harbour and Marsh Harbour are some of the popular destination for day trips out on the boat.

The Hope Town lighthouse is one of only three kerosene-powered lights in the world, and all three are in the Bahamas. The large Fresnel lens floating in a bath of mercury generates a light visible more than 17 miles. The lighthouse is open to visitors during the day up until sunset when they prepare to light this working antique lighthouse. Climbing to the top of the lighthouse is sure to be one of your most memorable moments on your trip, the stunning view of Elbow Cay and the surrounding settlements is one of a kind. Be sure to sign the guest book and leave a donation as there is no charge for visiting.

Elbow Cay and the Abacos
The Abacos are 180 miles east of Miami and consist of 100 mile long Great Abaco Island and a string of small islands about 5 miles off its shore. Elbow Cay, with its settlement of Hope Town, is in the middle of this string of islands. The protected area between Great Abaco Island and the barrier islands is called the Sea of Abaco and is consistently listed as one of the best cruising areas in the whole world.

The first inhabitants arrived in the 1700′s and the Wyannie Malone Museum in Hope Town is very informative about the early development of the town. Today’s islanders are descendents of British Loyalists who fled the United States after England lost the Revolutionary War. Their accents still ring of England and are very pleasant to listen to.

Elbow Cay itself is a four mile long island with Hope Town near its northern end. It has a picturesque protected harbor and at the entrance stands the candy striped lighthouse which is a much photographed Out Island landmark. The village, located between a beautiful beach and the harbor, has perhaps 300 permanent residents and is reminiscent of a New England fishing village set in the tropics. Its main street, the Queen’s Highway, is 8′ wide and no cars are allowed in the village. There are two town docks for your use and a marina where gas can be purchased. There are three grocery stores (one with its own dock), a liquor store, a bank, as well as several gift shops and artist studios. 

There is a clinic in town staffed by a resident nurse. Doctors are in Marsh Harbor and the local people are extremely helpful in the event of an emergency.  I can generally comment that all the people of Abaco are very nice and you will feel welcome everywhere.

Things to Do
By now if you are not already familiar with the Abacos, you will have an idea that this is not Miami or Nassau. The Abacos are for those whose night time activities require no more than nice restaurants and an occasional Calypso band with dancing. Evenings are spent 
reading, playing games, listening to music, or watching TV. The Sea of Abaco is a protected body of water with miles and miles of calm sandy beaches and several quaint villages for you to explore. There are many places for you to cross the islands or take your boat to get to deserted ocean beaches. Snorkeling and skin diving can be done in shallow or deep water and the choices are numerous. For the true diving enthusiast, the reefs are magnificent with wrecks, two underwater marine parks, and miles and miles of reefs to explore on the ocean side of the islands. Combine this with the clearest water in the world and that spells beautiful diving. Fishing is great and includes: wahoo, grouper, snapper, marlin, tuna, sailfish, bonefish, and dolphin. Other species can be found just a short distance offshore. There are excellent local guides and charters available at reasonable prices. Tanks can be rented and filled at Froggies Out Island Adventures in Town which also have regular SCUBA trips and lessons.

Transportation and Customs

Ask when you depart from the US if you need to reconfirm your return flight. Bahamas customs allows you to bring food for your personal consumption (no fruit or vegetables). You can bring a cooler (great to have on your boat) with some meat and other goods to avoid the higher cost of groceries, but if you don’t want to bother, the supermarkets in Marsh Harbour are well stocked. A taxi will take you from the airport to the ferry whose schedule may coincide with your flight. A ferry can be chartered at any time for higher fee. The taxi will happily stop and let you do your shopping at the stores in Marsh Harbour. The ferry will take you the three miles to the Hope Town public dock (near the post office) As an alternative, the ferry can drop you off at Island Marine where you can get your boat and then go directly to your rental house. Remember when you arrive on Saturday that stores in Hope Town will be closed on Sunday. You can get gas on Sunday from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon.

Golf Carts are a great way to explore the island and is highly recommended. There are several restaurants and beaches that you’ll need a golf cart to visit. 

What to Bring
Beach towels, suntan lotion, hats, sunglasses, snorkeling gear, fishing equipment, any food, cooler, long sleeved shirts for sun protection, and flashlight. You will probably bring too many clothes. Days are in bathing suits and dining out is casual (no jackets for men). Bring a portable radio if you want one for the beach.

 

A few facts about Hope Town:

  • The Hope Town lighthouse is one of only three kerosene-powered lights in the world, and all three are in the Bahamas. The large Fresnel lens floating in a bath of mercury generates a light visible more than 17 miles.
  • There is no public motorized traffic in Hope Town, and the hilly streets must be explored on foot.
  • Water is visible on both sides of the island — the blue ocean on one side, the green harbor on the other 
  •  The Wyannie Malone Museum is named after the settlement’s founder. Filled with simple treasures donated by island residents, the museum traces the history of Hope Town through photos, documents, and maps, as well as china, quilts, and other heirlooms. At the Wyannie Malone Museum, you will also find exhibitions on Lucayan Indians and Loyalist settlers are on display.
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About Hope Town, 7.7 out of 10 based on 21 ratings