ELBOW CAY AND HOPE TOWN IN ABACO
About Elbow Cay and Hope Town
Elbow Cay in Abaco is 4,5 miles long and a little over 1000 yards wide on the widest point.
The largest settlement on Elbow Cay is Hope Town, probably the best known town in the Abaco’s.
Hope Town was the largest town in Abaco in 1900, with a population of 1,200. People worked in fishing, sponging, shipping and boat building.
Hope Town today is a picturesque village with well-kept cottages, a selection of charming restaurants with both informal outdoor eating or white table cloth dining. You will not find Starbucks here, but the Hope Town Coffee House is a great (and maybe even better) substitute. If you like shopping, Hope Town has a few interesting and fun stores.
You will find bars and restaurants throughout the island of Elbow Cay, from which you can view the azure blue ocean and delight in a tropical drink. You will often find yourself being caressed by the warm, tropical breezes while watching the stunning sunsets.
Elbow Cay is home to sociable people and great Bahamian cooking. There are beautiful white beaches, breathtaking sunsets, and lots of places to go and sightsee. If you want a good view of Hope Town; climb the Light House. If you want to learn some of Hope Town’s History; go to the Museum. If you like art; visit to the art gallery. If you have a sweet tooth; visit the Sugar Shack and have an ice cream.
Abaco is known for it’s beautiful crystal clear waters so perfect for sailing, snorkeling, diving, and fishing. Arriving by boat is not a problem in Hope Town. There are lots of moorings in the harbor, and several marinas you can dock at.
Hope Town in Abaco is a great choice for a vacation if you want to be away from the mainstream tourist locations. No jet-skis zooming up and down the beach, no street vendors, no cruise ships, no booze cruise. Hope Town in Abaco is perfect for people who like to explore a tropical Paradise in their own pace.
Hope Town in Abaco - History
as described by The Wyannie Malone Museum
Hope Town was settled by British Loyalists who were seeking safe refuge after the American Revolution. Many of the settlers came from the Carolinas by way of East Florida after that area was turned over to Spain in the Peace of Paris in 1783.
The same treaty called for the evacuation of New York by the Loyalists and many moved back to England or into Canada or down to the British Caribbean.
The initial settlements were at Carleton, near the current Treasure Cay, and Marsh's Harbour. Marsh Harbour is now the capital of Abaco and third largest town in the Bahamas; whereas, the settlement at Carleton has disappeared.
By 1785 there were over 1000 refugees in Abaco distributed in five or six settlements.
The settlement at Hope Town was founded in 1785, in part, by a widow from South Carolina named Wyannie Malone. Wyannie along with her four children started a dynasty in Hope Town that spread the Malone name through the Bahamas over to Key West and other parts of Florida and outwards from there.
Hence the choice of the name of: THE WYANNIE MALONE MUSEUM. You’ll find it if you turn left from the main public dock.
Hope Town Lighthouse
Hope Town is home to the famous Elbow Reef Lighthouse. Probably the most recognizable landmark in Abaco, the lighthouse is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world. The lamp burns pressurized Kerosene oil with a wick and mantle. The lighthouse keeper on duty must wind up the weights every 2 hours in order to be seen from 17 miles away.
In 1836, the first lighthouse was built in Abaco in order to improve navigation and decrease the amount of shipwrecks. It was stationed at the south tip of Great Abaco. Even with that lighthouse, wrecks were building up around Abaco.
This was not good for the shipping of course, but great for the wreckers, for whom wrecking was an important source of income.
In 1863, England decided to build a lighthouse in Hope Town to steer ships clear of the extensive “Elbow Reef”. Despite intense protests and even sabotage from the local wreckers, the lighthouse was completed in 1864.
What to do in Hope Town - Abaco
Enjoying the Beaches
There are several beaches on Elbow Cay, all with white sand and crystal clear waters. You can get to them by golf cart, or by foot. They are great for beach combing, snorkeling, or just for sun tanning and relaxing to the sound of the waves.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving around Elbow Cay, Abaco
You can snorkel from any beach around Elbow Cay. Just put your gear on and walk into the crystal clear water.
If you want to see a lot of fish in one spot, it might be smart to go on an organized snorkel trip. They know where to find the best snorkeling spots.
Fish like to hang out on boat wrecks and on the reefs further out. The wrecks might be hard to find of your own, and the reefs are not easily accessed.
If you have rented a boat, you can snorkel around any small cays in Abaco. Be careful so your anchor does not damage anything, and never anchor on a reef.
Please keep in mind that coral reef and starfish (sea stars) are live animals. DO NOT take them from their environment, as it is illegal.
To experience really interesting snorkeling, you can join a scheduled snorkeling or dive tour with Froggies Out Island Adventures. Froggies offers ½ and full-day tours for snorkelers and certified divers, as well as scuba diving lessons.
Froggies Out Island Adventures
Renting a boat on Elbow Cay, Abaco
You don’t really need a boat to enjoy Hope Town and Elbow Cay, but if you do decide to rent a boat, or even charter one with a captain, there are lots of places to go and cays to see. Many of the cays are uninhabited. They are peaceful, serene and perfect for exploring.
You can also explore under water. Just put the snorkeling gear on and walk out from any of the beaches.
Here are some boat rental companies in Hope Town:
Cats Paw Boat Rentals
Island Marine Boat Rentals
Sea Horse Boat Rentals
Exploring Elbow Cay and Hope Town
You can reach anywhere by foot if you are a bit sporty and have good walking shoes, but a golf cart is fun to drive, and you reach more places in shorter time. Golf carts are not allowed inside the settlement, but you can drive anywhere outside of Hope Town.
If you rent a bike, you are allowed to bike everywhere. The North End of Elbow Cay is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, and is easily accessed with a bicycle or by foot.
Here are some bicycle rental companies:
Sun Dried T’s
A & S
Golf Cart Rental companies:
Island Cart Rentals
T & N Cart Rentals
JR’s Cart Rentals
Elbow Cay Cart Rentals
Hope Town Cart Rentals
Deep Sea Fishing in Abaco
If you feel like going deep sea fishing one or more days, there are fishing charters available for half a day or a full day.
In Hope Town there are a few fishermen who take people on fishing charters.
For foreigners there are regulations in place, and it is necessary to follow these.
A Salt Weapon Charters
- deep sea fishing
(242) 366-0245 Please contact Ira Key.
- reef fishing
(242) 366-0059 Please contact Will Key.
- deep sea fishing
(242) 366-3143 Please contact Michael Schreiner.
- deep sea fishing
(242) 366-0528 Please contact Justin Russell.
- deep sea or reef fishing
(242) 366-0101 Please contact Truman Major.
- deep sea fishing
(242) 366-0266 Please contact Robert Lowe.
Wild Pigeon Charters
- bone, reef, or bottom fishing
(242) 366-0234 Please contact Maitland Lowe.
Hungry or thirsty?
Looking for a bite to eat, or some happy hour drinks? Most of the restaurants have “happy hour” from around 5:00pm to 6:00pm. Keep in mind, unlike in the US or Canada where you can get a meal anytime during the day, most restaurants on the island only serve meals at certain hours.
Generally, lunch is served from 11:00am to 3:00 pm, and dinner is served from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. During the afternoons, appetizers are drinks are usually the only items served.
Try Hope Town Coffee House in the center of Hope Town for all sorts of coffee, teas and and other drinks. You get muffins, kirsch and other things to eat as well.
Phone: 242.366.0760 Link to Hope Town Coffee House
Cap'n Jack's is a nice restaurant with a bar, located right on the waterfront in Hope Town. You can watch the traffic in the harbour, and look straight over to the candy-striped lighthouse Hope Town is so famous for.
You can chill out with a drink or have lunch or dinner here. Twice a week they have a "special" night with entertainment.
Link to Kap'n Jack's Website
Abaco Inn is a resort located a bit away from Hope Town. Newly renovated, it is a great spot to enjoy lunch, dinner or a drink.
Abaco Inn invites you to come lose yourself somewhere between the shimmering Sea of Abaco and deep blue Atlantic. Get ready to set sail for adventure or just let us serve it to you on a silver tray. From accommodations to activities to the scenery from our porch, there's so much to take in at the Abaco Inn that you'll have to keep coming back just to see it all.
Phone: 1.800.468.8799 - Link to Abaco Inn Website
Sea Spray Resort is located outside of the Settlement of Hope Town. It has large deck with a swimming pool, a marina where you can dock, a restaurant, a tiki bar and rooms.
Phone: (242) 366-0065, (717) 718-8267
Link to Sea Spray Website
Here's a video we have made from Hope Town Harbour Lodge in Elbow Cay, Abaco
Phone: 1-242-366-0095 Link to Hope Town Harbour Lodge
If you prefer some fine dining inside one day, with white table cloths and fabric napkins, then the gourmet restaurant "Great Harbour Room" at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge is a great choice.
It is famous for its delicious food. It can be smart to book in advance, as this restaurant is popular and you might not get a table if you just show up.
If you want to have a bite any time of the day in beautiful beach and pool surroundings, you step down to the Reef Grill & Bar, also a part of The Harbour Lodge.
Here you can sit in the restaurant area, or on the large deck by the pool, have a swim in the pool or in the ocean, lounge in deck chairs on the beach or by the pool, while you enjoy an exotic tropical drink from the bar.
The patio on the harbour side of Hope Town Harbour Lodge is an oasis in Paradise. The guests and visitors can relax here and enjoy the view over the harbour while they enjoy a cup of coffee from the Reef Bar.
Island Hopping from Hope Town, Abaco
Rent a boat and cruise the outer cays of Abaco. Each island is different from the next, and there is always something new to discover.
Great Guana Cay has spectacular snorkeling on the beach behind the famous Nippers Bar. You’ll also find Grabber’s on one end of the Front Street. Guana Cay is famous for it’s potent tropical drinks, and each beach bar (Nipper’s, Grabber’s and Pirate’s Cove) have their own concoction.
Man-O-War is a small cay, but beautiful. No alcohol is being served on this island. They have a history of boat building, and is where Albury Brothers boats are built. In one end of the harbor you’ll find the famous Sail Shop, where you can buy colorful bags and purses made of canvas fabric, with Man-O-War labels.
Green Turtle Cay is located In the far north end of the Sea of Abaco from Hope Tow. They also have a historical museum, bars and restaurants.
If you go south from Hope Town along the main island of Great Abaco, you’ll come to a string of barrier islands with beautiful beaches. These are the Pelican Cays, a part of a National Park. In Little Harbour you’ll find the famous Pete's Pub with an art gallery for bronze statues and other molten hand made art. You can find small caves to explore just across the harbor. Ask the locals if you don’t know how to find them.
Kayaking around Elbow Cay, Abaco
Kayaking is a great way to discover Elbow Cay and its surroundings by quietly becoming a part of nature. Abaco Eco offers guided tours, as well as rentals for those wishing to venture out on their own.
Massage & Yoga on the beach in Hope Town, Abaco
While you have time away from your busy life, why not relax with a massage? There are two locals who offer massage therapy on Elbow Cay.
Back to Basics Massage & Yoga
VHF 16 “Back to Basics”
(242) 366-0722 Please contact Rachael Aberle.
Bodywork by Tania
(242) 366-0091 Please contact Tania.
Museum & Art
To learn more about Hope Town and its history, a visit to the Wyannie Malone museum is a must. At the museum, you can learn how residents lived in the 19th century. There are also displays on the environment, past fishing practices, prior inhabitants of the island, and a wonderful gift shop with informative books and other great gifts.
There is now a recently opened art gallery on the main street, just a little walk to the right from the main public dock.
Wyannie Malone Museum
Most nights there is a “special night” somewhere. The bar or restaurant which have their night, will have a local DJ or live band. There could be other fun events happening too. They normally start around 8:00pm or 9:00pm, and last for a few hours.
Tuesday - Abaco Inn
Wednesday - Cap’n Jacks
Thursday - Harbour's Edge
Friday - Cap'n Jacks
Saturday - Harbour's Edge and Sea Spray Resort and Marina
Full Moon – Full moon party at Cracker P's (on Lubbers quarters, a neighbor island)
Sailing around Elbow Cay, Abaco
Everywhere in Abaco is great for sailing. In fact, everywhere in the Bahamas is great. Whether you are on your own sailboat, or have chartered one locally, you’ll find that sailing through the cays is relaxing and beautiful, as long as you can stay off the sandbars...
For more information about sailing you can visit the White Sound Press website. Abaco Multi hull Charters offers boat rentals, bareboat charters, and captained day charters.
Abaco Sailing adventures offers morning and sunset charters aboard their 33' Morgan Out-Island sloop.
Abaco Multi hull Charters
- day charters – (242) 366-0522
- bareboat charters – (207) 529-6500
Abaco Sailing Adventures
Tours in Elbow Cay, Abaco
Captain Plug offers hourly, half-day, and all-day adventures, whether you want learn the basics of boating, get out on the water, tour nearby settlements, or hit up a few local spots for great food and delicious drinks. Captain Plug is knowledgeable, patient, and will help you have a memorable adventure in the Abacos. For more information, please contact Stafford Patterson.
Captain Plug’s Adventures
(242) 366-0023 or (242) 366-0554