The latest post in the Green Turtle Cay 101 guide to getting here, staying here, dining here and playing here.
Given its diminutive size, Green Turtle Cay offers a surprisingly broad range of recreational activities including world-class boating and water sports, as well as historic sites and cultural events. In this post, we’ll focus on the cay’s gorgeous beaches.
Whether you prefer calm, shallow waves lapping at the shore or wild surf crashing onto the sand, you’ll find a beach to love on Green Turtle Cay. And with beaches on all sides of the island, there are sheltered spots to sun or swim on even the breeziest days.
Though most of the cay’s prettiest beaches are located beyond the hill east of town, there are a few small beaches within the New Plymouth settlement. The sandy strip that runs along the south shore of the settlement (known as the South Beach) is great for morning walks. At low tide, gravestones washed by storms from the cemetery above are visible on the sand.
Opposite Harvey’s Island Grill on the shore of Settlement Creek is a small, sandy beach, where you’ll often find the local kids playing. And a few dozen steps away, on the west side of Settlement Point, is a tiny sliver of beach perfect for low-tide shelling or a quick dip.
Across Settlement Creek, there’s a small beach at Pineapples Bar and Grill where you can take a cool dip while you wait for lunch.
My favourite Green Turtle Cay beach, Gillam Bay, is located just east the settlement. To get there, follow the paved road up the hill from town until it turns left. Instead of proceeding left, continue straight ahead onto the sandy path, past the ball field on the right. Follow that path down to the water.
Gillam Bay is ideal for an early morning walk, since it offers a spectacular view of the sun rising over Pelican Cay. You’ll find amazing shells, sand dollars and sea biscuits at the water’s edge.
Unfortunately, in recent years, erosion has taken a toll along the eastern side of the island. Gillam Bay has been especially hard hit. Having said that, as you can see from the recent photographs below, the beach is still amazing. It’s best accessed via the cement steps at the end of the sandy road at or near low tide.
Though a lot of sand has washed away from Gillam Bay over the past decade, the good news is that it hasn’t gone far. The beach on the south side of the Gillam Bay point has grown dramatically — and it’s gorgeous.
A leisurely stroll around Gillam Bay point to the south side and back takes an hour or two, and is easiest at low tide. If you’d rather a shorter walk, a couple of marked footpaths cut across the peninsula. Look for the small white signs with black arrows and follow them through the brush to the beach on the point’s south side.
North of Gillam Bay is Long Bay Beach, which can be accessed from several points along the main road, including the street directly across from Abaco Yacht Services. This beach is great for walking, beach combing and, on calmer days, snorkeling.
Further north is another of my favourite Green Turtle beaches — Bita Bay. Though unmarked, it’s fairly easy to find. If you’re heading north from town, keep an eye out for a wooden, shark-shaped “Bita Bay House” sign on your right. Shortly afterward, you’ll spot the sandy path that leads to Bita Bay beach.
Thanks to the reef and islands that shelter it, Bita Bay is generally calm, even when the ocean beyond is raging. It’s terrific for snorkeling, especially for kids, as there’s a small reef just a few feet from shore (visible in the above photograph.)
Along the northeast coast of Green Turtle Cay stretches the Ocean Beach. Where some of the island’s eastern beaches enjoy partial shelter, there is literally nothing but deep blue sea between this beach and Africa! It’s gorgeous, majestic and windswept, but can be too rough at times for swimming.
Slightly north of the Green Turtle Club is tranquil Coco Bay. From the Club, head north on the road east of Brendal’s Dive Center. When that road ends, turn left and follow the road as it curves right. Coco Bay will be on the right side.
Best enjoyed at or near high tide, Coco Bay is shallow, sheltered, warm and almost always calm — making it a good choice on windy days. The grassy area just off shore tends to attract ocean life such as conchs, starfish, bonefish, turtles and rays.
At the far western end of White Sound, overlooking the Sea of Abaco, is the Bluff House Beach. To get there, continue along the road past Coco Bay and take the first left. This road meanders along the north and west sides of White Sound and ends at the Bluff House Resort. Once you reach the resort, turn right and follow the road down the hill to the beach.
As you can see from these photos, Green Turtle Cay’s beaches are far from crowded — more often than not, you’ll have a beach entirely to yourself.
And though overzealous or uninformed property owners occasionally post “private beach” signs, by law, all Bahamian beaches are considered public property to the high-tide line. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid trespassing on private waterfront properties, but there are no “private” beaches on the cay.