When I told the hubs I wanted to go to the Bahamas, he immediately thought of the touristy town of Nassau and the big pink Atlantis hotel. With Covid still a nuisance and urge to travel again, we chose Eleuthera, 1 of 700 islands in the Bahamas Archipelago. Eleuthera, which is the Greek word meaning “free” with a population of approx 11K, 110 miles long and 1-2 miles wide. Full of wide-open spaces to explore and history to learn.
Things you need to know: Pack fewer clothes and more necessities. Make sure you have cash! And get ready to pay…since most things are imported from the mainlands, the price of most items is very high and not consistent from place to place.
Day 1: Is Travel worth noting? A day of masks, flying, crowds in a Florida airport…Not really! Until, We hopped on a pink plane, wheels up, and started gazing over the 50 shades of blue water and hundreds of little tiny islands. Entering the smallest airport we’ve ever walked into, about the size of a bedroom. Not knowing what to expect, we drove down narrow roads with little to no street signs for direction and still not 100% sure we saw a speed limit sign. A yellow bird marker was a sign that we were almost here. Pulling into “wish” we were greeted with 3 acres of rolling hills covered in palm trees with the blue of the Atlantic (or Jamaican, as Cy called it) seas peeking through. Cy and Willie jumped to taste a fresh coconut and the softness of the pink sand was nothing like we felt before kinda like cotton candy between your toes.
Day 2: Itching to see what this island has in store for us, We are ready to explore. Our abode, while it faced the Atlantic side the winds made it a little tough for the kiddos to enjoy. No need to worry! Ten Bay Beach was a hop, skip and jump away from the house on the Caribbean Side (or as Cy called it, Dutch. Bless him). A car is a MUST! Thankfully, we were able to rent one from the housekeeper, Sue. The rental car places are scarce and reviews are not up to par. Did I mention, there are little to no road signs or Waze didn’t hold up their end of the deal either! Other than Queen’s highway, the roads are very rocky and one way. Nice to know you can go for miles and not pass another car. With 4 adults, spotty cell service, we were led by locals to anywhere we needed to go. We had lunch at Tippy, which I would highly recommend! Holy Moly! I had the Tuna and melt in your mouth good!!! Drinks and the view aren’t too shabby either! A little tip we learned there, while outside eating sprinkle pepper around your plate to keep the flies away!! A quick walk on the beach outside of Tippy’s shared the same pink sand and even a few pieces of sea glass embedded into the rocks. Back to wish, Long walk down the beach, pretty sure there wasn’t a person in sight but us. Willie up a palm tree, Snorkeling, small little cove, and sea urchins to point out. Back over to Ten Bay for a beverage and a fabulous place to chase another sunset. Best purchase ever, face snorkels! Cy quickly knew where to look for starfish! Even SS viewed a few tropical fish! What a day!
Day 3: How could today top yesterday? Back on the road we go, headed North. Remember, the road signs…Wait there aren’t any!! While looking for Hatchet Bay, down another narrow path, stray pups led us to Sweetings Pond another beautiful sight to see. Finally! A sign, Queen’s Bath!! All recommendations mentioned wearing real shoes. We didn’t listen, flops were NOT a good idea. We hiked down and all around during low tide. This momma wouldn’t have let her babies down this rocky path during high tide. The limestone rocks seemed to be a razor blade’s second cousin, not to mention the hungry waves popping overlooking for cute kids to gobble up. Nonetheless, the salty pools were perfect for floating and viewing sea creatures. Pickle showed interest in wanting to cliff jump…say a prayer for my nerves in the future. You know this Momma squashed her dreams for today. Crossing the road led us to another sandy beach, more than 50 shades of blue water, starfish, and a great place to fly the drone. Half a mile north is the famous glass water bridge. Kiddos expected a “Glass Bridge” instead it is a man-made, single-lane bridge where the navy blue Atlantic Ocean meets the calm Caribbean waters. Named after a painting by Winslow Homer in 1885 of the original stone-arched bridge which over time washed away by hurricanes. Moving on….another long dirt path and a sign pointing right led us to Sapphire Hole. Kiddos and I enjoyed cheering on Jason, Willie, and Jayden while they took the plunge! One last stop before making our way back to wish, Preacher’s Cave. I’ll save you the history lesson for another day…but, I will give you a few amazing facts. English Colonists shipwrecked in the mid-1600s and eventually made this particular spot the first church in the Bahamas. However, after scientific investigations, this particular spot was a prehistoric burial ground for the Lucayan people…and one burial was noted to be a human sacrifice. WAIT WHAT….Holy Moly! Ok, Back to our vaca!
Day 4: Not an island of grocery stores and fast food. Eleuthera Island Farm was a great stop for local veggies, sauces/dips, plants, liquor, and more! Little farmer’s market shopping and back to our favorite Ten Bay Beach! Not a second was wasted…Cy made it about waist-deep in the bay to found the largest starfish we have ever seen!! A quick lunch back at Wish and the calm Atlantic waters allowed us to bring out the kayaks for a hot 5 minutes. More fresh coconuts, a grilled dinner from the farm, and an early night sealed day number 4.
Day 5: five already????? Shew! Time for another outing! Up and At em’ This time even further north! Made it to the water taxi and the sweetest Amish man who directed parking, noticed the large amounts of smoke flowing from our tailpipe…(we’ll deal with that later). We all hop on a water taxi to Spanish Wells. OMG…all the heart eyes as we made our way over. The streets were packed with old, historic, beach homes! Big front porches, pastel shutters, decorative corbels…Heaven! OK, OK…I’m off the path from our adventure. Jason’s brother, Willie found a local where he rented a very nice boat and a couple of fishing rods for our crew. Ricky, who was- I assumed the head dog, took us by golf cart to the boat…but, first a pit stop at the local bar for a beverage or two for the boat ride. We pulled in and to my right was a yellow school bus with an island painted theme on the side and tropical flowers that brushed the tires in the wind. He nudged my side and said, that’s the kitchen! My wife works there. He hopped out of the golf cart and knocked! I heard her holler for him to come inside! Not, now…I have people with me, just wanted to say hello! The few words that they exchanged spoke to me differently. The feeling is hard to explain but reminded me of the slower lifestyle they live. Carrying on, We all hoped in the boat and ventured over to “Pig Island”. Did you know that pigs are natural swimmers and eat hot dogs! Word on the street is that pirates used to travel with live animals for food and when anchoring in the shallow waters of “Pig Island” they released the pigs with all intentions of making it back and never did!!! Shhhh, what is total old wives’ tale. You can share the story too! I won’t correct you! Back on the boat, more adventure waits… If you choose to be your own captain make sure you download the Navionics app. Very helpful! And don’t forget to watch for rocks/coral. The path that took from pig island to the next the waters were pretty choppy and windy. We found our way over to the Sandbar restaurant on Russels Island. Great food and Drinks. Bellies are full and the boys are inching to fish! We went from 8 feet of water to 3,000 feet within a matter of minutes. Lines got wet, but unfortunately not much action…using ballyhoo for bait, Cy reeled in a 3 1/2-4 foot barracuda. Those teeth…Nope! They just look mean! Strolling along and becoming low tide we landed on the flattest little island. Time for us to get out and stretch our legs, Pickle and I only needed to walk a few steps to find handfuls of sand dollars some of the most beautiful conch shells I’ve ever seen, many of them still hosting wildlife. Time is running out and without being familiar with these open seas, we headed back to the marina. Next up! Covid test, Not too exciting! I know, but what I thought was interesting was the lady in the doctor’s office also worked for the local dentist and OBGYN. Let’s just say, I understand why the smaller islands are so strict on mask-wearing and hand washing. I wouldn’t want to get sick here. A short golf cart ride around the little town from Ricky, who has lived on Spanish Wells most of his life and his Great, Great Grandparents have the two oldest graves on the island. We asked him what he does when a hurricane comes? His response was, He hides in his locker. We didn’t ask any questions! Water Taxi back to Eleuthera praying our smoking car cranks. A couple of quarts of oil later we finally pull back into wish. Exhausted from our travels, fend for yourself dinner and bed!
Day 6: Much needed bumming morning for this crew! Lunch and back over to Ten Bay for a little swim. Rain and Clouds quickly ran us back to the house! Drinks under the hut and dinner plans were made. Might as well dress up…Haven’t used a lick of makeup this entire week. We head a few miles south to Fish Bone. Follow the signs they said, Remember no road signs. Just little “fish” signs nailed to electric poles. We may or may not have taken a wrong turn a time or two down some heavily wooded paths. Finally, we found it! Not much to choose from on the menu, the only complaint was two of the fish dishes were served with quite a few bones. Other than that the food was very delish! The signature drinks were creative and tasty. Small chat with the waitress, who was originally from Canada informed us that her husband runs a small fishing charter for tourists and she runs the restaurant. Adjacent to the bar and grill across the Savannah Sound was a small wooded private island you can access this island by bridge, Well that is if you can get past the guardsman. Windermere Island has hosted many known names, to say the least. Princess Diana and Prince Charles honeymooned in 1981 on this island that is only 5 miles long. If you have the extra funds do believe you can rent Mariah Carey’s house, Sea Lilly for only $30,000 a week! After that info and a rainstorm it’s time to call it a night….or well, at least that was the plan. As we lay our sleepy heads down, there goes the power! Ok, y’all! It was dark. While I move the kiddos into the living room and light a few candles I walked outside to see if there was any light. No light, No moon, No stars…PITCH BLACK. Couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Tad Nerve-racking!
Day 7: With the weather still not on our side, we decided to drive south. First stop, Ocean Hole, rumor has it it is bottomless! Can’t prove it, but can tell you that the fish love bread and we even got to see a blue tang! Just around the corner was Cathedral Caves a short walk, long tree roots, peeks of sunshine, and a cave top full of bats. Heading back and pulling off the side of the road to take a walk on Rock Sound. This windy afternoon has churned up the ocean, as the clouds started to break the Carolina blue started to show! Back to wish to make the best of our last night! A short walk on the pink sands outside of the house Cy quickly discovered what he piped up to say was a German wine bottle. Damn if I didn’t google the markings and that boy was right…guess he learned that on youtube? My wine comes from a box! We couldn’t miss our last sunset at Ten Bay! Cotton Candy Skies, starfish, cartwheels, and sand dollars made it the perfect last night!
Day 8: Time to trek it back to the states! But first, A walk through Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, the best bird eyes view of the island without taking flight. A short message stuffed into that German wine bottle and tossed over the glass water bridge, Lunch, and hopped on a plane to Fort Lauderdale for the night. We stuffed our faces with a much-needed Mexican Dinner, strolled back to the hotel watching fancy sports cars speed by and star gazed at the yachts that were legit 5-6 times the size of our home. Big fluffy pillows, Starbucks, and an early morning flight let us back home.
First of many adventures to come by this GCrew in 2021.