Pete’s Pub

One of our favorite places in the Abacos is Little Harbor, a sweet spot at the southern end of the Sea of Abaco. We’ve stopped there both coming and going—it’s either our first stop after crossing Northeast Providence Channel from Eleuthera and the Exumas or our last taste of Abaco before heading south. The area has a lot going for it—caves with stalactites, stalagmites, and bats, a beautiful protected cove filled with sea turtles, a nice hilly hike, an ocean beach with dramatic views and good waves, a bight with good snorkeling and excellent kayaking, blue holes, and, of course, Pete’s Pub and Foundry.

Pete Johnston came to the Bahamas on a boat with his parents in the 1950s. His father was a sculptor skilled in the art of lost-wax casting, and he built the foundry that is there to this day, open for tours daily. The last time we visited, Eli got an early Christmas present in the gallery: a bronze shark belt buckle on a leather belt made by none-other-than Pete himself. He even measured Eli and punched the holes. He does beautiful work, and also happens to run our favorite restaurant.

Pete’s Pub is the ultimate low-key beach bar. The food is always fabulous, with the fish and conch on the menu usually caught and cleaned that day. The burgers are a bit pricey, but better than you’ll find anywhere else in the Abacos, where good meat appears to be scarce. The sides are always a spicy version of the Bahamian standard, peas-n-rice, and a to-die-for pineapple cole slaw. We’ve never been disappointed. The atmosphere is special, too, with the picnic tables in the sand, little shady places to sit, a “porch” near the bar with Adirondack chairs to sink into with your cold Kalik or their famed fruity rum drink, “the Blaster” (why walk when you can crawl?). The whole place is lit with small lanterns and Christmas lights and festooned with tee-shirts donated and signed by past visitors. Add some good music and a hook-and-ring bar game and you have the perfect place to relax at the end of a long sail.

We like to head over in the dinghy around 6-ish, when the red-yellow-green traffic light on the beach comes on. You can go up on the rooftop balcony to see a great view of the sunset or the breakers on the ocean side. The kids bring things to play with (army guys, buckets and shovels, dominoes, coloring books, etc.) and we spend the whole evening enjoying a meal or drinks, meeting other boaters and talking to locals. It’s the sort of place that seems outside of time, unchanging, like the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

We often have a hankering for Pete’s Pub, but part of its charm may be that it’s so hard to get to. When we arrive, it is usually with weariness and joy in equal measures. Little Harbor is an easy place to pass up, with the washing-machine surge against Tom Curry Point and its shallow entrance, but once inside, it is a little slice of paradise, remote but not isolated, secluded yet welcoming. It’ll be awhile before we get back there, but, eventually, when the craving hits, we’ll untie the dock-lines and brave the ocean waves again, knowing that there’s a bright spot at the end of every journey.