110 miles long with a population of just 8000, Eleuthera is an island of rolling green hills, sleepy villages, and 60 miles of deserted beaches. To visit Eleuthera is to step back to a time when life was simpler. The island community is a small town where the residents know one another. Young and old hitchhike everywhere, and no one bothers to lock a door. Famed for their friendliness to visitors, Eleutherans will stop to wave at you as you drive through their villages.
There are no shopping centers on Eleuthera, no crowds, and no traffic. The 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.
Eleuthera was settled in 1647 by English pilgrims in search of religious freedom. They named the island Eleuthera, the Greek word for freedom. Eleuthera’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. All that is changing now. Several new developments have broken ground, including major resorts by Starwood (www.cottonbayeleuthera.com) and Hyatt (www.frenchleaveresort.com). Travel and Leisure named Eleuthera one of its “Top five up and coming travel destinations” for 2006. (Click here to read the Travel and Leisure article.) The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times travel section gave Eleuthera similar reviews. (Click here to read the New York Times article.)
The Bahamas is an archipelago of islands extending from the east coast of Florida south to Haiti. The government is stable and democratic. Independent from Britain since 1973, the Bahamas retains its ties with the British Commonwealth and recognizes the British monarch as head of state. English is the spoken language. The currency, the Bahamian dollar, is on par with U.S. dollar which is also accepted throughout the Bahamas. The economy relies primarily on tourism and off-shore banking. Foreigners can purchase and own real estate directly. There are no income taxes, capitals gains taxes, or inheritance taxes.