My husband and I first visited Eleuthera with my family in 2012. At the time, we never dreamed this small Bahamian island would become such an integral part of our lives. But in 2017, my parents decided to purchase a small piece of paradise in the form of a beach house on the Atlantic Ocean. In the last two years, Courtny and I have been fortunate enough to travel to the island four times with our girls, and once alone – each time planting more roots and making more Bahamian friends.
In fact, during our last trip in June 2019, our little family was mistaken for locals… by a local. Mission accomplished?
Rather than provide trip reports for our vacations, I think it’s probably more valuable that I share our favorite recommendations (if you really want a trip report, it basically looks like this: wake up, beach, eat, beach, eat, sleep.). Keep in mind, these are just the places we enjoy as a family. I am aware that there are many other options and opinions, but these happen to be our personal favorites.
Have an Eleuthera recommendation or question? Leave me a comment!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- This is not the US, which is part of the appeal. Leave your stress in the States, and just go with the flow.
- Island time is real. Everything moves a bit slower in the Bahamas, and it’s all good. See point No. 1.
- This is an island, which means nearly everything is imported. The grocery stores don’t have the same variety and selection that Americans are used to. Food and supplies arrive once a week, on Tuesday’s, via boat in Governor’s Harbour. If you’re looking for something specific, bring it with you from home or try again on Tuesday.
- Stay left. Bahamians drive on the left side of the road, which may take a little getting used to.
- It is expensive. A 12 percent VAT applies to nearly every purchase. An 18 percent gratuity is usually automatically added at all restaurants and bars. That’s an additional 30 percent to your purchase right there! Everything just costs more on the island. A case of local beer will cost $50, however a bottle of rum will be less than $20. A package of Oreos can be as much as $10, but a bowl of ice cream at a restaurant can be $3. It just depends on the item.
- Credit card is accepted most places, but not everywhere. US dollars and Bahamian dollars are a 1:1 exchange, so don’t be surprised if you receive a mixture when given change.
- How do we save money on the island? We eat a surprising amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ramen noodles, and canned chicken. We try to limit going out to once per day or less, and sometimes only for dessert & cocktails.
- The sand really is pink.
HOW TO GET THERE
I think I have attempted all of the possible ways to get to Eleuthera, save for booking a private charter. In all of our trips, we have only had one flawless travel day. We’re probably just cursed, but we always seems to have delays. However, if I were to recommend a plan, this is it:
Fly to Nassau, then take Pineapple Air to one of Eleuthera’s three airports.
We fly out of Indianapolis International Airport. If we fly Delta, this means a layover in Atlanta. If we fly Southwest, we’re going through Fort Lauderdale. I refuse to fly American Airlines, but you do you. 😉 Once in Nassau, we take a 15 minute Pineapple Air flight to Governor’s Harbour Airport. GHB is the most centrally located airport (and closest to where we stay), North Eleuthera Airport is to the north, and Rock Sound International Airport is to the south.
Pineapple Air is a Bahamian airline, and you must prepare yourself for that. The plane seats about 20 people. The ticketing agent is also the gate agent, which is also the flight attendant and occasionally also the co-pilot. There is a 50/50 chance that you’ll get the safety talk. If all passengers have checked in, the flight will more than likely leave earlier than planned. If there is room on an earlier flight, you can ask to switch at check in. It is by far the most reliable (albeit slightly terrifying) way to travel to the island.
Buccaneer Club – Hands down, our favorite restaurant is Buccaneer Club in Governor’s Harbor. Which is funny, because it’s not at all the one you would expect. It doesn’t have a water view, but what it lacks in oceanfront it makes up for in food, service, and friendly staff. Catherine, the owner, is a world-traveled chef and you can tell. You can’t go wrong with the Grouper Burger, or the Chicken Fried Rice. Also, the prices don’t seem a steep here as they do on the rest of the island.
Da Perk Coffee Shop – Located right in the center of Governor’s Harbour, Da Perk is our go-to for breakfast or a quick lunch. Courtny goes for the coffee, I go for the chai tea latte with a kick of gold rum to start my Bahamian morning. Free wifi makes it easy for Courtny to work from the island when he needs to plug in.
1648 An Island Restaurant – Oh, how we love 1648. This is the restaurant located at French Leave Resort, and it is GORGEOUS. Insta-worthy doesn’t even begin to cover it when you’re dining on the turquoise waters at sunset. Courtny and I are suckers for the Bright & Calm cocktail, and every meal we’ve ever had there has been exquisite. However, it’s pricey. We can kind of justify it when its just the two of us, but when you add two pint-sized picky eaters… we now get to save this for special occasions. If you go, be sure to say hello to our friends Melissa and Kenneth who always 1. remember us, and 2. make us feel like family.
La Bougainvillea – Technically, La Bougainvillea is a boutique hotel. We have never stayed here, but we are frequent fliers at the poolside bar. I have heard of others being charged to use the beautiful infinity pool, however we have never had an additional fee added to our bill. We obviously make sure to order drinks and/or food before, but our girls love nothing more than swimming in that pool. Thursday nights are Pizza Night, and Gembo will take care of you at the bar!
Tippy’s – People generally just flock to Tippy’s, located on Banks Road near Palmetto Point, so be sure to call for a reservation. The menu is presented to you in true Caribbean style – handwritten daily on a giant sandwich board that is sat next to your table. The food is decent, but I’m not the best critic because I’m not much of a seafood eater. However, the rum punch is strong and the ocean view is to die for. A great place for beach access on the Atlantic side. Closed on Mondays, but they often have live music set up in the bar. They seem to be open later than most other places on the island, so if you’re looking for a little nightlife, Tippy’s is your place.
Pascal’s Oceanfront Seafood Restaurant & Pool Bar – When you arrive, you will think you are lost driving through a deserted resort. You’re not. Pascal’s is located at Sky Beach Club north of Governor’s Harbour. Just keep going until you reach the beach. Our girls love the infinity pool (there is a theme here), but we love Sammy the bartender more. He’s like a local celebrity, and he makes some of the best cocktails on the island (also, if you ever wanted to meet my father-in-law’s Bahamian doppelgänger, its Sammy). Every Sunday there’s a hog roast and live music, but be prepared to wait a good while for your food. The last time we visited the pool needed some repairs, and the bathrooms were not in great shape, but for a little swim and a drink we were fine. Also closed on Mondays.
Fishbone Beach Bar & Grill – This is a newer establishment on the island, located in Savannah Sound. Follow the signs! Good food, causal atmosphere, live music, and a nice view of Windemere Island. Follow them on Facebook to see their specials. We visited on Christmas Eve last year for themed holiday cocktails and fun desserts.
Eleuthera Island Farm – Not actually a restaurant, but they have grab-and-go meals for a reasonable price. This is also the place to grab fresh fruits and veggies, salsas, alcohol, and a variety of other homemade items. Fresh, hot bread is sold on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you will want to be at the gate and waiting at 9 a.m. to get some! Closed on Sundays.
There isn’t a beach we have met that we haven’t liked. Eleuthera has miles and miles and miles of beachfront, and it really just depends on the tide, the weather, and your preference! Don’t be afraid to take a drive and explore the public beach accesses along the way.
With our small kids, we really like Ten Bay and Alabaster Bay (also known as Cocodimama). Both on the Caribbean side of the island, the waters tend to be super calm. During low tide, you can literally walk forever before getting in too deep. On the Atlantic side, we enjoy French Leave Beach (it will be “crowded” by Eleuthera standards), and the beach in front of my parent’s house in North Palmetto Point where we rarely see a soul.
Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve – This is a National Park on the island, and it worth the price of admission for older kids/adults. Always check the event calendar here! We took our girls to a pretty awesome Christmas Party at Leon Levy that included crafts, snacks, Santa and gifts for all the children… entirely for free.
Anchor Bay Fish Fry – Every Friday night, there is a big Fish Fry in Governor’s Harbour. Fried fish, conch salad, baked goods, a DJ, dancing… and absolutely lethal Rum Bubbas. Don’t ask how I know that, but know you’ve been warned.
Glass Window Bridge – This is the most narrow point on the island, where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s definitely a sight to see, as there’s nothing else like it in the world.
Queen’s Bath – This is a natural rock/tide pool formation that creates little hot tubs during low-mid tide. Be careful, though – high tide or rough seas can make this place dangerous!
AND MORE! – There’s also Preacher’s Cave, Ocean Hole, Blue Hole, Spider Cave, etc. There’s boat charters, fishing charters, scuba charters, etc. And we haven’t even mentioned all there is to do on Spanish Wells or Harbour Island – both a short ferry ride away. Basically what I’m saying is… you won’t run out of things to explore very quickly.