My 10 favorite jaw-dropping island adventures on Eleuthera, the Bahamas
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One of the reasons I first started coming to the Bahamas for my Travel Therapy TV show was to discover some unique, unspoiled off-the-beaten-path islands where you could truly disconnect to reconnect, relax and rejuvenate.
There are a staggering 700 islands in the Bahamas spanning more than five thousand miles. The government of the Bahamas says only 30 of the islands are inhabited, and of those, a little more than a dozen islands have emerged as top travel destinations.
So, how did I pick Eleuthera to visit?
On my “must have” checklist, I wanted breathtaking beaches, crystal clear turquoise water, friendly people, great food and unique travel experiences. I found all of that and so much more on the wild and wonderful island of Eleuthera.
Eleuthera, 200 miles from Florida, is 110 miles long and just two miles wide with a population of around 11,000 people. Originally settled by British Loyalists in the 1700s there’s a rich history to go with Eleuthera’s unique landscape of pink sand beaches, pristine coral reefs, jagged cliffs, lush tropical forests, and miles and miles of pineapple fields.
Eleuthera and the incredibly friendly local people quickly captured my heart. Eleuthera is where I go when I’m looking to recharge my imagination. The name Eleuthera is the Greek word for free and that’s exactly how I feel when I’m on Eleuthera, free from all the world’s troubles, free to appreciate all of nature’s gifts that are here, and free to slow down enough so I can enjoy it all.
To help you also fall in love with this fascinating island here are 10 of my favorite things to do on Eleuthera. Every one of these adventures, except for Daddy Joe’s restaurant, is free, and trust me all of these top things to do in Eleuthera are priceless!
1. The Sapphire Blue Hole
This Sapphire Blue Hole looks like a dream, and it’s one that can come true for anyone who visits Eleuthera. This is something that’s always on my list of top things to do when traveling there. This famous Eleuthera natural phenomenon is an underwater cave filled with amazingly clear Sapphire blue water. It reminds me of the cenotes I visited in Mexico’s Yucatan. Making this even more exciting, to get into this blissful blue hole you have to jump off a cliff that’s about 20-feet high, and to get back out, you have to climb a knotted rope. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
Insider tip: Make sure you have someone above on the cliff ready to take some pictures and video for you. This is one Eleuthera adventure you’ll want to capture on camera so you can relive this incredible feeling over and over again once you get home.
2. Eleuthera’s ocean swings
Eleuthera’s ocean swings off Russell Island are a new jaw-dropping adventure in the Bahamas that you can only get to by boat because these swings are literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean all by themselves. When I heard about these new ocean swings and saw a picture of them, I knew I had to experience this. But let me tell you, pictures can’t even come close to showing how magical this setting really is. When I say jaw-dropping, I mean it! All you need to do is anchor your boat, jump into the water and wade out to your swing for an experience you’ll never forget. The water was only about 3-feet high when I was there and the sand is silky soft. I dare you not to feel like a kid again when you start swinging. I found myself laughing with pure joy as I soaked up the amazing scenery and everything else in the world was forgotten.
Insider tip: It should go without saying but with my dermatologist’s voice ringing in my ear, I’m going to say it anyway. For all of your Eleuthera island adventures be sure to protect yourself with a lot of sunscreen and reapply often, especially when you’re on the water like this. Better to be safe than lobster-colored and sorry.
3. The Queens Bath
The Queens Bath on Eleuthera is another natural wonder that you don’t want to miss experiencing. I’m always mesmerized watching the waves from the powerful Atlantic Ocean crash into the rugged rocks and spill over into naturally carved out “hot tubs” as the locals like to call them. The sun then quickly warms this shallow water creating an ideal place to relax where you can discover some sea life and shells that wash up with the waves. I always recommend wearing tennis shoes so you can navigate around the rocks and thoroughly explore this fascinating area.
Insider tip: The locals in Eleuthera wanted me to be sure to share that if you visit The Queens Bath, never stand too close to where the waves are crashing on the rocks. The huge unpredictable waves can quickly catch you off guard and take you out to sea and that’s not the kind of adventure you’re wanting to have here!
4. The Glass Window Bridge
Often called “the narrowest place on earth” Eleuthera’s famous Glass Window Bridge along Queen’s Highway is only about 30 feet wide at its narrowest point. The giant rock formation that surrounds the bridge is visually stunning because on the west side you can see the calm crystal-clear turquoise water of the Caribbean and on the east side you find the rugged deep navy blue Atlantic Ocean. If you want to get out anywhere to take pictures, be very careful. Just like with the Queens Bath the waves can be very unpredictable so be mindful at all times so you’re not swept away. When the waves are too high you can’t drive across the man-made bridge so that’s something to also beware of.
Insider tip: Keep an eye out when you fly into Eleuthera in case you can catch The Glass Window Bridge from your plane because this sight is even more spectacular from above.
5. Preacher’s Cave
Eleuthera is an island rich in history, and one place you shouldn’t miss is Preacher’s Cave. It’s about ten miles outside the Bluff settlement. In 1647 this is where Captain William Sayle and his group of English Puritans found refuge after being shipwrecked at the Devil’s Backbone, a shallow treacherous reef that has sunk countless ships over the years. Captain Sayle’s group is believed to be some of the first British residents in the Bahamas who later became known as Eleutheran Adventurers. The Preachers Cave earned its name when it was later used as a church by Captain Sayle and his group.
Insider tip: At the entrance of the cave don’t miss seeing the placard that says “William Sayle shipwrecked at Devil Backbone found refuge here. Sermons held 100 years.”
6. Tay Bay Beach
Just steps from Preacher’s Cave you’ll find Tay Bay Beach, one of my favorite beaches on Eleuthera and that’s saying a lot because there are more than 120 beaches on the island. Secluded and peaceful, Tay Bay Beach is perfect for taking a swim if you want to cool off after your sightseeing. You can also do a relaxing stroll on the beach where you often won’t see another person in sight.
Insider tip: Right offshore is the section of Devil’s Backbone that shipwrecked Captain Sayle and his group that ended up using Preacher’s Cave for shelter. This legendary reef off of Northern Eleuthera is now a snorkeler’s dream.
7. Gaulding Cay Beach
Another hidden gem beach in Eleuthera you shouldn’t miss is Gaulding Cay Beach. The water is so clear here it’s ideal for swimming and snorkeling where you can see all kinds of colorful fish. If you’ve always wanted to visit a private island here’s your chance. When the tide is low enough you can walk over to Gaulding Cay, a tiny speck of an island that’s picture-perfect.
8. Daddy Joe’s Restaurant
Just across the street from Gaulding Cay Beach and down the road from The Glass Window Bridge is one of my favorite places to eat in Eleuthera, Daddy Joe’s restaurant. The restaurant serves up mouthwatering local Bahamian food including my favorite Shelia’s Fish Your Way where you can get Grouper (in season) or Mahi Mahi cooked to your liking, blackened, coconut crusted or grilled. The Daddy Joe’s Burger is another local favorite with its 8-ounce Angus patty and special guava barbecue sauce. If you’re looking for a cocktail, Daddy Joe’s has some fun ones like the Bahamian favorite Goombay Smash, the Dizzy Izzy or the Tropical Storm Shaken Daiquiri. The names alone will make you want to say “cheers!”
Insider tip: The owner, Tiffany Johnson, is lovely, and in addition to her fantastic Daddy Joe’s restaurant there’s also a charming boutique on the property you’ll want to check out.
9. Day Trip to Harbour Island
Eleuthera and Harbour Island are almost always mentioned together and that’s because if you visit one you really need to visit the other! Harbour Island is also one of my favorite islands in the world. It’s easy to visit from North Eleuthera where you can just hop on a water taxi that will get you to Harbour Island’s historic Dunmore Town in five minutes. Once on the island, everyone rents golf carts to get around because this quaint, tiny island is just three miles long and a mile wide.
For decades Harbour Island has been a laid-back playground for billionaire CEOs who cruise in on their superyachts and top celebrities who love this authentic hidden escape. Legendary for its spectacular pink sand beaches, Harbour Island (Briland to its residents) will charm you with pastel-colored houses, delicious restaurants, unique local shops, and luxurious boutique resorts. I love staying at Romora Bay Resort and Marina where the staff makes you feel like family. It’s the best place on Harbour Island to catch the sunset, have happy hour and enjoy live music at Romora Bay’s Sunsets Restaurant.
Insider tip: For a quick tasty bite to eat don’t miss Queen Conch restaurant for the freshest conch salad I’ve ever tasted. You can order from a cute stand for takeout or enjoy the new casual restaurant that’s right on the water that also serves up other fresh fish favorites. If you see the friendly owners Lavon and Richard Percentie, that I always love talking to and hearing their stories and history of the Island, tell them Travel Therapy’s Karen Schaler sent you and that I hope to see them again soon!
10. Day Trip to Spanish Wells
Spanish Wells is another island you should make time to experience while in Eleuthera. On Spanish Wells, you also get around by golf cart to enjoy the beach and a handful of restaurants and shops. Also popular, taking a boat trip from Spanish Wells. This is the best way to see the surrounding area including Russel Island and Pig Island where you can see the swimming pigs or do some snorkeling and diving with several shipwrecks just off Northern Eleuthera.
Insider Tip: Be sure to ask about the lobster fishing out of Spanish Wells and see the lobster boats. Spanish Wells is the lobster capital of the Bahamas and is the main supplier of rock lobster for the Red Lobster restaurant chain in the U.S.
Top Things to Know when Traveling to Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells in the Bahamas
The Bahamian government has just changed COVID-19 restrictions. For the most recent changes, check out my experience traveling to the Bahamas.
Best time to visit
Peak season in the Bahamas is from December to April with March seeing a lot of travelers for spring break, so expect to see the most people and highest prices during this time. During peak season the weather is lovely — not too hot, not too cold — averaging around the mid-70s. It can cool down in the evening, so be sure to bring a light sweater or jacket, especially if you’re going out on a boat. After mid-April prices start to drop and you can see discounts of up to 60%, but this is also when you see the most rain and storms so plan your trip accordingly. I also talked to a lot of people from Florida who like to bring their yachts in June and July and say it’s the best-kept secret to visit this time of year.
Money, power and time
The Bahamian dollar is the currency in the Bahamas, but the US dollar is accepted everywhere. The conversion rate is 1:1. Make sure you have cash with you as not everywhere takes credit cards. The islands use the same standard voltage as the U.S. — 120 volt and the frequency is 60 Hz so you don’t need a voltage converter when visiting the Bahamas, which is in the Eastern time zone.
How to get to Eleuthera
A few years ago, you had limited options if you wanted to fly to Eleuthera from the U.S., but thankfully that has all changed. Now you can fly direct to Eleuthera (ELH) on Delta out of Atlanta (ATL) or American Airlines out of Miami (MIA) and Charlotte (CTL) and Silver Airways out of Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Be sure to book your flight early during high season because seats book up fast.
The final tip for visiting Eleuthera
What I’ve always loved about Eleuthera is that you can do as little or as much as you like and truly feel like you’ve found your own little slice of paradise. Whether you want to walk for miles on stunning powder-soft sand beaches without seeing another soul or spend your days exploring all the adventures Eleuthera has to offer, this Bahamian Island is a Travel Therapy escape of the very best kind.
Featured photo by Karen Schaler/traveltherapytrips.com.
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