One of the most thrilling things about planning a honeymoon is the feeling of the world opening its doors to you. With so many options to choose from though, it can be overwhelming when trying to narrow down a trip within budget and that has the right travel vibes for newlyweds. After a couple months of this exact feeling, I went on Pinterest to flip through Bahamas travel pins and stumbled across the Abacos Islands. We had never been to the Bahamas, never heard of these islands and didn't know what to expect if we went - but we decided the 120-mile chain of islands would be our destination!
To help make our honeymoon experience possible, we had opted for our wedding guests to use Honeyfund instead of traditional registries, if they were interested in gifting. This method also helped us get ahead in planning our itinerary's activities, accommodation, meals, transportation, etc. After finding reasonable plane tickets with Delta to fly into Marsh Harbour Airport, we decided we would spend 9 nights, 10 days in paradise on the main island of Great Abaco. Now to the fun part, your guide of where to stay and what to do throughout the Abacos Islands!
Hands down, in my opinion, the BEST decision we made was staying at Serenity Cottage on Casuarina Point. Not only is it a cute coastal Bahamian cottage by the seashore, it's far enough away from town for you to feel like you're on your own mini island. To get around the island and out to the cottage, we rented a car with Sea Star Rentals right by the airport to make it that more convenient for us to pick up a car and drop it off on our last day.
With enough living space to fit a family of 6 (master bedroom, bedroom with 2 twins, sleeper sofa), huge bathroom and the modern kitchen appliances you'd want to be able to cook your own meals after a long day on the beach, we were also very lucky the cottage had great A/C units both in the living room and bedrooms. A full washer/dryer set allowed us to pack lighter than expected since we were able to do loads every couple days. The front porch area with an extendable water hose was great for washing the sand off before going inside, and the back patio has wonderful space to leave shells to dry.
Look at this view! The beach is literally steps from the cottage! I have a special place in my heart for low tide, it reveals so many little treasures and marine life. Being able to stay close to the cottage to snorkel, go fly fishing, shell and enjoy the sunset all on Day 1 of our trip really saved us a lot of time. We could've spent more days at our beach if we didn't want to explore more, it was that good.
There are many tasty places to eat throughout Great Abaco, our top 4 favorites though were: Curly Tails, Snappas, Pete's Pub & Gallery and Angler's Restaurant at Abaco Beach Resort. Todd opted to try conch fritters at almost every place we went, but if you're like me and could never handle eating a cute mollusk, don't worry there's a wide variety of burgers, salads and fresh fish to pick from on menus. Kalik is the island beer available at most restaurants if you're feeling adventurous enough to drink like a local. If not, there are wines, bottled water and freshly squeezed orange juice that will make you feel at home.
Every place we ate at had a terrific view of the marina nearby and a patio space to have a couple drinks on. If you visit Snappas or Pete's Pub, while there are some fans for a small breeze, there is no air conditioning, so plan for an early lunch or late dinner so you're not facing the heat too much.
Eating out can add up quickly when you're on a budget, so we stocked up on a few groceries at Maxwell's Supermarket in Marsh Harbour and used the handful of dry goods we were able to pack from home to have a couple meals at the cottage. Keep in mind groceries are at least 3x more expensive on the island than what you're probably used to, so plan what meals you'd want to have and only buy what you need. We definitely had sticker shock.
Homemade meals on our honeymoon wouldn't be the same without wine from our wedding reception - YUM! If you're looking for a great wine to enjoy, checkout Stella Rosa Wine's Stella Gold Moscato.
After indulging in good food and air conditioning, get back outside and explore! We stopped for several hours at Crossing Rocks Beach and Sandy Point. Both stunningly beautiful beaches with all kinds of treasures and marine life to see.
We visited Crossing Rocks Beach earlier in the day since there isn't much coverage from the sun and only a very small area off the road to park your car. We do not recommend leaving your car parked on the street or walking down the surrounding smaller roads. Walking to the beach there's a chance you'll see a group of the island's famous endangered green parrots in palm trees, coconuts, starfish, sea glass and plenty of seashells you've never seen before. This beach is more for a long stroll along the wrack line or trying your hand at some fishing from the shallows.
Watch where you step as you get closer to the rocky ledges! While the rock pools are very tempting to step between and peek into, make sure you're wearing thick sole shoes that can provide a safe grip. Seaweed, sand and the salty water can make it slippery and you do not want to get injured on your honeymoon, much less accidentally step on a long-spined black sea urchin, they are poisonous.
On this beach I found a bucket-list treasure, a paper nautilus! One of the most fragile and beautiful things you will ever find on earth (in my opinion), better known as an extremely thin egg case that only a female argonaut pelagic octopus can create to protect her soon-to-be babies. The eggs are laid within the lines of the casing shell, but even though this casing is small many little babies were born!
Heading to the Southern-most point on Great Abaco, you will find Sandy Point Beach. This stretch of beach is in a protected area where the waters are generally always calm, clear and no boats for miles. Pull off to the side of the road to its parking area, slap on bug spray and suntan lotion and you'll be ready to explore for a good half hour. The area has a couple wooden tables and chairs for you to keep your belongings on, but I recommend keeping everything locked up in your car.
The waters on Sandy Point are so calm and clear, this is a great location for snorkeling and wading. There are numerous seaweed patches as you wade further out, this is where you'd find huge starfish, conch, lobster and fish.
If you've had enough of the sun and need a little taste of history with a walk in the woods, make a stop at Sawmill Sink Blue Hole. You'll have to drive into the island's native piney woods before you arrive at the hole and when you arrive you'll get to see what it was like for animals and some of the very first islanders to have to retrieve water.
This "trap cave" is home to the world's most significant and oldest fossils from plants, animals and humans from as far back as 20,000 years ago, that fell into the hole (before the stairs were installed), never able to get out.
When vacationing to the Abacos, one must island-hop. You've probably had this activity on a list of things to do before you're too old to want to do them... so here's your chance! You'll want to become familiar with the term "cay" because it actually just means "island". We visited Man-O-War Cay, Fowl Cay, Green Turtle Cay, No Name Cay, Pelican Cay, Whale Cay, Treasure Cay, Elbow Cay which is best known as Hope Town and New Plymouth which is right next to the latter cay.
For 3 days we rented a boat from Rainbow Rentals out of Marsh Harbor and toured the waters of the Bahamas by ourselves. Near the end of our trip we just took Albury's Ferry across to Treasure Cay and Elbow Cay. We boated out to the furthest of cays first and worked our way back closer to Great Abaco so we were more familiar with what we might encounter the next 2 days, but you can certainly visit whichever cay you'd like first. If you have never operated a boat before, do not understand tidal movements, or are not fully confident that you could captain a boat if conditions on the water became rough, this activity is not for you. In the Bahamas the weather can change at a moments notice, you MUST keep track of tide movements when anchoring out off the cay shorelines. Even though we were very familiar with all of these factors, tidal changes almost left us stuck on Pelican Cay and Whale Cay. Take our advice seriously!
On Man-O-War Cay, the boat-making capital of the Bahamas, you'll find a quiet little town to be explored only by walking or golf cart. The marina's restaurant is a good place to grab a bite to eat before wandering around the island, stay hydrated! Some of our favorite places were: Albury's Sail Shop, watching a local boat maker at his craft, strolling down to the beach and seeing how the locals live.
It was interesting to find out upon our arrival that Fowl Cay was a national preserve! This tiny cay is a popular pit-stop for some snacks on the natural pool on the beach or taking in a salty cool breeze up top on the wooden cabana. The Atlantic side of the cay is extremely rocky, so wear thick soled shoes. While there isn't much shoreline due to its size, you can find shallows to be a great area for snorkeling.
We didn't know what was in store for us on Green Turtle Cay, but it would turn out to be one of our best activity experiences of the entire honeymoon trip. Make sure you make a stop at the cafe by Green Turtle Club marina for some food, hydration and map reading! Take a peek next door to the pub too, it looks very similar to Florida's Cabbage Key.
While there are golf cart rentals available, we weren't so lucky when we visited. There was a lionfish derby the same day and all carts had been rented out which forced us to have to walk to where we wanted to go. Made for some good exercise!
We walked down to a protected public bay area to take a break and snorkel before continuing on throughout the cay. Just as we were getting ready to leave, Todd spotted a young green turtle! He swam up super close to us enough to take a selfie - and it gets so much better...
We saw at least 3 more green turtles and they all swam up to us to say hi. We think they have been fed by humans before in this spot, so strange to see younger turtles already so comfortable around humans, but it made for an experience we'll never forget!
We spent quite a good amount of time with the turtles before they swam off and didn't come back in. Maybe because a smaller nurse shark had moved in just feet away from us, or just the fact we weren't feeding them. We'll never know, but we made a hike up to the Atlantic side of the cay only to quickly return back to the marina because of how rough the waters were and high slope to the beach.
A popular attraction in the Bahamas is getting to swim with the pigs. We boated over to No Name Cay to see what the hype was all about and indeed it's all that Piggyville is talked up to be! Before visiting you should bag up some veggies to feed the pigs. We chose iceberg lettuce and some carrots. The piglets tend to get less food than their more pushy parents, so take the time to seek out the babies and let them chow down more. Don't let your pig food get too sandy, ingesting a lot of sand is very bad for their tummies and can even cause death. If you accidentally drop the food, shake it off as much as you can, if they don't feel like eating it they'll ignore it. If you don't want to step on pig waste or pine needles, wear shoes.
We decided at the last minute to stop at Pelican Cay on our way back in to Marsh Harbour and it didn't disappoint! We found the most variety of shells on this small cay compared to any other, the snorkeling encounter with a barracuda, spotted flounder and cowfish were thrilling and saw the protected nesting grounds of local sea birds. It was also the first time we almost got our boat stuck up on shore because of the quick tidal shift and the power of the Atlantic waters on both sides of the cay coming in. We weren't able to stay on the cay as long as we would've liked, but it's definitely worth revisiting again.
Whale Cay, a great little island full of vegetation and mosquitoes. Pack your bug spray or just stay in the boat if you naturally get eaten alive like I do. I left with dozens of bites, but on the bright side, we did find a huge starfish and didn't become stranded on a deserted island. This was the second and last time we almost couldn't push our boat back out into deep enough water, as you can see below in our panic-hidden smiles.
To save you a couple hours worth of travel time, don't bother visiting Treasure Cay or New Plymouth if you're seeking out activities to do and things to see. Both places seemed to lack adventure and we quickly left each to move on to the next cay.
Hope Town on Elbow Cay was a check off our must-do list to see the candy cane lighthouse of the Bahamas! We took the ferry from Marsh Harbour to Elbow Cay and then a water taxi over to where the lighthouse stands. It still runs on candle power and one of the oldest in the Bahamas having been built in 1864. You can climb 101 steps to the lantern at the top for free and walk the balcony space overlooking the cay.
While we didn't have to pay for the water taxi to get to the lighthouse, in order to get back to the other side of the cay, we had to flag down a local boater and kindly ask if he wouldn't mind taking us across. Not the greatest situation to have to do, but the locals we encountered were very friendly and willing to help without payment.
The better shopping opportunities are on Elbow Cay, so when you visit get souvenirs for yourself, family or friends because if you think you'll find other shops when you stop on other cays, there won't be hardly anything compared to what you can find here. Also stop at the museum to learn about the loyalist history and how life on the cay used to be hundreds of years ago when it was first settled, it's really interesting! Head to lunch or dinner at Harbor's Edge, they have really good food and ice cream dessert to help cool you down.
A few miles off Elbow Cay we found a protected snorkeling spot where Todd found 2 big live conch that we took back to the cottage to prepare for extracting the mollusk for him to eat and for us to keep the conch shells without having to slice a hole in the top. You are allowed to take back into the U.S. up to 3 conch shells per person, nothing alive of course and they must be in your checked baggage. Check with your airline for the most up-to-date regulations.
Can you believe everything you've read so far we were able to fit into our stay?! We didn't feel rushed at all the entire trip allowing us to embrace island time like a local, and you can too! If you're looking to snorkel nearby reefs we recommend Mermaid Reef just off the shoreline of Great Abaco and Sandy Cay Reef as you pass on your way boating from Green Turtle Cay back to Marsh Harbour.
Mermaid Reef is a popular spot to tie off to a buoy and see an abundance of fish, lobster and coral. Bring some crackers the fish go crazy for them!
We stopped at Sandy Cay Reef in-between two cays on our way back and it was stunning! A whole other world of life with sea fans, various species of fish, elk horn coral and more. It is the largest single concentration of elk horn coral known. If you're lucky you might spot a pod of eagle rays that tend to travel through the area, but we didn't see any when we stopped.
The last activity we recommend doing while staying at Serenity Cottage is to book a half day fly fishing outing with your captain neighbor across the street, Buddy Pinder. He's fished the local waters for years and knows where the fish are at! Being that he's so close, it's easy to wake up at 5 AM and walk over to his place, hop in his truck with the boat hooked up and head out to the spot of the day. We went with Buddy in search of bonefish, and caught well over a dozen.
We were bummed to have to return to the city after indulging in over a week of island paradise, but we'll be back in the future! We hope you enjoyed this travel guide of how to have a memorable honeymoon in the Abacos Islands and feel inspired to plan your trip.
If you want to know more about certain honeymoon activities, leave a comment and I'll get back to you. Safe travels!
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