Gaulding’s Cay Beach is just one of Eleuthera’s many stunning beaches.
The name ‘eleuthera’ comes from the Greek term for freedom, and after spending too few precious days on this island, I quickly realized how apt this name is. Eleuthera is place that offers freedom from the many plagues of our busy urban lives: from the hustle and bustle and, most importantly, from the stress and anxiety.
The fourth largest island in the Bahamas, Eleuthera attracts a certain type of traveler, from boaters to those seeking a bit of peace and quiet. With its many uncrowded beaches, mesmerizing water colours and charming locals, it’s the kind of place that offers that elusive combination of seclusion, safety and serenity.
Our introduction to Eleuthera came via a 20-minute puddle-jumper flight from Nassau on Pineapple Airways. There are some direct flights from the United States, as well as a ferry service from Nassau. This takes about 2 ½ hours, but you’ll have to check the ferry schedules for specific days and times (www.bahamasferries.com).
After an on-time flight and luggage accounted for, we put ourselves in the hands of a friendly taxi driver -they all are on this island – and departed the small North Eleuthera Airport, for a 20-minute drive to our first hotel, The Cove Eleuthera.
Driving along the main Queen’s Highway, there wasn’t much to see: the odd settlement, business or shop. That is until we reached the famous Glass Window Bridge, where the road narrows to a single lane bridge and the dramatic differences of coastline open up: deep blue rough water crashing against jagged rocks on the Atlantic side and calm turquoise water lapping up on sandy beaches on the Great Bahama Bank side. The contrast is dramatic. You have to stand on the bridge to appreciate it, as the low profile of the island does not provide a spot to take in both sides in one view.
Apart from this well-known landmark, the treasures of Eleuthera are to be found off the beaten track. The locals are delighted to share them – explaining how to access such finds as Gaulding Cay Beach, French Leave Beach, the Sapphire Blue Hole, Queen’s Bath and watering holes like Tippy’s, LeoRose Sunset Grill and El Karaka Glass Window Grill. The great thing is that even ‘off the beaten track’ is easy to get to on this lsland.
Our three-day immersion in Eleuthera seemed like simply dipping our toes in one of the many beaches and other wonders of this island. Simply not nearly enough time to see everything this gem has to offer. While the island rarely exceeds a few km in width, it is over 160 km long. Given the time frame, we decided to pick our battles and stick to North and Central Eleuthera. The drive in our rental car from our hotel just outside Gregory Town to Governor’s Harbour was a good hour. But traffic and crowded roads are non-existent, so even the driving is peaceful.
The most spirited debates about Eleuthera from visitors are around what side of the island has the best beaches. It comes down to personal preference: do you like your beaches long and surf-heavy or sheltered and shallow? There’s room for all style of beach on Eleuthera.
Other than beachcombing, boating, biking, bar hopping, finding good food was not a problem on Eleuthera. The chefs and cooks make the most of their prime assets: fresh seafood and local produce, including pineapples. Now, pretty much everything else on Eleuthera is imported, so don’t expect a cheap island getaway. Keeping that in mind, you really don’t have to spend your money on much to get the most of this place. Be warned, Eleuthera is a quiet place. Not much in the way of nightlife or excitement. But that’s just fine.
Our time on Eleuthera seems like a dream and a return visit is definitely on the horizon.