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Run away to...the Abacos! (Part I)

When not teaching college, our latest Island Expert, Alison Watkins, spends her summers with a past-time that the Island Runaways duo almost envies (O.K., in fact we do envy!): Sailing through the Abaco islands in the Bahamas. Over the years Alison has gotten to know these amazing islands particularly well, so we're glad that she's sharing some of her photos and travel tips with all of us...

If you are a boater or sailor, or just love the sun, emerald water and teeming reef life, the Abaco Islands are a heaven-sent playground. Whether you want to sail, snorkel, dive, beachcomb, party, fish or just explore the Bahamian lifestyle, the Abacos are enchanting.

Island Runaways

Located in the northern Bahamas, the Abacos are a 20-mile–long chain of narrow islands with the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern seaboard, and the Sea of Abaco on the west. If you come by air, Marsh Harbor, and Treasure Cay on Great Abaco Island are your points of entry. The outer islands can be reached by ferries, or rental boats.

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The population on most of the islands is under 500, with the main mode of transport being golf carts, boats, bikes and scooters, making them an ideal place to slow down, unwind, and enjoy a truly tropical vacation. Charming islands you won’t want to miss include Green Turtle Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Hopetown (on Elbow Cay), Marsh Harbor (on Great Abaco Island), and Great Guana Cay.

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Green Turtle Cay

The main settlement, New Plymouth, on Green Turtle Cay can be reached by ferry from Treasure Cay. With quaint provincial houses, mouthwatering restaurants, upscale gift boutiques, hotels, and marinas, Green Turtle offers the full spectrum of Out Island experiences.

Green Turtle Cay

For fancy dining, the Bluff House and Green Turtle Club offer vacationers the best of Bahamian fare: conch fritters, conch salad, lobster, snapper, grouper, island chicken, and so much more.

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Or if you prefer, locals provide equally scrumptious right-out-of-the-sea fresh conch dishes.


For rocking entertainment, be sure to catch the Gully Roosters, a terrific local band, and for the best Goombay Smash and local chitchat on the island, you can’t beat Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar.

Abacos Bahamas

Many visitors grow so enamoured of Green Turtle Cay that they end up returning year after year. That's all of these Bahamian islands that I'll share for today. Stay tuned for more of the Abacos in Part II of my Runaway post!

Thank you, Alison, for the travel tips and the fantastic photographs! Looking forward to Part 2, which includes Man-o-War Cay, Hopetown, and Great Guana! We can't wait to learn more about the very special Abacos islands.

Our Island Expert Alison Watkins is a life-long sailor, and has taught literature at an art school in South Florida for the last 20 years. Her website is

(All photos copyright Alison Watkins, except the grouper photo, which is by Keith Rogers of Dive Abaco. Map from Google.)

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