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Eleuthera

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© Lonely Planet Publications
174



History

Eleuthera
When it comes to wishing for the archetypal ‘idyllic island,’ it is impossible to think past the
delicate pink-sand beaches and sparkling turquoise seas of tranquil Eleuthera. On the east
coast, dramatic cliffs, sheltered coves and offshore coral reefs add to this vivid panorama.
However, barely 50 miles east of Nassau, Eleuthera’s infamous Devil’s Backbone reef has
claimed plenty of ill-fated ships over the centuries. Although divers explore these evocative
remains, many other vessels still wait to be found. The hurricanes of 1992, 1999 and 2004
have also whacked many villages across the main island.
The Queen’s Hwy runs the length of this fashionably thin 100-mile-long island, making
exploration easy, while the Bight of Eleuthera to the west is a vast expanse of shallow
scalloped waters where bonefish hunters await their prey.
The high-speed ferry service makes Nassau accessible and day-trippers can visit the haunt
of the rich, famous and beautiful – Harbour Island, coined the prettiest Caribbean island. It
still has an attractive Bahamian character, despite the laconic wealth displayed by visitors
and expats. An indescribably lovely coral pink beach runs along the windward shore, and
breakers are stopped by coral reefs, guaranteeing superb bathing and snorkeling.
While hotels on these isles cater for the seriously wealthy, boutique hotels and self-contained
accommodations make these rosy beaches and warm azure waters accessible to us all.
HIGHLIGHTS

Getting There & Away

Strolling hand in hand with your beloved at
sunrise on Pink Sands Beach (p178), Harbour
Island

Harbour Island

Toasting the world’s largest coconut with a
tumbler of rum, before dancing to reggae
under the stars at the Vic Hum Club (p181),
Harbour Island

Alice
Town

Governor's
Harbour

Watching the sun set over Cupid’s Bay from the charming
cottages and orchid-filled garden at the Duck Inn (p187) in
Governor’s Harbour

ELEUTHERA

Lighthouse Beach

AREA: 198 SQ MILES

You’ll need your own transport if you want
to explore Eleuthera outside of Governor’s
Harbour or Harbour Island. Fortunately,
car-rental agencies can be found at the airport and through accommodations. If you
fly in, you’ll have to catch a ferry or water
taxi to Harbour Island where bicycles or
golf carts are the modus operandi; they’re
easily rented at the dock.

NORTH ELEUTHERA
Eleuthera is neatly divided by a tendril-thin
strip of land called T...
ELEUTHERA
174
ELEUTHERA
www.lonelyplanet.com
When it comes to wishing for the archetypal ‘idyllic island,’ it is impossible to think past the
delicate pink-sand beaches and sparkling turquoise seas of tranquil Eleuthera. On the east
coast, dramatic cliffs, sheltered coves and offshore coral reefs add to this vivid panorama.
However, barely 50 miles east of Nassau, Eleuthera’s infamous Devil’s Backbone reef has
claimed plenty of ill-fated ships over the centuries. Although divers explore these evocative
remains, many other vessels still wait to be found. The hurricanes of 1992, 1999 and 2004
have also whacked many villages across the main island.
The Queen’s Hwy runs the length of this fashionably thin 100-mile-long island, making
exploration easy, while the Bight of Eleuthera to the west is a vast expanse of shallow
scalloped waters where bonefish hunters await their prey.
The high-speed ferry service makes Nassau accessible and day-trippers can visit the haunt
of the rich, famous and beautiful – Harbour Island, coined the prettiest Caribbean island. It
still has an attractive Bahamian character, despite the laconic wealth displayed by visitors
and expats. An indescribably lovely coral pink beach runs along the windward shore, and
breakers are stopped by coral reefs, guaranteeing superb bathing and snorkeling.
While hotels on these isles cater for the seriously wealthy, boutique hotels and self-contained
accommodations make these rosy beaches and warm azure waters accessible to us all.
Eleuthera
HIGHLIGHTS
Strolling hand in hand with your beloved at
sunrise on Pink Sands Beach ( p178 ), Harbour
Island
Toasting the world’s largest coconut with a
tumbler of rum, before dancing to reggae
under the stars at the Vic Hum Club ( p181 ),
Harbour Island
Watching the sun set over Cupid’s Bay from the charming
cottages and orchid-filled garden at the Duck Inn ( p187 ) in
Governor’s Harbour
Climbing up to East Point Lighthouse to delight in the views of
Lighthouse Beach ( p191 ), Eleuthera’s most beautiful rosy beach
Savoring delectable Bahamian dishes with a Sicilian twist and the
lively company at the Rainbow Inn ( p187 ), near Alice Town
TELEPHONE CODE: 242 POPULATION: 8545 AREA: 198 SQ MILES
History
The name ‘Eleuthera’ comes from the Greek
word eleutheros, meaning freedom (the
Lucayans who originally settled the island
called their home ‘Cigatoo’). In 1648, Eng-
lish refugees fleeing religious persecution
in Bermuda during the English Civil War
era landed in Eleuthera after the Devil’s
Backbone reef ripped open their boats.
They were later joined by Loyalists, who
brought their slaves and founded new
settlements.
Massive pineapple exports in the late
1800s and early 1900s were replaced with
less intensive farming crops. Abandoned
silos recall the thriving cattle and chicken
industries that evolved in the 1950s. Alas,
following independence the government
bought out the farmers, and within a short
period of time the farms were derelict. Since
then, with the exception of Harbour Island,
tourism on Eleuthera has also withered
and many once-fashionable resort hotels
are now closed. St Georges Island’s Span-
ish Wells, however, has a thriving lobster
industry.
Hurricane Andrew knocked the socks off
much of North Eleuthera in 1992, and Hur-
ricane Floyd hit the island with a right hook
in 1999. The 2004 hurricanes also added to
the general damage sustained by the infra-
structure and many villages.
Getting There & Away
Most travelers to Eleuthera fly into Gover-
nor’s Harbour Airport or North Eleuthera
International Airport (if they are heading
to Harbour Island). Others take the twice-
weekly fast ferry from Nassau. A number
of day trips to the cays from Nassau on
super-zippy powerboats are also very pop-
ular. Cheaper but slow mail boats and ex-
pensive private boat charters round out the
options.
Getting Around
You’ll need your own transport if you want
to explore Eleuthera outside of Governor’s
Harbour or Harbour Island. Fortunately,
car-rental agencies can be found at the air-
port and through accommodations. If you
fly in, you’ll have to catch a ferry or water
taxi to Harbour Island where bicycles or
golf carts are the modus operandi; they’re
easily rented at the dock.
NORTH ELEUTHERA
Eleuthera is neatly divided by a tendril-thin
strip of land called The Glass Window, one-
quarter of the way down the island. Immedi-
ately north, the isle broadens out in a rough
triangle with Current Island to the west. To
the east, Harbour Island and neighboring
cays enclose a vast harbor. North Eleuthera
includes Governor’s Harbour.
HARBOUR ISLAND
pop 1523
It is hard to live up to the accolade of being
the prettiest island in the Caribbean, but ‘Bri-
land,’ as it is known, is especially charming.
The lovely little pastel-colored cottages with
their tiny and immaculate gardens, the nar-
row streets hung with vibrant garlands and
that indescribably beautiful coral pink beach
running the length of the windward shore are
all simply entrancing. Although many Eleu-
therans shudder at the island’s tourism, for
visitors it is an entrancing mix of Old World
Bahamas and island living at a very comfort-
able level, all underscored by the undeniable
charm and friendliness of the Brilanders.
Harbour Island discreetly houses well-
known Bahamian artist Eddie Minnis, singer
Jimmy Buffett, Aussie supermodel Elle
Macpherson and many other celebrities.
Quaint Dunmore Town, on the harbor side,
harks back 300 years. The town was laid out
in 1791 by Lord Dunmore, governor of the
Bahamas (1787–96), who had a summer resi-
dence here. Maybe the clip-clop of hooves
has been replaced with the whir of golf carts,
but the daily pace has not changed much.
Once a noted shipyard and a sugar-refining
center from which a rum-making tradition
evolved, today most adults are employed at
the hotels or in fishing.
The Bahamas Billfish Championship regu-
larly heads this way around May (see boxed
text, p152 ).
Orientation
The ferry alights on the corner of Bay and
Church Sts. Church St and other streets rise
gently inland to Dunmore St. The resorts
run along Pink Sands Beach, to the east.
Colebrook St runs south to a private resi-
dential estate, while Bay St extends north to
Nesbit St at the northern end of the town.
Harbour
Governor's
Lighthouse Beach
Town
Alice
Harbour Island
NORTH ELEUTHERA •• Harbour Island 175
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