Three of our Favorite Islands you can Visit Without a Boat
We love the Bahamas where you can snorkel in clear, turquoise water, stroll along sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see and just relax. If you’re looking for something outside of the usual cruise ship, all-inclusive island experiences…we have some suggestions for you.
Elbow Cay, Bahamas
Elbow Cay is a part of the Abacos, a group of islands in the north eastern part of the Bahamas. It’s a wonderful area to visit around March – May when the cold fronts lay down and the sun warms the water.
Hope Town is a special community on Elbow Cay that can easily be reached by ferry from Marsh Harbour and the closest airport. Once you are settled in Hope Town, you can walk almost anywhere or rent a golf cart to go further afield. Our favorite “workout” is a 20-minute walk on the beach to On Da’ Beach beach bar. We also enjoy strolling through the narrow pedestrian streets and grabbing a bite at one of the numerous restaurants on the island.
The first thing you see as you approach Elbow Cay is the candy cane striped Hope Town Lighthouse. During your visit, take the time to climb to the top of the lighthouse to see the spectacular views of the harbor and ocean beyond. Local volunteers can tell you all about this light that has been in operation since 1864 and is one of the last remaining kerosene-fired lights. A lighthouse keeper still keeps watch and rotates the lens by winding it like a cuckoo clock.
Elbow Cay is centrally located in the Abacos, so there are plenty of day trip options to nearby islands. Take a boat south to Little Harbour and visit Pete’s Pub, or travel north to Green Turtle Cay or Great Guana Cay for snorkeling and beach time.
Hope Town on Elbow Cay Photo Gallery
Stocking Island, Bahamas
If you’re looking for a remote, “get-away-from-it-all” island retreat, Stocking Island might be for you. Stocking Island is located a short 1.5 mile boat ride east of George Town, Bahamas which has a reasonably accessible airport with connections through Nassau and Miami.
Accommodations on the Island are limited to a couple of small boutique resorts, Lumina Point and St Francis, and a smattering of independent Air BNB’s. The resorts feature cabana type rooms with gorgeous water views which seem to go on forever and immediate access to beaches on both the “ocean” and “bay” sides of the island, so you’ve always got a beach to visit regardless of the wind and wave conditions. The “ocean” beach is essentially deserted, at least 5 miles long and we’ve rarely seen more than ten people visiting the entire beach.
There are no restaurants, except the two resorts and a fun “cruiser” bar, Chat‘n Chill, where you can go for a break from the resort crew. You will not be bothered by where to shop decisions, as there is none of that either. Both resorts can set up your own private excursions for bone fishing, snorkeling/diving, and a host of other vacation activities, and you can take a ferry over to George Town to shop for supplies etc.
Make no mistake about it, Stocking Island is where you go if you just want to get away from everything, explore a seemingly endless beach, watch the sunset and see the stars at night.
Stocking Island Photo Gallery
Long Island, Bahamas
If you’re wanting a non-commercial island get-away to just go exploring, head for Long Island. It is reasonably accessible via scheduled airlines connecting in Nassau and seems to have that blend of remoteness combined with lots to see and do. On Long Island you can explore limestone caves, stop by a road stand for conch salad, snorkel reefs or just go shelling on the beach.
We’re aware of two resorts on the north end of the island where you can get to a beach and all the amenities right at your door step, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort and Stella Maris Resort. Chez Pierre resort is a small resort owned by a French guy who runs and absolutely incredible French restaurant which must be visited regardless of where you stay. In addition, we’ve been told that there are a number of AirBNB options as well.
Long Island is, well, long, and unless you just want to stay at the resort, you’ll want to get a rental car and explore some of the island. In addition to numerous beaches you can have all to yourself, you’ll want to visit “Deans Blue Hole”, which has a very nice beach and a 600-ft deep blue hole with amazing fish to snorkel with.
Stop by the Hamilton Caves and have Leonard Cartwright give you a tour of the caves that his family has owned for 150 years. They are an extensive network of limestone caves with beautiful stalactite/stalagmite formations, some lit up by small openings to the surface. The personalized tour provides lots of insight into the history and culture of the Island.
In addition, the island seems big enough to simply explore for a few days when you get bored of the relaxing beach time, we’re sure there are lots more places to be discovered.