One of Bahamas’ most popular islands, after Providence Island (where the capital Nassau is located) and Paradise Island (where Atlantis hotel is), is called Eleuthera (pronounced Ell-oo-thra). I went to Eleuthera in November 2014 and it is a beautiful island with great people (much like the rest of Bahamas 🙂 ). Eleuthera is home to the famous Harbour Island (known for it’s “Pink Sands Beach”).
How to Get There
Eleuthera is located about a 15 minute flight east of Nassau. There are flights everyday by Bahamasair from Nassau to North Eleuthera Airport (ELH), or you can take a ferry there but I think the schedule is very limited. There are also direct flights to Eleuthera from Fort Lauderdale, however it is on small propeller planes which some people might be nervous about taking.
Where to Stay
You can decide whether to stay right on Harbour Island (locals refer to it as “Briland”) or on mainland Eleuthera. When I planned my trip, I looked online at all the hotels available on Harbour Island and mainland, and the hotel that stood out the most was definitely The Cove Eleuthera. The other hotels I saw were more old-fashioned and a bit dated, and even though they looked worse than the Cove, were more expensive just because they were on Harbour Island. For the Cove Eleuthera, I loved the modern architecture, the story behind it, how it wasn’t too big, had good reviews about food including fresh sushi availability, beaches in coves so the water was not as rough, paddle boarding, etc.! They also have a wide range of what type of room you can book and different promos, so you don’t have to go crazy over budget 🙂 (but know it is not all inclusive so you pay for everything you eat and drink on top of the room rate). It has become of one the top hotels (if not the very top) hotel I’ve stayed at! I would recommend it to anyone going to visit Eleuthera. Even if you decide not to stay there, you should go by for a drink or lunch/dinner.
The Cove Eleuthera
The Cove is a creation of Sidney Torres IV, who came to Eleuthera to visit over 18 years ago and fell in love with the island. He always thought of having a home there but eventually decided to create a hotel instead, to be able to share it with everyone else. He bought the older and outdated Cove in 2012 when he was just 38 years of age, and after a redesign to how he would have wanted his own personal home, he reopened it in early 2013. He lived on property and it was his baby – and you can tell. The staff/service was absolutely perfect and every little detail was taken care of. You can tell he had his own input in everything and made sure it was perfect for his guests. It was as if you were going to a private villa that he owned and he was your personal guest! (More info here)
Also, the story behind Sidney Torres IV is interesting. He is from New Orleans and was Lenny Kravitz’ personal assistant back in the day (Lenny is a famous and proud permanent resident of Eleuthera, and his house is next to the Cove!). Over time, Sidney made his money owning a trash management company that even helped clean up the French Quarters in New Orleans when hurricane Katrina hit.
Unfortunately, Sidney announced that he sold the Cove property to a hotel management company in April 2015! I really hope that they maintain the standards that Sidney put into the place, as I would love to return and expect same level of quality as our first time!
Amazing things about the Cove Eleuthera:
- Never that busy. We went during for a week over the American Thanksgiving weekend and there was hardly anyone there even then. It feels like you have the whole property to yourself! I think it might be because it is too hard for people to get to, or people just don’t know about it yet.
- The food was amazing. Everything on the menu was great (and menu did change over the week), and you can request any custom dishes from the chef since it’s not that busy. If they have all the ingredients, they will make it for you! They also have a sushi bar and the sushi was fresh! The drinks/wine selection was also very good.
- They have complimentary high quality paddle boards, kayaks, snorkel equipment, etc.
- There is a staff member full-time on each beach, and they set up the beach lounge chairs/umbrella for you, bring you towels, and refill your glass with ice water even without asking. If you want to order food/drinks off the menu, you raise a little flag they give you and they come to you. You don’t have to move all day!
- The hotel is not far from the airport, and you can prearrange their property’s Range Rover to come pick you up (I think it was around $150 round trip when we went)
- Each villa type is unique and you can get ones that are right on the beach, a few steps from the beach, etc. They have a good layout and description of each unit on their website.
What to do There
- Visit the “Glass Window Bridge” which is a man-made bridge that was once a naturally formed bridge (but it was destroyed in a hurricane). From the bridge, you can see the amazing contrast between the dark blue Atlantic Ocean churning away on one side and the calm turquoise waters of Caribbean Sea on the other.
- Visit Harbour island – take a car to where the ferry service is to take you across. It is less than $10 to get across and takes a couple of minutes. Once on Harbour Island, you can get a golf cart rental for the day (which is definitely worth it) and you can use that to get everywhere around the Island. While here you can:
– Go to Pink Sands Beach. It is the longest beach on the ocean side of Harbour Island and it is quite wavy, and it is known for kite surfing. Note that all the beach sand is quite pink in Eleuthera – I was expecting some extra-pink sand due to the name, but it is not that noticeable I thought.
– See the Harbour Island Lone Tree. It is said that hurricane Andrew in 1992 moved this tree to the middle of this shallow water area and has remained there for many years. If you go during high tide versus low tide you can really see how the water level changes in this area.
– Drive around in your golf cart to look around Dunmore Town – this is the city on Harbour Island
- Visit The Hot Tubs/Queen’s Baths. This is an area on mainland Eleuthera where waves from the rugged Atlantic Ocean side wash over and create natural pools. These round depressions, known locally as “moon pools”, are natural rock formations that fill with water from the sweeping waves—the water in the pools is clear and warmed by the sun, creating a bath-like temperate pool. Also once you get there and are looking at the pools, keep walking towards the main depression – there is one area with the bigger/deeper pools, and you can easily miss it if you just look at the first smaller pools and think that’s it.
- Drive to the southern most point of main Eleuthera Island to visit one of the best beaches – “Lighthouse beach”
- There are many more activities to do – visit Gregory Town, Preacher’s Cave, Governor’s Harbour (Surfer’s Beach, Hatchet Bay Caves). I plan to do these next time I go to visit as we spent most of our days relaxing at our amazing hotel 🙂