Barefoot Bahamas Holiday Villa Rental

Thirty minutes' flying time east of Florida, the long chain of islands known as the Abacos sizzles in a shallow green sea, the "baja mar", after which the Spanish named their new possession. The archipelago forms a crooked arm, its pivot being Elbow Cay. Here, in 1783, 600 refugees from George Washington's new order, loyal to the British Crown, built the settlement of Hope Town, their pretty clapboard houses, painted in pastel colours and trimmed with gingerbread carpentry, reminders of the life on the American seaboard they had left behind.

On this site are two island properties that should suit every taste. Valentines and Sundancer are in the hamlet of Hope Town, and are individually owned.

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Hope Town is a lovely little historic Loyalist settlement on a lagoon harbour. In the town are a couple of grocery stores, a few gift/craft shops, and a few restaurants/bars - some with live entertainment in the evening on a couple of nights per week. There is no traffic, so wandering through the pretty little streets is a fine way to spend some unhurried Bahamian time. Everything is within easy walking distance.

Most visitors to Hope Town love the water and make an effort to get on and in it. This is is one of the few places in the world where you can do this on your own by renting a boat and, with a bit of orientation and instruction, head off alone on a calm, protected sea for reefs, deserted beaches, island settlements or fishing grounds. You can lunch on a grouper burger in a harbourfront restaurant, snorkel on a coral reef, browse through shops and galleries in a picturesque village and swim in a deserted cove - all in one afternoon

The rich shallow reefs of the northern Abaco Islands and cays are especially popular with snorkellers and divers of all ages looking for a relaxed way to see friendly fish and a little history. Scattered sunken cannons lie on the reef among the ballast stones in Spanish Cannon. The Abaco Islands offer the lush, shallow coral gardens of Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park as well as the exotic moray eels of Mermaid Reef and elaborate elkhorn and brain coral of Hope Town Reef.

There are flights to Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco from Nassau as well as several airports in Florida including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. A small ferry makes the 20-minute trip to Hope Town six times a day.

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