I'll be completely honest, I wasn't expecting much from Eleuthera. Part of that was because I hadn't really heard anything about it, and partly because we just saw it as a stepping stone to either Nassau or the Exumas. I am certainly happy to have been proven wrong!
Though it's hard to tell unless you look closely on the charts, Eleuthera (though also the name of the main island), is an archipelago made up of the main island as well as Russell Island (upon which sits Spanish Wells), Harbour Island, Current Island, Royal Island, and Windermere Island (plus, like most of The Bahamas, countless smaller cays). When people (including us in this post) refer to Eleuthera, they are often referring to the whole archipelago that makes up this region rather than only the main island.
The name Eleuthera means 'free' in ancient Greek and is known for beautiful turquoise waters, pink sand beaches, some of the best surf in the Bahamas, gorgeous sunsets, and geological wonders. We have had an amazing time here and have been able to explore some amazing places. I'll start at the top and give you a quick run down of the what we've been doing while here.
We crossed over to the northern part of Eleuthera after a long day's sail from The Abacos and entered through Egg Island Cut. We spent our first night at Royal Island and the next day, set off in the dinghy to explore Egg Island. This little slice of paradise is so beautiful that Disney was trying to purchase it to turn it in to a cruise port. Luckily, that plan was squashed in 2016 so we had the place to ourselves to explore.
Since the winds were projected to shift (always have to watch the weather on a boat!), we picked up anchor after a wonderful morning and headed to Meeks Patch, an island a few miles from Spanish Wells, the main town in this northern section of Eleuthera. Meeks Patch has recently become a tourist destination due to the introduction of pigs, but we found a little grassy paradise on the other side of the island all to ourselves.
After a couple of nights at Meeks, we wanted to see what else this area had to offer (plus get closer to better spearfishing areas) so we headed to the Atlantic side (with forecasted light winds) and dropped anchor in Gun Point, just across the channel from Spanish Wells. What a paradise! We fished, did jiu jitsu on the beach, and just enjoyed the spectacular beauty of the anchorage before the winds shifted again.
Spanish Wells is a small town, cut off from the rest of Eleuthera on Russell Island. The 'main drag' consists of two roads, one that lines the harbour, and the other over the hill that runs past the beaches on the Atlantic side. It was here that we watched (aka ate and talked through) the Super Bowl with a great group of people. Afterwards, we did a stopover to Meeks Patch, but on the southern end this time, and had our first beach fire of the trip! What a fantastic night of good food and great company.
After crossing through the infamous Current Cut (the current here at peak tide can run up to 10 knots!), we entered the clear blue waters of Exuma Sound and set foot on Eleuthera Island proper. We anchored near one of this island's most famous sights, the Glass Window, and spent a couple of days exploring that natural wonder, as well as its neighbour, the Queen's Baths.
Jumping further south again, we anchored in Alabaster Bay and toured some of the more hidden gems of Eleuthera. Expansive sand flats (at low tide) revealed huge numbers of sea life and shells. Even more hidden is an abandoned US Navy Facility that has been left to be reclaimed by the forest. We enjoyed a couple of beach fires and lots of fresh seafood, including King Crab of the Caribbean!
We attempted to leave Alabaster after a few days but our engine died so we ended up returning to sort that out. Once it was finally up and running again (failed electric lift pump), we gave it a short workout to Governor's Harbour. We anchored just south of Cupid's Cove, which is home to the oldest Bahamian settlement and regarded as the birthplace of The Bahamas! The island of Eleuthera was actually named and settled (though 'settled' may be the wrong word as I'm not sure whether or not there were already people here or not) in 1648 by English pilgrims fleeing Bermuda in search of religious freedom. They originally shipwrecked and holed up in Preacher's Cave (in northern Eleuthera) before travelling down here to build their first settlement. It is a beautiful town with many historic homes and friendly locals. The main draw is certainly the Fish Fry which happens every Friday!
Our final stop was in Rock Sound, a massive harbour near the southern end of Eleuthera. The whole area is quite shallow and the town is small with many abandoned and overgrown buildings, but it is also home to some pretty neat geological sights. The first one we explored was the Ocean Hole, an inland blue hole of sorts - one so deep that no one actually knows how far down it goes! The locals have placed some fish and turtles inside of it so it's a wonderful spot to snorkel on a hot day. Only ten minutes down the road is Cathedral Cave, a large cavern with a pockmarked roof which allows the roots of the trees above to wind their way down the center of the cave in search of ground.
Though we have spent three weeks here, there are so many things we have missed. If we get the chance to come back, we'd definitely try to hit up Preacher's Cave, Harbour Island, Hatchet Bay Caves, Surfer's Beach, Cape Eleuthera, and I'm sure many places we haven't even heard of!