Island of Eleuthera

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Island Facts Getting There Things to Do
Beaches Diving Golfing
Bannerman Town Glass Window Gov'nrs Harbour
Gregory Town Harbour Island Hatchet Bay
James Cistern Palmetto Point Preachers Cave
Rock Sound Spanish Wells Tarpum Bay
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Island Facts & Fun

Eleuthera is a large, bean-shaped island about 100 miles long from north to south and averages about 2 miles wide. The island was born when the Caribbean waters receded from an ancient coral and volcanic limestone outcropping that formed the Bahama Islands. Today, the interior landscape is dotted with shrubs, casaurina trees, coconut palms, and jagged coral rock. First settled by Gov. William Sayles' adventurers in 1648 at Preachers Cave, then Governors Harbour, the island became the first permanent European settlement in the new world, and home of the first republic.

Caves, nooks and crannies can be explored throughout the island - Preacher's Cave to the north, and others near Ten Bay and Hatchet Bay/Gregory Town. In early summer you can witness the Atlantic-to-Caribbean migration of the land crabs, and year-roundwatch the ghekkos, lizards, and wide variety of birds and fish from the porch of your Ten Bay rental.

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Things to Do

The best thing to do while in Eleuthera is nothing. Just rent a spot on the beach and tan. There is plenty to see, however, so check under each township for things to do in that area. If a surfing is your thing, for example, head north to the Atlantic side. Surfers' Beach - south of Gregory Town - is officially designated (according to surfer dudes and Fodor's Guide) as the "second best wave in the world" next to Hawaii. Quite a recommendation. It used to host Surfing contests back in the 60's until the road to it became almost impassible. Get a local guide from Gregory Town to take you there.

RESTAURANTS and ENTERTAINMENT. Go to each township page for local recommendations. As a general rule of thumb, however, we recommend the following: For great lunches, try the Pina Cafe and Bucaneer's Club in Governor's Harbour, Cambridge Villas and Cove Eleuthera in Gregory Town, and Sea-View Takeaway off the main dock on Harbour Island. For dinner, we recommend the Sunset Inn and Tippy's in Governor's Harbour, Rainbow Inn at Hatchet Bay, NortSide in Rock Sound, Mate and Jenny's and Unique's in Palmetto Point. And, if you don't mind preparing it yourself, we also suggest buying fresh fish directly at the Tarpum Bay or Governors Harbour docks for a great meal at home. For music and dancing, check out the Millenium Club just south of Gregory Town or theRainbow Inn on Wednesday nights where you might catch the calypso tunes of Dr. Seabreeze.

THINGS TO DO. There's usually an event or celebration of some kind going on in Eleuthera just about every week. Check our events page to find one near where you're staying. For more information on everything from taxis to emergency numbers, you can also check out the following Bahamas websites:

TheBahamas.com,    BahamasFilm.com,   and   TheBahamian.com.


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Diving

(Thanks to the Sigillo's of Sea Dreams for allowing us to use their Diving/Golfing material.)

Organized dive boats leave from Harbour Island to the north. It is about a 60 mile drive from Ten Bay, and then a short water taxi to the island. The diving is great, the boats speedy, and the sealife plentiful. Current Cut offers the more skilled diver with a high speed drift dive, about 8 knots, between two island formations. You'll see lots of pelagics as well as tropicals. Contact Fox's Diving (Jeff Fox, 242-333-2323) on Harbour Island for a truly unique experience. He's been a diving guide for over 20 years; his boat leaves for a 1 or 2 tank dive at 10:00am for $65 per trip. They offer afternoon or night diving on request, and can supply all the gear that you need.

Further south, You can rent tanks in Governor's Harbour and either rent your own boat or have a local take you out. There is wall diving off of the southern coast, and you will find many reefs and ocean holes just a short ride from the Ten Bay shore. It has a nice reef along the left (south) shoreline which drops down to about 30 ft where you can see crawfish, grouper, crabs, hogfish, and grey angelfish. Also, consider doing a shoredive from the beach at Nortside in Rock Sound. The dive spots, also about 30 ft. deep, are marked by buoys and are but a short swim from the beach.

Advanced divers must go south to Cape Eleuthera and dive the Great Exuma wall. Words cannot describe this 6000' deep masterpiece. When you float over the top, and it's just you and the wall, no other divers, you will understand how it feels to be in outer space! The Island School, which offers an aquaculture outreach program for high school students at the Lawrenceville School, can provide a guide and scuba rentals. Ask for the divemaster, Darryl Miller.

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Golfing

Eleuthera is home to the Cotton Bay Club in Rock Sound, about a 35 minute drive south from Governors Harbour. Cotton Bay was designed by Robert Trent Jones, and has a championship layout running right along the ocean coast. You don't need to make a tee time, greens fees are $100 (USD), and club rentals are $15. They don't take credit cards. Make the trip only if you're a diehard player and like to see good layouts. Expect the course to be playable and ocean holes spectacular, but don't look for championship conditions. Recent hurricanes have caused less than ideal green conditions, and the lack of carts and other amenities make it less popular now among the pros who no longer have tournaments there. Do expect to lose a fair number of balls if you spray the ball a bit. When we played in February the rough had not been cut. Once you left the fairway the ball was gone. We were able to negotiate them down to $50 due to the course conditions.

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Getting There

The island of Eleuthera is the longest of a chain of windward islands in the Bahamas and has three airports: North Eleuthera Airport (ELH),
Governors Harbour (GHB) in the middle, and
Rock Sound Airport (RS) to the south. Most regular commercial flights from the United States now go through Nassau or Freeport customs, then on to the outer islands. The cost from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami to GHB is about $350 round-trip. Nothing in the islands is definite, however, and certainly not scheduled airline travel. BahamasAir, for example, is run by the government and is sometimes quirky. If you are careful and watch for your flights, however, you should be OK.

Since the late 90's, Eleuthera has had a few setbacks. The tourist business is still down some from 9/11 and Island residents are still recovering from Hurricanes Andrew ('93) and Floyd ('99) which closed down Club Med and the Venta Club, major contributors to the areas' prosperity. Soon afterwards, American Airlines cut off their direct Eagle flights from Miami and USAir Express has cut back. Several minor players, however, have stepped in. Last we heard, two carriers leave out of Ft. Lauderdale: Lynx Air on Mondays and Thursdays, and Twin Air on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Some charter lanes are also available at fairly reasonable rates. Check out our Flights Page and contact the airlines for the most up-to-date information.

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NORTH ELEUTHERA AIRPORT (ELH)
      

ELH is the place to land for trips to Spanish Wells, or Harbour Island. Small planes land here frequently, as does a short USAirways stopover from GHB every afternoon. A welcome center and restaurant are across the street. Rather take a speed boat back? Fast Ferry runs daily from Nassau to Harbour Island. Ask the locals for schedules.


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GOVERNORS HARBOUR AIRPORT (GHB)
   

GHB is the most active of the three airports on the island, being centrally-located. It is about 8 miles north of the Governors Harbour township, 16 miles north of Ten Bay Beach, and 20 miles south of Gregory Town. Arthur Nixon has a pub next to the airport. When you drop infor a Kalik beer or Pineapple rum, be sure to tell him we sent you. The GH Airport is about 8 miles north of the township for which its named, and about an hour south of North Eleuthera. BahamasAir, TwinAir, Continental and others arrive daily from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, but check with the individual airlines before booking any lodging since schedules and routes change often.

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ROCK SOUND AIRPORT (RS) is the southern-most landing site on Eleuthera between Tarpum Bay and Rock Sound. It is served by BahamasAir, Twin Air, Southern Air Charter and their affiliates, inlcuding Delta, Continental, and USAir. RS used to be the landing site for Italian visitors to the now-defunct Venta Club, and was served by Alitalia, but hurricanes and the subsequent loss of business has put a temporary end to the only direct link to Europe. There are rumors this is changing soon, however.


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Last modified 12/10/09. Webmaster: M. Craig