Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eleuthera Visitors Guide

On the heels of my tell-all reliving of our favorite vacation of all time, I thought it appropriate to actually tell you about the where, what, when, and whys of this special piece of earth.

Eleuthera, which means "Free" in Greek, is a 110 mile long island, no wider than one mile long, due east of Nassau. It is considered an "Out Island" because it is not one for high volume tourism. I can't tell you why.

Christopher Columbus is thought to have first reached Eleuthera before sailing farther to the West Indies. The original inhabitants of Eleuthera, the Arawak Indians, were "removed" from the island in the early 1500's to work in the mines of Hispaniola. None remained and the island lay uninhabited for 100 + years.

A group of settlers from Bermuda, seeking freedom from social, religious, and economic persecution, settled in Preacher's Cave on the north end of the island. They struggled for many years until these "Eleutherian Adventurers" eventually resettled on Harbor Island or Spanish Wells, both small islands a short boat ride from the main Eleuthera island.

There are many places to stay if you would like to see the island for yourself. Continental, Delta, and American Airlines fly directly into Governor's Harbor, the capital, or into North Eleuthera. The flights connect through Miami or Fort Lauderdale and are not overly expensive. (We bought our tickets this year, on American (shhh!), because the schedule and price was better. Leaving from San Antonio, all the way to North Eleuthera, with two layovers in Dallas and Miami, cost us $520 per person, including all fees and taxes.)

Last time we went we stayed in the Pink House. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and around 1200 sq. ft. It is not frilly or fancy but comfortable and well-stocked with just about anything you need. Except food. You have to buy your own food but who cares! Restaurants on the island are few and far between and cost be very expensive, especially for our family of five. We can buy the fixings for peanut butter and honey sandwiches and be set for a week! (Though you don't need to go to that extreme. The stores, though small like convenience stores, are well stocked, a bit pricey, but much cheaper than restaurants. Just buy like a local.)

The Pink House has two twins and one queen bed so it really only sleeps 4. But when Mandy, Wag and her two boys come in February to stay with us it will sleep 9! We're just going to bring blow-up beds and an egg crate for the big kids on the floor.

Oh, and Wallaces' Mom's Car will also be carrying all 9 of us. Three across the front, three in the back, three on laps.

EASY, Wallaces' Mom's Car!!!

If you want to go to a resort where there is a restaurant, pool, bar, and more activities, The Cove is a wonderful getaway. It's not overly pricey and you can stay per night. Most of the cottages are one bed/one bath, and are stylishly appointed. (Check out their website for more details. They may have 2 bedroom efficiency suites.)

There is a nice restaurant on the property at which we always enjoy a great breakfast. They serve lunch and dinner too, and have a fun bar to socialize with some travelers and locals. (The Pink House were we stay is only a short walk through the woods from The Cove and Jerry, ever the socializing type, loves to go hang out at the bar swapping stories on slow, quiet nights.)

The property managers of The Cove are terrific. They have been there for years, raising their two teenage sons in the most spectacular place on Earth. It's really something to see a 16 year old boy, man, yell, "OK! Bye Dad! I'm going to pick up my friend and go fishing!" as he jumps in a fishing boat and roars away into the sunset. Talk about freedom?! (Click on the link to read about these same boys saving a whale!!!!)

The Cove can also arrange for a rental car and off-site excursions if you are interested. They can do those things for you even if you don't stay there.

They have a private beach, many hammocks to lose yourselves in, and peace by the bushel. We love this place.

Or...if you would like to go hard core, you can stay in The Cay House. It's owned by a surfing guy we met and it is the most glorious house on the planet. If you could pull from my brain everything I dream of in a house, it would be this one. (We have not stayed here, but toured it just before it's construction completion. It was like stepping into my best dream. Seriously.....)

But this awesomeness will cost you around $4500 per week and you will have to supply the food. It does sleep 8-10 so you could split the cost with some friends.

It's on Gaulding Beach so you can go out your door and snorkel, scuba dive, kill you some lion fish for dinner, pick sand dollars, or burn yourself to a crisp.

And at the end of the day, come home to your deck and sit and look at this view.

(This house is my first purchase when I win the lottery. Or you can get it for me for Christmas. Thanks.)

If you would like more details or advice about visiting Eleuthera, email me and I'll tell you what I know.

Once you go, your life may never be the same again.