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THE BEST 15 Things to Do on Eleuthera

adventures, beaches, happenings, tips, Travel - Bret S. - February 7, 2021

15 best things to do on eleuthera

Eleuthera has always been known for it beaches, but there are lots of other things to do on Eleuthera besides visiting beaches. What may have started as a beach vacation may very well end up being the adventure vacation you’ve been looking for and that is what I’ve always loved about the island and its surrounding neighbors. You’re never going to run out of things to do.

By the way, the right answer for the number of

Things To Do

 on Eleuthera should really be zero. Not that there aren’t a lot of things to do, but the best way to enjoy Eleuthera is to plan to do none and then do as many as you want. Time and time again I see visitors trying to fit everything into one trip and that’s simply not possible. If you like Eleuthera, then you’ll be back…again and again and again. In my opinion, it’s best to do Eleuthera with as little planning as possible. Wake up each morning and see which way the wind blows. That’s how we do it on Eleuthera!

For those who want to know what some of the options are please read my list below of The Best 15 Things to Do on Eleuthera.

#15 – Festivals (Homecoming, Eleuthera All that Jazz, Pineapple Fest, Junkanoo)

Depending on when you are visiting the island attending festivals could easily be the number one thing for you to do on Eleuthera. Attending one of these events could be the primary reason for the timing of your trip. All of the festivals on Eleuthera are oodles of fun and will surely be a memorable part of your vacation. The combination of good food, drink and music combine perfectly and complement the charged vibe of the crowds that attend the events. Keep your eyes on the calendar. It might make sense to time your trip to coincide with one of these events. Attending a festival could make your vacation complete! Eleuthera All that Jazz is usually in April. Pineapple Fest is in June. Junkanoo is late December. The Homecoming celebrations happen throughout the year in different settlements depending on which one is celebrating.

Bright costumes color the junkanoo parade near Governor’s Harbour

#14 – Ruins

The island’s ruins serve vestige to bygone eras. Rather than remove many of the old structures, they have simply remained. Dilapidated and in disrepair, many have been enshrouded by the surrounding jungle vegetation. The ruins in the southern areas of Eleuthera have more historic relevance, in my opinion, since they show off more of the primitive island architecture. They capture a different way of life than we know it now. If you can find them, the remains of buildings such as the Deal’s Town jail and the Bannerman Town Anglican Church are really interesting and historic.

More modern ruins such as the NAVFAC facility that closed in 1980 or Arnold Palmer’s Beachfront Inn are neat finds as well, but don’t have the rich heritage of the much older Bahamian buildings. If you research the old clinic in Whale Point you’ll find that it had a very checkered past making it one of the island’s more macabre ruins.

things to do deal town jail

The ruins of the old jail in Deal Town, Eleuthera, Bahamas

#13 – Fish Fry

The weekly Friday night Fish Fry, held at Anchor Bay in the capital settlement of Governor’s Harbour, is a vivacious outdoor street party. Good food, drink and loud music begin the evening leading to limbo contests, street dancing and lots of libationary social interaction. Due to Covid the Fish Fry has been put on hold, but once restrictions have been lifted this should be on everybody’s weekly things to do list.

things to do anchor bay fish fry eluethera bahamas

The Fish Fry gets hopping once the sun goes down

#12 – Shelling

A must-do for those passionate about collecting the island shore’s free treasures, Eleuthera has so many miles of beaches that this activity could be done each day on the island. Remember to go early or at low tide, take your time, go to beaches that are less visited, of which we have quite a few, and look for wet sand. Treasure hunters are likely to find a bevy of sea glass, conch, whelk, angel wings, scallops, clams, and banded tulips to name a few. Consider picking up a copy of a shelling book such as the Bahamian Seashells guide or the Caribbean Shell Card to help identify your finds.

things to do combers beach eleuthera bahamas

Combers Beach in Tarpum Bay is one of the more prolific shelling spots

#11 – Scuba Diving

Since I’m a diver this always goes to the top of the list. Alas, there is not a lot of organized diving on Eleuthera, but the dives we do have are some of the best and most interesting in the world.

The best diving is found at the northern and southern extremes of the island. Any diving done mid island consist of either shallow shore diving or diving off of one’s own boat as there are no dive operators other than on Harbour Island and Cape Eleuthera. Valentine’s Dive Center is your choice for northern diving. Most of its boat dives will be done along the extensive reef system between Harbour Island and the Glass Window Bridge on Eleuthera in depths from 50′ to 100′. If you can coax them to do it, the best dive in the north is the Current Cut, which offer a series of 12 minute high speed drift dives in the channel that separates Eleuthera from Current Island.

To the south you have two dive operators that cover the Great Exuma Wall and the inshore shallow reefs. The wall drops to 6000′ and offers an amazing array of pelagics, rays, turtles and sharks. Your dive operator choices are Scuba Eleuthera or Ocean Fox. My favorite southern dives are the airplane wreck, Hole in the Wall and the Boiling Holes, which are cold fresh water springs that attract the best sea life and have the healthiest reef systems surrounding them.

things to do scuba diving eleuthera bahamas

Scuba Eleuthera with Captain Daryl Miller operates out of south Eleuthera

#10 – Fishing (Deep Sea, Shore, Bone)

As one of the more popular things to do on Eleuthera, there are lots of fishing options. Whether by boat, on shore or in the flats you are bound to have a good time pursuing your favorite catch. Several tour operators and many dedicated fishing guides can be found up and down the island. They will build a schedule to cater to your particular fishing passion. Bonefishing is probably the primary reason why DIY fishing enthusiasts continue to flock to Eleuthera.

things to do fishing eleuthera bahamas bonefishing

If you want the big ones, take a bonefishing excursion with Fishbone Tours out of Savannah Sound

#9 – Wildlife and Nature  (Leon Levy Preserve/Birding)

The Bahamas is home to 379 different species of bird. While they can be found everywhere on the island, one of the more unique places to do your birding is at the Leon Levy Preserve, which is located between Governor’s Harbour and North Palmetto Point along the Bank’s Road. It is the first national park on the island of Eleuthera and is an environmental educational center as well as a facility for the propagation of native plants and trees. One of it’s unique functions is to research traditional bush medicine.

The Preserve serves Bahamians and visitors who can now walk miles of trails through the native habitat, viewing the beautiful orchids, food, medicinal plants, and the hardwood trees that serve such a vital role in supporting the bird population. Check out some of their neat videos by clicking here.

things to do heron birding eleuthera

This great blue heron is doing some hunting at dusk at Ten Bay Beach

#8 – History, Sightseeing & Natural Attractions

Dating back to 1648 when Eleuthera was originally settled, there are numerous historical landmarks and buildings. Allocating at least one day of your vacation to sightseeing and visiting the natural attractions is a given. Most of the natural attractions, such as the Glass Window Bridge, The Queen’s Baths, The Cow and Bull, and The Cliffs can be found on the northern end of the island while most of the historic landmarks, plaques, and buildings can be found in the settlements or at the extreme ends of the island. Consider hiring a private guide to see the best of the best. Arthur Nixon is one of the island’s best tour guides. He can be reached at 242-359-7879.

things to do glass window bridge eleuthera bahamas

The narrowest place on Earth – The Glass Window Bridge where two oceans collide

#7 – Island hopping

A trip to Eleuthera seems not complete without a visit to neighboring Harbour Island and/or Spanish Wells. I personally prefer the former for a daytrip as there are more things to do. There are several other uninhabited islands that can also be explored by private boat as well.

things to do harbour island bahamas

The Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island is one of the best beaches in the world

#6 – Caves

We have some pretty awesome caves, and they are quite varied. Beginners prefer Preacher’s Cave because it is open and airy. Serious cavers like the Ten Bay Caves because of their overall size, difficulty and plethora of bats. Folks who are in between will prefer the Hatchet Bay caves. There are lots of other hidden caves including a recently discovered cave beach that is accessible only by water. Additionally, we have several cave beaches that can be reached by land, too.

things to do ten bay caves eleuthera bahamass eleuthera

The Ten Bay Caves have some chambers that let in natural sunlight

#5 – Talking to Locals

It is said that the spirit of the Bahamas can only be truly felt through its people. The Eleutherans are amongst the friendliest people you will ever meet and they love to share their knowledge, insight and experiences. Seek them out. You won’t be disappointed!

things to do talk to locals eleuthera bahamas

Mr. Millard Bethel owns a small market in North Palmetto Point

#4 – Blue Holes

The Sapphire Hole in North Eleuthera, which until recent years was almost completely hidden by the jungle, is now sought after by folks who want to perform the dramatic 10′ jump into it. It has become a must-see for adventure seekers. The Ocean Hole in Rock Sound is still a favorite and can be swam or snorkeled, however, many folks go to simply feed the fish. There are a number of other cenotes that can be found through some research and exploration.

things to do sapphire hole

The Sapphire Hole (bottom of pic) is close to Tay Bay Beach and Preacher’s Cave

#3 – Non-motorized watersports (SUP/Kayak/Surfing/Snorkeling/Cliff jumping)

Where there is ocean there is fun and adventure to be had! If your rental doesn’t come with any non-motorized equipment it can be easily rented at one of the shops in Governor’s Harbour or Gregory Town. The best surf breaks can be found at Surfer’s Beach near Gregory Town, but there are several other spots that are worth trying if you have your own board. Cliff jumping is best done on the northern end of the island where heights range from 10′ to 40′ from Glass Window Bridge to James Cistern. The other activities can be done off of almost any beach if the conditions are right, but if they aren’t then visit Edwin’s Turtle Lake Marine Preserve just outside of Governor’s Harbour to experience SUP and kayaking in a more protected environment.

Snorkeling at Half Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas

#2 – Guided Ocean Tours

Hire one of the tour guides and see Eleuthera from the ocean. You can snorkel, dive, fish, interact with turtles, find huge starfish, and if you don’t mind some wet pig scat, swim with the pigs. The Schooner Cays are really beautiful and can be experienced by boat off of the southern end of Eleuthera. Seeing the island from sea is a completely intoxicating experience. A list of tour guides can be found here.

things to do guided tours eleuthera bahamas

Aqua Bliss runs daily charters

#1 – Beaches

The best thing to do on Eleuthera is explore and find new interesting beaches. The pilgrimage to Lighthouse Beach is almost expected, but there are 134 other majestic deserted beaches that provide an incredible variety of experiences. You can spend your entire vacation searching and experiencing them if you wish to. Depending on the ocean conditions, you can snorkel at almost all of them. Consider picking up The Eleuthera Beach Book and The Eleuthera Snorkel Book to enhance your trip and speed your journey to the best spots.

things to do lighthouse beach eleuthera bahamas

A trip to Eleuthera is not complete without an excursion to Lighthouse Beach

Conclusion

I hope you liked my list of The BEST 15 Things to Do on Eleuthera. I’ve spent many years exploring the island and all it has to offer, and it never grows old. Even after 21 years, each time I visit I find something new. I hope you seek out some of these locations and turn Eleuthera into your go to place for vacation adventure!

eleuthera map pick a vacation rental

A satellite view of Eleuthera reveals both shallow and deep water surrounding it


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Eleuthera books and libraries: Freedom to Read, Inc. builds libraries and literacy in Eleuthera

happenings, philanthropy - Bret S. - August 17, 2020

In this blog I want to bring your attention to a very worthwhile organization that is making a difference on Eleuthera and Harbour Island. Please consider donating to this worthy cause so that the people who are doing the hard work have the means to continue bringing education and enrichment to the lives of the people of the Bahamas.

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Freedom to Read Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to literacy in Eleuthera and Harbour Island. Quite simply, they are changing the lives of the people of the Bahamas so they can reach their fullest potential through the power of free access to literacy. This organization is making a real difference for the Family Islands by being an important mechanism for learning, information access and computer services.

Freedom to Read, Inc. began when librarian Susy Siel recognized a need for free access to literacy on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas. She had been visiting the island for decades with her parents, and had seen first-hand how much life could be improved by introducing quality libraries stocked with current books and new computers. I had a chance to conduct a brief email interview with Susy to learn more about the libraries and how they operate, and to see how we can all get involved to help this meaningful cause.

First, it’s important to know that the library sites are not just for students. They are utilized by everyone in the community.  The majority of patron use is definitely students, however, many people come to the library to access the Internet or to have letters typed and printed.  The libraries also provide document scanning, which is a great need in the Bahamas as the government departments often require physical paperwork for many of their services such as social security, home insurance, passport applications and renewals, auto registrations, driver’s licenses, etc..

As you would expect, the libraries rely on donations to grow and operate. The costs of operating twelve libraries that are quite a distance apart, on an island where costs are high in general, creates a constant challenge. While the local governmental councils are responsible for providing electricity and Internet, they do not service the physical buildings. There is great need to provide and service the AC units in nearly every library. Computer maintenance is nearly constant and the library staff is not well equipped nor trained to provide technical services. Getting necessary funding for facility and computer maintenance is a critical need.

On the bright side, most of the staff are salaried by the Ministry of Education and the Bahamas National Library and Information Services.  However, these are not permanent and pensionable positions and the pay is barely enough to provide basic living expenses. Several of the libraries have Library Supervisors who are not supported by the government at all, and they provide work voluntarily. In two of the northern settlements, Bluff and Lower Bogue, the librarians are paid by a government temporary service bill called the 52 Weeks Program at a nominal $800 a month! The staff are highly trained professional librarians and, unfortunately, they can barely make ends meet. The issue of hiring and paying skilled workers is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

I asked Susy what her plans were for the future. Would she continue to develop more libraries or did she have other ideas? She said that rather than expand, she would prefer to service the existing libraries more fully. While she has been approached by Deep Creek, Savannah Sound, Bannerman Town and Rock Sound to provide libraries in those settlements, making the current set of libraries more consistent would not only allow them to provide better services, but would also help reduce costs. For example, standardizing the printers at each site would allow donors to provide the same type of ink toner. Right now every library has a different printer so it is very difficult to even coordinate something that simple. There is a plan being developed to provide assistance to the devastated Marsh Harbour Public Library on Abaco, but Susy is unable to free up enough budget to make a meaningful impact.

Susy recounted some of her experiences from interacting with students. She said that it’s always a pleasure to see them arriving after school. Their enthusiasm to return and check out books, use the Internet, and work on their school assignments is infectious. Whenever possible Susy likes to personally jump in and assist. She has worked with kids to establish Google accounts and use Google Drive, which always seems to result in squeals of joy when they see how documents can be shared and edited in real time!  She sometimes gets to play word games and assist with homework, which is just an added bonus of the job and something she really enjoys doing. She also had the privilege to participate in the Summer Book Club established by Librarian Katherine Neely. The youngsters were enthusiastic and full of life, and are genuinely excited about having access to books and computers. She loves seeing how eager and impatient the kids are to get inside.  During construction and cataloging at several of the new sites she often had 6 to 7 kids standing outside begging to come in even before the libraries were open for business.  She said that it’s really heartwarming to know that they simply wanted books in their hands!

I wondered, outside of monetary donations, were there other things that visitors or residents could contribute to the organization? While funding is the greatest need, there is always a constant demand for consumable supplies that are needed to assist with after school homework. This includes: crayons, scissors, glue, #2 and colored pencils, durable pens, printer paper, toner, and cleaning supplies, such as bleach, rags, Pine-Sol, toilet bowl cleaner, toilet paper, hand towels, etc. Folks wishing to donate supplies can contact Susy directly at freedomtoreadinc@gmail.com. Additionally, they also require housing and ground transportation while on island. If you can’t donate directly then please consider buying and bringing these items with you when you visit.

I wanted to know what Susy’s greatest challenge was. As you might have guessed, funding went to the top of the list, but not in the way you might think. It turns out that LOGISTICS is probably the biggest issue. She said they are constantly collecting, sorting, shipping, and delivering resources to each of the library sites. From books to computers to consumable supplies, everything comes FROM somewhere and has to be delivered TO somewhere. This is no small feat on a Family Island that is 100 miles long!!!  Over the past 7 years they have provided 48 pallets of books, roughly 150 computers, library furniture, and ongoing training for library staff, and all of that requires logistics. Susy says that the organization’s vehicle and transportation costs could put Freedom to Read, Inc. out of business, which would be absolutely terrible when people are now depending on the services that they provide. As her #1 wish, she said it would be AMAZING if someone would donate a high riding SUV (Jeep type vehicle 10 years old or newer) and have it shipped to Eleuthera, licensed and registered.

If you are still reading this blog, then I’m sure we are in agreement that education is one of the keys to future success in the Bahamas. Being literate is a must and literacy these days means much more than simply reading and writing. In today’s age, literacy means reading, being information and technologically literate and developing all the skills needed to be successful in our modern economy. Many Eleutherans are employed either by being a skilled tradesman or by providing some type of service to the tourism industry. And, while the trade workers in the Bahamas do great work, they often fail financially because they do not have the full set of skills necessary to run a business. I’m sure you would agree that free access to literacy is an absolute necessity to ensure a better trained populace and workforce. The Freedom to Read library sites provide a safe, clean environment to stimulate intellectual curiosity and they are doing so at the location of need. Please give now if you can by clicking the red DONATE button below.

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