Picture Perfect

Hope Town Harbor on Elbow Cay is without question, the photographic jewel of the Abacos.  Home of the world-famous Hope Town Lighthouse, this small harbor is lined with marinas and pastel-painted cottages, making it a photographers paradise.

Getting There

This can be tricky.  Real tricky.  The Cruising Guide to Abaco provides excellent step-by-step instructions so I will not attempt to duplicate that work here.  I recommend that you navigate to a spot just west of the waypoint at N 26 32.608' W 76 58.063', midway between the flashing green light on the north point of Parrot Cays.  There is always plenty of traffic in and out that you can follow.

The course is a complicated zig-zag that first takes you on a course towards Elbow Cay just a little right of the lighthouse, then northeast along the shore around the corner of the opening to the harbor.  The extremely narrow channel is marked with red and green balls, and you will pass to the right of a small island with a yellow house with a satellite disk on the porch.  Head straight for the home-made range markers lined up with one of the town streets.  Bear right as you get near the road and head right in.

The channel is extremely narrow so stay in the center.  If you are piloting a catamaran, there is only room for one boat, so be particularly observant of oncoming commercial traffic.

There is virtually no room to anchor, so a mooring is almost mandatory.  This could be difficult at times because Hope Town is not that large, extremely popular, and has a large population of long-term boaters.  Expect to see a fair number of moorings marked Reserved.  I expect that in a few years, it will not be possible for visiting boats to moor in Hope Town at all because the permanent and long-term populations will have all moorings tied up permanently.  Hope Town Marina, Abaco Bahama Charters, and Lucky Strike own the moorings and will be along to collect a fee.  I recommend calling ahead for a reservation to avoid disappointment.

Hope Town Lighthouse

Built in 1863 by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service, it still uses the original equipment.  The massive glass fresnel lens rotates on a circular track that is still lubricated with mercury to reduce friction.  Power for rotation is provided by a huge counterweight that suspends down the centre of the tower, something like a cuckoo clock.  The light is created using a complex kerosene-fueled mantle.  Today, the sole purpose of the lighthouse is to guide sailors from surrounding dry islands to the bars in Hope Town.

A visit to the lighthouse is a must.  You can climb the 500 steps up the circular staircase that winds itself up the inside of the tower.  Electro-cardiogram units are strategically placed every 100 steps for your convenience.  At the top, you can inspect the light mechanism closely.  There is a small trap door that takes you to the balcony that surrounds the tower and the 360 view from there is spectacular.

The Streets of Hope Town

Just walking around the settlement is an adventure in itself.  The narrow streets will accommodate two golf-carts (the official mode of transit) passing each way, and little else.  There is no defined center of town as we understand it - charming old houses and quaint pastel-colored cottages are stitched into the foliage, a few shops and stores are strewn about wherever.  It is truly unique.

Let them Eat Key Lime Pie!

No trip to Hope Town is complete without a visit to Vernons Grocery. Humorous quotations, jokes, and sayings are written on pieces of paper and pinned on the walls everywhere.  There is a door specifically designated for customers coming IN to the store, and a completely separate door for those going OUT - it is extremely well-marked, so be prepared for an earful if you violate this.  Do not leave without buying one of their Key Lime Pies - they are exquisite.

Other Attractions

If you are in the mood for a good stroll, follow the streets to the north part of the settlement and keep going.  You will be treated to some great scenery and a whole lot of peace and quiet.  Some of the vacation villas along this route are worth a look.

There are a few places in Hope Town that serve a decent meal.  Capn Jacks is right on the water and affords a great view of the lighthouse as you dine.  Their Conch Chowder is simply excellent.  Other notable places include Harbors Edge and Club Soleil Resort and Restaurant.

Hope Town Harbor Webcam

Club Soleil has set up a webcam that provides a view of the harbor to the world over the Internet.  Updated every hour, it is almost as good as being there.

              Click on the image above to go to the latest webcam photo


Last Updated: July 1, 2002
Copyright 2002