The Abacos are a 120-mile chain of islands in the northern Bahamas. The main islands of Great and Little Abaco. The smaller offshore cays include Wood Cay, Elbow Cay, Lubbers Quarters Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana Cay, Castaway Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Stranger’s Cay, Umbrella Cay, Great Stirrup Cay, Walker’s Cay, Little Grand Cay, Moore’s Island, and Sandy Point.
“The Island of Abaco is blessed with a good harbour, and is well secured by nature…(abounding) with timber.”
– 1783 loyalist advertisement circulated in New York.
The first known settlers of Abaco were the Lucayans, a branch of the Taino culture of the Caribbean who arrived in the islands after 500 AD from Hispaniola and Cuba. European settlement began in 1783 when loyalists fleeing the American Revolution received land grants in the Bahamas, then a British colony.
The original loyalist settlement was founded near present-day Treasure Cay, but the inhabitants (both black and white) later moved south to a site which they named Marsh Harbour. From there they spread out in small villages along the east coast and onto the offshore cays, making a living by salvaging wrecks, building boats, fishing and farming.
In the early 20th century American logging firms cut the island’s vast pine forests several times, building miles of dirt tracks that later became the island’s modern road network. Logging ended on Abaco in the 1960s, just as tourism began to develop.
Black Sound Cay National Reserve - This mangrove patch on Green Turtle Cay is an important habitat for waterfowl and other birds which winter in the region. Migratory birds that have been recorded feeding in and around the cay include Painted buntings, Indigo buntings, American redstarts, Black and White warblers, and Magnolia warblers. Established: 1988 Location: Abaco Size: 2 Acres History […] Tilloo Cay National Reserve - This 11-acre shoreline on Tilloo Cay, off the eastern side of Great Abaco south of Elbow Cay, is an area of outstanding beauty. Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean the shoreline is an important nesting site for Tropic Birds, Yellow-crowned night heron, several species of terns and also other seabirds. Established: 1990 Location: Abaco Size: 11 […] Abaco National Park - This was a significant addition to the Bahamian national park system, which protected enough natural habitat to ensure the survival of the endangered Bahama parrot. The park is located on the southeastern portion of Abaco, between Hole-in-the-Wall and Crossing Rocks. It encompasses 5,000 acres of pine forest. Established: 1994 Location: Abaco Size: 20,500 Acres History […] Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park - Located both of Cherokee Sound, this land and sea park encompasses four small cays and their surrounding waters – Channel Rock, Gaulding Cay and the southern portion of Sandy Cay. On the seaward side of Sandy Cay lies a popular snorkeling reef that is the park’s main point of interest. Established: 1972 Location: Andros Size: […] Fowl Cays National Park - This park covers a small but biologically rich stretch of coral reef, seagrass bed, rocky shore and sandy bottom habitat that historically has been used for recreation, diving, and non-commercial fishing. Established: 2012 Location: Abaco Protects: Coral Reefs Size: 2,335 Acres Walker’s Cay National Park - The northernmost island in the Bahamas, Walker’s Cay is fringed by its own barrier reef, featuring stunning coral formations and a wide variety of marine life. Renowned for underwater cathedrals teeming with fish, this park is a mecca for divers. Established: 2002 Location: Abaco Size: 3,840 Acres