Things to Do in Eleuthera, Bahamas
“Surfer’s Beach is for wave riders, but there are also beaches for snorkelers, swimmers and shell collectors. Best of all, you can have one all to yourself. Around mid-afternoon on New Year’s Eve, when nearly all the island’s rooms were booked, not a single soul could be spotted on Ten Bay Beach, six miles south of Governor’s Harbour, despite a brilliant sunshine and near perfect temperatures.” New York Times, February 19, 2006.
It’s obvious that the reporter who penned these lines was seeing Eleuthera for the first time. Regular visitors are surprised to find anyone on their favorite beach. With sixty miles of beaches and a few dozen hotel rooms, Eleuthera is a paradise for beach lovers who enjoy privacy and unspoiled natural beauty.
Beyond the beaches, Eleuthera is surrounded by coral reefs that offer exceptional diving and snorkeling. The Devil’s Backbone, another popular dive, is a large coral formation notorious for wrecking ships. The Current Cut, a narrow channel with currents that regularly reach 10 knots, has been rated one of the ten best dives in the world.
Eleuthera is famous for bonefishing, and deep-sea fishing. Reef fishing and spear-fishing are also popular. The Caribbean side of the island is usually free from heavy surf, providing excellent conditions for sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking. Trails through the fields and woods are perfect for jogging, hiking, and mountain-biking. You won’t find them on a map or in a guidebook, so ask a local resident or watch for trails on the side of the road. The Atlantic side of the island, north of James Cistern offers several excellent beaches for surfing, with Surfer’s Beach being the most famous.
Eleuthera offers varied and unique sightseeing. The Hatchet Bay Cave extends for a mile underground. At The Cliffs, giant ocean swells crash into a limestone precipice. The Rock Sound Ocean Hole – said to be bottomless – is an inland salt lake connected by subterranean passages to the sea. Feed the tame saltwater fish miles from the ocean. The Glass Window Bridge, painted by Winslow Homer, is the narrowest point on the island, where the calm turquoise waters of the Caribbean almost touch the turbulent deep blue of the Atlantic. The cavernous Preacher’s Cave provided shelter for the first European settlers of Eleuthera and served as their first church. The Queen’s Baths are a collection of large tide pools carved out of the soft rock by wave action. At low tide, the Queen—or anyone fortunate enough to be on Eleuthera—can bathe amongst the little fishes. These sites are all in their pristine state. Don’t expect to find a guided booth or even a paved road as most of the access roads are rocky, dirt roads. It all adds to the charm!
Each of Eleuthera’s score of picturesque villages deserves a visit. Gregory Town, home of the annual Pineapple Festival, is also home to Pam’s Island Made Gift Shop, featuring local handicrafts, and Thompson’s bakery, creator of Eleuthera’s famous pineapple tarts. Spanish Wells is an island fishing village off of the north coast of Eleuthera with lovely nineteenth-century cottages in pastel colors. Governors Harbour features a historic waterfront, colonial homes, and the recently restored Haynes Library. Governors Harbour also hosts the Friday night fish fry, a weekly waterfront street party that brings out locals and visitors alike. Harbour Island, a five-minute, water-taxi ride from Eleuthera, offers luxury hotels, shopping, great restaurants and celebrity sightings. No private cars are permitted on the streets of Harbour Island, so plan on renting a golf cart.
Live music is also popular on Eleuthera, part.time home to Lenny Kravitz and his band, Patti Labelle, Mariah Carey, and others. For more information, see entertainment…below.
Eleuthera has numerous annual events, from the Pineapple Festival and the Ride for Hope to the International Food Fair and the North Eleuthera Regatta.
Image Credit: Getty Images | KevinPanizza