Ye Olde Gaol on Green Turtle Cay: Uncommon Attraction
Concerned about crime on your next Caribbean adventure? Then head to Green Turtle Cay in The Bahamas. There just isn’t any crime there. This should come as no surprise, though, as the island is tiny and inhabited by a close-knit community of just 500 residents. Unlocked doors, quiet streets and tranquility are the norm here. The quirky pink edifice known as Ye Olde Gaol further symbolizes the island’s peaceful nature.
This “can’t miss if you tried” attraction sits along the main road that runs downhill into New Plymouth. The island’s only basketball court, modern and in good condition, is right across the street. Green Turtle Cay’s only cemetery, looking every bit of its 220+ years, is right there too.
Tidy and well-kept, yet obviously ancient, Ye Olde Gaol splits the difference with its neighboring civic facilities.
Its pretty pink paint job invites inspection. So too do its unusual staircase to nowhere and whimsical Old English signage.
Now, as attractions go, there isn’t a whole lot to hold your attention here. No welcome video, no brochures, no tour guide.
You don’t need any of that stuff to appreciate a few minutes here, though, especially if you know a bit of Ye Olde Gaol’s history.
History of Ye Olde Gaol
According to the local Architectural Preservation Foundation, the jail complex is among the oldest sets of buildings on Green Turtle Cay. The original jail was built in the early 1800s. That earliest version was much larger than what remains today.
Back then, Ye Olde Gaol was two stories high. (This explains the random stairs.) The larger size, though, wasn’t in anticipation of a lot of crime in Green Turtle’s future.
You see, in addition to its correctional duties, the building also served as the island’s original post office. The Commissioner’s Office was also based here. This made Ye Olde Gaol the seat of government for all of North Abaco. Pretty amazing when you consider Green Turtle’s small size and blissfully remote location, right?
That original structure was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932, leaving the curious historic attraction you can find there today.
Still, the question remains: has anyone ever been locked up here? No one seems to know for sure, and it’s been generations since the facility has even functioned as a real jail.
I tend to doubt that anyone’s ever been incarcerated at Ye Olde Gaol.
Here’s hoping that never changes…and neither does Green Turtle Cay.