Once an iconic destination for sport fishing and relaxation, Walker’s Cay is now on the road to redevelopment after being deserted since the severe damages obtained following hurricanes in 2004. The northernmost island in the Bahamas has served as a place for fishing, diving, and soon-to-come, scientific research as part of the North Abaco district. Walker’s Cay was named for Thomas Walker, a British judge sent to Nassau who quickly gained the reputation of a “hanging judge”. Corrupt officials did not grow a liking to Walker, and in the early 1700s, exiled him to the island that would soon take his name.
In 1935, nearly two hundred years after Walker’s death, a businessman from Palm Beach, Florida, Buzz Shonnard, obtained a 99-year lease on the island and built a small hotel along with a dock providing a place for businessmen and celebrities to relax and have a great place to fish. One of the fellow businessmen to stay at Walker’s Cay was Robert Abplanalp, the inventor of the modern day aerosol valve for spray cans. Abplanalp loved what the island had to offer so much that he bought the lease in 1968. After construction of the 75-slip marina and an airstrip with its own airline based in Fort Lauderdale, the introduction of a new era was initiated that focused on developing its sport fishing destination as well as attending to island conservation. Although only less than 10 square miles, the island’s marine area was declared a national park in 2002, Walker’s Cay National Park. The national park makes important contributions to biodiversity and to the tourism industry of the island.
Following the death of Abplanalp in 2003, the island came in contact with two devastating hurricanes the next year, Frances and Jeanne. The hotel was destroyed and the marina was severely damaged. In 2018, Walker’s Cay was sold to Texas businessman and philanthropist Carl Allen. The cay has a 2,500-foot airstrip, a power electric generating facility, and a marina. Approvals are in place for a new hotel, retail space, villas, a restaurant and bar. Allen has been visiting the island since he was twelve years old and announced redevelopment efforts that will bring Walker’s Cay back to nothing less than it was in its full glory.