The Abacos Feature
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A Living History
Though the Abacos may be most famous for beaches, sailing, and fishing, you'd be missing the boat, so to speak, if you didn't explore the area's rich history. And that doesn't mean spending all those sunny days inside a museum, although there are fine, small museums in Hope Town and New Plymouth, each worth a visit to learn about the boatbuilding and seafaring traditions of the Loyalists who settled these islands.
Because the original settlements have been so well preserved, it's possible to absorb history just by wandering through them. In Hope Town, look for the gingerbread cottages with white picket fences, built 100 or more years ago but still lived in today. In New Plymouth, check out the sculpture garden depicting the accomplishments of famous Bahamians. While you're there, observe the architecture: the neat clapboard homes, shops, and churches, many with carefully tended flower boxes and airy front porches, have survived hurricanes and tropical storms and still look much like they did when they were built a century ago. On Man-O-War Cay, witness boatbuilding as it's been done for generations, or see women carefully crafting modern bags out of the same cloth their ancestors used for sails. And everywhere in the Abacos, simply try engaging the local residents in conversation. Nearly all of them, but especially those over 60, have some great tales to tell of what it's like to live on an island where many grew up without cars, TVs, telephones, or daily mail service.
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