It’s been a long cold winter and you haven’t had a good dose of sunshine and sand between your toes in a long time. Spring breezes may have you itching to dig in the garden, but for me, Spring brings yearnings for crystal clear waters lapping on endless miles of pristine beaches. Yes my friends, May and June are the perfect months to fly off to the Out Islands of the Bahamas where temperatures are in the 80′s and life is a beach! Grab your flip flops and several bathing suits and you’re ready to go.
If your vision of the Bahamas is Nassau and Paradise Island, you have a whole new world of soft adventure waiting to explore. There are roughly 700 islands in the Bahamas chain, and one is more beautiful than the next. The Out Islands have been known to yachtsmen for generations, as they lie just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. In addition to wonderful boating, you’ll find opportunities for fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, shelling, birding, windsurfing, diving and of course, sipping a long cool drink while watching the sunlight dance across the aqua sea. If you’ve dreamed of making the first set of footprints on a long stretch of pristine beach, the Out Islands of the Bahamas is a destination you’ll adore.
My Out Island of choice is The Abacos, located 75 miles north of Nassau and less than an hours flight from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Notice the island name is plural – that’s because the main island is ringed by smaller islands (Cays) just offshore. This makes for fabulous boating. You can go exploring island to island in your own rented boat (never loosing site of land), or take advantage of the terrific local ferry system.
Let’s talk about the Abaco island towns you’ll want to visit along with famous local watering holes, and inviting accommodations. You may feel nostalgic for New England during your stay, as many of the island towns were settled by Colonial Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution.
Marsh Harbor – This happening small city is the gateway for most travelers arriving by boat or plane. You’ll find the largest selection of accommodations, grocery stores, car rental agencies and inter-island ferries here. The harbor front is dotted with friendly restaurants, bars, requisite souvenir shops and the marina is always full of east coast adventurers who have just completed the crossing from Florida. Oh the stories that flow!
Treasure Cay – Is a marina and beach community that boasts an international airport, miles of gorgeous beaches and an 18 hole golf course. Clint and I had a great stay at the Treasure Cay Hotel Resort, renting a townhouse condo on VRBO. We loved having a resort restaurant and beach-side cafe a few steps away, as well as convenience stores, a bank, boat and golf cart rentals, and an island bakery making yummy cinnamon buns for breakfast! Our best memory – wading off on a sand-bar to a private island at low tide.
Hope Town on Elbow Cay- Is so quaint and picturesque you almost have to pinch yourself to believe it’s for real! On one side of the harbor stands a gaily striped light house and on the other an inviting town with colorful “cape cod’ houses sandwiched along narrow winding cobblestone lanes. Don’t miss a visit to the lovingly assembled historic museum. Rent a golf cart and go buzzing along the main road. A stop for a refresher at the Turtle Hill Resort (on Da Beach) will reward you with an impressive view out to sea and along the miles of alluring beachfront.
Guana Cay – It’s all about Nippers – just follow the crowd! Nippers is the very definition of a quintessential ‘let it all hang out’ beach bar. If you don’t have a great time at Nippers it’s your own fault. The tropical drinks flow, the band plays, everyone is singing and dancing in the sunshine and the smiles are contagious. Was this Jimmy Buffet’s setting for Cheeseburger in Paradise? – you decide. But pace yourself, and be sure to descend down to beach below – it’s yet another gorgeous stretch of magnificent beach. I especially loved the half round outcroppings of coral along the way – like your own salt water jacuzzi!
Green Turtle Cay – I’m running out of superlatives… There are two places you must seen on Green Turtle Cay, the tiny township of New Plymouth settled by Loyalists in the 1700′s and the celebrated Green Turtle Club. The historic buildings of the New Plymouth settlement will have you envisioning just how challenging life must have been for the colonial era settlers. The oldest buildings are, of course, the church and the jail. Check the calendar at the Green Turtle Club and don’t miss an opportunity to hear ‘Island Spice’ play or to gather for a “toes in the sand” barbecue.
Man-O-War Cay – Perhaps the most traditional of all the Abaco islands and famous for their boat building history. Party seekers take note…. there is no alcohol sold on this island and customs are very conservative. Many folks make the trip to Man-O-War Cay to purchase the locally crafted tote bags made from sail cloth.
You won’t find glitz, glitter, gambling or high rise resorts in the Out Islands of the Bahamas, but you will find an unsurpassed ocean wonderland with quaint towns, gorgeous beaches and friendly folk.