True Blue

These northern Bahamian islands always impress.

Bahamas
Find this shallow dock in the Bahamas.ISTOCK/TRACEROUDA

My charter yacht cruised around an outcropping off Elbow Cay, and for a moment, I thought I was back in the South Pacific. The clear water, white sand and arching palm trees in this part of the Abacos looked just like what I’d seen in French Polynesia, albeit with a flatter backdrop. It’s no wonder they call this Bahamian hot spot Tahiti Beach; it’s a better-looking sand spit than most of the beaches I saw on Tahiti itself.

One of the best things about Tahiti Beach and the rest of the Abacos is how much closer they are to the U.S. mainland than other winter destinations. I can’t recall how many hours it took me to fly from New York City to Tahiti (somewhere between “my back is stiffer than driftwood” and “is there any more vodka on that cart?”), but I know it was a lot longer than the five- or six-hour flight from Manhattan to Marsh Harbour, with a stopover in Fort Lauderdale. The Abacos are one of the closer Bahamian island chains to southeast Florida, making them easily accessible winter charter grounds for Americans.

These islands are known for great sport fishing (whisper “Abacos” to a marlin fanatic and he’ll drool). The snorkeling here can be good too. Some of the best charter yachts that frequent the area tow center consoles, which let charter guests explore both the nearshore shallows and the offshore fishing grounds.

At cocktail hour, take a walk ashore to Hope Town on ­Elbow Cay. Harbour’s Edge has a bar with all the local favorites — Bahama Mama, Mango Punch, Goombay Smash — plus a view of the harbor’s iconic red-and-white-striped lighthouse. It’s a pleasant reminder that you’re in the Abacos, a place unlike anywhere else in the world.

THIS MONTH'S MAIN EVENTS

NEW YEAR'S DAY JUNKANOO PARADES
These colorful, musical bashes tend to start at noon, filling the streets with dancing and celebration. Join the party in Dunmore Town on Harbour Island, or in New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay.

BAHAMAS GREAT ABACOS CLASSIC
From January 18-24, the Abaco Club on Winding Bay golf course is scheduled to host this tournament. Pro-ams and clinics are expected to be part of the fun.