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Step Back in Time
To visit Eleuthera is to step back to
a time when life was simpler --
and when beaches weren't full of people.
- Uncongested living. Eleuthera is quiet and uncongested. There are no shopping centers on Eleuthera, no crowds, and no traffic jams. End to end, the island is 110 miles long with a population of just 8000, an island of rolling green hills, sleepy villages, and 60 miles of deserted beaches. Guidebooks are fond of noting that Eleuthera has not a single traffic light, but that isn’t surprising when you consider that most of it has only one paved road. The Queen’s Highway, as it’s called, is a two-lane country road on which you can drive for miles without seeing another car. Needless to say, there is little need for a map, and on an island less than a mile wide for long stretches, you’re never far from the beach.
- Beaches. Speaking of beaches ... Eleuthera is beautiful, especially if you love beaches. Even better if you hate crowded beaches. On most of the island’s beaches, you will often be the only person in sight. By one count, there are 135 beaches on Eleuthera, covering over 60 miles on both the Atlantic and the Caribbean sides of the island. The beaches are world-class and awe-inspiring. Almost any list of the world’s Top 10 Beaches will include the Pink Sand Beach at Harbour Island, to the north. You can devote an entire week to exploring Eleuthera’s unspoiled beaches and still not cover them all. Some of the beaches require a 4WD vehicle, though many of the best are easily accessible.
- Community. Regular visitors often cite “the people” as the most charming feature of the island. Famed for their friendliness, Eleutherans welcome visitors, and will often stop to wave at you as you drive through their villages. Visitors also get swept up into the local vibe. More than one guest has been caught by surprise when, even before the end of a week-long visit, they are being remembered by name. You will feel welcome, and you won’t feel hustled the way you might at some other Caribbean destinations.
- Safety. One reason visitors to the island can enjoy the local community so much is that Eleuthera is remarkably safe, so there is no need to “keep your distance.” Crime is almost non-existent. Local residents often don’t even bother to lock their doors (though visiting Americans have a hard time breaking their habits in this regard!). Young and old hitchhike everywhere. The sense of security you feel throughout the island is another striking contrast to many other Caribbean tourist destinations.
- Dining and night life. Visitors to the island do not lack for dining and entertainment choices. Good restaurants are numerous enough that you will not manage to visit every place you’d like to in the course of a week-long visit. In fact, chances are that you will quickly find a favorite and return to it more than once. Options range from local cuisine to high end restaurant fare. The atmosphere in all of them is laid back and welcoming, and many of them offer live music in the evenings – occasionally with celebrity performers on tap.
For many, Eleuthera is the ideal balance between remote and developed – the “Goldilocks Island”of the Bahamas–
“Not too cold” … meaning, more developed than other “Out Islands,” offering more reliable infrastructure and a better selection of activities, restaurants, stores, and flights. (This Interactive Map provides a good overview of what’s where.)
… and “not too hot!” ... because Eleuthera still feels pristine and authetic, without the pangs of overdevelopment and urbanization that can erode the island’s endearing charm.
A visit to Eleuthera is a strikingly different experience – and for many, a more rewarding one – than spending a week behind the sterile walls of an “all-inclusive” resort where the experience with local residents mostly entails getting hustled to buy something. The warmth of Eleuthera comes as much from the people who live there as it does from the sun above, and it's worth experiencing.
The discovery and rediscovery of Eleuthera
Eleuthera was settled in 1647 by English pilgrims in search of religious freedom. They named the island Eleuthera, the Greek word for freedom. The island’s long history is apparent in its villages, with their ancient whitewashed churches and colorful cottages. Governors Harbour, the provincial capital, has a collection of large and stately colonial-era homes.
Half a century ago, Eleuthera was a popular destination for the European and American jet set, including the British royal family, with resorts such as Windemere Island and Juan Trippe’s Cotton Bay Club.
In the decades that followed, Eleuthera faded into obscurity, but all that is changing now. Beginning about 10 years ago, Eleuthera began showing up on lists of undiscovered getaway locations. Major hotel develoment companies began new projects. Leading travel publications started paying attentin. Travel and Leisure, for example, noted that Eleuthera, “once renowned for its picture-perfect white and pink sands somehow dropped off the traveler's map,” and described some of the early steps in the island’s rebound that had already begun. That same year, The New York times described Eleuthera as “an untold hidden gem.”
 Otherwise known as the “Family Islands”
 For the Interactive Map, many thanks to our friend Al Curry of Ocean Fox Cotton Bay. By the way, Al’s scuba and deep sea fishing operation is worth a closer look. Check out their website for more information on the services they offer, and also for another great perspective on "Why Eleuthera?.