Location of Eleuthera
Eleuthera is located in the northern part of the Bahamas, app. 360 kilometres from Miami and 80 kilometres from Nassau. It is a unique island belonging to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, but its name also refers to the group of smaller islands nearby including Harbour Island, Windemere Island, Man Island and Current Island. The main island is 180 kilometres long, and is only a few kilometres wide at the narrowest parts. This is what makes this island unique. Its eastern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean and the western coast is the Great Bahama Bank. It has a population of app. 11, 000 people, and its economy is mainly based on tourism.
History of Eleuthera
Eleuthera was founded in 1648. Captain William Sayles and his team, the so-called Eleutheran Adventurers left the Bermudas because they wanted religious freedom. Eventually, they found this beautiful island. “Eleuthera” means “freedom” in Greek; this is where the name of the island comes from. We know that the first inhabitants were Lucayan Indians, but our general knowledge on that period is quite limited. The island had not been used until the arrival of the British.
Most of the inhabitants made their living from agriculture and fishing. As one of the most important export articles is pineapple, the economy of the island was flourishing between the 1950s and the 1980s. In 1973, they gained independence from Great Britain, which transformed the island’s economic nature – Eleuthera became a tourist attraction. Hurricane Andrew struck the island in 1992 and had devastating effects on the area. They managed to mitigate the damages with different aids, contributing to the recovery of Eleuthera.
Weather in Eleuthera
Eleuthera has a subtropical climate. characterised by moderate warm weather during the entire year. The average annual temperature is 28° Celsius; this means 21° Celsius in the winter and 27° Celsius in the summer. The temperature rarely drops below 16° Celsius or above 32° Celsius. The dominant wind blows from the northeast in the winter and from the southeast in the summer, freshening up the air a bit. The velocity of the wind is an average of 15 km/h during the entire year. Most of the precipitation falls in the summer months. At the end of the summer – during the period between June and November – tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may be a threat.
The strong wind (with a blast of over 90 km/h) and the seawater that rises, as a result, may cause heavy damage. The weather is usually pleasant in Eleuthera during the whole year, meaning that sailing is also enjoyable in all seasons. We should definitely avoid the hurricane season though, as storms may be very challenging.
Highlights of the island of Eleuthera
Eleuthera is mostly famous for their amazing beaches and world-famous scuba-diving spots; the most popular ones are Current Cut, Blue Hole, Train Wreck and Devil’s Backbone. All of these places are geological miracles. Of course, there are plenty of interesting places to see on the mainland as well. Adventurers can explore the magical caves on the island, such as Preacher’s Cave or Smugglers Cave.
One of the most famous sights on Eleuthera can be found at the narrowest point of the island – it is the breathtaking Glass Window Bridge. The scene under the Bridge, where the Atlantic Ocean connects to the peaceful Bahama Bank, is truly incomparable. If we want to know more about the history and natural treasures of the Bahamas, we should visit the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve; it was the first national park established on the island. Eleuthera will be an unforgettable experience for those who love nature.
Gastronomy of Eleuthera
The Bahamian – and as a result, the Eleutheran – cuisine offers locally produced food and drinks; mostly fish and clams, crabs, lobsters and different tropical fruits. They often use chili, lime, cinnamon, rum and coconut for spicing food. One of the most popular local specialties is the conch, a kind of sea-snail with an orange colour and soft, white flesh, prepared in several different ways. Another speciality is the souse, a dish halfway between a soup and a stew. If you have a sweet tooth, you should try the Bahamian rum cake and the guava duff, which is a dessert similar to a sponge cake, filled with gem. The most popular drink on the Bahamas is called Bahama Mama – it is a rum-based cocktail with coffee liqueur and freshly-squeezed pineapple and lemon juice, which goes perfect with a relaxing day on the beach.
Beaches of Eleuthera
Pink Sand Beach
Pink Sand Beach is located on the eastern coast of Harbour Island. Natives call it “Briland”. The beach is famous for its beaches, covered with beautiful pink sand. Local legend has it that the sand became pink when God sprinkled candy floss on the beach to distinguish it from the other ones in the world. The scientific explanation, however, is far less romantic. In fact, this exciting phenomenon can be owned to the tiny sea creatures called Foraminifera. When these perish, their shells are crushed and washed up on the beach by the waves. There they dissolve and get mixed with the sand.
Pink Sand Beach is the most famous among them, and it is also regarded as one of the best beaches on the Bahamas. It is more than 5 kilometres long and 30 metres wide. The sand is almost always cool, so we can walk on it barefoot anytime. Thanks to the reef, the water is quiet, making it safe for swimming and scuba-diving. Pink Sand Beach received an award, “The Best Sand Beach”, from The Travel Channel in 2005.
French Leave Beach
French Leave Beach or Club Med Beach can be found in the central-eastern part of Eleuthera. It is a pink sandy beach with a length of 1.5 kilometres. The way that the bright-coloured beach encounters the turquoise water is a wonderful scene. Even though the sea is not always quiet in these parts, we might have a chance to explore the rich underwater wildlife provided that the conditions are suitable.
Ten Bay Beach
Ten Bay Beach is located 15 kilometres from Governor’s Harbour, on Savannah Sound. It is among the most popular beaches on Eleuthera with its soft white sand and the giant casaurina trees providing a natural shade in the mornings. This is the perfect spot for a nice walk during low tide.
Lighthouse Beach is one of the most beautiful gems of Eleuthera, located in the southernmost corner of the island. The beach got its name from an abandoned but still neat lighthouse. It is surrounded by breathtaking sand dunes and rocks; its entrance is a dirt road filled with depressions. Getting to the practically unspoiled beach is quite an adventure. There is a wonderful view of the Atlantic Ocean and Half Moon Cay, located barely 20 kilometres away from here. The spot is unique also because this is where Exuma Sound (Caribbean Sea) encounters the Atlantic Ocean.
Queen’s Baths or Hot Tubs can be found app. 1 kilometres from Glass Window Bridge, on the side facing the Atlantic Ocean. These natural basins were formed by the strong waves crashing against the rocks. The water is crystal-clear, and thanks to the continuous sunshine, the water temperature is almost always ideal for a nice swim.
Boat rental in Eleuthera
There are many great free anchorages and well-equipped yacht marinas on Eleuthera. The shores are wonderful, even though the water is quite shallow in some parts. You will find a list of docking places and some useful information below.
Spanish Wells is located on St. Georges Cay, west of the northern corner of Eleuthera. Its port is constituted by a long channel bordered by two small islands. It is protected well and is only open for the winds coming from the eastern direction. There is a great port and a hurricane hole in the west where boats are tied to mangrove trees. There are six anchoring buoys on the eastern side. We can find Spanish Wells Yacht Haven & Marina here which is a full-service yacht marina with 40 berths; besides the basic services, they also have a bicycle rental. The downtown is within walking distance. We can anchor at Royal Island Harbour in the west, which provides ideal anchorages for vessels with a larger draft. The only disadvantage is that they have no amenities or services.
Governor’s Harbour is located in the centre of Eleuthera; it is the capital of the island. It is a beautiful place with a sight of marvellous Victorian architecture. Governor’s Harbour also has a small and narrow peninsula, Cupid’s Cay, which is a great place to anchor. The average depth of water near the shore is 3-4 metres; the sea bottom is ideal for securing our boat firmly. The area is well-protected; the only disturbance may be caused by the western winds from time to time. French Leave Marina is the most important yacht marina, located in the southeastern corner of the town. They offer boat slips for both larger megayachts and smaller boats. They also have electricity and water in every dock. One of the most popular events in town is the summer regatta, a spectacular and exciting event both for competitors and spectators.
Annie Bight is located in the northern part of Eleuthera near Gregory Town. The area is practically a huge natural basin. We recommend that you arrive early in the morning, as that is the most ideal time of day considering the tides. The depth of water is app. 4 metres during this time.
Palmetto Point can be found on the app. 10 kilometres from Governor’s Harbour. It consists of two parts: North Palmetto and South Palmetto. It has become the most popular holiday resort on the island during the past years. Visitors can expect friendly people, as well as dozens of services and restaurants. One of the best anchorages is located in Pau Pau Bay – the sea is peaceful, and we can secure our boat safely in the designated spots. The only disadvantage of the bay is its lack of complete protection from the southern and southeastern winds. There is also a yacht marina in the centre of the island called Runaway Bay Marina. The channel leading to the bay is 3 metres deep; they offer fresh water and electricity in the dock.
Rock Sound is a large bay located south of Governor’s Harbour. It is a very friendly town with amazing shops and a wide variety of services. There are great anchorages in the area; however, none of them are completely protected. There are also two small free dinghy docks and an awesome beach near Wild Orchid. Davis Harbour Marina, which is the closest yacht marina, can be found in the southern part of the island. There are 24 anchorages here, and the depth of water is app. 2.5 metres. They offer shower cabins, laundry, freshwater, ice, fuel and even boat maintenance on the dock.
Hatchet Bay, located at Alice Town, is app. 20 kilometres further from Harbour Island. This is among the best anchorages on the western shores. Gaining entrance to the bay may seem scary at first, as the channel looks very narrow. In fact, it is fairly wide, and the depth of water is also ideal, so most boats can navigate through without difficulties. Thanks to the stone dam at the port, the bay is well-protected. Anchorages are free of charge; the best ones are located on the southwestern side. There are also two dingy docks near Alice Town. It is a perfect place for a nice walk on the beach, and they have grocery stores, restaurants and provide boat maintenance as well.
Harbour Island lies in the northern part of the archipelago and is a perfect place for those looking for diversity. There are great hiking opportunities in the district of the old dockyard. We can find a ruinous fort here that was built under the leadership of the legendary pirate Charles Wayne. The area near the beach is full of marvellous caves, the largest of which was converted to a prison in the 18th century. Today, it is one of the most popular spots to visit. Another reason that the tiny island is popular among visitors is the unique beaches covered with pink sand. There are two yacht ports on the island: Harbour Island Club & Marina and Valentines Marina. Both of them is a well-equipped port with fuel docks.
Egg Island is a tiny island with a territory of 800 square kilometres, located west of the northern corner of Eleuthera. The island is surrounded by a crescent-shaped beach. The best anchorages are on the western side; they are protected by an extensive coral reef. We should arrive as early as possible, in daylight, so that we can find the passage between the port and the beach easily. Although we won’t find shopping malls and amusement parks on Eleuthera, the island has dozens of natural gems to offer. We can expect turquoise waters, pink sand, crystal-clear, sunlit sky and refreshing breezes here. Let’s set course for the Bahamas and explore this beautiful area with all its magic!
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Day 1. Harbour Island – Spanish Wells 18, 80 km (11, 68 mi), Day 2. Spanish Wells – Governor’s Harbour 77, 00 km (47, 85 mi), Day 3. Governor’s Harbour – Cape Eleuthera 40, 60 km (25, 22 mi), Day 4. Cape Eleuthera – Highbourne Cay 49, 70 km (30, 88 mi), Day 5. Highbourne Cay – Nassau 61, 30 km (38, 09 mi), Day 6. Nassau – Egg Island 62, 30 km (38, 71 mi), Day 7. Egg Island – Royal Island – Harbour Island 32, 60 km (20 mi)
Day 1. Spanish Wells – Annie Bight 39, 50 km (24, 54 mi), Day 2. Annie Bight – Rock Sound 75, 85 km (47, 13 mi), Day 3. Rock Sound – Waderick Wells Cay 72, 55 km (45, 08 mi), Day 4. Waderick Wells Cay – Shroud Cay 29, 75 km (18, 49 mi) (19, 88 mi), Day 5. Shroud Cay – Highbourne Cay 23, 85 km (14, 82 mi) (46, 35 mi), Day 6. Highbourne Cay – Nassau 63, 10 km (39, 21 mi), Day 7. Nassau – Egg Island – Spanish Wells 67, 05 km (41, 66 mi)
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