Paradise in the Bahamas
North Point, Elbow Cay
Only 180 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida and less than an hour away by air, Elbow Cay is a narrow gem of an island only four miles long, lying in crystal-clear, multihued waters, on the outer edge of the Abacos. "Topside" is ideally situated near the north point of Elbow Cay, just a mile north of its famous candy-striped lighthouse which overlooks picturesque Hope Town harbour and settlement.
About the House...With three seaside bedroom suites, ceiling fans in every room, and central air conditioning, Topside can accommodate up to six people comfortably year-round. Two nearly identical bedroom and bathroom suites are situated on the main floor at opposite ends of the house, each with its own king size bed, fine water views and access to the spacious main deck that surrounds the house.
Separating these two bedroom suites, for maximum privacy, are the central living, dining and kitchen areas. Windows, doors and sliders are fitted with high performance reflective glass, full screens and pleated shades.
A bay-windowed stairway leads upstairs to the third bedroom which also has bay windows, great water views, twin beds and a half-bath. From that level an outdoor stairway leads up to the sky deck on the roof, 40 feet above the water, with panoramic views of Hope Town, the candy-striped lighthouse, the ocean reefs and more than twenty neighbouring islands. Boats of all kinds - ferries, yachts, freight-boats, sailboats, deep-sea fishing boats, outboard runabouts, - are part of the passing scene. So are the fish that parade by, clearly visible over the white sand bottom, and from time to time a pod of dolphins shows up to play off the house. Binoculars should be kept handy so as not to miss any of the interesting activity.
Elbow Cay and the Abacos...Less than an hour's flight east from Palm Beach, Florida, Elbow Cay is a narrow barrier island, lying off Great Abaco Island on the outer edge of the Abacos, the Bahamas' northeasternmost islands. Atlantic Ocean surf rolls in endlessly along the eastern beaches of Elbow Cay, the Sea of Abaco ebbs and flows along its western shore, and their waters meet off the North Point, not far beyond Topside, where the boat is, near the left side of the opening picture.
Elbow Cay's thousand acres are home to a few hundred friendly Bahamians, most of whom are descendants of Loyalists who came to the Bahamas following the American Revolution. In recent years a growing number of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans have come to know and love the place and quite a few have acquired or built vacation and retirement homes on Elbow Cay and neighboring islands.
What's There to Do?...There are lots of options. Conditions are ideal for boating, fishing, swimming, snorkeling and beach combing or hiking, biking, birding and exploring - or, if you prefer, simply reading or relaxing. The ocean beaches, protected by an extensive offshore reef, are among the finest anywhere. It's a world of sparkling blue water, with privacy and tranquility, far from the congestion and stresses of the urban scene - a place people return to year after year for relaxation and renewal.
Attractions Not to be Missed...Explore picturesque Hope Town and four-mile-long Elbow Cay on foot or by bicycle, golf cart or boat. Climb to the top of 135 year-old Elbow Cay Lighthouse and see its last-of-its-kind kerosene light and wind-up, weight-driven mechanism. Visit neighboring islands like Man O' War Cay, the boat-building capital of the Abacos, and Guana Cay, just beyond, with its unspoiled beaches and a weekly pig-roast. Snorkel over the magnificent coral reefs at the underwater sanctuaries at Fowl Cay, 5 miles to the northwest and Sandy Cay, 10 miles south, or at the North Cove on the Atlantic side of Elbow Cay, just a few minute walk from Topside.
What to do when the Sun doesn't Shine?...Guests agree that even when, occasionally, the weather is less than perfect, Topside is still a bright, snug, cheerful place for reading, watching a movie, listening to music or any other indoor activity.
The hours around sunrise and sunset are often truly spectacular, as are the moon, planets and stars, especially when viewed on a clear night from the sky deck. For those who seek enlightenment as well, Topside's library includes guides to the heavens and to fishes, shells, trees and flowers.
Getting There... Fly first to West Palm Beach, Miami or Fort Lauderdale, and from there take a connecting flight to Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, which takes only an hour or less. From Marsh Harbor, ferries run to Elbow Cay several times daily, in twenty minutes or so and will drop you at a dock near the house where a caretaker will meet you. With an early start, people from most US metropolitan areas get to Topside by mid-afternoon.
USAirways flights connect in West Palm Beach with USAirways Express flights to and from Marsh Harbour. Similarly, American Airlines flights connect in Miami with American Eagle flights to and from Marsh Harbour. Other carriers, including Gulfstream, Bahamasair and Silver Airways also serve Marsh Harbour from Florida cities. Schedules change, so check around for currently available options, and make reservations early since the Marsh Harbour flights carry only thirty or fewer people and may be fully booked around holidays and popular vacation times.
Rental Services and Facilities... Several boat rental services offer reliable, well-maintained outboard runabouts from 13 to 23 feet, by the day or week. We recommend Island Marine, which offers discounts on weekly rentals to Topside's guests. Boats can be delivered to, and kept at, a community dock with 15 slips located in a nearby cove, a short walk or golf cart ride from the house. Rental boats are useful for exploring, fishing, snorkeling, as well as for transportation to local stores and restaurants. Several local fishing guides and charter boats are also available for deep sea or reef fishing.
Golf carts, too, are widely used for transportation on Elbow Cay and are especially useful for carting people, groceries and supplies over the mile of unpaved road between Topside and Hope Town. We recommend Elbow Cay Cart Rentals, which will rent you a cart for about $300 a week.
Dining in or out... Topside's kitchen, is well equipped for convenient cooking. Hope Town has two grocery stores offering a variety of fruits, vegetables, frozen meats, canned goods, dairy products and supplies of all kinds. Fresh and frozen fish are available at local fish markets. There is a liquor store carrying a good stock of bar essentials and wines. Groceries and supplies are also available in Marsh Harbour, and some guests stop for initial provisioning at one of the supermarkets on their way from the airport to the ferry dock. Hope Town stores are open until 7 PM on Saturday but closed on Sunday.
Several restaurants in or near Hope Town offer breakfasts, lunches and dinners featuring excellent Bahamian specialties and sea foods.
What to Bring, Passports, Currency... Casual attire is the order of the day throughout the islands. Jacket and ties are rarely seen and generally not needed. A small amount of clothing suffices for most people. Departing guests often say they brought more than they needed. Do bring sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuit, snorkel mask and fins, hat or cap, beach shoes and comfortable walking shoes.
Please do not bring small children or pets.
Passports are required, and a global entry card will speed you thru customs.
Bahamian and U.S. dollars are equally valuable in the Bahamas as payment for goods and services, and most places accept credit cards.
1 to 2 persons - US$3,200
Rentals are Saturday to Saturday, one week minimum. No pets or young children. For weeks including New Year's Eve, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas add 10%
A 50% deposit is required at time of booking, with balance payable 60 days before arrival. Deposit is fully refundable, less $100 cancellation fee, for cancellations made 120 days before arrival or earlier. For later cancellations, deposits are refundable, less $100 fee, providing we are able to re-rent the time cancelled.
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