Tag: Dining

Green Turtle Cay 101: Dining Here

This is the fourth installment in the Green Turtle Cay 101 series. Previous sections include: GTC 101: An Introduction, GTC 101: Getting Here and GTC 101: Staying Here.

Chicken Wrap with Fried Plantain at the Lizard Bar & Grill
Chicken wrap with fried plantain and coleslaw at the Lizard Bar & Grill

For an island its size, Green Turtle Cay offers a relatively wide range of dining options. They include:

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McIntosh Restaurant and Bakery – Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, McIntosh is located on the right as you come down the hill into the settlement. Daily specials are posted outside and a full menu is also available. Denise McIntosh makes some of the best desserts on the cay — our favourites are her key lime pie and guava cheesecake. Friday night at McIntosh is Lobster Fest, with Bahamian lobster cooked more than a dozen different ways.

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Two Shortys

Two Shortys – On the western end of Crown Street, which runs parallel to the settlement’s south shore, Two Shortys offers great Bahamian takeout food. They also have a few picnic tables if you’d prefer to eat in.

Sundowners Bar & Grill – Further west on Crown Street, Sundowners opens daily at 5pm and serves up a selection of pub-type food, along with the best sunset views in town.

Plymouth Rock Liquors and Cafe
Plymouth Rock Liquors and Cafe

Plymouth Rock – You have to get there early to get a seat in this tiny cafe, but it’s worth it. Breakfast and lunch are served daily except Sunday. Friday and Saturday nights, visitors and locals gather at Plymouth Rock for cocktails and conversation. The restaurant is near the freight dock at the western end of Parliament Street.

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Dining on the beach at Harvey’s

Harvey’s Island Grill – Situated on the shore of Settlement Creek, Harvey’s serves lunch and dinner daily. Specials are posted on a board out front, with a surprisingly varied menu also available. Mondays are pizza and wing night and they occasionally offer Italian, steak and rib, and sushi nights. You can dine inside the air-conditioned restaurant or outside on the beach.

Papa Pete’s Bakery & Takeaway – Just a few steps from the main ferry dock in town, Papa Pete’s serves up traditional Bahamian breakfasts, as well as lunch and dinner most days and a variety of fresh-made baked goods.

Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar – Though many Bahamian establishments have attempted to recreate the Goombay Smash cocktail, only its inventor, the late Emily Cooper and her family members know the real recipe. Since Miss Emily’s passing, her daughter, Violet, and granddaughter, Misty, operate her world-famous Blue Bee Bar, serving up authentic Goombay Smashes, along with pizza and other pub-type food. Miss Emily’s is located across from the basketball court in town.

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Wrecking Tree – Just a few minutes’ walk east of the town ferry dock, the Wrecking Tree offers Bahamian fare for dining in or takeout. Their screened dining porch offers a terrific view of Settlement Creek.

Bahamas, Abaco, Green Turtle Cay
Poolside at Pineapples

Pineapples Bar & Grill One of the best spots from which to watch tropical sunsets, Pineapples offers casual dining beside a saltwater pool. On Friday nights, there’s live music. To get to Pineapples, turn north (left) at the Wrecking Tree and follow the signs.

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Live music by the Island Boyz at the Lizard Bar and Grill

Just a few minutes north of the settlement is the Lizard Bar and Grill at the Leeward Yacht Club. Perched on a rise overlooking Black Sound, the Lizard is a lovely, breezy spot to enjoy a casual lunch or sunset dinner.  There’s a great pool for swimming and lounging, and some evenings, they offer live music.

Further north, on White Sound, you’ll find the Green Turtle Club and, further along the west side of the sound, Bluff House.

Bahamas, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Travel
Green Turtle Club Dining Porch

The Green Turtle Club offers a large, screened dining porch plus a slightly more formal indoor dining room. I’m especially partial to their tuna sashimi appetizer and their black and white tuna entrée. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served seven days a week.

Also serving three meals daily is Bluff House’s Ballyhoo Bar & Grill, located on the White Sound side of the property. Over the hill, on the shore of the Sea of Abaco, is the Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar.

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Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar at Bluff House (photo: http://www.bluffhouse.com)

A few notes about dining in Green Turtle Cay:

  • Some restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity, others don’t. Even within the same restaurant, some servers add the tip while others don’t, so best to make a habit of checking the bill.
  • As of 2015, restaurant meals in the Bahamas are subject to a 12% Value Added Tax (VAT).
  • The dress code for most places on the cay is fairly casual, though the Green Turtle Club tends to be slightly more formal. At a minimum, most require shoes and some sort of cover up.
  • Most restaurants use either rain water or city water. Theoretically, both are safe to drink, though most locals don’t recommend drinking the city water and local wisdom says rain water can cause stomach upset if you’re not used to drinking it. Long story short, best to err on the side of caution and ask for bottled water.
  • The above descriptions reflect current restaurant operating hours and offerings. These are subject to change, depending on the season.

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Green Turtle Cay 101: Getting Here

This is the second installment in the Green Turtle Cay 101 series. The first post can be found here: Green Turtle Cay 101: An Introduction.

Bahamas Map

The first thing you need to know about getting to Green Turtle Cay is that it takes a bit more planning than traveling to a major tourist center. The second thing you should know is that the extra effort is so worthwhile.

To get to Green Turtle Cay, you’ll need to travel to the Bahamian island of Abaco. From there, you’ll take a small ferry from Treasure Cay (which, despite its name, is actually located on the Abaco mainland) to Green Turtle Cay.

…Arriving By Airplane

Most visitors to Green Turtle Cay arrive by commercial airline. Direct flights to Abaco are available from a number of Florida cities, including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Orlando. Depending on your departure city, the flight from Florida takes roughly an hour. You can also fly to Abaco from the Bahamian capital of Nassau. This trip takes a little over 30 minutes.

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There are two airports on the Abaco mainland. The first, at Treasure Cay (airport code TCB), is super convenient – it’s just a five-minute taxi ride from the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock. However, it’s relatively small, and the selection of flights in and out is limited. Airlines that currently fly into TCB include Silver Airways (from Ft. Lauderdale) and Bahamasair (from Nassau.)

Abaco Map copy

The second Abaco airport, in Marsh Harbour (airport code MHH), is about a 45-minute taxi ride away from the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock. However, many more flights arrive into Marsh Harbour each week, so you’ll have a greater range of travel options from which to choose.

Airlines that fly into Marsh Harbour include American Eagle (from Miami), Silver Airways (from Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville) and Bahamasair (from Nassau).  A number of smaller charter airlines, including Island Wings, Abaco Air, Airgate, Air Share Unlimited, Craig Air, Baer AirCherokee Aviation and Bahamas Express, also service MHH.

Whether you fly into TCB or MHH, there will be taxis waiting to meet the flight. From the Treasure Cay airport to the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock, it’s a 5-minute ride and about $15. From Marsh Harbour, budget 30-45 minutes and $80 or so, one way. Most taxis are mini-van type vehicles that comfortably seat at least four adults plus luggage.

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A fleet of half-a-dozen or so ferries shuttle passengers between
the Abaco mainland and Green Turtle Cay.

A few practical tips for planning air travel to Abaco:

  • As is common in the tropics, Bahamian weather can be unpredictable, which can lead to flight delays. If you’ve got connections to make, it’s a good idea to schedule a bit of extra time between flights.
  • If your trip home from Abaco to the U.S. takes you through Nassau, you can clear American Customs and Immigration there. If you fly straight to the U.S. from Abaco, however, you’ll need to clear Customs and Immigration at your first point of entry. Again, if you’ve got a connection to make, consider scheduling extra time between flights.
  • Not all routes to/from Abaco are serviced every day, so it helps if you can be flexible when it comes to travel days.
  • If you have questions or need advice about getting to Abaco or the Abaco Cays, check out the Abaco Forum. Forum members routinely travel all sorts of routes (air and sea) to Abaco, and they’re happy to share experiences and offer suggestions.

…Arriving by Private Vessel 

Given that Abaco and its surrounding cays offer some of the most spectacular boating waters in the world, it’s not surprising that so many visitors arrive by sea. If you’re entering the Bahamas aboard a private vessel, you’ll need to clear customs and immigration. To do this, you’ll need to go to one of the official ports of entry, and present the following:

  1. A completed Bahamas Customs Clearance Form
  2. One Bahamas Immigration Card per person on board
  3. Proof of Citizenship (i.e., passport) for each person aboard

Though Green Turtle Cay isn’t shown on the official “ports of entry” list, I understand you can clear customs and immigration here. The Customs office is in the pink government building on Parliament Street in town. Call in advance (242-365-4077) to check on their hours. If you arrive late in the day, you can clear the next morning.

For detailed guidelines, see the Entering and Exiting by Boat page on the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism’s website.

If you’re arriving by sea or plan to rent a boat during your stay in Green Turtle Cay, Steve Dodge’s book, The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas is considered a vital resource by visitors who spend time on the local waters. The guide provides regularly updated maps and charts, information about the various marinas and ports, a directory of local services, information about tides and more. (For the record, I’m not affiliated with this publication in any way – I’m just one of its many fans.)

…Arriving by Ferry 

Sea LinkIn most cases, these are less practical options, but they’re worth mentioning.

During the summer months, a fast ferry (which accommodates vehicles as well as walk-on passengers) travels weekly from Nassau to Sandy Point, at the southwestern tip of Abaco. Unfortunately, there are no car rentals in Sandy Point, and the taxi fare from there to Treasure Cay will run you well over $150. Having said that, if you have access to a vehicle or plan to rent a car in Nassau, this option may make sense. The trip takes about six hours. For more information, visit Bahamas Fast Ferry.

A preferred alternative for Abaco lovers who don’t like to fly, Pinder’s Ferry provides twice-daily service between Grand Bahama (the Bahamian island immediately west of Abaco) and Crown Haven, at the north end of Abaco. You can cruise aboard the Bahamas Express from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Bahama, then take a bus to the Pinder’s Ferry dock. Rental cars are available once you arrive in Crown Haven. For more information about this route, contact Pinder’s Ferry at 242-365-2356.

…Arriving by Mailboat

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The M/V Legend sails weekly between Nassau, the Abaco mainland and Green Turtle Cay.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also travel between Nassau and Green Turtle Cay by mailboat. For more information, click here or contact Dean’s Shipping at (242) 367-2653, (242) 394-0245 or deansshippingco@gmail.com.

Next up: Green Turtle Cay 101: Staying Here

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Green Turtle Cay 101: An Introduction

Recently, I’ve received a number of emails from folks wanting to know more about visiting Green Turtle Cay. This post is the first in a series entitled Green Turtle Cay 101: A Guide to Getting Here, Staying Here and Enjoying all that Green Turtle Cay Has to Offer.

Junkanoo Performers

Local schoolchildren perform at Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, held each May.

If you visit the Bahamas and don’t get any further than the cities of Nassau or Freeport, you’ve really only scratched the surface. For a truly authentic Bahamian experience, you need to visit one of the country’s out islands, also known as the “Family Islands.”

Island HouseAs you’ve likely surmised, my favourite family island is Green Turtle Cay, because quite simply, it’s the polar opposite of Nassau or Freeport.

There are no duty-free shops or noisy casinos, no high-rise chain hotels or American fast-food joints, no cruise ships or smoke-belching Jitneys, no Bay Street peddlers hawking cheap t-shirts.

Instead, there is peace. There is privacy. There are pristine (and often deserted) beaches, charming locals, bikes and golf carts for transportation and more stars at night than you could ever count. There’s a vigorous domino game in town, rake-and-scrape music at sunset, local kids shooting hoops (you’re welcome to join in), home-baked coconut bread at the local grocery, and conch salad chopped fresh while you watch.

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