We were looking for a quiet Caribbean vacation with calm, clear waters and limited interactions with other people. We found it on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. A long, thin island of only 100 miles in length it features rolling waves on the Atlantic side and endlessly clear, shallow waters on the Caribbean side. It’s a quick flight from Miami to the island as it has its own airport.
Find a place to stay
Places to stay are sporadic on the island. There are few houses and inhabited areas, with much untamed area in between. We rented a house named “De Villa” located on the Atlantic side just 10 minutes south of Governor’s Harbour Airport in what is considered North Eleuthera. The house has amazing views of the ocean right outside the back door, with the beach accessible down a couple flights of wooden stairs. The sand is tinged slightly pink and fine, perfect for spending hours building sand castles.
Splash in the crystal blue water on the Caribbean side
We ventured to the Caribbean side of the island to a beach next to a restaurant called Cocodimama’s, where we later returned to enjoy a nice dinner. The water on the Caribbean side is amazing…it’s clear, extremely calm, and has white sand beaches. We stumbled across another group of kids and our kids quickly joined them spending hours building elaborate sand castle mazes complete with sea urchins and starfish.
We rented a car to be able to venture around the island, but be forewarned that they drive on the left-hand side of the road. However, the car we rented also had the steering wheel on the left side of the car. So, imagine driving an American car in England. It was not easy, and very uncomfortable for the driver as you could not see how close you really were to passing vehicles. This is probably my husband’s most memorable part of the trip.
Enjoy island time
With limited inhabited areas comes limited grocery and restaurant choices, many of which close relatively early. In fact, most of the commercial buildings look like nothing more than homes. Do not expect a bustling city center or night life on the island. This place is very much on “island time.” The locals are in no hurry and actually not particularly motivated. I found the book titled “Eleuthera: The Island Called Freedom” among the reading material available at our rental house. Published in 1966, it shares in-depth about the laid-backness of the local population to the point of being a fault. An example in the book is that a restaurant, located right on the ocean, closed because the chef could not depend on the fishermen to provide and deliver seafood regularly to the restaurant as continually promised. Our own experience on the island confirmed this when we met a college-age woman working at one of the small trinket shops who had never once been off this 100-mile island, even to another island in the Bahamas. It just never seemed to occur to her to do so.
Dip your toes in the world-famous Pink Sands Beach
To add a little excitement to our trip, we took a water taxi off the northeast side of Eleuthera to Harbour Island. This island is famous for its beautiful Pink Sands Beach that stretches nearly the entire Atlantic side. You can only traverse this island via golf cart, as cars are not allowed. The main city center, Dunmore Town, is a beautiful array of colonial homes painted Caribbean colors. We sat at the dock watching conch fishermen bring in their catch.
Even though Eleuthera is very laid-back, we did manage to find adventure. Within an hour of arriving at the house, we lost our 3-year old son, when unbeknownst to us, he ventured up to the neighboring untamed property and got lost in the brush while the rest of us were on the beach. We also managed to lock ourselves out of the house one night and had to send one of the kids in through the window to unlock the door. Plus, my children adopted a stray island dog during our visit and promptly named her “Bella.” Seemed an appropriate name I guess.
So, if you’re looking for a quiet Caribbean vacation with calm, clear waters, extraordinary views, and limited interactions with other people…Eleuthera might just be the place.
Location: 100-mile long Bahamian island east of Nassau.
Travel: Short flight from Miami to the island. Eleuthera has its own airport.
Side of the road they drive on: Left.
Beach characteristics: Beaches on Atlantic side have rolling waves. Beaches on Caribbean side are calm, shallow, and clear.
Adjacent island to visit via water taxi: Harbour Island.