In Hope Town, you'll find sandy beaches right at your doorstep, with more beaches only a 15-minute ride south. Garbanzo Beach, in the White Sound area, lures many surfers. The waves and breezes make it prime hang-ten territory. If you didn't bring a surfboard, the staff at nearby Sea Spray Resort (tel. 242/366-0065) can help you get one.
Isolated Tahiti Beach, at the island's southern end, got its name from its thick wall of palms. At low tide, the shelling can be excellent along this gorgeous curve of sand, and the shallow waters make for good bonefishing, too. Across the way, you can see uninhabited Tilloo Cay and the Atlantic's crashing waves in the distance. Tahiti Beach is about a 10-minute bike ride from Sea Spray and about 20 minutes from Abaco Inn, in the White Sound area. To get here, you have to walk your bike up and down a few small but rocky rises.
Traveling along, you'll pass sea-grape trees, fluffy long-needled pines, and other varied roadside vegetation. Turn left when you come to the first major place to do so (by the white house on the bluff) and then turn right when you see two stone pillars. Go downhill and turn left at the end of the road at the wire fences. Take this path to the end. Walk along the dense palm grove to the beach. Because you're heading for the shore, which is public, ignore the PRIVATE -- NO TRESPASSING signs.
Irresistible deserted beaches lie south of Elbow Cay on pencil-thin Tilloo Cay and the tiny Pelican Cays, excellent targets for a day's sail. The waters here, packed with grouper and conch, are particularly good for fishing and swimming. In Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, one of the most colorful dive sites around is Sandy Cay Reef. Line fishing, spear fishing, and shelling, however, are all taboo in this protected area.
About 20 steps south of Hope Town's post office, Froggies Out Island Adventures, Harbour Road (tel. 242/366-0431; www.froggiesabaco.com), is the largest dive outfitter in the Abacos, with three boats (ranging 9-17m/30-56 ft. in length) that owner Theresa Albury uses to take divers to local sites. Certified scuba divers pay $110 for an outing and gear rental. Snorkeling excursions cost $70 for adults and $55 for children.
The ideal way to explore the Abacos is by boat. The waters off the coast of Elbow Cay are popular for boating and fishing -- just head to the marina to join the fun. Or you can contact Island Marine, Parrot Cay near Hope Town (tel. 242/366-0282; www.islandmarine.com), to be set up with one of its rentals. You can then cruise to the boat-building settlement of Man-O-War Cay, to artist Pete Johnston's bronze foundry/gallery/pub in Little Harbour, and to many uninhabited cays and deserted beaches where you can go shelling, exploring, and picnicking in peace. Small-boat rentals range from a 5.1m (17-ft.) Boston Whaler to a 7m (23-ft.) Man-O-War. Prices run from $125 to $250 per day or $625 to $1,100 per week.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.