Richard Hallman

Eleuthera: A Unique Vacation Getaway

It’s no accident that pop stars and princesses alike flock to Eleuthera for the peace and quiet. The Bahamian out island is a unique (and isolated) paradise.

Eleutheran, Vacation, Destinations, Travel
A guest room in the home pop princess Mariah Carey put on the market in 2012. The house is on Windermere Island, an enclave just off Eleuthera. (Left) “Eleuthera” is derived from the Greek word for free. With ocean views like this, it’s not surprising why that might be. (Right)Lori Barbely

play away

One of the best parts about the bahamas is that the ­islands provide direct access to a natural world that can be flat-out wondrous, particularly on the water. Outdoor activities are of paramount importance, creating an energy that makes many of the islands, including Eleuthera, “early to bed, early to rise” type places. It can be hard to find a light on past 10 p.m.

The nightlife might be sparing, but come sunrise, the world is your oyster, or conch, as it may be. Popular activities on ­Eleuthera include windsurfing, sailing, ecotourism, snorkeling, diving, fishing, spearfishing and surfing. The eastern coast has a steep drop about a mile out that helps collect big fish and big swells, while the more protected western side of the island is a bit gentler and has much shallower water — keep a sharp eye on your charts and depth sounder. Eleuthera’s reefs help make it a great place to play, but they can also be challenging for even the most seasoned captains.

However, a yacht makes taking full advantage of Eleuthera that much easier. Should you make the crossing, you’ll find some solid marinas. One of our favorites is Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, on the island’s southwestern tip. It accommodates yachts up to 200 feet LOA and has utilities, Wi-Fi and a 12-foot-deep mean low-water entry. It’s a tempting haven for out-island adventurers.

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Eleuthera’s balmy air and water temperatures make it an ideal place to pick up a new watersport, perhaps kitesurfing?Courtesy Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

hide away

Lenny Kravitz wasn’t smiling. In fact, despite Eleuthera’s swaying palms and fragrant sea breezes, the rock god and famed island resident seemed a little ticked off at having his picture taken as he rode his beach bike. But I couldn’t help it: The guy was the first person I saw during a trip to French Leave Resort, and in the age of “pics or it didn’t happen,” a quick iPhone shot felt necessary.

Perhaps Kravitz was huffy (pun intended) because this island — some 75 miles due east of bustling Nassau — is exactly the kind of place he sang about in “Fly Away,” in which he wails, I want to get away/I want to fly away. Way out in the Atlantic and known for its pristine beaches, Eleuthera isn’t the kind of place someone comes to be bothered.

Of course, you certainly don’t have to “fly away” to see Eleuthera. A yacht works just fine. For most vessels, the Bahamian island is a day trip from South Florida. Or, to break it up, both Grand Bahama and Nassau are about equidistant between the mainland and the island, depending on where you cast off lines.

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Eleuthera’s steep bathymetry makes it a plentiful hunting ground for many species of fish.Lori Barbely

stay awhile

It’s easy to fall in love with Eleuthera. Consequently, you may decide you want to stay for a spell. While you could sleep on your yacht, the island also has some enticing hotel options. One is the French Leave Resort, with 12 villas and fine dining, as well as access to a pink-sand beach. While family-friendly, French Leave is also highly amenable to a couple’s getaway.

The Queen’s Highway is the main thoroughfare here, connecting most of the resorts, the towns and the airport. The “highway” isn’t much more than a two-lane road carved through sand and jungle, but you’ll get to know it well when you visit. One must-see road stop is the Glass Window Bridge. Commonly referred to as “The Narrowest Place on Earth,” this small section of highway separates the rolling, azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the island’s east side from the calm, light-green flats on the west. The bridge itself is a sight you won’t soon forget either. It is a bit of a bottleneck though, so watch out for traffic. And might we suggest, if Lenny Kravitz happens by on his bicycle, cut him some slack. Leave the smartphone in your pocket and just toss him a wave. Something tells us he’ll probably smile and wave back.

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Famed Eleuthera resident Lenny Kravitz determinedly pedals his 10-speed into a brisk wind. (Left) A guide from Fishbone Tours can be a knowledgeable host who can introduce guests to the island’s wildlife, including starfish, sea turtles and more. (Right)Kevin Koenig, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
Eleutheran, Vacation, Destinations, Travel
The Eleutheran coastline can be rugged or serene depending on where you decide to cruise and stop for a snorkel.Courtesy Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
Eleutheran, Vacation, Destinations, Travel
French Leave Resort is one of Eleuthera’s top hotels. In-room iPad service integrates all of the resort’s amenities.Courtesy Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
Eleutheran, Vacation, Destinations, Travel
A monkey’s fist on the doorknob at French Leave Resort ensures the guests’ privacy. (Left) Eleutheran beaches are all about isolation. How does this cabana strike you for a post-cruise sundowner? (Right)Courtesy Bahamas Ministry of Tourism