Abaco has 12 protected areas, including national parks and marine reserves, that are part of The Bahamas' protected area system. Managerial oversight is provided by The Bahamas National Trust, Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, and The Bahamas Forestry Unit.
Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park
Established: 1972 Size: 2,100 Acres
Located 8 miles north of Cherokee Sound, Great Abaco, this 2,100 acre land and sea area is a sister park to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. It contains beautiful undersea caves, extensive coral reefs and abounds with terrestrial plant and animal life.
Black Sound Cay Nat'l Reserve
Established: 1988 Size: 2 Acres
This small park is located in Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay. Just a short bike or golf cart ride outside of New Plymouth will take you to this cay which is made up of coppice and mangrove habitat. This cay is an ideal home for local waterfowl and provides shelter to migratory birds that winter in Abaco.
Tilloo Cay Reserve
Established: 1990 Size: 11 Acres
Located in the middle of Tilloo Cay, this land was donated by private citizens to protect important sea bird nesting habitat. The reserve also includes a large section of native coastal vegetation which supports other birds and native wildlife.
Abaco National Park
Established: 1994 Size: 20, 500 Acres
Established due to community support during a RARE Pride Campaign, the Abaco National Park comprises 20,500 Acres in Southern Abaco. Included in this area is 5,000 acres of pine forest, the major nesting habitat of the Abaco Parrot. Thanks to management actions from within the park, Abaco Parrot populations are recovering!
Walker's Cay National Park
Established: 2002 Size: 3,840 Acres
Accessible to cruisers in North Abaco, or by flying into Grand Cay, this national park was established to protect the barrier reef system off of Walker’s Cay. Fortunately still inhabited by many marine predators, this reef is an ideal spot for diving.
Fowl Cays National Park
Established: 2009 Size: 1,920 Acres
Conveniently reached from most central Abaco Cays and settlements, the park has steadily become attractive to scuba divers and is an extremely popular area for local boating and snorkeling. The reefs and three 25′ to 40′ dive spots in untouched water are renowned.
East Abaco Creeks Nat'l Park
This park encompasses Snake Cay Creek, The Bight of Old Robinson, and Cherokee Sound. Designed to preserve valuable coastal habitats to support our fisheries and environmental health in general. Fishing (as regulated by current laws) is allowed in these areas. A plan to guide future management of the park is yet to be created, however the community will be involved in the process.
South Abaco Blue Holes Conservation Area
This park protects a network of underground caves and blue holes and the pine forest and coppice habitats growing around them. The area was also designated as the Blue hole Conservation Forest and became part of the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, an effort to preserve forest resources across the British Commonwealth.
Cross Harbour and The Marls National Park
These two separate parks are united by their function – to protect critical habitats for bonefish. The Marls are shallow mangrove wetlands and flats located on the western side of Great Abaco, while Cross Harbour is located in south west Abaco. Tagged bonefish have been recorded traveling from feeding grounds in The Marls to spawning grounds in Cross Harbour and back again. These two areas also benefit numerous other marine species, as well as birds, and mangrove ecosystems, and are vital to Bahamian fishing industries (including catch and release).