About Hope Town

Aerial view of the harbour, beach and lighthouse in Hope Town on Elbow Cay off the island of Abaco, Bahamas.
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Dingy and lighthouse
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Ocean

About Elbow Cay

Elbow Cay (pronounced "key") is a 4-mile long barrier island located in the northeastern Bahamas off the larger islands known as the Abacos. Far enough away from the States to discourage weekend visitors, yet still easily accessible via the international airport in Marsh Harbor (the third-largest Bahamian city), the island offers natural beauty and civilized comforts without over-development. It is private without being isolated. The local population numbers a few hundred people, with Hope Town being the largest concentration of homes and businesses.

About Hope Town

Founded in 1785, Hope Town is clearly the most scenic settlement in the Bahamas. The harbor and its famous lighthouse, which must be toured, are stunningly beautiful. The quaint, vibrant-colored houses reflect simpler days. Motorized vehicles are restricted from town, so the streets are quiet and a pleasure to walk. There are excellent restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, a museum, and interesting gift shops.

The Climate

The climate is subtropical in nature, with temperatures stabilized by the vast amounts of the surrounding water. Fall and spring are delightful, with warm days and pleasantly cool nights. Summers are quite warm, but comfortable due to constant ocean breezes. Winters are pleasant, with temperatures typically in the 70s during the day, and upper 60s at night. A light sweater or jacket is the extent of needed winter wear. For a graph of air and water temperatures by time of year, click here.

The Residents

Many local residents are descendants of British Loyalists that left the southern US in Revolutionary War times, hence they are fiercely independent (even of their own government), and their accents still retain vestiges of their British ancestry. More recent residents were attracted by the lifestyle and natural beauty of the island. In general, local residents are sincere, unobtrusively friendly, and appreciative of visitors. They do not exhibit the surly attitude toward visitors typical in the more populous, resort-oriented areas.

Local Economy

The focus of the local economy is catering to second homeowners and visitors renting those homes. There are no big businesses or factories, no cruise ships, and no mega-resorts. With over 200 rental homes and a few small island "hotels", virtually every resident is involved, one way or another, in assuring that visitors have an enjoyable time while on the island.

Safety

Hope Town is one of the safest places in the Bahamas, and the local residents work hard to keep it that way. Crime is nearly non-existent. One can walk safely anywhere on the island at any time. Occupied houses are rarely locked.

Medical Care

Hope Town has a small medical clinic and a Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department for minor emergencies, with more involved care available in Marsh Harbour, about a 30-minute boat ride away. With numerous commercial flights and air charters available in Marsh Harbour, serious medical conditions are usually treated in Florida.

Food and Drink

Elbow Cay has 3 grocery stores, 2 liquor stores, and 7 restaurants. The grocery stores are surprisingly well-stocked for small stores. (After all, they have to meet the diverse needs of several hundred residents and visitors.) Wine, beer, and liquor selections are acceptable, but limited. The restaurants are typically casual with fare ranging from simple to gourmet. All are interesting and none will disappoint. Almost every restaurant has an associated bar, which may be quite lively at night.

Money Matters

Bahamian currency and US currency are equal in value, and either is readily accepted. Almost every business accepts credit cards, so large amounts of cash or traveler’s checks are unnecessary. (There are no ATMs on the island, but several at Marsh Harbour.)

Communications

Cellular service is dependable, and used by most everybody. Internet service is dependable but can be slow by US standards. Cable TV and telephone land lines are slowly being restored after hurricane Dorian.

Water

Drinkable water on the island comes from rain collection via gutters/cisterns or reverse osmosis watermakers. It is perfectly safe. As the water supply is either finite (cisterns) or manufactured (RO systems), conservation is always prudent.

Power

Electrical voltage is the same as in the US. Brownouts and blackouts are common, but rarely lengthy. The best way to deal with them is to maintain a good attitude. A whole-house automatic generator, like Calypso's,  is essential during the summer months when power demand, and outages, are more frequent and of longer duration.