Five kilometers (3 miles) off Great Abaco's east coast, Green Turtle Cay is the archipelago's jewel, a little island with an uneven coastline, deep bays, sounds, and good beaches, one of which stretches for 1,080m (3,543 ft.). You can roam through green forests, gentle hills, and secluded inlets. The island is 5.5km (3 1/2 miles) long and 1km ( 2/3 mile) across, lying some 274km (170 miles) due east of Palm Beach, Florida.

Water depths seldom exceed 4.5 to 6m (15-20 ft.) around here, and coral gardens teem with colorful sea life, making for fabulous snorkeling. The shells you'll find on the lovely beaches and offshore sandbars are among the finest in The Bahamas. If you have a boat, you can explore such deserted islands as Fiddle Cay to the north, or No Name Cay and Pelican Cay to the south.

New Plymouth, at the cay's southern tip, is an 18th-century settlement that has the flavor of an old New England sailing port. Much of the original masonry was fashioned from lime that was produced when conch shells were broken up, burned, and sifted for cement (records say that the alkali content was so high that it would burn the masons' hands). Clapboard houses with pretty trimmings line the little town's narrow streets. New Plymouth, which once had a population of 1,800 people, now has 400. Parliament is the village's main street, and you can walk its length in just 10 minutes, passing by only a few clucking hens. Many of the houses have front porches, on which locals sit in the evening to enjoy the breezes.

Green Turtle Cay became known for the skill of its shipbuilders, though the industry, like many others in the area, failed after slaves were emancipated in 1838.