Abacos-Bahamas • Where to go • When to go • What you should know • How to Book

Considered The Boating Capital of The Bahamas, the Abacos is a 120-mile chain of islands in the Sea of Abacos, in the northern Bahamas, north of Nassau.  With an abundance of close sheltered cays, you’ll find an Abacos yacht charter a true mix of remote cays with crystal clear blue waters perfect for snorkeling and charming colonial towns settled long ago among white sandy beaches, upscale resorts, restaurants and bars, topical vibes, a maritime history, and waters made for fishing, boating, marine life, and sailing. Whether you call these islands The Abaco Islands, the Out Islands, or the Family Islands, a charter in this area is truly paradise.

What is a sailing vacation, yacht charter, etc..? Learn more here ›

Bahamas Abacos Yacht Charter and sailing vacations swimming off the bow of a catamaran


We’ve been there!

Actually, we’ve been there twice! Once for sailing training where we did some fantastic long-distance and through the night sailing training, then the second time was on a family sailing vacation. Both were “good-times”.

On our Abacos yacht charter and family sailing vacation, we sailed out of Marsh Harbor and out and along to the string of barrier islands to the north and east from Green Turtle Cay to Lanyard Cay where we enjoyed mile-long white sandy beaches (sometimes to ourselves), some of the best remaining coral for snorkeling with crystal clear water, swimming pigs. Don’t miss Tahiti Beach – that was fun!

Sailing Requirements

Abacos, Bahamas Bareboat charter requirements:

Sailing Resume



Learn more at Yacht Charter Resources ›

Sailing Skill Level

Knowledge – Skills – Experience:

✔ Intermediate Plus

*Abacos yacht charter note: The water can be very shallow in places and therefore you must know exactly where you are, understand tides (4 ft tide range will make a big difference when dealing with shallow water) and be able to follow the channels. We were caught in a pretty big thunderstorm and so having navigation skills was a must. Mostly, don’t go outside the outer islands – there are some nasty shallow reefs. Sailing past Whale Cay often requires approval from the charter company and approval is based on weather and experience.

Sailing Skill Levels ›

When to go?

The Abacos, like most of the Caribbean, are a year-round destination.  The best times for an Abacos yacht charter are arguably February-June.  The high season is December through February as many North Americans are looking for some sunshine instead of snow.  Some companies and establishments shut down during the hurricane season of August through October.


The Abacos have a steady subtropical warm climate with consistent trade winds.  Between December through February temperatures range from low to mid 70s F.  The rest of the year is warmer ranging in the 80’s.  The hottest months are July and August for which a generator is recommended for air-conditioned charters.  The most rainfall occurs between May and June.  Water temperatures remain warm year-round.


The cuisine in the Abacos reflects American, African, and Caribbean countries.  Conch is the staple of the locals and this can be found added to dishes with a variety of spices and vegetables.  Nowadays, you can find a variety of restaurants, bars and foods to suit any palate.

More importantly, however, is the local renowned drink!  The Abacos are the birthplace of the “Goombay Smash.”  (Goombay is a form of Bahamian music and refers to the drum used in such).  This tropical drink was created in New Plymouth (Green Turtle Cay) by Miss Emily of Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar (still open today though damaged by Hurricane Dorian).    Although the real recipe is secret and each establishment creates its own version, there is a general consensus that it is a mixture of dark rum, coconut rum, apricot brandy, and pineapple and orange juice.  Any which way, this tropical rum drink is the perfect Bahamian cocktail.

Must See & Do

  • Diving and snorkeling. Water activities are a must-do in the Abacos. Green Turtle Cay is perfect for diving and snorkeling. Nearby, explore the waters and reefs around Manjack Cay that are home to stingrays and sharks. Or dive the Catacombs near Green Turtle Cay.
  • Swimming Pigs. While not the Exumas swimming pigs, you’ll still have an oinking time visiting the swimming pigs of No Name Cay.
  • Explore Hope Town. Hope Town is a quaint colonial town settled by the British in the late 18th  It is unmistakable by the red and white striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse.
  • Maritime History: The Abacos have a longstanding maritime history.  Man-O-War Cay is known as the boat-building capital of the Bahamas.  You can also check out Albury’s Sail Shop and the Man-O-War Heritage museum.
  • Be sure to stop by Grabbers in Great Guana Cay with its lively atmosphere or grab a Goombay Smash at Green Turtle Cay before you head to the Sunday Nippers Party in Guana Cay.
  • Island hop from Cay to Cay. With over 100 Cays and small islands, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for—whether that be a lively beach bar atmosphere or a completely remote anchorage.  Some of the more noteworthy Cays are Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay, No Name Cay, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, and Lubbers Quarters.   

How to get there?

Marsh Harbour International Airport serves the Abacos.  Direct flights are available from Atlanta, Charlotte, and various Florida cities.  The bases at Marsh Harbor are approximately 10 min away from the airport by taxi. Alternatively, you can fly into Treasure Cay International Airport and take an approx. 30 min taxi to the charter base area.  Finally, you can fly to Nassau from most US cities and then connect to Marsh Harbour. (And yes Harbour is spelled “Harbour” in the Bahamas due to its strong British Heritage).

Abacos Bareboat Charter Sample Itineraries

Where to go on a Abacos, Bahamas sailing vacation?

Scroll below for sample itineraries or use the map to explore.

Sample Itineraries:

NOTE: The area is extremely shallow and routes change due to shifting sand bank. Regardless of the order of where to go on a 7 day, 10 day, or 2-week itinerary in the Abacos Islands, there are plenty of cays to visit and plenty of snorkeling spots. The Abacos yacht charter itinerary above will take you on a realistic tour of the cays in 7 days although you really should consider 10 days or more if you can. Sometimes you just want to stop for a day and chill in a beautiful setting rather than having to move on. Here are some of the more popular places to squeeze in if you can: (remember Cay is pronounced “Key”.

Great Guana Cay, Spanish Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay, Man-O-War Cay, Tahiti Beach, Hope Town, Little Harbour, Matt Lowes Cay, Sandy Island, Lubbers Quarters, Treasure Cay, Ambergris Cay, Bakers Cay, Fowl Cay, White Sound, Manjack Cay, Noname Cay, Powel Cay, Bonefish Cay

Bahamas – Abacos Sailing Vacation Related Blog Posts


NauticEd are expert Bahamas – Abacos yacht charter agents. We don’t charge you a fee and can more than likely save you money on all your sailing vacations. We search the world’s databases for over 8,000 yachts in 55 destinations. We give expert advice on where and when to go – likely, we’ve been there. Make an inquiry and book your sailing vacations through NauticEd Sailing Vacations.

Additional Notes

Sailing Skill Levels

Local Knowledge + Education: as Sailing Vacation Experts, NauticEd’s team has chartered and sailed in almost all these locations – providing you with the “local knowledge” you need when planning a sailing vacation. And, as the leader in sailing education, NauticEd assigns different skill levels based on the knowledge-theory and practical/experience needed for chartering in different sailing locations.

Recommended Knowledge-Theory Courses for chartering: Bareboat Charter Master Bundle (six bareboat and near coastal courses), Catamaran Sailing Confidence (if chartering a Cat), Yacht Charter Crew Course (for your crew).

Skill Levels notably emphasize the overall practical experience and competency that is required to sail in certain areas. Of course, the “devil’s in the details” on specifics, and we recommend you contact us when planning a sailing vacation. We’ll save you money on your vacation – which is great – but being prepared to have safe fun experiences that will last a lifetime is priceless!

• Intermediate = Near Coastal <5nm within sight of land, some navigation hazards (always be aware), and generally mild weather conditions. Good seapersonship (i.e., “seamanship”) skills, knowledge, and experience apply.

• Intermediate +Plus = Near Coastal <15nm, within sight of land in clear atmospheric conditions, moderate navigation hazards, and/or challenging weather. Good seapersonship skills, knowledge, and experience apply.

• Advanced = Near Coastal <20nm, within sight of land in clear atmospheric conditions, many navigation hazards, and/or potentially difficult weather. Expert seapersonship skills, knowledge, and experience apply.

*Atmospheric conditions: from the deck of a sailboat, your “visible horizon” is about 12nm on a clear day (considering typical freeboard + your height). Visibility is decreased by haze, fog, rain, smoke, and similar atmospheric considerations. Navigating by line of sight is obviously greater if your destination has features such as mountains, lighthouses, tall buildings, etc…

*Navigational hazards may include features such as rocks, shoals, rough inlets or anchorages, challenging tides and currents, lee shores, commercial traffic, etc…

*Weather: examples of challenging or difficult weather include thunder/lightning storms, areas prone to high winds, or even seasonal risks such as excessive heat.


Last updated on October 9th, 2023