Eleuthera is an island in the Bahamas, lying 50 miles (80 km) east of Nassau. It is very long and thin—110 miles (180 km) long and in places little more than a mile wide. According to the 2000 Census, the population of Eleuthera is approximately 8,000. The name "Eleuthera" is derived from the feminine form of the Greek word ελεύθερος (eleutheros), "free"
The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs. The eastern side of the island faces the Atlantic Ocean while the western side faces the Great Bahama Bank, one of the two Bahama Banks.
The original population of Taino, or Arawaks, was mostly deported by the Spanish to work in the mines of Hispaniola, where they died out by 1550. The island is believed to have been unoccupied until the first European settlers—puritan pilgrims—arrived in 1648 from Bermuda. These settlers, known as the "Eleutherian Adventurers", gave the island its current name—eleutheria means "freedom" in Greek, while eleuthera means "free". Some people think that Christopher Columbus may have come to Eleuthera before any other islands in the West Indies.
The island was quite prosperous in the period from 1950 to 1980, attracting several prominent American industrialists such as Arthur Vining Davis, Henry J. Kaiser, and Juan Trippe. Frequent visitors included movie stars like Robert De Niro as well as the Prince of Wales and a pregnant Princess of Wales.
Due to changes in foreign-ownership policy, with the Bahamas becoming independent in 1973, all of the large resorts and agricultural businesses were abandoned or compelled to be sold to government-favored Bahamian interests. Because of the strain of a newly forming country, and unfavorable changes in US tax law, some businesses failed during the period from 1980 to 1985.
While offshore Harbour Island and Spanish Wells offer unique experiences, the main island is a destination for those interested in history and nature. Natural attractions include the Glass Window Bridge, Hatchet Bay caves and Surfer's Beach in the north, and Ocean Hole and Lighthouse Beach at the south end. Preacher's Cave on the north end was home to the Eleutherian Adventurers in the mid-17th century, and recent excavations have uncovered Arawak remains at the site.
The principal settlements are Governor's Harbour (the administrative capital), Rock Sound, Tarpum Bay (the last remaining fishing village), Harbour Island with its unusual pink sandy beaches, and Spanish Wells. The island is particularly noted for the excellence of its pineapples and holds an annual Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town.
Eleuthera stretches approximately 110 miles long and in places spans no more than a mile to a mile and a half wide. It's mainland is divided into north and south, where in the northern portion offers ferry docks to both Harbour Island and Spanish wells. Traveling south from northern Eleuthera one passes through the Glass Window Bridge which offers dramatic views of both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. This bridge is one of the narrowest points of the island. The population of the island is about 11,000.
Eleuthera is the site of the first successful European settlement in The Bahamas and has more than 100 miles of picturesque pink sand beaches and quaint New England-style fishing villages; and it is also a tropical Bohemia for artists.
It's settlements include (north to south) The Bluff, Upper and Lower Bogue, The Current, Gregory Town, Alice Town, James Cistern, Governor's Harbour, North and South Palmetto Point, Savannah Sound, Winding Bay, Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound, Greencastle, Deep Creek, Delancy Town, Waterford, Wemyss Bight, John Millars, Millar's and Bannerman Town. Airports with regularly scheduled flights are found in North Eleuthera, Governor's Harbour and Rock Sound.
Famed for the sweetness of its Pineapples, Eleuthera holds an annual Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town each June.
Cupid's Cay, Governor's Harbour
Visit Preacher's Cave where it is believed that Eleutherian's took shelter after exploring North Eleuthera. Another site of interest is the Cave at Hatchet Bay which is filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Rock Sound Ocean Hole is popular for feeding fish or climbing the cliffs for a dramatic view of both the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans. Surfer's Beach is popular for the obvious reasons. The Boiling Hole and The Hot Tubs just south of Whale's Point are popular attractions as are The Cliffs north of James Cistern. Excellent Bone Fishing can be had in many of the bays with a special favorite being Ten Bay.
The well to-do inhabitants of Windermere Island are often visited by the Royal Family. Windermere Island is just off the eastern coast of Eleuthera, south of Savannah Sound.
Originally the Company of Eleutherian Adventurers Puritan Pilgrims settled in the area now known as Governor's Harbour, coming ashore at Cupid's Cay in 1648. They received assistance from a fellow Puritan's of Massachusetts. They then renamed the island from Cigatoo - its aborigine name, to Eleuthera which means Freedom in Greek. Later out of gratitude they sent a gift of braziletto wood to help the folks at Harvard University; which was at that time the most valuable gift they had ever received.
A replica of their Constitution hangs in the Parliament buildings in Nassau. Puritans preferred a republic and their constitution established the first republic in the New World, long before the George Washington-Thomas Jefferson proclamations came into being.
Eleuthera is full of natural beauty with white and pink sand beaches stretching miles and miles along its coasts to stunning views of both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Along Eleuthera are majestic cliffs and massive boulders thought to have been left by catastrophic tsunamis over 100,000 years ago.
Harbour Island features 18th century New England style buildings or cottages/capes; restored in a Bahamian Brigadoon setting along a three-mile pink sand beach. The Harbour Island settlement of Dunmore Town was once the Bahamian summer capital and second only to Nassau in importance and population.
Spanish Wells is the village where crawfishing has enriched many. There is a small museum where the seafaring residents' rich heritage and culture can be reviewed. Windermere Island is popular with the rich, royal and classy set -- so much so that admittance is denied without an appointment. There is the "artsy" Tarpum Bay and world-class surfing at Gregory Town's Surfer's Beach. The Rock Sound area in the south is the up and coming area of commerce with franchises and business abounding.
History of Eleuthera
(mainly taken from Eleuthera by Everild Young, Regency Press, London 1969; available at "The Buccaneer Store", in Governor's Harbor, Pam's Island Gifts in Gregorytown, Sands Store in Palmetto Point)
Eleuthera started, as most islands do, as a coral reef. It gradually assumed a very unusual shape, long and thin, with much shoreline. It is also unusual in that it is relatively hilly, reaching an elevation of 100 feet, much more than most of the other Bahamian islands, and Florida. This fact gives it a scenic advantage, unshared by the other Family Islands, or Out Islands. Generally, Eleuthera is 3-4 degrees cooler than Florida, with constant sea breezes; birds abound, and are characteristicly heard everywhere, once outside the towns.
The History of Man on Eleuthera begins with the Arawaks.
They came to Eleuthera from the coast of the Yucatan in Mexico, and Florida. They knew how to weave cotton cloth, and made spears with fish hooks made from the tortoise shell. They lived primarily on fish, and shellfish. The Arawaks, a peaceloving people, were not displaced by the warlike Caribs, who did so in all of the other Lesser Antilles.
In the later 1400's, the Spaniards appeared in the area, led by Christopher Columbus.
The Spaniards basically decimated the population of the Bahamas by either killing the residents, or exporting them for slavery. Very few surivied, and the Bahamas, including Eleuthera became very desolate, save for small pockets of survivors. Thus, the Bahamas were like this for the next 200 years.
The first known map of the area called Eleuthera "Cigateo", from the Arawak name, "Cigatoo". According to the time, the mapmakers changed names of the island, as seen in the following table:
YEAR NAME MAPMAKER
1700 Lucayous Islands Wells
1749 Cigateo Alebaster Lucayous Islands Robert (Fr)
1761 Alabaster d'Anville
1784 Harbour Island Bowles
1796 Eleuthera Olim Ciguateo de la Rockette
1815 Eleuthera Wilkinson
1832 Eleuthera, Ethera Island, Cigateo, Blair
Aname that is very prominent in Eleuthera's history, William Sayle, is attibuted credit for naming the isle "Eleuthera", which is a variation of the Greek word for freedom. He had been Governor of Bermuda, but had fallen into disfavor with the Crown of England. Therefore, he wanted to leave Bermuda to pursue freedom, and he decided upon Eleuthera, since the Bahamas were the nearest group of islands to Bermuda. He returned to London, and petitioned Parliament to settle Eleuthera in 1654 (see page 43 for text of petition), what he envisioned as a "utopia". He promised each settler 300 acres of land, upon completion of the voyage to Eleuthera.
However, the voyage did not end smoothly; one of the two ship wrecked on the perilous north part of Eleuthera, destroying much of their supplies. He put most of the settlers ashore at Preacher's Cove, and he went to Virginia for more provisions. When he returned with more supplies, he split the group; one group went to the area now known as "The Current", and his group went to Governor's Harbor.
The soil was very rocky, and not easily cultivated, and the group continued to endure hardship. An interesting sidelight is that Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts heard of their plight, and sent supplies. In gratitude, the settlers bequeathed 7 tons of Brazilletto timber to the then-young Harvard College. In 1958, Harvard University presented to Governor's Harbor a plaque made of Braziletto wood in commemoration of that contribution, which still stands today in the Public Library.
Anyways, the settlers constructed wooden houses in Cupid's Cay, in Governor's Harbor. William Sayle returned to Bermuda, where he eventually regained favor witht the crown, and was renamed Governor of Bermuda. He sent his sons to govern Eleuthera in his stead.
The next phase of history was dominated by pirates and buccaneers. The Bahamas in general, became headquarters for the pirates, especially Nassau. The only real contact Eleuthera had with the pirates was a raid by "Calico" Jack on Harbor Island, where he burned a few fishing vessels.
Next, the English took tighter control of the islands, especially after the American War of Independence. After their defeat, many Englishmen did not want to remain in the United States. Therefore, many emigrated with their slaves to the Bahamas, causing the white population of the Bahamas to double, and the black population to triple. The British subjects were given land, to aid their start in their new country.
Next came the period of the US Civil War. This had an effect on the Bahamas after it was over, and the slaves were soon emancipated by Queen Victoria in 1834.
Various people then attempted to improve the lot of the Eleutheran islands, including a Reverend Turton. He went to Tarpon Bay, and has this to say...
"...Prior to my arrival, though the worthy magistrate had exerted himself to work a reformation, cursing, swearing, drinking to excess, Sabbath-breaking, quarrelling and every kind of wikedness prevailed. Scarcely, however, had I begun to preach to them before many received the word with all readiness of mind, and a remarkable reformation took place, evidently wrought of God..."
At this time, "wrecking", or the salvaging of shipwrecked boats, became a mainstay of the economy. In fact, various tricks were used to lure the ships to the reefs, in the northern part of the island. In fact, at a large reef off Spanish Wells, a reef called 'Devil's Backbone', there are many wrecks today attesting to the success of the following ruse; lanterns were put on donkeys at night, and moved to stategic areas, to fool the captains into thinking they were the lights of lighthouses, and cause the ships to go off course onto the rocks. This was especially popular in Spanish Wells, and Harbor Island. The local population even resisted the constructions of lighthouses, in the time of 1845- 1870, although more than 300 vessels had shipwrecked over the years, since "wrecking" provided a boost to the local economy.
The pineapple farms then came into prominence. The pineapple has been introduced earlier, in the mid 18th century. But it was not until the turn of the century that it really became popular. The red soil of Eleuthera had been ideal for pineapples to grow. A prominent farmer, Jabez Pyfrom was a leading pineapple farmer at that time. Eleuthera's economy thrived and there was much prosperity. At one point, 40 schooners were anchored in Governor's Harbor, awaiting the harvesting of the famous pineapples (description of pineapple harvesting in 1900).
But this prosperity was not to last. The US Government started to subsidize the pineapple industries of Cuba and Hawaii, undercutting the Eleutheran crop, and this industry, as well as the economy of Eleuthera, collapsed.
Quarrying was then started, to try to jumpstart the economy, in the area of Hatchet Bay. George Benson, a retired English officer, was instrumental in this endeavor. He also started construction of the "cut" that is now present in Hatchet Bay, connecting the lake with the ocean.
Another man famous in the history of Eleuthera, Austin Levy, arrived in 1927, and formed the "Hatchet Bay Plantations", a combined dairy and poultry farm. He became so large, he built his own schools and stores. At about this time, Mr Arthur Vining Davis started the Rock Sound Club, as well as establishing a farm, dock, and workshops in the Rock Sound area. In fact, Princess Margaret lunched at the Rock Sound Club in 1955. Eventually, Mr. Davis sold his interests to Juan Trippe, an executive of PanAm Airlines, who converted the club into the exclusive "Cotton Bay Club", which is currently the only Robert Trent Jones designed golf course in the Bahamas.
Afew women notable in this era were Charlotte Blodget and Rosita Forbes. Ms Blodget arrived in Governor's Harbor in 1937, and found much unemployment. She started a sea shell and weaving business, and established trade with Boston. Rosita Forbes, an author and journalist of minor repute, wrote copiously, and put Eleuthera on the map. She built a house, called "Unicorn Cay" on a lagoon called "Half Sound". This house is modelled on the famous "Chateaux on the Loire" in France. She said
"...if you want to live on an out-island, it is essential to forge all that you have been brought up to believe. It is odd how soon Eleuthera reduces one to a condition in which almost every happening seems easiest dealt with in a position recumbent and as distant as possible from the actual scene of disaster"
. Next, the "Two Knights" of Eleuthera came into importance, Sir George Roberts, and Sir Roland Symonette ("Pop"). Sir Robert was responsible for the development of the important, inter-island mailboat system, that is still important today, in delivering supplies, as well as the mail. Sir Roland is responsible for the roads, and a great deal of buildings in Eleuthera. He later became Premier of the Bahamas.
Other prominent Eleutherans at this time included Asa Pritchard, Sir Harold Christie (real estate), and George Baker (canning).
Around this time, Eleuthera had a bit of a scandal, involving Count Alfred de Monigny, who had built a house at the site of what was to later become 'The French Leave', and then the Club Med. It seems that the father of his bride was murdered in Nassau. He was accused but aquitted, but required to leave the Bahamas.
Due to its location near Florida, Eleuthera became a relay station between Columbia and Florida, like many other Bahamian islands, for the cocaine trade, in the late 70's and early 80's. Though not heavily involved, the island and its economy and people were definitely affected by this drug trade, which has, by and large, largely disappeared due to police activity.
Today, Eleuthera's economy consists mostly of fishing, boating, and tourism. It is used mainly by Canadian, Italian, German, and American tourists as a vacation spot, and, for some, a temporary winter home. It is not nearly as developed as Grand Bahama (Freeport), or New Providence (Nassau).
In Eleuthera, you will find a world of sunshine, and brilliant colors, pink sand beaches, and aquamarine and azure water, where time stands till and life is leisurely and peace is a reality and not an illusion.
INTERESTING MISCELLANEOUS FACTS ABOUT ELEUTHERA
-there was a cholera epidemic in Harbor Island in 1761-1769
-there is an old cholera graveyard in Governor's Harbor
-public kissing was illegal after the nine o'clock bell was rung by the sheriff in Harbor Island in 1880
-Spanish Wells is known for having the best fishermen and spongers on the island
-the library in Governor's Harbor also serves as a court house
-most of people in Spanish Wells are descended from pirates or early settlers
-there is a severe riptide between the small island of Currant and the mainland, used frequently by divers
>Founded in 1648, Eleuthera Island was the birth place of the Bahamas. Captain William Sayles and a group of Puritans sailed from Bermuda in search of religious freedom. Along the way, they found this beautiful gem of an island and named it Eleuthera. From the Greek word eleuthero or eleuther. Eleuthera means free or freedom. You can still get a feel what the founders felt when you visit the island. Eleuthera has that unspoiled and untamed feel about it.
Lucayan Indians originally occupied Eleuthera. Not much is known about this era. Much like the Puritans, the peaceful Lucayan Indians had come to the Bahamas in search of a more peaceful place to live. The Lucayans were enslaved by the Spanish in the 1500s and shipped to South America to work in the gold and silver mines.
Eleuthera (north) is approximately 225 miles from Miami / Ft. Lauderdale. The island is reported to be 110 miles in most quarters, however the details on how this measurement was derived is not cited. By some counts, the island is around 90 miles long -- 73 miles as the crow flies from extreme ends. More fascinating is the average width of the island which ranges anywhere from one half to two miles... you are never far from the beach. The “narrowest place on Earth” is on Eleuthera at the famed Glass Window Bridge where the distance from one side of the island to the other is less than 100 feet.
Known as Eleu by some of the inhabitants, Eleuthera's population is reported to be somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 people. Many of these people are farmers and fishermen. One of the biggest export crops is the pineapple. Gregory Town hosts a Pineapple Festival every year on the first weekend of June. This four day event features local culture, food, pineapples of course, and a Junk anoo party.
Eleuthera is known to have some of the best dive sites in the world; most famous for Current Known as fast drift dive the fast current moves between the rock walls of Eleuthera and Current Island. At the right time of day, a scuba diver can drift the 2/3 mile distance in about 10 minutes. Other famous sites include The Blue Hole, The Train Wreck and Devil's Backbone.
Other points of interest include the cave at Hatchet Bay. Located in the countryside of Eleuthera, this beautifully vaulted, mile long, three level cave is made of limestone and populated with graffiti, bats, and a water room. Explorers used the tar weeping from the rocks to write on the walls. Beautiful stalagmites and stalactites can be seen throughout the cave. This cave was purported to have been used by pirates to hide their treasures.</p>
<p class="linknoline">Another famous Eleutherian cave is Preacher's Cave. This is where Captain Sayles and his fellow travelers made camp and held their religious services. There is a stone plaque at the entrance of the cave which says William Sayle ship wrecked at Devil's Backbone found refuge here. Sermons held 100 years.
And then there's bonefishing on Eleuthera Island. Miles upon miles of wadable flats are there as well as fishable surf where one can catch snapper, jacks and barracuda. While there are many popular areas to go for bonefish, there are that many more than get very little pressure. It pays to talk to the locals who fish every day.
Eleuthera is not known for gambling, shopping or amusement parks. What it is known for is its natural beauty and serenity. Anyone who has been there will attest to that. If you like the color of a turquoise blue ocean, pink sands, shock blue skies, warm weather and cool breezes, Eleuthera Island is the place for you.
Sickle-shaped Eleuthera is 110 miles long, an average of 6¾ miles wide and its highest elevation is 168 feet. Located at latitude 25 degrees North and Longitude 76 degrees West, near the edge of the Caribbean Sea, it is about 60 miles from Nassau at its nearest point, Current Island, and approximately 200 miles from Florida. The island has been a romantic hideaway for the British Royal Family for many years. It is where HRH Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana spent a holiday in 1982 and where Prince Edward proposed to Sophie in 1999.
Eleuthera has a hump-back ridge, and is an island of coral and wind-impacted sands formed by winds and waves. Sand dunes were blown into heaps on the eastern shore of the island, eventually consolidating into powder and forming natural cement. The sand has been described as pink-white and peach on Harbour Island and certain parts of the mainland.
Serene colonial villages and rolling acres of pineapple plantations make Eleuthera an island of the most casual sophistication. The cool laziness of Eleutheran life and dusty-yet-drenched colours of the island give it the feel of a giant illusion. Much of the island’s architecture and way of life were influenced by Loyalist settlers in the late 1700s.
The island is divided into two regions, North Eleuthera and South Eleuthera. The North encompasses Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Upper & Lower Bogue, The Bluff, The Current The island is divided into two regions, North Eleuthera and South Eleuthera. The North encompasses Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Upper & Lower Bogue, The Bluff, The Current & Current Island, Gregory Town, Hatchet Bay and James’ Cistern. The South encompasses Governor’s Harbour, Palmetto Point, Savannah Sound, Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound, Green Castle, Deep Creek, Waterford, Wemyss Bight and Bannerman Town.
Harbour Island was ranked "The Best Island in the Caribbean" by Travel & Leisure magazine in 2005. In its 10th annual poll, readers of the elite travel magazine rated Harbour Island number one among the islands of the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda on its World’s Best Cities and Islands list.
Briland, as it is known to residents, is approximately 3.5 miles long by 1.5 miles wide. Once the capital of the Bahamas and the second largest city to Nassau in the 1900s, the current population is estimated between 1500 to 2000. The island is located approximately 200 miles from Miami, 60 miles from Nassau/Paradise Island and two miles East of Eleuthera.
Dunmore Town, the main and only town on Harbour Island, is one of the oldest settlements in The Bahamas. When the Revolutionary War broke out in the United States, the Loyalist Governor of Virginia fled to The Bahamas where he was awarded the title of Lord Dunmore, Governor of The Bahamas. He laid out what is today Dunmore Town, at the center of Harbour Island, giving shape to the village you see today.
Harbour Island was a noted shipyard and sugar refinement center in the late 1800s, and the resourceful residents have also made their way in the world as skilled shipbuilders and farmers. The island itself has little potable soil, but residents were given land to farm on the “mainland” (Eleuthera) in 1783, and much of that original grant is still being tilled by Brilanders today.
Shipbuilding and farming of citrus, pineapples, and tomatoes made Harbour Island fairly prosperous until World War I brought worldwide depression. The first regular tourist business that today provides the bulk of the island’s livelihood began with weekly Bahamas Air flights in 1941. Electricity, phone service, television and most recently e-mail have put Harbour Island in reach of the several hundred visitors a week that today experience her charms.
The island’s enduring popularity is founded on its tropical greenery stretching out to meet the warm, pink-hued sand beaches it is famous for. Its resorts and the warm Briland hospitality housed in the quaint New England architecture of the island’s Loyalist history add to nature’s palette. Rows of century-old trees border narrow flower-lined streets. It’s a sight not to be missed.
A short water taxi ride from North Eleuthera is St. George's Cay and Spanish Wells, a beautiful 1½ mile fishing village set among groves of palms and trees. While the Eleutheran Adventurers were the first settlers of the Cay, situated on the eastern shore of the island, it was the Spanish conquistadors who first put Spanish Wells on the map. It was there that they sunk a well in the 17th Century to provide their ships with potable water. The island was designated the final landing point for their galleons before attempting the arduous journey back to their homeland, loaded down with the riches of the New World.
Spanish Wells was first inhabited in 1649, and some of the Loyalists who came from Carolina in 1776 settled here. The people have very strong family ties and many of today’s residents proudly claim that their heritage goes back to the early pioneers. In fact, if you happen to be descended from a Loyalist in Spanish Wells, you would be called a “Newcomer.”
They residents are very industrious and were never slave owners. For centuries they have been making their living from the bounty in the miles of deep blue sea around the island. In fact, this small community provides 75% of all the crawfish caught in The Bahamas during the season. They also make excellent fishing guides and diving instructors. Those who are not employed in the fishing industry are involved in farming and fruit growing.
The Bouge is situated five miles from the Bluff. Reportedly, the name is simply a corruption of “The Bog” which refers to a swamp in the vicinity. The area is divided into two sections, Upper and Lower Bogue, which were established after Emancipation. The Methodist Church is the oldest church in the settlement.
The Bluff lies about five miles south of Spanish Wells on the western shores of Eleuthera. This old-fashioned village has a miniature harbour and was originally settled by liberated slaves. After Emancipation, the slaves in the district settled on most of the finest lands in the settlement taking care to be near the sea for the convenience of shipping their fruits and catching fish. It has fine orange orchards and thousands of oranges were formerly shipped to America. The oldest church is John Wesley Methodist Church. There are no facilities for tourists and most of the people earn their living by farming.
The Current is a small village which gets its name from the tide that boils through the cut that separates it from Current Island. It is believed to be one of the oldest settlements and that Captain William Sayle brought some settlers here on his way to “discovering” Cupid’s Cay. The men are good fishermen; the women make a living from arts and craft and are said to produce some of the country’s finest straw work.
Gregory Town is five miles north of Hatchet Bay. The settlement is named after Governor John Gregory, who was Governor of the Bahamas in the 1950’s. The settlement has unexpected charm. Some visitors say that it reminds them of Jerusalem and others, the Italian Riviera. Scores of pastel-painted cottages dot the sun-drenched, steep hillsides. Its perfect deep-blue harbour, which pirates called “The Cove,” is still used today. The two main resorts are The Cove and Cambridge Villas.
In 1988, the annual Pineapple Festival was started here by the local Tourist Office. In July 1989, when it was learned that Jensen Beach, Florida, also celebrated a Pineapple Festival, Gregory Town and Jensen Beach became official Sister Cities. History shows that pineapples from Eleuthera helped start the Pineapple Industry in Jensen Beach in 1888.
Hatchet Bay, a one-mile-long settlement lined with Casuarina trees, is situated between Gregory Town and James Cistern. Alice Town is the main settlement and the most populated in the north. Years ago, Hatchet Bay was referred to as East End Point. The Harbour is shaped like the head of a hatchet with the handle being cut out by the sea. During the 1940’s, a channel was cut out to facilitate boats coming into the shore.
Located here is the Hatchet Bay Plantation, established in 1936 by Mr. Austin Levy, which produced dairy and poultry products. It was purchased by The Bahamas Government in 1975 and subsequently controlled by the Bahamas Development Corporation. It is now closed.
In Alice Town, there is the Hatchet Bay packing house of the Department of Agriculture. Pineapples, cabbages, onions, watermelons, pumpkins, sweet peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers are some of the produce that is shipped to New Providence from Eleuthera.
This settlement, situated between Hatchet Bay and Governors Harbour, derived its name from the fresh water cisterns found there by a man called James during its early years of habitation. A part of this two-mile-long settlement is perched on the hilltop and referred to as “The Cliffs” because of its height from sea level.
There are seven churches here, the oldest of which is John Wesley Methodist Church, which is over 200 years old and has the largest number of followers. The new Methodist Church seats 200 persons.
Governor’s Harbour is so called because the first seat of government was established there. It was also the place where Captain William Sayle, ex-Governor of Bermuda, established the first settlement in The Bahamas at Cupid’s Cay. Robert Hutchinson, a loyalist who died in 1815, was the grandfather of Mrs. Asa Prichard, a local resident. His other descendants are the Bethel, Pyfrom, Sturrup and Moss families.
A fire at Cupid’s Cay in 1907 destroyed a number of the old colonial buildings. However, from the distance across the bay, the cay still looks like a beautiful colonial fishing village. Some of the old buildings are in disrepair, because property owners left the settlement after the decline in the pineapple factory and canning factory.
Cupid’s Cay is joined to the mainland by a causeway. The causeway was originally a wooden bridge which was reportedly blown away in the gales of 1928 or 1929. (Old pictures show a wooden bridge with an arch over it.) A concrete bridge was later built.
Cupid’s Cay was also the location of the first U.S. Consulate, which now houses a shop owned by Margaret Bethel. Accommodations include Quality Inn, Carmen & Richard’s and Laughing Bird Apartments.
This rapidly expanding settlement took its name from the many Palmetto Palm Trees that can be seen all along the main road and throughout the area. Palmetto Point is divided into two sections, North and South; the North is referred to by the locals as the Country and the South as South Side.
The South side was settled first, but due to the shortage of water, the settlers moved to the North side where the settlement flourished because it had fresh water wells. The South side is well settled today and there are several tourist accommodations. The first settlers carried the surnames, Bethel, Sands and Knowles. A place of special interest on the north side is the massive 127 year old Silk Cotton Tree, where many public functions are held.
Savannah Sound, a relatively small settlement, is situated 16 miles east of Governor’s Harbour between Tarpum Bay and Palmetto Point. The name is derived from the savannah, which extends from 3½ miles at the back of the settlement, and the bay behind the savannah. The wells of the savannah supplied the entire settlement with fresh water in bygone days, although most homes had a rain water tank.
Savannah Sound was peopled originally by the Gibson, Culmers and Bullards. This settlement is well known for the number of teachers and musicians who were born there. Among these were Timothy Gibson, teacher and song writer, who wrote several songs about The Bahamas, including our present National Anthem - “March on Bahamaland.” Also, it is said that in every Government Ministry in country there is someone who descended from Savannah Sound.
The early settlers earned their living by fishing and farming and numerous ruins of large colonial houses remind us of what the settlement used to be. Today, the Tourism industry has brought some prosperity back to the settlement, evidenced by the new houses, shops and offices on the main road and along new roads.
The quaint old settlement of Tarpum Bay is situated between Rock Sound and Savannah Sound. The original name was Glenelg, after Glenelg a former Secretary of State for the Colonies. The name was change to Tarpum Bay because of the Tarpon fish which was often found on the beach.
The original settlers include the Bullards, who came from Savannah Sound, the Culmers and the Careys who came from Ireland. The town is a favorite locale for artists.
The settlement of Rock Sound was originally called New Portsmouth. At one stage it was also called Wreck Sound, because of the wrecking of ships out on the reefs. Many feel that Rock Sound is very appropriate, because of a large rock located between the ocean and the sound.
Green Castle was once a part of the area known as the Rattray Estate. This settlement, situated between Rock Sound and Wemyss Bight, derived its name from the home of Zaccheus Smith which was conspicuously situated atop Bay Road. The building was very large, green in color, and was entered via steps starting at the roadway below. It was called “the castle,” because of its colonial architecture. The home was destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979.
Mr. Smith was a former Justice of the Peace, Catechist of the Anglican Church, a prominent businessman, and was affectionately called “Governor” by the people living in this area.
This settlement was originally called Free Town and is the largest in the South. It was one of the areas where liberated slaves were allowed to work the land. Deep Creek is so called because of the deep creek facing the settlement. There is no harbour and almost everyone is able to paddle out to their small boats to go fishing.
Deep Creek is divided into four parts: Delancy Town, Sweeting Town, Free Town and Thompson’s Town. The Anglican Church is in Delancy Town, the Baptist Church in Sweetings Town, the school in Free Town, and the Methodist Church in Thompson’s Town.
Cotton Bay was formerly called “White Lands,” because residents of the area farmed on the sand. The tourist resort, just outside of Green Castle, was developed by Mr. Arthur Vinding-Davis, who bought it during the 1940’s from Mr. Juan Trippe, who was then President of Pan American Airways. An 18-hole golf course located there was designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Mr. Trippe felt that the people of Eleuthera were a big part of its attraction. He created the name "Cotton Bay" to describe the home of what he considered to be the friendliest people in The Islands of The Bahamas. He saw that the people here "cottoned" easily to each other, or got along very well.
This settlement is situated between Bannerman Town and Deep Creek. It was named after Lord Gordon Wemyss, an early slave owner from Scotland who settled here during the seventeenth century. There is quite a bit of “commonage” land here, having been willed to descendants of their slaves both by the former owners.
Lord Wemyss’ house still stands today, at the rear of the Mt. Olive Tabernacle, Assemblies of God Church. His tomb, which was also located there, has now been flattened. First class marina facilities can be found at Davis Harbour within the Wemyss Bight area.
This small settlement was named after Governor Sir Alexander Bannerman. It has a beautiful beach with white sand. The family names closely associated with Bannerman Town include Finley, Butler, Mackey, Miller and McKenzie. The Millers came from Long Island, and the Butlers came from Rum Cay. Many of these people came to work in the pineapple industry and farming.
First Caribbean International Bank
Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
Royal Bank of Canada
Harbour Island, Eleuthera
Spanish Wells, Eleuthera
Rock Sound, Eleuthera
Lower Bouge, Eleuthera
Upon arriving in The Islands of The Bahamas, everyone must fill out and sign an Immigration form, keeping a portion of the card in hand until departing. An oral baggage declaration is required. Each adult visitor is allowed to bring 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes or one pound of tobacco, one quart of spirits, and a variety of personal effects (personal radio headsets, bicycle, two still cameras, etc.). All beer imported into the country is dutiable at a rate of $10 per imperial gallon or $18 per case. Purchases up to a value of one hundred dollars are permitted by all arriving passengers.
Departures to the US must go through US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance. US visitors may take home $800 worth of duty-free merchandise. The next $l,000 is taxed at 10%. Gifts valued up to $50 may be mailed home duty-free. One litre of wine, liqueur or liquor and five cartons of cigarettes may be taken duty-free.
If entering The Bahamas by boat, there is a flat fee to clear Customs and Immigration, which is $150.00 for boats 35 feet and under and $300.00 for boats 36 ft and over. This will cover a vessel with four persons or less. Also included is the cruising permit, fishing permit, Customs and Immigration charges and the $15.00 Departure Tax for up to four persons. Each additional person above four will be charged $15.00 Departure Tax. If you plan to stay longer than 12 months, special arrangement must be made with Bahamas Customs and Immigration.
Of other archipelagoes...
Oh Lord! Look at me:
I sinned with the Captain's crew last night!
And when we reach this port again,
I know I'm going to sin again!
Pull up the anchor!
Let go the ropes!
We're off to Eleuthera,
The land of high hopes!
The Bridge arches above,
Leading to Paradise -
So they say -
But that's for City folk,
And my rocky road to Heaven
Goes the ‘ Six Schilling’ way!
The old girl gives a shiver
As she meets the cut, and...
My belly's swinging with her!
The memory of rum, beer...
And hot kisses,
Sear so sour in my mouth,
As we steer to the south!
Lord, I want to be yours,
And patch up my flaws,
There's that sweet warm memory
From Spanish Wells,
When, in the deep dark of night,
All cats were gray!
And so in Bluff...
And so in Bogue...
And double so in Hatchet Bay!
Let go the anchor!
Throw out the ropes!
We're near to Eleuthera,
The land of high hopes!
Oh Lord! Look at me:
I sinned with so many, many more last night,
And when we reach this port again,
I know I'm going to sin again!
And again, and again, and again …
The odds against are all so strong;
How can I miss to do what’s wrong?
The Church’s doors are open wide,
Why can’t I step to move inside?
My hands are clasped for another prayer,
But the view outside is tempting fair:
‘Oh Lord, I want to be yours,
And patch up my flaws…’
An’ ‘but’ and ‘but’ again,
My foot won’t fit that narrow lane.
Tomorrow’s tomorrow an’ today’s today:
With Bluff an’ Bogue an’ Hatchet Bay;
Wells an’ Briland cross the way;
My Central pals, my Southern gals:
Ready an’ able when I slip ma cable!
Eleuthera is my stamping ground
From Bight to Creek, from Sound to Sound!
So dearest Father, I won’t forget;
The time for me is not just yet!
True, Eleuthera is on the map; indeed of all the islands strung out between the northernmost lump that is Grand Bahama and the Turks and Caicos, in an uneven chain, it possesses the most original shape. But until recently it is doubtful whether anyone, on being asked to place an island bearing that name on the globe, would have come within a thousand miles of its position, or would make an attempt to do so. So let us begin the history of Eleuthera by taking a good look at its geographical position and surroundings.
Water and Soil Policy
Existing limestone derived soils are extremely poor on Eleuthera, and will require
systematic addition of organic materials over the long-term for substantial improvement.
An essential part of a sustainability strategy calls for municipal scale composting of all
waste organics, with the resulting compost being applied to improve the potential for
local crop production.
Water recovery and recycling, along with investigation of reverse osmosis water
production utilizing new renewable energy resources on the island will need to be a part
of the solution set.
In addition, integrated aquaculture and hydroponics systems (aquaponics) which recycle
water in a closed-loop can be part of an improved system of local food production,
reducing both cost and fuel use needed to provide for the island residents and visitors.
Summary and Action
Cape Systems and Cape Eleuthera Institute are committed to this vision – we exist in
order to help make this vision a reality. We propose to assemble a team of 5-6 experts
(that will include 2-3 members of the Cape Systems/Cape Eleuthera Institute team, one
utility energy specialist, one materials and waste specialist, and one resource economist)
to perform an island-wide study to focus on delivering a report with clear action plans
and measurable benchmarks for creating a totally unique self-sufficient island in The
Bahamas. This is not a small task and we propose to execute it in stages, with the first
phase covering all subjects in an initial survey and going into comprehensive depth in the
energy sector, which we feel is most pressing on Eleuthera at present.
With government support we feel confident that the bulk of the funding for a study can be
raised through international agencies, private philanthropy and on-island developers. We
anticipate it will take approximately 9 months to complete this study at a cost of ~
$300,000. Cape Systems has already discussed the project with the Inter-American
Development Bank and they support the project.
Cape Systems would also require the cooperation of various government agencies. We
see this as a collaborative process with full participation and full disclosure. There are
previous studies that have been done (EDAW) and operational numbers that will need to
be accessed to execute the study in a meaningful and efficient manner.
We are ready to meet to discuss this project in further detail at any time. There is a
tremendous opportunity here for Eleuthera and The Bahamas to do something never done
before. The Bahamas can and should be a model for the world proving that a small island
nation can be self sufficient. This is both an economic and national security issue that
will set Eleuthera and The Bahamas as a leader in the inevitable shift away from
dependence on fossil fuels.
Lighthouse Beach is our favorite beach on Eleuthera. A 3 mile long, wide, pink sand beach that wraps itself around the southern tip of the island. On certain days you can watch as cruise ships go by either on their way to or from Princess Cay. Come early and plan to spend the day. You can find some shade amongst the cliffs at the southern end of the beach. As this beach wraps right around the tip, you’ll pass by a part of it on the Caribbean side as you make your way to the main beach. You can also stop at the northerly part of the beach. After you leave the Queen’s Highway, you’ll pass a road on your left at 1.0 miles (1.6 kms). This is an overgrown road, so your car will likely get scratched, but follow it for 0.5 miles (0.8 kms) and you’ll find access to the northern section of the beach. It looks like you may be able to walk all the way from here to the tip of Lighthouse beach. It would take a while but make an interesting day.
This horseshoe-shaped beach is like something you’d find on a postcard. It simply couldn’t be more perfect. The narrow opening to the bay provides a lot of protection for the beach and even when the Atlantic is rough the water in the bay stays calm. Without proper directions this must-see beach would be almost impossible to find but with the directions in the book it’s easy.
This beach rivals the beauty of Lighthouse beach even if it doesn’t rival the size. This reasonably large bay is reef protected and, therefore, remains calm and clean most of the time. The sand is soft, powdery and pink and is firm enough to make walking the shoreline both pleasant and easy. Jack’s Bay is definitely worth the effort to find. It is also on our list of the ten best beaches in Eleuthera. Bring your camera to this beach as well and try taking pictures from several perspectives here. On sunny days the turquoise of the ocean complements the pink of the sand. With the palm trees and other vegetation as a backdrop the scene is - well, for lack of any better words - picture perfect!
Unfortunately, access to this beach, from the road anyway, is restricted. If you want to visit this beach you’ll have to get to it by boat. This is one of the best beaches on Eleuthera. It has soft, powdery, white sand and the water is calm and shallow for a long way out. We have been told that this is also referred to locally as Nude Beach. We believe it got this designation because it is very secluded and, before access was restricted, it was still very difficult to get to. As always, we encourage you to respect other people’s property and not trespass on restricted land.
It seems that the more difficult a beach is to find, the more spectacular it is - and Whiteland Beach is no exception. The shore is lined with palm trees. The sand is white and powdery soft. The water is turquoise, warm and welcoming. At the end of the access road you come upon a tiny cove and the rest of the beach stretches out on either side of this cove. Be sure to bring your camera with you to this beach. It is truly like something out of a South Pacific movie or, at the very least, a perfect picture postcard setting. We have picked this as one of our ten favorite beaches in Eleuthera and when you visit Whiteland Beach you will understand why we have put this one on such a prestigious list.
The beautiful pink sand here rivals Lighthouse beach. The beach is cool, soft and firm making it great for those long, leisurely romantic strolls. To the south you can see the remains of the US Naval base and the damage that was done by hurricane Andrew. The military has long since left, but you can find some nostalgic websites about servicemen’s days in Eleuthera.
The natural stone bridge formation spanning the narrowest part of Eleuthera was destroyed by the wind and waves of a hurricane. It has been replaced by a concrete bridge which is itself showing some wear and tear. The single lane bridge still supports traffic, including heavy construction trucks, so you needn’t worry about taking a car safely across it. The main attraction here is seeing the deep blue, often rough waters of the Atlantic pour through into the calm, turquoise waters of the sound. The Glass Window was so named because ships being tossed about on the Atlantic could peer through the “window” and see the perfectly calm waters on the other side.
Nope, this one isn’t a beach either, but it deserves a place in this book nonetheless. The Ocean Hole is exactly that - an inland hole that is filled with ocean. There is obviously some subterranean connection to the sea that allows ocean fish to come and go. It is a popular attraction and you shouldn’t miss it. You really can see many ocean fish - some quite large - and some very tame - right at the edge of the hole. Take a few slices of bread to feed them and they’ll be your friends forever, or at least until the bread runs out. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture pictures of the unusual formation and of the feeding frenzy when you toss some tidbits to the eagerly awaiting schools of ocean fish. Sometimes people even bring their snorkeling or diving gear to the Ocean Hole.
These round depressions are a natural formation that allow the ocean waves to enter, swirl around and exit the “baths”. You’ll need a good pair of shoes and a little determination to get down to them, but with care you’ll make it alright. Caution: check the tides before you go. The baths can fill up rapidly and forcefully at high tide particularly if you see any white caps on the ocean. It would only take one strong wave to wash you out to sea, so be careful, we hate losing tourists.
This is a landlocked, saltwater pond, not a beach, but it is an interesting place to visit. Local legend has it that a giant octopus inhabits this Sweeting’s Pond. Others believe it may be a large moray eel. Nonetheless, it is a very unusual area with tulip shells, brittle stars and the occasional small octopus. Jacques Cousteau was interested in this pond and made a few dives here many years ago. You can also Google Sweeting’s Pond for some interesting scientific studies and reports on the creatures that inhabit the pond.
An impressive place to view the Atlantic Ocean, the Cliffs rise dramatically from the sea. A wide path has been cut through the limestone here, making it easy to get to the ocean. If you plan to climb to the top of the Cliffs, be sure to have sturdy shoes. Some of the coral rocks are very sharp and there are lots of holes where you could easily twist your ankle.
Bannerman Town is the most southerly settlement on Eleuthera and if you have taken a Princess Cruise you may have been here and not known it. Just outside Bannerman Town is Princess Cay which is the "private island" belonging to this cruise line.
A little off the beaten track, Bluff can be a little difficult to find.
Last time we were there, the best day to go shopping was on Friday. (No, we're not kidding!)
This small, friendly community, located on the Northwest side of Eleuthera, was once the site of the Current Club. But all that is left of this 50's destination is a crumbling foundation. But, not to fear, Current is still a nice place to visit. It still boasts some lovely beaches and the water current for which it was named. Sit in the water and feel the current try to push you around. Or, better still, hook up with one of the dive operators for the popular Current Cut Drift Dive.
Hatchet Bay/Alice Town is about 5 miles south of Gregory Town. Close to this settlement you'll find the Hatchet Bay Caves and Sweetings Pond.
We would like to thank the Bahamas Ministry of tourism for their support and the use of their images whithin this site