Abacos
 
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The Abacos — Situated about 100 miles north of Nassau and 200 miles northeast of Miami, the Abacos comprise a unique island archipelago stretching more than 100 miles north to south. These are the most popular of the Bahamas Out Islands, with approximately 120,000 visitors annually. When you consider that the resident population is only 10,000, these are impressive numbers of tourists. But because visitors arrive by both boat and airplane (there are international airports at both Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay) and spread out over a number of fascinating islands (including Great Abaco, Elbow Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay, Great Guana Cay, Little Abaco, and Walker's Cay) the tourism influx never seems intrusive. The pace is still laid-back, the scenery idyllic, and most significantly, the underwater attractions awesome.

History of the Abacos — Of course modern tourists weren't the first to discover the Abacos. The Lucayan Indians were here long before Columbus arrived in 1492, although their population was essentially decimated the rigors of slavery and disease by the mid-16th century. Modern settlement of the Abacos dates to 1783 when Loyalists to the British Crown found the environment in the former Colonies hostile after they lost the Revolutionary War. The king of England graciously rewarded their support with land grants in the Bahamas, which of course belonged to Great Britain at the time. This heritage explains the England-esque villages still evident today on the smaller outer islands like Green Turtle Cay, Man-O-War Cay, and Elbow Cay. Agriculture, fishing, and boat building became the early industries that sustained this hard-working and self-reliant populace. Much later, tourism became the prime industry and remains so today.

How to Get There — There are international airports at Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, as well as a private airport that serves Walker's Cay. Daily air service is available between the Abacos and both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, as well as Orlando and West Palm Beach. Carriers include Bahamasair, Gulfstream, USAir, as well as frequent charter service. Check with your travel agent for current flight options and schedule.

These are some of the finest waters for cruising anywhere in the Bahamas, so it is little wonder the Abacos are so popular for pleasure yachts. Customs and immigration facilities may be found at marinas in Walker's Cay, Green Turtle Cay, and Marsh Harbour.


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