Eleuthera

The Island of Eleuthera

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The tiny, undeveloped island offers an alternative to those who prefer to avoid casinos, nightclubs and crowds. If you're looking for five-star hotels, pampering, entertainment, look elsewhere. But if having the beach to yourself and unspoiled views of the ocean in countless shades of blue and turquoise sound appealing, Eleuthera is paradise.

Whether you're seeking a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Eleuthera is a little-known gem. Eleuthera is beautiful and unspoiled: water so clean you can stand chest-deep and see your feet; air so free of pollution that the night sky is black and sprinkled with millions of stars; flowers so bright they inspire people to paint their houses in a rainbow of pastel colors.

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. Palmetto Sunrise rental villa is located in Palmetto Point.

The soft pink or white sand, bountiful shells, warm water and coral reefs right off shore offer a relaxing and interesting day at the beach. There's nobody trying to braid your hair or sell you trinkets, and with 220 miles of coastline, it's not hard to have the place to yourself. The island is so narrow, you can choose between the Atlantic or the Caribbean side with minimal travel time.

Nature lovers have their choice. We awake to a chorus of songbirds each morning, We have watched the turquoise and brown lizards, the noisy frogs with suction feet, tropical fish, starfish, sand dollars, conch and sea crabs.

The vegetation is varied and interesting. Tropical fruits, including pineapples, oranges, mangoes and papaya, grow on the island. You will enjoy drinking coconut juice and eating the coconut fruit from a green coconut knocked from a tree. And, in Tarpum Bay, an old roadside banyan tree, with roots that descend from its branches, is so expansive that visitors step farther and farther away to try to capture its immensity on film. A single tree is so gigantic that 50 children could climb on it simultaneously.

Another interesting experience is passing over the Glass Window Bridge in Gregory Town in northern Eleuthera, where, at the narrowest point of the island, the calm, shallow Caribbean and the deeper, more turbulent Atlantic meet. The only thing that separates them is a narrow bridge. The bridge is man made, replacing a natural arch that was washed away in a storm. The Caribbean is a lighter blue-turquoise than the deep blue Atlantic, and taking in all of those shades of blue at once is a feast for your eyes, especially on a sunny day when the sky is yet another shade.

Eleuthera has plenty to offer. In Rock Sound, there's Ocean Hole, which appears to be a pond surrounded by walls of rock. Called "bottomless," it contains ocean water fed from underground streams. Bring bread, because feeding the jumping fish is a treat. The fish are so used to being fed that they're like ducks on a public pond.

There are also ancient caves to explore. Preacher's Cave, in the north of the island, is where the Eleutheran Adventurers, the pilgrims who fled Bermuda and England for religious freedom, held religious services.

The tropical fish that feed in the coral reefs just off the beach are fascinating to watch, and the plentiful shells range in color from mother-of-pearl to pink, sunset hues to purple.

The real gift Eleuthera offers visitors isn't in any one "must-see" site. It's the atmosphere. Eleuthera, "freedom" in Greek, lives up to its name. The people are so laid back and friendly that it's impossible for even the most Type-A folks not to relax.

There's something amazingly relaxing about being able to let your children roam and explore without worrying about them.

The sunrises over the Atlantic hold their own magic.

When you awake to a chorus of birds, spend your day drinking in soothing blues, and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves, it's pretty easy to escape civilization.