The Abacos Landmarks
With its historical landmarks and unique attractions, the Abacos Islands are ideal for a natural Caribbean adventure.
Hope Town Lighthouse was built by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service to mark the reef of Elbow Cay during the 1860s. It is one of only two remaining lighthouse beacons saved from automation, thanks to residents, who have vigorously opposed it. Located on Elbow Cay, the historic 120-foot high candy-stripe lighthouse and the village of neat rows of gingerbread cottages painted varying pastel shades gives this settlement plenty of charm. Local residents opposed the island lighthouse in the early days. It actually took years to build because local residents continued to vandalize it in protest. Residents feared that their profitable shipwreck and salvage business would be ruined if ships could find their way at night. Until the lighthouse's completion in 1835, Abacoans even went so far as to intentionally cause shipwrecks by sending false signals to passing vessels. Primitive artifacts and relics of the "Wrecker's Days" can be seen at Wyannie Malone Historical Museum in Hope Town.
The Abacos have four dedicated national parks. Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, South of Tilloo Cay protects the barrier islands and coral reefs on its fringe. It is perfect for snorkeling with underwater caves abound with exotic marine life like eagle rays and sea turtles. Tilloo Cay National Reserve is a vital nesting place and habitat for many birds including the beautiful and rare White-Tailed Tropicbird. Abaco National Park in Southern Abaco near Hole In The Wall Lighthouse is a designated natural preservation area protecting 20,500 acres containing the native habitat of the endangered Bahama Parrot, exotic birds, and other wildlife. The Black Sound Cay National Reserve, adjacent to Green Turtle Cay, with its lush mangrove swamps, is a bird watcher's paradise. However, all of the Abaco islands are covered by scrub and pine forests so bird watching and nature hiking are keen everywhere, making the Abacos a popular Caribbean vacation destination for nature enthusiasts. Bring your binoculars!
Abaco Wild Horse Preserve celebrates the history of horses who galloped through the pine forests on the island for centuries. For years, the origin of this endangered herd of horses was debated, but in 1998, researchers concluded that they are descendants of Spanish Barbs. Visitors can tour the preserve and see Abaco Barb horses in their natural habitat. There are also resorts and locations where you can ride other horses on the Abacos Islands.
Man-O-War Cay, on Abacos Island, is the boat building capital of the region. While only a few hundred people live on the cay, many of them are descendants of early Loyalist settlers and boat builders, such as Billie Bo and his great-great-great nephew Joe Albury. Albury builds handcrafted boats, a skill that’s been passed along through the generations. Visitors today make special trips to Joe Albury’s Studio to purchase beautiful handcrafted model boats and sailing dinghies made from Abaco hardwoods. Albury's handcrafted boats are truly representative of proud historic Abaco sailing vessels.
Great Guana Cay—an islet off Great Abaco—is a seven-mile long exotic island with secluded beaches and grassy dunes that are home to about 100 people and a few roosters. This Bahamas attraction is ideal for snorkeling, swimming and relaxing on the beach. There is also not a better place to experience Bahamian cuisine. All-day pig roasts on weekends are popular for eating, listening to live Bahamian music and beach dancing.
Although one may question whether Treasure Cay Beach is a “true landmark” of the Abaco Islands, it is certainly a site not to miss. Located 17 miles north-west of Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay is a developed residential and vacation community. Its sugar-soft white sand and sparkling diamond and turquoise waters help rank this four-mile beach as one of the world’s top 10 beaches.