Feb 13 - 15: Green Turtle Cay
Green Turtle Cay is a lovely blend of both modern day and historic roots on a sprawling island with plenty to discover. Many hidden gems, beaches, and restaurants can be found if you are ready to explore or have the inside scoop from the locals.
We love to anchor halfway between Black Sound Point and White Sound. Here large orange starfish are often visible through the clear turquoise waters below, with the occasional turtle or stingray gliding effortlessly past. The perfect welcoming committee for the island.
The island's heritage is rich and celebrated in the town of New Plymouth, which is located on Black Sound Point. Historic buildings take you back to yesteryear, with homes and stores warmly welcoming you in with vibrant Bahamian colours, accented with white fences and scalloped porches.
It was founded in the 18th century by New England settlers. Prominent black and white loyalists played key roles in establishing the town of New Plymouth. This heritage is still a proud part of the culture, visible in the museums, a beautiful 'Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden' of bronze busts detailing the history, and many generations of family lineage still happily inhabiting the island.
Life looks good on these Bahamians. They live at a pace of happiness, enjoying life's simple pleasures...and it shows. Most islanders look much younger than their age. We met a man that was in his late 80's but looked no older than 60. Amazing!
Jovial laughter and full faced smiles are common as you meander through town or step into a restaurant. One of our favorite stops was the famous Blue Bees Bar, known for the 'World Famous' Goombay Smash drink. Owned by Miss Emily with her daughter and husband as chefs. You are always welcomed with jovial laughter, the sweetest smile and a cool beverage shortly after.
On Saturday's you will find 'da Conch Man' making fresh conch and lobster salad along the shore in his kitchen hut. It is an interesting event as he removes the conch directly from the shell and turns it into (in our opinion) the best conch salad that you will find in the Abaco islands. If you are not a big conch fan then you will really enjoy his lobster salad instead.
The town is a hive of activity! Artists painting along quiet roads; 'people who know' are buying fish and lobster from the B&M Fishing; shipments of passengers and materials arrive by ferry; locals watch their kids at the park while relaxing at Blue Bee's; and all while golf carts buzz in and out of town from marinas or visiting boaters. What a perfectly relaxing life!
Some of our favorite activities are here including dolphin sightings, feeding turtles and swimming with nurse sharks. We have also found several quiet, long, white pristine beaches scattered along the island, each offering the most interesting shell finds.
One of these secluded beaches is near Black Sound, along Gillum Bay. It is a bit hard to find but worth the effort. You know you are close when you find the 6'5" wooden stick man with the sign 'Beach Dat Way'. This incredible beach stretches along the bay and all the way around to the town of New Plymouth on the other side of the point.
At low tide the most spectacular exploring is revealed as the water recedes and the soft sandy bottom is exposed, inviting you to walk almost all the way out to the island opposite. We have also found people in the middle of the bay, soaking up the sun on dry sand . . . truly spectacular!
It takes almost a 20 min golf cart ride to get from one end of the island to the other, and between White and Black Sound there is much to discover. Even the the landscape goes through dramatic changes, as sandy beaches lined in mangrove trees are replaced with grand cedars hanging over the winding roadway, hewn from grey limestone. Discover many hidden beaches, shops and restaurants, and a variety of marinas which often offer amenities like swimming pools, property rentals and tantalizing restaurants. These are also easy places to rent a golf cart or other forms of transportation as needed.
White Sound, the northern side of the island, is home to a few resort developments and Brendal's Dive Center where you can book diving, snorkeling, island-hopping and other adventures. The resorts are open to visitors, offering relaxing retreats and restaurants. Our two favorites are the Tranquil Turtle and Ballyhoo Restaurant.
Tranquil Turtle is situated on a lovely beach with shallow water, perfect for a cool dip and ideal for young children to swim in. Shaded lounge chairs and hammocks along the beach offer a relaxing break from suntanning or perfect shade to enjoy a few drinks with your meal.
Ballyhoo sits on the edge of White Sound's bay and is a bit more upscale, but has the added benefit of a lovely pool and bar where drinks or meals can be ordered throughout the day. This year we enjoyed our Valentine's dinner here. The sparkle of white lights and fabulous food, entertained by a very talented Bahamian jazz saxophonist, made the evening perfectly romantic. As the night wound down, a bright canopy of stars lit the evening sky for us as we hopped in the dingy and returned to our waiting sailboat.
No Name Cay
Just east of Green Turtle Cay you will find No Name Cay (not to be confused with No Name Schoal) where families of pigs live...often called the 'swimming pigs'. It is a fun adventure!
What do pigs like to eat? They enjoy foods like bread, carrots, other root vegetables and pitted fruits. It is also suggested that you bring fresh water since the island has very little fresh water. If possible it is better for the pigs if you feed them in the water as sand ingestion has been the cause of untimely deaths in these cute little guys.
Why are they called 'swimming pigs'? The pigs will sometimes swim out to approaching boats if they are hungry...hence the name. They will swim for their food.
Use caution: The mother pigs are very protective of their babies. It is best not to pick them up. On quiet mornings I have had the opportunity to cuddle one but that is very rare.
The older pigs can get quite agitated when a lot of tourists are visiting at once. If they get agitated then they can become aggressive so always be aware of the pigs around you.