Learning to enjoy a slower pace on Elbow Cay, Bahamas

I loved this lighthouse and harbor. So pretty.

Sometimes I’m a little too energetic for a destination. I can’t just lay by a pool or sun on the beach. I’m more like a shark; I need to move, so when I visited Elbow Cay, I had to learn to slow down. It took a day, a few drinks, and a stunning sunset before I managed to relax. If there was a uptight streak left in me, a highly memorable New Years Eve spent listening to “Almost Rod” finished my attitude adjustment. Yup, it was time to take life less seriously.

The Abacos are out-islands of the northern Bahamas surrounded by the calm and vivid blue Abaco Sea. Any place this pretty doesn’t stay quiet by being easily accessible. Even when flying by private aircraft, Elbow Cay is an effort to reach.

After landing at Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, transfer via taxi to the ferry dock. The ferry ride to Elbow Cay takes about 20 minutes and docks in Hope Town. From the ferry, either walk or ride a golf cart to your hotel or rental home.

During our visit, my friends and I had a several mile golf cart ride to a beachfront rental house with a wrap around deck, pool and a breathtaking view. Seeing the pastel cottages and cheerful red and white striped lighthouse, I felt transported far from my hectic routine.

The main pastimes on Elbow Cay are sailing, fishing, diving, relaxing and drinking. Hope Town offers groceries, dive shops, boat rentals, fishing charters, and a very nice coffee shop. Rather than roads, the town has a network of wide paths mostly traveled by pedestrians. Occasionally, a few golf carts – and the occasional truck – will drive the paths with little room to either side.

Advance planning is very important when visiting this isolated island. Medical services are very limited and most businesses are not handicap accessible. A major medical emergency could require evacuation to Palm Peach. Pack all medications and bring any specialized items – only the most basic supplies are stocked in the island shops.

To locate a rental home on Elbow Cay, contact Hope Town Hideaways or Google “Elbow Cay rentals.” Additionally, don’t forget to reserve a golf cart, as they are the primary method of transportation on the island. Several airlines and air charter companies provide flights to Marsh Harbour, or you can do what we did and fly via private plane.

If you go, be sure to check out the Abaco Inn and Captain Jacks, and definitely don’t miss the spicy conch salad sold right from the fishing boats (ask a local for details). I’m drooling now at the thought. Seriously, the salad is worth the trip; add a few margaritas and you’ll never want to leave.

Elbow Cay is an excellent destination for a relaxing vacation. From the time you step off the ferry, you will enter life at a slower pace. If I get the chance to visit again, I’ll plan more diving and boating to keep myself busy. Or maybe, I’ll just relax. In the end, it was just what I needed.

This FAQ page is helpful when planning a trip to Elbow Cay.


Flying to Marsh Harbour

Shells on the beach just outside the rental house.

The views were stunning where we stayed.

I don’t think I can add anything to this shot.

Dock over the bay

A very simple market


This post is an updated version of one I wrote for Examiner.com right after my visit a couple of years ago. If a few of the details seem familiar, I apologize. ~

Comments 3

  1. You had me at spicy conch salad! I am with you about being a shark, My favorite (and my wife’s least favorite) vacation quote is “We’re waistin’ day light”, but if the Bahamas can not slow you down, no where can.

    1. My mom figured out how to make the salad nearly as good as the Elbow Cay version (the benefit of having a pro cook for a mom). She makes it for my birthday now. I’m already looking forward to this year’s batch!

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