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I was looking for ideas for a new article and embarked on finding out whether there was actually a way to have a better vacation. And, if there was, could I offer some pointers on how to have a killer vacation in Eleuthera. In doing some research, I found an interesting article on what they describe as “scientifically proven ways to have a better vacation”. Here’s the original article. I thought it might be a neat idea to apply these concepts to our beloved Bahamian islands so you can have your best Eleuthera vacation experience. Here’s my take on that.
Planning for a killer Eleuthera vacation
For Eleuthera, planning might be overrated, but that really depends on your personal style. I’ve always felt that the best way to vacation on Eleuthera is to wake up each day and see which way the wind blows, sometimes literally. That’s because depending on wind direction and speed you will favor one side of the island over the other. Since the island is at most 2 miles wide at its widest, it’s very easy to seek out a location on the side of the island that is less windy making your beach experience more pleasurable.
However, for those who do like to plan, my recommendation is to not overplan. I see time and time again folks trying to fit everything into a 7 day vacation. It’s just not possible. Eleuthera is a 100 mile long island with lots and lots of outdoor activities. Plus, you have several other Family Islands, namely, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, that are easy day destinations and definitely worth exploring. When you then factor in the outstanding tours that are offered on three parts of the island, you can easily overdo it. With all that running around you’ll likely be more exhausted than relaxed and that’s not what you want on your vacation. Here’s one of my recommended itineraries for a chill 7 day visit:
Day 1 (Saturday arrival): No plans. Arrive. Clear customs. Get your luggage. Pick up your rental car. Shop for groceries and beverages. Find your rental. Relax at the house and on the beach if you are beachfront. Go to the nearest restaurant for dinner. Call it an early night.
Day 2: This is a beach day. Have breakfast at your rental. Pack up and head out. Be sure to bring your snorkel gear. Pick two beaches to visit that are in the same general vicinity as your rental property. Hit one beach in the morning. Have a picnic lunch. Hit a beach in the afternoon. Go back to your rental and watch the sunset. Have dinner in or preferably hire a private cook to come to your place and cook for you. You can also hire Cocojo to mix some dropoff libations.
Day 3: You’re going sightseeing today. Head north and visit Queen’s Bath, Glass Window Bridge, Sapphire Hole and hit either Tay Bay Beach or Ben Bay Beach. Have breakfast at Da Perk if it’s on your way, and lunch at the Glass Window Bar and Grill or Daddy Joe’s, both in Gregory Town. You’re going to dinner out at an authentic Bahamian restaurant tonight. Try either Unique’s in North Palmetto or the New Sunnset Inn in Governor’s Harbour. Enjoy an evening cocktail back at the house after dinner.
Day 4: Is another beach day. Go to one of the southern beaches such as Red Pond or Nort’side. Call ahead and arrange lunch at Nort’side Inn or Wild Orchids in Rock Sound. Stop on the way back in Tarpum Bay and have a drink and a conch salad on the waterfront. Talk to some of the locals and swing on the ocean swing. Pick up some fresh fish at the Tarpum Bay dock, head back to your rental and enjoy a delicious home cooked fish or lobster dinner!
Day 5: Today you’re going island hopping. Pick either Harbour Island or Spanish Wells, depending on what you like to do, and plan to spend the day there. Rent a golf cart, enjoy one of their beaches, have a late afternoon lunch, do some gift shopping, and talk to some of the locals. Stop on the way home in Gregory Town at either Pam’s Island Made or Rebecca’s Beach Shop and grab some unique gifts.
Day 6: It’s tour day. Pick which part of the island has the excursion you favor the most. To the north are the swimming pigs, sand bars, and turtles. To the south is Lighthouse Beach or Schooner Cays. The middle of the island is fishing and snorkeling. The travel to and from the tour plus your actual tour is going to fill up your whole day. Make it back to your rental and have dinner out at either 1648 or La Bougainvillea.
Day 7: Pack in the morning so you aren’t stressing. You have options on this day. Visit one of the caves or try one of the activities you haven’t done before such as paddleboarding in Edwin’s Turtle Lake, windsurfing in Savannah Sound, surfing at Surfer’s Beach, or bone or deep sea fishing with Fishbone Tours. Another option would be to do a nature walk through the Leon Levy Preserve if you want to take it easy. Grab a take-out lunch at Queen of Tarts or 3-J’s. Relax on your closest beach in the afternoon and then head to the Governor’s Harbour Fish Fry for dinner, street dancing and a few Rum Bubbas!
Day 8: Time for one last dip, walk on the beach, then head home.
Quantity over once in a lifetime experiences
This particular item surprised me a bit as I would have thought that vacation highlights would have more of an effect on one’s persona than a smattering of pleasurable experiences, but I’ll defer to the experts. Eleuthera has highlights and it also has a lot of quality activities that you can do as many times as you want. Here are but a few examples.
- Beaches – Eleuthera has 135 beautiful beaches. You can visit as many of them as you care to fit in. Some are long and good for walking, some are small and best for sitting, some are easy to get to and some not so easy. Regardless of what you like, you can find a myriad of choices as Eleuthera is a beach lover’s delight, for sure. Make sure to pick up your copy of The Beach Book before you go so you can find all of them.
- Sightseeing – there are numerous natural attractions up and down the island. Most are easy to find such as the Glass Window Bridge, Queen’s Baths and The Cliffs while others are a bit more challenging. From blue holes to caves to natural formations, you can fill up an entire vacation with just sightseeing the island’s formations.
- Tours – because the island is so long, the tour operators are quite spread out and offer a variety of different experiences. You can go on four different tours and never see the same thing twice. Here’s a link to most of the tour operators on the island.
- Gastronomics – while Eleuthera can’t be said to have fine dining by most American, Canadian or European standards, the differences in cultural diets is quite interesting and extremely pleasing for most visitors. You can have a field day sampling all of the different local cuisines and delicacies with conch and pineapple being two of Eleuthera’s prime delights.
- Water activities – if Eleuthera is a beach then the oceans surrounding it are it’s blood. You can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, fish, paddleboard, windsurf, surf or just float in the water. Make sure to pick up your copy of The Snorkel Book before you go.
There are plenty of ideas when it comes to things you haven’t done that you can try on Eleuthera. It really starts with the food choices and, before that, the groceries. It’s often said that on Eleuthera you may not find what you want, but you can always find everything you need. That’s because all of the products, save for pineapples and fish, are going to be imported. Products come from Europe, Canada and the United States. Give some of those products and brands you never heard of a try. You will be quite surprised at how good they can be.
A lot of visitors are afraid to try the Bahamian staples like cracked conch, conch salad, stewed or boiled fish or any of the delightful fruits or desserts such as Guava Duff. It’s your vacation! Give ’em a go!
You will have an opportunity to try many new and different activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, wind surfing, bonefishing and many, many others. Pick out at least one new activity and give it a whirl. You just might find your next passion. That’s how I became a diehard scuba diver!
Doing things that one finds pleasurable seems like a no brainer on Eleuthera. If you like to simply read and relax, then do it. If you prefer to sit on the beach all day and stare at the ocean, then why not? Do you like to cook? Do you like to sleep in late? Do you like to have a late night cocktail before bed? Indulge. It’s your vacation. Set aside time for the activities you love the most.
Outsource chores or mundane work
Hiring someone else to handle work that you don’t want to do on vacation is an excellent idea and one that is easily accomplished. Have your property manager stock your house for you so you don’t have to go grocery shopping. Hire a private chef to prepare one or two meals for you in your rental or better yet, rent a house that comes with a staff included. Retain a bartender for a special occasion or have mixed drinks delivered to you that you can take to the beach. Have a cab driver bring you back and forth to the fish fry or another special meal. All of those are possibilities on Eleuthera.
In general, you don’t have to do everything yourself all the time. Don’t try to save money while you’re on vacation. It’s the time to spend what you have earned from all of that hard work during the rest of the year. Live a little and indulge.
Going to Eleuthera means going on vacation. It doesn’t mean going to Eleuthera to work. By the way, did I mention that the infrastructure is notoriously weak? Yes, it has gotten a lot better over the years, but Internet service can be slow and sporadic. Power outages, while less frequent, still occur on a somewhat regular basis. If you think you are going to Eleuthera to be a remote employee then you might want to rethink your destination.
Work will be there when you get back. If you feel like the job just can’t go on without you then perhaps force yourself to limit online time and email checks to first thing in the morning. Then, shut your cellphone off and lock it away for the rest of the day. Check it again tomorrow morning.
End on a high note
On Eleuthera it is pretty easy to end on a high note. The question is which one will be the highest high! Everybody’s favorite thing to do is visit Lighthouse Beach where the beauty and majesty of the landscape is just unrivaled anywhere else on Earth. Today, as it stands, due to the ongoing Disney development of their private cruise ship port, you have to hike in from about two miles away. Still, this is a highly recommended pilgrimage and a surefire way to end your best Eleuthera vacation.
Going on one of the tours is also another killer way to end the trip. There are tours from the north, cental and southern parts of Eleuthera. Choosing one usually involves choosing between seeing the swimming pigs (north), snorkeling and fishing (central), and one of Lighthouse Beach, Schooner Cays or Marker Bars (south). All the tours are excellent and you can’t go wrong regardless of what you pick.
Finally, end with a memorable meal. This usually means visiting 1648, Tippy’s or La Bougainvillea, which are the three more upscale restaurants on the island and all in the Governor’s Harbour area. One of the fancier restaurants on Harbour Island would also work well or end up at the Anchor Bay Fish Fry if Friday is your last night on the island.
Going to back to you real life might be one of the hardest things to do. Once you get on island time, and feel all that stress leave your body, it’s certainly not enjoyable to let it back in. One of the best things to do is to transition a little earlier than you normally would. Instead of flying home Sunday night to face work on Monday morning, consider going home on Friday or Saturday. Give yourself a day or two to reacclimate before jumping right back into your work routine and daily life.
Share your story
Finally, a great way to finish up your Eleuthera adventure is to put together a picture book or other keepsake. Make some home videos. Invite some friends over and show them what Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells are like. Teach them about the cultural differences. Use their energy and excitement over your trip to burn in those lasting memories of a killer Eleuthera vacation.