Eleuthera have miles of deserted beaches, sparkling emerald water and clear starry nights. If you’re looking to escape from the mad rush of civilization, this is the place for you!!
There are many things to do, see, and enjoy on Eleuthera, but perhaps the best thing there is the tranquility and solitude. If a deserted beach is your thing, there are lots to choose from (although there are beaches with other folks, if you prefer). Some of the activities that you can enjoy while there include: Scuba Diving, Sunbathing, Snorkeling, Swimming, Surfing, Beachcombing, Fishing, Tennis, Cave exploring, and Spearfishing.
Because Eleuthera is not overrun with visitors (even in the high season), there are still beaches where you can be alone, find treasures while beachcombing, find lobsters to spear, and discover a pace of life that is conducive to complete relaxation.
Table of Content
There are several ways to get to Eleuthera via the airlines. The preferred airport to arrive at is the Governors Harbour Airport (GHB), but the North Eleuthera Airport (ELH) will do as a backup.
Perhaps the easiest way is to go to Nassau, and then connect with BAHAMAS AIR. There are also several small carriers that fly nonstop to Eleuthera from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. It is advisable to call the respective airline as early as possible to get their current schedule and to make a reservation.
Bahamas customs allows you to bring food for your personal consumption (no fruit or vegetables). You can bring a cooler (great for the beach or boat) with some meats and other goods to avoid the higher cost of groceries, but if you don’t want to bother, the supermarkets in Eleuthera are well stocked.
You will need to bring a valid Passport or Birth Certificate for each individual traveling, including children.
The carriers that we currently recommend for most direct connections to Governors Harbour are USAIR and BAHAMAS AIR. USAIR flies non-stop to Eleuthera from Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, and BAHAMAS AIR flies to Governors Harbour from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale (but only through Nassau). Also, there are several other carriers flying between Governors Harbour, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Nassau. These are smaller commuter airlines flying, generally, 9 passenger airplanes. Also, a lot of people “in the know” use Twin Air from FLL. Currently (Summer, 2003) their price is a LOT less than USAir from Miami. For those wanting to also visit Nassau during your stay, Southern Air currently offers a daily roundtrip excursion fare from Governors Harbour to Nassau at a reasonable $90 (adult) / $60 (child).
Due to the economy, carriers are constantly revising their schedules so it is always best to check directly and frequently for any changes to schedules and/or routes.
CORAL REEF VILLAS
CORAL REEF VILLAS is located in a beautiful area of Eleuthera called “Rainbow Bay”, which is located approximately in the center of the island.
There are a few other homes in the development, but none very close. The Villas are surrounded by a small coconut grove and offer a dramatic 180 degree view of the Atlantic from an elevation atop the high coral bluffs of Smuggler’s Beach (see below). The Villas offer a good deal of privacy and serenity and there is almost always a fresh ocean breeze off the Atlantic below.
Each villas sleeps six persons comfortably, with two bedrooms, two full baths, and a queen-size sleeper sofa.
The floor plans of both units are identical and the upper unit has vaulted ceilings in both the main living area as well as the master bedroom. You will enjoy the sound of the surf pounding the coral reefs below from any room in the Villa…
Though Coral Reef is on the Atlantic side of the island, you can see the Caribbean side as well from the upper villa. This location offers easy access to both surf and waves (Atlantic side typically) or calmer waters (Caribbean side) for snorkeling and “lounging”.
Features & Amenities
- Ocean Front Setting
- Panoramic Views
- Private Deck
- Outdoor Shower
- Dishes & Utensils Provided
- Linens Included
- Air Conditioning
- Ceiling Fans
- Coffee Maker
- Outdoor BBQ Grill
- Tennis (Nearby)
- Pets Not Allowed
Master Bedroom with vaulted ceiling, Queen size bed and private bath, Guest bedroom with twin beds and shared bath, plus additional Sleeper Sofa in Living room
Master Bedroom with Queen size bed and private bath, Guest bedroom with twin beds and shared bath, plus additional Sleeper Sofa in Living room.
A good bakery we have found is located in Gregory Town. It is called “Thompson’s Bakery”. It is found by taking the right-hand fork, paved road just as you pass the “Welcome to Gregory Town” sign. Monica’s house/bakery is in the back of her green house, at the top of the hill. Monica Thompson bakes bread daily, and bakes whole-wheat and a great raisin bread, as well as the more traditional Bahamian bread. Her pastries are excellent, and very reasonably priced, as is her bread (also, see the write up of Monica in the Restaurant section). Monica also sells locally made pineapple rum. You will get a kick out of her “liquor store”.
Ormie’s Bakery, located in Governors Harbour, is recommended also. It is located near the center of the town. We have tried several of her products, and they are very good. Another bakery in Governors Harbour is located across from the Blue Room Restaurant. It is a short walk from the center of town. Just ask any one for directions to the Blue Room. This is the one we primarily use if we buy baked goods in Governors Harbour. Their very good home-baked bread can also be purchased at Bernie Bethel’s Big Rock Store. This is the grocery store between Rainbow Bay and James Cistern. Normally, the bread delivery is daily after about 5 o’clock.
This is the beach directly across the road from the house, and is nice for beachcombing and sunbathing if the sea is calm (and other than at low tide due to the exposed coral). However, it is only a fair beach for snorkeling. The best place to enter the water is near the center of the beach. Access to the beach is through the parking lot. Watch your step as you go down the rather steep steps!
Also on the Atlantic side is the beach that is visible near the road, to the right about 1/2 mile away as you face the ocean. This beach is great for sunbathing. It is picturesque and very convenient. This is a good place to snorkel if the sea isn’t too rough. The best snorkeling is to the right, near the large rocks, as you face the sea. The best time to snorkel here is at high tide, as the fire coral can be a problem at low tide. This is a favorite snorkeling beach for many of our guests (see comments in the guest books).
This “picture-perfect” beach is to the left of the house, as you face the sea. Drive or walk down the little-used road nearest the water, to the right that you come to just after leaving the villas. About 1/4 of a mile, you will come to a park site. Turn right here, and then go down the path cut into the coral. You will see a handrail which leads to the beach. If you are adventurous, there is another, smaller beach just beyond the end of this beach (hence the name, “Twin” beach). This beach is great for swimming, as there is a sandy bottom. Low tide is the best time for going to this beach. Don’t miss this one! This is our favorite beach. Occasionally, after storm surges, this beach is “sand-less” for a period of time.
RAINBOW BAY BEACH
Probably the prettiest beach anywhere around, this beach is about 1/2 mile from the house. It is located on the opposite side of the island (the “bay” side), a little ways towards the Governors Harbour airport. This is probably the only beach near the villas at which other people will be found, and is an absolutely great place to sunbathe and snorkel. The water is usually calm, and the most inexperienced swimmer/diver or snorkeler will be at home here. All kinds of fish can be found here, including grouper, parrot fish, and angel fish, as well as sting rays (harmless). If you’re diligent enough, you can spear lobster (in season), crabs, and fish, and see an occasional sea turtle. Try snorkeling out around the point if you want to see the most interesting underwater creatures. (Hint: snorkel in the mid to late afternoon to see into the caves, as the sun’s angle will help illuminate them). Due to the water depth, this side, (the Caribbean side), is slightly colder in the winter than the Atlantic side. Neither is ever too cold to snorkel and swim in, however.
This miles-long beach is near the Governors Harbour airport, and is one of the loveliest beaches on the whole island. As you drive towards the airport from the house, right after you see the airport and the runway, start slowing down and watch for a paved road on your left (it will be next to the runway). Turn in here, and drive as far as you can (about 1/4 mile), and park. There is a walk of about 200 yards to the beach. This beach is a must if you like to sunbathe, snorkel on some great reefs, swim in the surf, or beachcomb. If the sea is fairly calm, there is an excellent chance of seeing large grouper, parrot fish, sea turtles, and lobsters.
The entry to this beach is about 2 miles further on towards Governors Harbour, and there is an easy entry to the beach. After you pass the airport, watch for a new, un-paved road on the left. Turn here, go to the end of the road, and park the car (off the side of the road). There is a short, easy walk of 50 yards or so to the beach. There are excellent beaches to either the left or right here. There are a lot of conch shells in this area, also.
WINDERMERE BEACH (CLOSED! Spring/summer/fall 1993)
This is the beach located at the famous Windermere Island Club, and is right out of a picture. The beach is beautiful, and is a great beach to walk and beachcomb on, as well as a nice place to snorkel. To get here, see the directions to Windermere in the restaurant section. There is a public car park and entry area to this beach about one mile prior to the Club. The sign says “Beach access”, or something to that effect. Park here and the beach is about 50 feet away.
PARADISE BEACH NORTH (The locals call it the “Grass Flats”)
This is a beach that is just north of Paradise Beach, and is an good place to go if you want to be alone. There is a curved beach about a mile long, protected by an outer reef, so that there isn’t a big surf. There are places to swim, and places to snorkel. To get there, see the directions to Paradise Beach, but turn one road prior to this entrance. As you leave Rainbow Bay, check the mileage. The road (paved) to this beach (which is located on the Atlantic side), is about 7 miles from Cross Island Drive, give or take a half mile. The distance from the Queens Highway to the beach is about 1/2 mile, and bear to the left around an abandoned building that you will come to shortly after turning off of the Queens Highway.
CLUB MED BEACH
This beach provides some “interesting” sightseeing, and is probably not the best beach to take children. It is a picture-perfect beach located in Governors Harbour. At the stop light as you come into town, turn left and follow the road (caution! this is a one-way street), bearing to the right at the top of the hill. You then go about a mile, passing the unmarked entrance to Club Med on the left. At the first road after Club Med that goes to the beach, you can turn in and park. There is an easy walk to the beach here. From this point on the beach, you are free to go anywhere you want to (Club Med is about a 1/2 mile walk). There is excellent snorkeling right here, on the reefs that are near this part of the beach (we’ve seen turtles, rays, grouper, and some large parrot fish here).
JAMES CISTERN BEACH
This beach is one of the best one in the area for beachcombing. Drive into James Cistern (J.C., to the locals), and go almost to the south end of town. At the green restaurant on the left (just past the school), turn left and go east on this road about a mile or so, to the end of the road. The road is pretty rough until past the first hill, but then gets better. You may go either way on the beach, and it extends for miles. A word of caution however: the road is impassable after heavy rains!
This beach is located the other way, towards Gregory Town. It is about 4 or 5 miles from Rainbow Bay. After passing a sign welcoming you to Eleuthera Island Shores, watch for a double road on the right, which leads to surfing beach. The next road is a very rough road. If you miss the first double road, when you see the second road, just turn around and backtrack the short distance. Even the good road here is pretty rough, though, so be careful! There are always some guys surfing here, and the beach is very beautiful. It is reputed to be one of the best surfing beaches in the world. If you want to try your hand at surfing, boards can sometimes be rented, either at the Rainbow Inn or Cambridge Villas in Gregory Town. However, just ask any of the guys there, and they will probably let you use someone’s board. If you want to go swimming here, we suggest that you look over the area from the high bank first (near the thatched hut). From this vantage point, you can see where the coral is, and where to go to avoid it. There is excellent snorkeling to the right.
GOULDING KEY BEACH
This beautiful beach is located north of Gregory Town about 3 or 4 miles, and is a favorite of many of our guests. To find it, go past Gregory Town until you pass a “Gone With the Wind” type entrance driveway on the left, lined with palm trees, and then slow and turn at the second left. (Youve gone too far if you come to the “Glass Window”). There will be a sign here identifying this beach. Follow the road, bearing to the right, past a private home and on to the beach. This (ho-hum) is again a beautiful beach, with superb snorkeling around the small island just to the right of the beach, as you face the sea. There is a very large grouper that lives in a cave on the south side of the island. This is a wonderful place to take a picnic lunch and spend the day.
TWIN BEACH (Also known as “Mrs. Pine’s Beach”)
This beach area is located on the Atlantic side, near Governors Harbour, about two or three miles north of town. Several of our guests have said that this is their favorite beach. To find it, look for a “Methodist Manse” home on the left, as you’re driving towards Governors Harbour. It is about five or six miles past the airport, and is just after you have passed the heavy construction facility on the right. The “manse” is a stucco house, on a corner with a paved road leading to the beach. The road has several turns, and then leads you through a “Fantasy Island” type of area, and then to a parking area right at the beach. I highly recommend that you take the time to visit this area.
Small outboard-powered boats may be rented in Governors Harbour. See Ormie’s Bakery, located on the road up the hill towards Club Med, as the man there is the one who rents the boats. As of the summer of 1987, the rates were approximately $40.00/day for boat rental, including moving the boat in and out of the water.
Towards Gregory Town, about 3-4 miles from Rainbow Bay is a sign, “Hatchet Bay Cave”, on the left side of the road that points to the cave. If you decide to explore this cave (actually, a huge cavern about a mile long), be sure to take a good pair of sneakers and a flashlight for each person. This is a safe (coral and limestone) cave. You will find this an extremely interesting trip. The cave system is fairly formidable, with huge caverns, bats (harmless), stalactites and stalagmites. If you go all the way to the end, you will find yourself at a hole with a rickety ladder which will take you outside (supposedly to an 80 foot cliff overlooking the sea). Pay particular attention to the “graffiti” on the walls, as some of the names are over a hundred years old (and some are, unfortunately, very modern). There is a string that someone has put in the cave to follow, and it would probably be prudent to not go beyond the end of the string. After you turn off of the Queens Highway, the first right turn (actually a parking place) is not very far. There is a good parking lot next to the cave entrance.
The biggest difference in driving, between the States and the Bahamas, is that in the Bahamas we drive on the left side of the road. However, its not difficult or dangerous if you will take your time and use extra caution, especially at intersections. Be careful when you are turning onto another road, as this is where most accidents occur, because of the habit patterns developed while driving on the right side of the road in the United States. The roads on Eleuthera are, for the most part, good, at least in comparison to roads located on other islands. However, occasionally there are stretches of road with some pot holes, and the best thing to do here is to slow down, or risk getting a flat tire (or worse).
The power is 110v/60cps, the same as in the U.S. and is usually very reliable. However, occasional outages occur. If this happens to you, there are candles to be used for light. IMPORTANT: Use them only if needed, and keep them on the candlestick holders. Remember, if you lose power, there is not very much water left, so be very stingy with it. Generally, if the power is off, it will be turned on again before dinner time.
EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS
The area code for Eleuthera (and the whole Bahamas) is 242. The Police in Governors Harbour is 332-2111; Doctor, 332-2001; Freddy & Theresa Ferguson: 335-0460.
For grouper and lobster tails, Sydney is a good bet. His house (where he sells from), is located just at Knowles Drive on the Queen’s Highway (near Banana Beach). There is also a fish market in Gregory Town, near Monica Thompson’s Bakery (see Bakeries). They have a pretty good selection of seafood, including grouper, snapper, shrimp, lobster, etc. At last report, however, this market was closed. Best to combine a trip here with a visit to Thompson’s Bakery.
Another good place to get fresh fish is in the town of Tarpum Bay, a little further south of Governors Harbour. The fishermen bring in their catch each morning around 10 or 11 and clean and bag it for you. We have picked up some excellent grouper here at a very reasonable price… mmmmmm!
Bone fishing is available on Harbour Island, with several guides located there. The bone fishing is reputed to be among the best in the world. Nearer home, Hatchet Bay Harbour usually has some fishing boats available for charter. It is sometimes possible to go to Hatchet Bay fairly early in the morning and find Americans living here who are more than happy to take you out, as they generally lack for company. There are also fishing guides available in Governors Harbour. Their rates, I believe, are about $80.00/day, and can usually take up to four people. In Current (at least before the hurricane), there was a fellow we have used who is excellent. His name is John Griffin. He will probably see to it that you find both fish and lobsters while diving. As of spring 1991, his rates are about $140.00 per day (for up to six people, I think), and $80 per half-day. He also charges $40 per hour for water skiing.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Eleuthera is one of the most bountiful of the Family Islands. A large variety of fruits and vegetables are grown here. We can’t tell you what to expect, as different things ripen at different times of the year. The best place, normally, to buy these items is the government produce shed, located in Hatchet Bay. It has seasonal items, and the cost is minimal. This place is not open on weekends, so we recommend that soon after your arrive, you go and get your items. Be sure and get some pineapples, reputed to be the best in the world. Get some even if they’re not ripe yet, as they will ripen before you leave. The government shed also normally has tomatoes, onions, peppers, and other vegetables. (Hint: We bought wonderful pineapples from Monica Thompson – see Bakeries – at the cheapest price on the island). Also, it is quite common to see people selling fruits and vegetables in front of their homes. This is the most economical way to buy!
Gasoline is plentiful, but the hours and days that it is available can vary. A good rule of thumb is to fill the tank by the time the tank is half empty. Gasoline is available at Bernie’s Big Rock Store just north of JC (James Cistern), in Governors Harbour, Hatchet Bay, and in Gregory Town. It is also possible, if you’re desperate, to ask around and get the person who owns a station to come and open up.
The Cotton Bay Club, located about 10 miles south of Rock Sound, boasts a world-class golf course on a secluded 450-acre resort; 18-holes, 72-par, 7,000 yards and is the only Robert Trent Jones-designed course in The Bahamas. It is open to the public, with the fees being fairly expensive. As of Winter, 2002 the green fees were $70.00, with club rental available for $15. You may be able to negotiate a lower rate, however, depending on course conditions. Caddies may be required, and cost about $20.00. This course was voted, in 1989, as one of the 31 best golf courses in the world!! It is slightly frayed at the edges, but still maintains it top flight quality, as well as an oceanfront hole. Phone: 242-334-6068.
The restaurant here is also reputed to be excellent, although we have had varied experiences with lunch.
There are grocery stores in all of the towns. Bernie’s Big Rock Store in James Cistern has a good selection of supplies and is without a doubt the best place to shop. Sawyer’s Grocery in Hatchet Bay also has a good selection of groceries. To get your major groceries, you may want to plan a trip to Governors Harbour, as there are several grocery stores there, which will give you a better selection. Milk is available normally, but on an intermittent basis you may have to buy shelf milk (UHT).
There is a newsletter, published weekly (except in the off season), which gives a lot of information about places to go and things to do. It lists many of the restaurants on the island, as well as various other places that might be of interest. This newsletter is free, and is distributed at many of the shops and stores on the island.
This is the main road on Eleuthera, and extends along the entire length of the island. It is a two-lane, asphalt road in generally good repair, and is well-traveled everyday. If needed, you can usually get a ride during the day. The local inhabitants are friendly, and offering rides to hitch-hikers is a common practice. In some towns, speed bumps are installed, so use caution around populated areas.
Rental cars are not scarce, but those that are available are through individuals, not companies. Most can be found in Governors Harbour, but Bernard Bethel in Hatchet Bay has rental cars, as does Mr. Cambridge in Gregory Town. You may or may not be asked to fill out paperwork when you get the car. The rates vary between $40.00 -$60.00 per day, with weekly rates available. Don’t be afraid to barter, although you may not be able to get the price reduced very much. These are not the new cars that you are accustomed to in the States, but they’re fairly reliable. Remember that the cars here are very expensive on the island, and parts, maintenance and road conditions all contribute to their high cost.
There are several restaurants nearby, and we urge you to try several of them. Some that we have first hand knowledge about include the following:
THE RAINBOW BAY INN
This one is nearest the Coral Reef Villas, and also has one of the prettiest settings on the island. The restaurant and nautical bar are very attractive, and attract a large following of Americans who live in Rainbow Bay. The food is fairly “pricey”, but very well prepared. Occasionally the service can be slow. The last few times we’ve eaten here, there has been no problem, however. The owners names are Ken and Charlie. We have had very good experiences with them as the inn owners. Wednesdays and Fridays there is normally live entertainment. To get here, just turn left out of the driveway, left onto Cross Island Drive, and right onto the Queen’s Highway. The Rainbow Bay Inn is less than a mile, on the left. Of particular note (and pride on our part), the cook here is also our housekeeper, Theresa Ferguson. Be sure and peek in the kitchen and say “Hi” to her! Also, as of this writing, Monday night is pizza night.
CAMBRIDGE VILLAS RESTAURANT
Basic and good Bahamian food at reasonable prices are the strong points here. This place doesn’t have the same “quaint ambience” as other restaurants, but the food is very good and they have a satellite TV if you start having TV withdrawal pains. This restaurant is located in Gregory Town, about 7-8 miles from Rainbow Bay. It’s just beyond the center of the town on the Queens Highway. Best bets: grouper sandwich, conch chowder, and the mashed potatoes!
MATE AND JENNY’S PIZZA
Located in Palmetto Point, this place serves good pizza, with the specialty being Conch pizza. There is lots of charm here, and the owners are very interesting to talk to. Recommended.
WINDERMERE ISLAND CLUB (closed at last report – check)
If you want to splurge, a visit to Windermere Island is not to be missed. A Sunday buffet is available (coat and tie not required in the afternoon), and is reasonably priced (especially when you compare it to the cost of an evening meal). Call for reservations, and try to be there by 12:30. Evening meals require a reservation and coat and tie. To get here, go south past Governors Harbour, then pass through the hamlets of Palmetto Point and Savannah Sound. Just after passing Savannah Sound, look on the left for the entrance to Windermere Island. There is a three mile drive after you turn. This is the place where the British Royal Family maintains a vacation home, and they visit here quite frequently. The drive from Rainbow Bay is about 25-30 miles.
Opened in the fall of 1989, this restaurant is owned by the renowned (on Eleuthera, at least) singer “Dr. Seabreeze”, (called “Breeze” by his friends). It is located about one mile south of Gregory Town, on the ocean side. The one meal we have had here was very good, and the prices reasonable. We find it best to either call and order in advance, or stop by and order earlier in the day. Otherwise, there is a fairly long wait. Try to find out when Breeze is singing (normally Monday nights), and go at that time.
Without a doubt, the best value on the island. Monica and her sisters serve the finest food at the best price. Typically, a full course dinner (excluding lobster, which I don’t recommend ordering because of the price) with soup, salad, dessert, coffee and tea, will cost about $10.00 – $14.00. She serves hot rolls from her bakery, and provides warm, friendly service. The only negative is that you have to plan ahead to eat here. You must make reservations at least by the morning of the day you plan to eat, and order your meal at that time. I highly recommend that the first time you go to Gregory Town, stop by Monica’s and make reservations for dinner.
This resort area is located about two or three miles north of Gregory Town, on the left. It is a very nice resort, and the prices are moderate. We have only had lunch here, so can’t attest to the quality of the evening meal, but others have told us that it is quite good. On weekends, there is a band at night.
THE BLUE ROOM
This small, “hole in the wall” is located in Governors Harbour. It is just across the street from a very good bakery. This restaurant is highly recommended for lunch. Dont miss the cracked conch.
Pammy has, in my opinion, the best place for lunch on the island. She is a delightful young lady, who really cares about what she serves. Her prices are reasonable, and the food simply cant be beat. The grouper sandwich or cracked conch sandwich are two of her best. Located in Governors Harbour on the main road, just south of the main shopping area.
Located in North Palmetto Point, this restaurant is a little hard to find, but a very pleasant place to have lunch or dinner. Driving south from Governors Harbour, the first small town is Palmetto Point. At the main intersection turn left and go up to the end of the road. There, turn right and the restaurant is on the left.
This is a great place to go for an evening of entertainment. When you go, plan to stay for the show following dinner. It usually starts around 9 pm or so. Reservations must be made for this place. The cost is somewhat steep, at around $35.00/person, but the food is very good and beer and wine are included. There are different food themes each night, so it is best to find out what is being served when you call for reservations. Buffet style, from salads to desserts. Located in Governors Harbour. Note: Club Med suffered major damage during the last hurricane and was closed as of our last visit. The beach is still great however, and a good place to go for a picnic.
ANGELA’S STARFISH CAFE
This restaurant is located on Harbour Island, at the north end of town. A good, inexpensive Bahamian lunch can be had here, where you can either eat indoors or on the patio. Her pork chops and cracked conch are very good!
Located on Harbour Island, this is a resort on the Atlantic ocean side of the island. Ask anyone for directions. A nice lunch is served outdoors on their deck overlooking the beach. A bit pricey, but the food is good, and the setting and view is superb.
CURRENT CLUB (Destroyed in last Hurricane – may be open by now)
Located in the town of Current, this is a very nice place to go for lunch. The cracked conch is very good. There is a chance that, while lunching here, you will see some famous folks. Though she passed away recently, Loretta Lynn, who had a home built here and she and her husband Johnny Cash were often on the island in years past. Also, a famous Bahamian artist named Eddie Minnis lives here, and is often seen painting around the Current Club.
Valentines Dive Center, on Harbour Island, is a full-service dive center (see directions to Dunmore Town in the “Shopping” section). If you want to go on a dive and you’re not certified, they offer a free swimming pool checkout in the morning (around 9:30), and then you can go on a supervised dive that same afternoon (about 1:30). The cost is reasonable ($55.00 for everything, including all gear, as of spring, 1990). Remember, don’t dive unless you’re certified (except at the Valentine course) and always with at least one more person. Highly recommended also is the Remora Bay Club, located on Harbour Island. There is also a scuba dive facility located on Spanish Wells, but I have no reports as to their quality.
Governors Harbour Dive Shop is fairly new, and located on the square in Governors Harbour. Snorkeling gear can be rented here, as well as purchased. Their prices are reasonable, at least for the islands.
Eleuthera Divers, located in Rock Sound, appears to have a very good operation. From what I have heard of it, it is recommended.
There is a limited amount of shopping on Eleuthera, but few real bargains.
Governors Harbour has some gift shops, dress shops, a liquor store, grocery store, bakery, hardware store, and so forth. You can get all the T-shirts that you need there, as well as all the things you’ll need while you’re on the island.
Dunmore Town, located on Harbour Island, offers probably the best shopping on Eleuthera. There are several straw markets, gift shops, restaurants, etc. located in the town. A trip to Harbour Island makes a very enjoyable day trip. To get there, it’s necessary to take a water taxi (about $3.00/person) from the landing just past the North Eleuthera Airport. Drive northwest on the Queen’s highway, past Gregory Town and Upper Bogue and Lower Bogue, and follow the signs to the North Eleuthera Airport. The landing is about 1/2 mile past the airport.
Gregory Town, about 6-7 miles to the northwest, offers a fine bakery, fish market, and a fairly reasonable grocery store. If you must buy souvenirs, the best place to get them is at Monica’s Bakery in Gregory Town. The Island Made Gift Shop is located here, but has a rather limited selection, although what the owner has is nice.
Spanish Wells, another island like Harbour Island, has probably the best shopping if you need “serious stuff” (like for instance the airline lost your luggage). To get there, see the directions under “Towns”.
This is one of the best activities available. All of the beaches offer this activity, with Rainbow Bay Beach offering the best snorkeling for the beginner. There is some snorkeling equipment available at the villa, but, for maximum enjoyment, we hope that you brought your own mask, snorkel and fins, as the ones there may be the wrong size. If you can’t find gear here, you can rent or buy some in Governors Harbour at the Clearwater Dive Shop.
One of the great things about Eleuthera is that you can almost always find calm water in which to snorkel. If the seas are high on the Atlantic side, then they will normally be calm on the Caribbean side, and visa-versa. The Atlantic side provides the most striking coral reefs and largest fish, but is usually not as smooth as the Caribbean side. Any place between the Rainbow Bay Inn and Rainbow Beach is a good place to see all kinds of sea life. An especially good place to enter the water is near the tennis court. There is good viewing in either direction.
The advanced snorkeler may want to try his hand at spear fishing, since the waters around Eleuthera abound in grouper, lobsters and crabs. If you want to try your hand at spear fishing, you might like to get a Hawaiian sling to take with you. This is legal in the Bahamas, but a spear gun is not. If, after you arrive on the island, you decide to try spear fishing, you can purchase a sling at the hardware store or dive shop in Governors Harbour, or perhaps even borrow one from one of the locals. The best quarry to go after, if you’re a beginner, is crabs and lobsters. The crabs are plentiful along the rocks near the Rainbow Bay Inn. Lobsters are more plentiful along the reefs on the Atlantic side, with Banana Beach being a good place to start looking. Primarily, let the weather dictate where you do your looking. If it’s rough, don’t try it, as the lobsters don’t like the rough water any more than people do. Also, be aware that there is a lobster size limit and season, and you can get in trouble if you’re caught with an illegal lobster!
This is best done at Surfers Beach (see “Beaches”). Surf boards can sometimes be rented from Cambridge Villas. You might also inquire at the Rainbow Bay Inn regarding rentals.
The nearest telephone is now located at the Rainbow Inn, although Ken Keene, the owner, discourages its use. The nearest public telephone is located in the town of Hatchet Bay. This phone booth is located on the Queens Highway, near the (closed) Hatchet Bay Yacht Club, and requires quarters. In an emergency, almost all of the full-time Americans on the island have phones, and will let you use one as long as you call collect.
If you want to play tennis, the court is located just north of the Rainbow Bay Inn. The code for the lock on the court changes regularly, but just ask any of the residents for the code, or ask Charlie or Ken at the Rainbow Inn. The lock must be “pushed in” to open. There is no charge to use the court. The court gets busy, so if you plan to play, there is a tag with the name “Cherry” to hang up at the time you want to play. Some of the Americans who live here would love to play with you!
This town is located on Harbour Island. It can be reached by driving north, past Gregory Town, The Bogues, and following the signs a short way past the North Eleuthera airport, to the water taxi landing. A quick boat ride to Harbour Island is fun, but sometimes can be a little damp. Dunmore Town is one of the prettiest towns on Eleuthera, with profuse flowers and quaint homes. There are good restaurants, beaches, and shops here. Plan on about a one-hour drive from Rainbow Bay to the water taxi landing.
This town, the capital of Eleuthera, is located about 8 miles south of the Governors Harbour airport. It is a very pretty town, with a beautiful harbor. There are several good restaurants and shops here. Items that you can get in Governors Harbour include groceries, liquor, gasoline, hardware, fishing tackle, clothes, baked goods, and souvenirs. The drive here from Rainbow Bay will take approximately 25-30 minutes.
This town is the nearest “major” town, and is located about 7 miles northwest. Gregory Town, at first glance, doesn’t have all of the charm of some of the other towns. It is a working town, with only one real inn (Cambridge Villas). However, there is a certain amount of charm here, mainly in the area around the harbor, and in its inhabitants. There are several restaurants here, with the one at Cambridge Villas offering good food at a reasonable price (their conch chowder is among the best on the island). We can’t make any recommendations on the other restaurants (with the exception of Monica Thompson’s), as we haven’t tried them yet.
There is one gift shop here, as well as a very good bakery, Monica’s Bakery (see “BAKERIES”). The Thompson Brothers grocery store is on the main street, and offers a fairly wide variety of goods, with some prices lower than other stores on the island. Gasoline is available at Thompson Brothers also. Watch for pineapples, tomatoes, etc displayed for sale in front of houses. Gregory Town is the capital of the “pineapple area”. The drive from Rainbow Bay to Gregory Town will take about 20 minutes.
HATCHET BAY (ALICE TOWN)
Located about 3 miles NW of Rainbow Bay, this small town is situated around the Hatchet Bay Harbour, and is a quaint village, but with limited shopping. The Hatchet Bay Yacht club, on the main road, is now open for meals, but we haven’t tried it yet. If you want to try your luck at fishing, the dock here is the place to go to charter a boat. Other things available in Hatchet Bay include the medical clinic, a telephone office, a nice Laundromat, gasoline, groceries and a small bakery. There is also an ice cream shop that offers good value, and is fun to both find and patronize.
JAMES CISTERN (“J.C.”)
This small town is probably the first one that you will encounter after you arrive, as it is located about half-way between Coral Reef Villas and the Governors Harbour Airport. J.C. has a telephone office, as well as a small grocery store, bakery, restaurant, and bar. Perhaps the most notable (and rather dubious) claim to fame in James Cistern is the large number of speed bumps (10) along the main road, so use caution as you approach this town. It is a short drive of 5-10 minutes from Coral Reef Villas to J.C..
Located a few miles south of Governors Harbour, Palmetto Point is a small, sleepy town with a couple of restaurants, including a pizza parlor and a nice family restaurant named “La Rastic”. This is a good place to stop for lunch if you’re going south towards the Windermere Club, or Rock Sound. The driving time to Palmetto Point from Rainbow Bay is about 34-45 minutes.
Located on the southern part of Eleuthera, Rock Sound is the center of the most developed part of the island. There is a airport here which serves southern Eleuthera, including the Cotton Bay Club, Windermere Island, and the Winding Bay Club. Rock Sound has the most shopping facilities, but doesn’t really offer much more, shopping-wise, than the smaller towns located nearer to Rainbow Bay. The drive to Rock Sound will take you about an hour or so from Rainbow Bay. There are a few pot-holes along the way, so use caution. The “Blue Hole” (a large salt-water pond in the center of town, usually with lots of fish to be seen), is located here.
Spanish Wells is very picturesque, and is located at the northern end of Eleuthera. This is a well developed area. The local population is unique in that they are all native Caucasians. Spanish Wells is an island of skilled fisherman, and its inhabitants are reputed to be, as a group, the richest people in the Bahamas. There are several good restaurants here, as well as shops and stores. Located on Spanish Wells is a well-run, full service dive shop, also. To get to Spanish Wells, you must take a water taxi from the ferry landing, which is located a short ways past the North Eleuthera Airport (see the directions to Harbour Island). Just follow the signs from the airport, or ask someone in Upper or Lower Bogue for directions. Plan on your trip to the Spanish Wells water taxi landing taking about one hour from Rainbow Bay.
THE BOGUES (UPPER and LOWER)
These small, working-class villages are located north of Gregory Town, and just north of the famous “Glass Window” (the place where only a bridge separates the waters of the deep Atlantic from those of the shallow bay). There are several native restaurants and grocery stores in the Bogues, and these are a good place to stop for a cold drink on your way to or from Harbour Island or Spanish Wells. Watch the road here, as it is somewhat difficult to tell the main road from some of the side roads, and you may find yourself temporarily lost. Don’t panic, though; just turn around, and then ask the first person you see for directions. The driving time to the Bogues is about 45 minutes from Rainbow Bay.
There is a dumpster located on the Queens Highway, near Rainbow Bay Beach. It is not usually locked, but you should have a key to it anyway. If not, just put a closed trash sack next to the dumpster, and the next person to open it will deposit your trash into it.
Conserving water is a major concern on Eleuthera. Formerly, all of our water was rainwater, collected from the roof, and stored in a concrete cistern in the rear of the villas. We now have “city” water, which is still relatively rare in the Bahamas. We have rainwater as a backup though, when occasionally the city water is interrupted (rare these days, however). This water is filtered before it comes into the house, and tastes very good. The pressure is supplied by an electric pump (with the circuit breaker for this pump in the lower unit). Hot water is provided by electric hot water heaters in each unit. If you have problems with any part of this system, please contact Freddie Ferguson.
Keep water bottles in the refrigerator, and keep lots of ice in the freezer. A large plastic bowl or bottle of ice in the freezer is a good idea also. Not only can it be used to keep a cooler “cool”, but in case the power fails, it will help keep the refrigerator cold.
These are a lot of fun, and, if you decide to go to Spanish Wells or Harbour Island, are the only way to get there. If you have a boat load, you can usually haggle over the price, since the fare is per person. Fares run between 3-5 dollars per person, usually.
The climate of Eleuthera is favorable for outdoor activities year round. For extended snorkeling and/or scuba diving during the months of December through April, you may find a lycra suit more comfortable during these water activities.
What to Bring
- Passport (or Birth Certificate) for each Visitor
- Cash (or Travel Checks) for car rental, food and airport fees (US Currency Accepted)
- Warm weather clothing
- Vitamins, supplements, or medication
- Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste
- Telephone Long Distance Card (check with carrier for coverage)
- Canned or frozen food for the first night
- Paper towels (2-3 rolls) – one roll supplied
- Saran wrap (1 box)
- Herbs or spices, jam, coffee filters
- Ziploc Baggies (1 box, gallon size)
- Aluminum foil (1 box)
- Small box of Band-Aids, ointment, etc.
- Insect repellent
- Trash bags (39 gal size, 1 per day)
- Sun tan lotion and sunscreen
- Sun burn ointment (in case you didn’t use enough sunscreen)
Additionally, some items that you might find useful are as follows:
- Masks, snorkels and fins (we regret that we no longer furnish these, but due to misuse and theft, we have stopped replenishing our Villa supply)
- Beach towels and small beach umbrella
- Cassette tapes and/or CDs of your favorite music
- Tennis balls (we have some rackets there)
- Cameras with lots of extra film and special batteries, if needed
- Small Hairdryer
- Flashlights & batteries for each person (for cave exploring, if interested)
- Hats and/or sun visors
- Small cooler to carry to the beach
- Flip flops or sandals (water shoes are a good choice, too)
- Small Telescope for star gazing (fabulous)
- Water sports and fishing gear
- Cell Phone (check with your carrier)
- GPS Equipment (good for exploring – detailed maps are in each unit)