The Hopetown Lighthouse © Dmadeo
The chain of tiny Abacos islands cover 649 square miles (1,681 sq km) and form the most northerly part of the Bahamas. Located only 200 miles (322km) from Miami, they are a popular holiday destination, and therefore fairly well developed for tourism. The two main islands, Great Abaco and neighbouring Little Abaco, are separated from each other by a narrow strait. They are often tagged the 'Loyalist Isles' because of the many Tory expatriates who fled there to avoid persecution after the American Revolution. The early Loyalist settlements are still much in evidence on the cays around Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco's main town. The accommodation on the island is fairly low-key and visitors are likely to stay in a small guesthouse by the beach or cottage near one of the many marinas. No glamorous resort complexes can be found here, but the sheltered waters around the islands make it a hotspot for yachters, and islanders claim it is the cruising capital of the world. There are also coral reefs to entice divers and inland pine forests that provide wonderful bird-watching and walking opportunities. The lighthouse in Hope Town is one of the main sites to visit while staying on any of the Abacos islands.