The quaint settlement of Hope Town, at the north end of Elbow Cay, may be small, but you’ll find it offers a little bit of everything, from dining to shopping to the scenery. Narrow roads are lined with charming colorful cottages, many available as vacation rentals.
Two ferry companies (Ferry at the Crossing and G and L) bring visitors and locals from Marsh Harbour. The well-protected harbor is quite picturesque with its dotting of sail- and wooden boats. Once ashore, visitors find themselves on Baystreet, which runs along the northeast waterfront for about three short island blocks until it runs into the Queen’s Highway (in some places renamed “Kings Highway”), the name of the main thoroughfare on most Bahamian islands.
Businesses along Baystreet include Da Crazy Crab gift shop and Cap’n Jack’s Restaurant, which has excellent local seafood, a cool kid’s menu, and occasional events like karaoke, trivia, and live music in the evenings.
The Queen’s Hwy spans the island and parallels Baystreet. You get there by taking one of Baystreet’s charming narrow side paths, like Seastar Lane or Russel’s Lane. Several shops and food stops make this a not-to-miss stretch.
Vern’s Grocery store sells a wide selection of items, including homemade key lime pie–a real treat. Keep going, and you’ll see El Mercado Souvenirs Shop, and I’ve got the Munchies snack shack and ice cream. They have delicious conch burgers and excellent ice cream, all reasonably priced.
Keep going, and you’ll see a grassy hill: the Cholera Cemetery (look for small stone piles) and the Shipwreck Memorial. It’s well worth walking up the hill to the limestone monument and looking down on the beach and the reef beyond.
But don’t stop there. Where Baystreet and the Queen’s Hwy merge, you’ll find the Hope Town Sailing Club (blink and you’ll miss it) with their small fleet of Sunfish, Prams, and Lasers. The picturesque pier provides a nice photo op.
Hopetown Canvas sells beautiful canvas bags and rents bicycles to explore the rest of the island.
The Wyannie Malone Museum, with its perplexingly infrequent hours, is said to house a unique collection of historic items outlining the island’s history. The former schoolhouse is home to artifacts that tell the story of the island’s early settlement by Lucian Indians, the arrival of Loyalists and their slave households, and the area’s unique maritime history. The museum is also home to the largest database of Bahamian genealogical records.
EBB Tide Bahamian Gifts and Sun-Dried T’s have a small selection of clothing and souvenirs. Look for the Post Office Dock to catch a water taxi to Hope Town Inn & Marina, from where you can hike to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse.
Beyond that is Skoops, a hip ice cream, coffee, and snack shop with mini-cinnamon buns and other delicious local specialties. It’s well-run and well worth a stop.
Elbow Reef Lighthouse
Across the harbor is the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, the last of its kind. It has not been electrified: the keeper winds the candle and hoists up the kerosene by hand. Visitors can climb up during daylight hours (Mon-Sat) for a stunning view of the harbor and town. Read up on its fascinating history before you go.
Tahiti Beach is a secluded beach at the south end of Elbow Cay. At low tide, a long sand bar emerges surrounded by crystal clear, shallow water. A floating tiki boat hangs about during the season. I haven’t checked it out, but I’m sure there’s alcohol for sale.
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