A frequent question is whether to buy groceries in Marsh Harbour or on Elbow Cay, and the choice is between Marsh Harbour’s large grocery store, similar to a mid-sized US supermarket, and the 4 smaller grocery stores on Elbow Cay, similar to a neighborhood grocery . The answer greatly depends upon your situation. How much time do you have? Do you have help? Are you particular about your food products or flexible? Is grocery shopping an adventure or a chore? Hopefully, these suggestions will provide some guidance.
For most people, the decision comes down to convenience and time. If you have time between landing and getting to your boat or the ferry, and don’t mind having to deal with groceries while in transit, then grocery shopping in Marsh Harbour on the way to Elbow Cay makes sense. If you have lots of luggage, lack patience hauling boxes/bags around, and/or little time, then grocery shopping in Elbow Cay may be the better choice.
Don’t underestimate the 4 grocery stores on Elbow Cay. They supply about 600 residents and visitors to the 200+ rental homes. Over time, they have learned to stock what people need most often, or with which they can make do. There may not be 30 brands of breakfast cereal, but the 6 in stock are popular and acceptable.
About the stores…
In Marsh Harbour, Maxwell’s is the largest grocery store in the area with good variety and the best prices.
On Elbow Cay, Harbour View and Vernon‘s are in town. (Golf carts are not allowed in town, which may be an issue with large purchases.) LVA is in the middle of the island, just “around the corner” and a very short cart ride from Calypso. The Food Store is about a 5-8 minute cart ride to the south, is the largest and best stocked grocery on the island, and will deliver upon request.
Making a round trip between Elbow Cay and Marsh Harbour specifically to shop for groceries is rarely justifiable, unless you need something essential that is unavailable on Elbow Cay, because the ferry/taxi fares or boat gas will cost more than you would save.
With respect to adult beverages, there are 3 stores on Elbow Cay with a very acceptable selection. Hopetown Wine and Spirits is located at the harbor entrance adjacent to the lighthouse and only accessible by boat. Lighthouse Liquors is at the base of the main public dock. A&E Liquors is a 5 minute cart ride to the south of Calypso.
The owners of Calypso greatly prefer to buy groceries (and wine/beer) on Elbow Cay, primarily for the convenience, but also because it’s part of the “island experience”. Very rarely have we been unable to find what we need, or an acceptable substitute.
As everything has to be imported, you will find most prices higher than in the states. Really, this holds true with just about anything purchased in the islands.