ABACO is one of only a few islands in the Bahamas that has managed to preserve its charming Colonial architecture, while opening up to the luxury home market.
This happy blend of ?Old Meets New? has positioned Abaco as a premier second home destination for visitors and favourite point of relocation for Bahamians.
The beautifully preserved cottages in soft pastels are much sought after and stand out even against the gorgeous luxury homes that are popping up throughout Abaco.
Luxury homes like Trade Winds, perched on a 60? bluff with 500? of water frontage on Green Turtle Cay. Polynesian finished ceilings, marble floors, third storey, glass enclosed Tiki Hut and seaside infinity pool with amazing panoramic ocean views make this a prize home.
Or Serenity House, with its marble floors, patios, decks and balconies, and extraordinary views of the white powder sand Treasure Cay Beach.
For the more exotic, there?s Farside, a unique home on Tilloo Cay with aVictorian-like castle tower and stunning panoramic views. With approx, 1,200 linear feet of waterfront on the tip of a peninsula, this is a gem of a property.
Or the cheeky - A Wench's View, a spectacular residential retreat on one of the highest elevations on Tilloo Cay, an island that stretches five miles along the eastern portion of the island chain of Abaco.
When the settlers arrived in Abaco from America in the 1700s after the American Revolution, they transported a piece of that Colonial era with them.
Granted, they were a bit more pragmatic about how and where they built in those days.
The elements were strongly considered ? windows faced the cooling trade winds, rainwater catchments trapped water and the kitchen was a separate building as a precaution against fire.
Perhaps the biggest difference was the home usually faced away from the sea for protection from the wind and salt.
Today, the sea is the centrepiece of Abaco homes and greatly influences the price of real estate in Abaco.
The picturesque, but once humble Colonial cottages of Loyalists who emigrated from America after the Revolution have withstood the test of time as they?ve been handed down generation by generation to their Bahamian descendants.
These homes, painted in the soft and pleasing pastels of the islands, are snapped up by second home owners as they become available.
They are found on the satellite cays of Abaco ? Hope Town, Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay and Man-O-War Cay, shipbuilding and fishing villages where healthy tourist and second home industries have sprung up over the years.
Many of these homes have dormers, accessed by steep, narrow staircases, and used as extra bedrooms.
These attractive, but tight attic-like rooms with their dormer windows got very hot in the summer, but today many homeowners pipe cool air into them.
The homes were made of Abaco pine, a beautiful, termite resistant pine harvested in Abaco in days gone by.
Covered porches are still a focal point for family and social gatherings in the cool of the evening. The properties are surrounded by white picket fences or native flowering shrubbery.
With the passing of time, many new designs ? some quite upscale ? have been introduced to Abaco.
However, while diverse, many of the new homes have retained an ?island? feel with pitched roofs, verandahs and covered porches and flowering shrubbery, such as bougainvillea and hibiscus.
Real estate in Abaco is booming and today, homes are on the market for up to $10 million.
A tiny lot with access only through someone else?s land on Hope Town and valued at $10,000 in 1998 was contracted to sell at $30,000 in 2000 and, it?s estimated, could fetch $60,000 on today?s market, such is the demand for real estate on the beautiful Abaco cays.
If you?re in the right place, you can?t go wrong with an investment in Abaco real estate.
It?s a long way from those days when the Loyalists left America to settle in the Bahamas, building quaint, strong homes that, unbeknownst to them, would lay the foundation for the tourist and second home industry in Abaco, the Bahamas. (C - Athena Damianos)