Trip : 12 Feb 2010 for two weeks.
Well this isn't going to be a difficult report to write as we didn't do an aweful lot but at least I can update others in The Abacos.
We left England shivering in 28oF and fearing more snow. This time we booked for the first time with British Airways. This was the first time after around 200 flights that we have got around to using them. Previously they have been just too uncompetitive on price. Many operators have axed slots from the UK to the US/Carribean and our previous route of Manchester/Nassau has gone. I will return to the lack of service they offered later.
After 19 hours travelling and .... a taxi, plane, plane, plane, taxi, water taxi .... we were 13 minutes late to meet Elbow Cay Rentals. The wind was blowing, we had a private charter with Albury Ferries which cost $140 but was far cheaper than an overnight stay at say Abaco Beach Resort in Marsh Harbour. Their largest ferry was slamming and rolling and it was dark. There were gusts of 70mph and the sea is 10 feet deep not a good combination for a smooth ride.
We stayed for two weeks at Sea to Sea, which is in the North End area of Elbow Cay. This was booked through Elbow Cay Properties who were very helpful and went out of their way to please. The cottage is two bedrooms, has a dock is comfortable (if not our taste), has a beautiful garden and is only 7 minutes walk to Hopetown. At $1500 a week it is good value. Our only moan was the fact that there were photos of college jocks EVERWHERE. The owners seemed to have 5 boys and the photos were simply out of place in a rental. So silly, we said goodnight to them each night!!!!
The rest is a summary of our experiences rather than a day to day (simply as each day seems to have rolled into another).
Boat : From Waterways, Man a War. We had a free upgrade from a 18ft to a 23 ft Albury. It felt like booking a compact and receiving a Porsche. The boat is simply the best for these waters. At times it blew a lot and from all points of travel we did not get wet once. The boat was a year old had a very effiecient 175 Evinrude and Waterways were superb. Use them! Other operators have crnaky engines which are inefficient.
Weather : I became a little fed up with the locals moaning about how cold it was. Over the two weeks we averaged mid 70s (F) and overnights of low 60s. There was only one day were it blew and it was cold. We simply wandered into Hopetown and had a coffee. This suited us fine. The water was a little chilly for swimming at times but it didn't stop us. This compares with our trip here 18 months ago in June when the air temp was 88
day and night for 2 weeks. We had to swim all the time in very warm water to keep cool. It rained overnight once and for the rest of the time we had Cape Cod summer style weather - fine for us!
Restaurants : Good - Dock & Dine (MOW), Abaco Inn (Elbow), Harbours Edge (Elbow), On Da Beach (Elbow). Not so good - Capt Jacks (Elbow), Cracker Ps (Lubbers).
A special mention goes to Coco Beach at Treasure Cay for the dog food they served up. This rated in our top 5 worst ever meals. Nachos were a bag of crisps with yellow cold mayo on top.
Sealife : was everywhere in force. To the fool recently who asked about captive Dolphin encounters - sit on a boat in the Sea of Abaco as they will come to you after an hour or so. The hot spots were off Mat Lowes cay and of Tilloo Bank both at the points where the Atlantic cuts are. Lots a turtles, shells and fish although very few rays and none on Tilloo Bank which was strange. We went to Mermaid reef for the first time which everyone says is for kids. The reef is terrible with very few interesting corals. However the fish are out of this world as so many people go to feed them bread. They swarm to you in hoards as you hit the water and each out of your hand. A great experience.
In general :
We had another great time as we seem to be jigsaw pieces that just fit into Elbow Cay. It is laid back and casual without being scruffy. Like Cape Cod without the hoards or the pretence. In winter visitors mainly seem Northern US academic types rather than the gun tooting Southern types that we encountered in summer.
The Islands seem to be hit hard by the recession and it does seem worrying than businesses are closing or not re-investing. Treasure Cay was a ghost town and fairly scruffy. Soem of the gift shops had not changed their stock since our last visit 18 months ago.
Will we go back - definitely. However, the big benefit of The Abacos over say The Exumas was the service industries offfered in The Abacos. If the restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores and resorts do not improve their game it may well be worth us trying the wilderness of The Exumas.
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Trip : 12 Feb 2010 for two weeks.