If you’ve put Eleuthera on your bucket list, I’ll be the first to tell you that you’ve made an excellent choice. Eleuthera, known as “the island of freedom” boasts miles of untouched beaches, endless adventure, and some much-needed peace and quiet! Please note that this is a guide to Eleuthera mainland, not Harbour Island or Spanish Wells, however, you can use many of my tips and info if you are staying on those islands!
In a world full of “busy”, Eleuthera can be your sanctuary, a little off-the-grid oasis where you can enjoy the bristling sounds of the wind in the trees, or the ocean crashing on the shore almost anywhere on the island. Listen to the cicadas sing and the birds chirp, no traffic or noise can be heard in most places. It’s pure paradise!
If you’ve been doing your research, you may find that Eleuthera is not one of the easiest places to get to. In addition, once you’ve made it to the island, it’s not as if everything is handed to you on a silver platter. You have to have a little grit, don’t expect the comforts and conveniences that many places in the world offer today. It is one of the most special features about the island, you can’t get anything you want at any moment- things are closed, stores run out of options, and restaurants are limited, but this is why you come to Eleuthera, to enjoy the simple life.
While there are many things you’ll have to figure out on your own, I have created a helpful guide to get you from A-Z if you choose to visit Eleuthera. Don’t get overwhelmed by the little things like car rentals, restaurants, etc. I will show you the way and you are sure to have to most epic and relaxing island vacation.
There are quite a few ways to fly into Eleuthera. But many independent factors should be considered before booking your flights. First and foremost you need to choose the settlement or “town” you will be staying in. There are 3 airports in Eleuthera, North Eleuthera Airport, Governors Harbour Airport, and Rock Sound Airport. It should be noted that each airport is about 1 hour away from each other via car.
Depending on where you are staying on the island, you’ll want to choose your airport carefully, otherwise, you will be driving A LOT. This is fine for some, but once you include driving to excursions, it adds a lot of hours, so here are my suggestions based on location. If you can, book your flights based on available flight options first, then arrange your accommodations (however you should know the general area that you are staying in as well), as some flights only operate on certain days. So, book the best flight based on airline availability and then schedule your accommodations afterward.
*these are my personal suggestions based on convenience and distance*
Staying in Rainbow Bay & North – Fly into North Eleuthera Airport
South of Rainbow Bay to Windemere Island – Fly into Governors or Rock Sound
Tarpum Bay & South- Fly into Rock Sound
Flying Direct into North Eleuthera
Delta via Atlanta
American via Charlotte
Silver Air via Orlando & Fort Lauderdale
American Air via Miami
American Air Via Fort Lauderdale
The above should work for most East Coast travelers, however, if you are coming from the West Coast, I suggest going a different route and that route is through Nassau. There are many direct flights into Nassau, and from Nassau, you can hop on a domestic flight to any one of the 3 airports via BahamasAir, Southern Air, or Pineapple Air. Please note that to book those flights you need to go directly to their websites. This is also a great option for people wanting to fly into Governors Harbour or Rock Sound as there are daily flights out of Nassau to those airports.
Direct to Governors Harbour
American Air via Miami (Coming Feb 3rd, 2024)
Additional options out of Florida into either North Eleuthera, Rock Sound, or Governors Harbour are via group charter through Makers Air or Aztec Air. Both private charters operate out of Fort Lauderdale and are a convenient option if you have dogs or want to easily get to any airport in Eleuthera. They are a bit pricier than commercial flights (around $400 per person each way) but worth it for the convenience.
Both the Governors Harbour & Rock Sound Airport have multiple daily flights coming out of Nassau via BahamasAir, Southern Air & Pineapple Air. As mentioned above, go directly to their website to book with them.
Some things I always consider when flying guests in:
- Travel time in the car- since almost all the sights and excursions are in North Eleuthera, I try to limit the times I have to drive up there, therefore I have my friends and family fly into the closest airport to me whenever possible. Sometimes I will have them fly one way in via Makers or Aztec into the closest airport to me and depart via direct flight out of North Eleuthera, which removes 1 drive. 1 hour may not seem a lot when planning, but if you are going up and back it’s 2 hours per day, which does add up. If you are planning on doing a boat excursion, going to Harbour Island, or doing any of the land sightseeing (Queens Bath, blue hole, caves) they are all in North Eleuthera, just something to consider when booking your trip. If you don’t mind driving, then North Eleuthera is definitely the most convenient airport to fly into.
- If you are coming from the West Coast, the only option is to overnight somewhere, whether that be Florida, Nassau, or somewhere else, or take a red eye. I am not a redeye fan, so when traveling from the west coast I fly direct to Nassau and stay one night then take one of the local airlines to my airport of choice. On the return back to the west coast it’s easy peasy through North Eleuthera or a quick local plane and then the direct from Nassau.
There are more and more flight options added every year, so I think in the future we will have more convenient flying options, for now, it’s a bit of a puzzle but I promise it will be worth it, now let’s get into the fun stuff!
Where to Stay
No matter where you stay, you are making the right choice. There are, however, a few things to consider when choosing your accommodations. The first would be if you are planning to do the hotel route or vacation rental route. There are only a few hotels in Eleuthera (for now) let’s discuss those first!
Island “glamping” at its finest. You can hardly call this glamping as it’s quite luxurious. The Otherside is situated on a beautiful piece of property in North Eleuthera, right across the bay from Harbour Island. The hotel is a very unique, quiet, and beautifully decorated boutique hotel. The restaurant on the property is excellent, this is a perfect place for couples or singles looking to relax, read a book, and just enjoy peace and quiet.
This is my favorite hotel, it’s just the most beautiful landscape and beautiful hotel grounds. It’s conveniently located in Gregory Town (North Eleuthera). The restaurant is great, they have a cool beach bar and the vibes are always excellent at the Cove. The rooms are luxurious and offer privacy and beautiful views no matter where you stay.
Conveniently located in Governors Harbour, this hotel overlooks the harbour side and offers beautiful viewpoints! The beach is located just a quick golf cart ride away and is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
An affordable and adorable boutique hotel located on a beautiful, quiet beach in Palmetto Point (just south of Governors Harbour). The restaurant is usually buzzing and is a local favorite.
Fisherman’s paradise! Cape Eleuthera is located all the way in the south of the island, about a 1.5-hour drive from Governors Harbour. If you are looking to fish fish fish, then this is the spot for you! Easily accessible boat runs to deep sea fishing as well as the Exuma chain. This is the best place to rent a boat and captain and spend your days on the water.
Vacation Rentals are a popular choice for many when visiting Eleuthera. There are hundreds of them all around the island, many with jaw-dropping beaches & views. One huge convenience of having your own rental is the ability to cook at home. With restaurant prices being super high, it’s nice to have the option of cooking a few meals in. It’s also good to note that many restaurants offer mainly fried food, so having the option to cook something nutritious and delicious at home, and or hiring a chef to come out is a super plus!
Here are the best places to book your vacation rental:
A car rental is non-negotiable when visiting Eleuthera. I mean sure, you can stay at your rental or hotel all day and take SUPER EXPENSIVE taxis, but it’s not ideal and you will regret it. Eleuthera is best explored with your own car. The island is 115 miles long and requires a lot of driving to get to the best spots. It also requires you to drive on the left side of the road, and with no streetlights at night, so put your adventure cap on and hit the road!
Some of the most unique experiences and beaches are down unassuming rocky dirt roads. There are plenty of car rentals on the island, starting around $70/day. Most companies take credit cards and require a $200 refundable deposit upon booking. They offer drop-off services to the airport of your choice, depending on which airport you may have to pay a fee.
JR Car Rentals: 242-808-3131
Big Daddy Car Rentals: 242-525-3838
De’Asia’s Enterprise Car Rental: +1 (242) 437-5683
There are plenty of small convenience stores located all over the island. Most will sell basic basics, like rice, onions, flour, milk, cereals, ETC. Think of these convenience stores like little neighborhood shops. There are a few larger grocery stores offering more variety, better organic, gluten-free choices, and specialty items.
North Eleuthera Shopping Center- Bulk items, great prices
East & Final (James Cistern)- regular basic groceries + a small organic section
Eleuthera Supply (Gov. Harbour)- Basic groceries
Bacchus Fine Foods (Gov. Harbour)-Specialty items, good wine, local produce
Burrows (Gov. Harbour)- Basic groceries
Island Farm (Palmetto Point)- Local produce, good meats, cheeses, coffee, freshly baked breads, and easy to-go meals for reheating.
Midway Cost Cutter (Savannah Sound)- Basic groceries
The Market (Rock Sound)- the best spot for organic, gluten-free and specialty items as well as local veggies and some organic grass-fed meats.
There are docks all along the western side of the island, you can usually catch the fisherman around 2 pm bringing in their haul from the day. Fresh fish & lobster, daily!
There are liquor stores located all over the island, they carry most liquors and basic beers. The best beer spot is East & Final in James Cistern, best wine is at Bristol on Cupids Cay.
Please note that it is acceptable to bring frozen meat in a cooler bag, along with any snacks, coffee, or specialty items you may not be able to find on the island.
There are quite a few options when it comes to dining in Eleuthera, and we have some great spots with some breathtaking views and of course the best vibes. If you are looking for something quick there are some great takeout spots for an easy affordable meal.
Quick Take Out
Sweet and Savory (wraps & salads)- Lunch Truck open Monday- Thursday 11-3
Cupids Bites (wings, sandwiches)
Mate & Jenny’s (Pizza)
Cravings (sandwiches, baked goods)
Da Perk (breakfast and lunch options)
Bacchus Fine Foods (breakfast + sandwiches)
Queen of Tarts- Cracked Conch, Chicken
Pittman’s Cove- Conch Salad & Seafood (weekends only)
We are lucky in Eleuthera as we have excellent restaurants, many of which offer live music nights, just call before to find out. You can almost always find a table so no need to make reservations, except for at the Otherside, Front Porch & The Cove. These are just a list of my favorites and the most popular on the island.
The Otherside (reservations only- lunch)- Quaint and beautiful setting in a boutique hotel, casual but delicious lunch.
The Cove (reservations only- dinner)- a more high-end dining experience with sushi and Bahamian flavors.
Unca Genes- delicious Bahamian food
The Front Porch (reservations only)- excellent seafood house with local fare
Delish- Bahamian food on the beach
1648 at French Leave- standard hotel menu with great views.
La Bougainville- standard hotel menu with great views.
Tippy’s- Bahamian American menu located right on the beach.
Buccaneers- Bahamian Asian fusion, great for breakfast
These are Eleuthera’s “must-see”, they are all accessible by land, and FREE!!! Except for Leon Levy which charges $11 per person. You can’t miss out on these natural attractions when visiting Eleuthera, these are the best adventures!
Hatchet Bay Caves
1-mile-long underground cave system with multiple levels. Guys, this place is unreal and is by far my most favorite place to go in Eleuthera. It’s best to hire a guide to take you through and to ensure you have the best & safest experience.
Tide pools that have formed on the Atlantic cliff edge after thousands of years of pounding seas. A beautiful place to explore and take a dip in one of the tubs.
Glass Window Bridge
The thinnest part of Eleuthera, stretching only 30 feet wide, allowing you to see both the calm shallow Bahamas Banks or “Caribbean side” and the rough deep Atlantic waters in one view.
Sapphire Blue Hole
A collapsed cave system that is 600 feet deep! Catch it right when the sun is overhead to enjoy the bright turquoise waters. Jump off the cliff (about 30 feet) and explore the red shrimps swimming in the hole! Caution! When you come out, you’ll need to climb up a rope swing!
The landing spot and home to the first Eleutheran settlers the “Eleutheran Adventures” a large open cave situated right across from a beautiful beach.
Leon Levy Preserve
A beautiful nature preserve featuring walking paths, beautiful vegetation, and tons of information about Bahamian plants, fruits, vegetables and culture!
You can 100% come to Eleuthera and not do a boat excursion, there are plenty of other adventures to do if it’s not in your budget and or if you are not a boat person. But for those who are planning on doing a boat excursion, there are tons of options, and you won’t regret it!
Spanish Wells has the most adventures for a boat excursion, including Sandbars, Rope Swings, turtles, swimming with the pigs & snorkeling. You can’t really find an excursion that beats the ones in Spanish wells, so if you are going to do one I suggest using one of the companies mentioned below.
If you are interested in fishing, unlike the adventure tours you have more departure spots, you can leave from various parts of the island and do deep sea, bone fishing, or reef fishing!
Bullseye Bone Fishing- Spanish Wells +1 (242) 359-7067
Fishbones- Savanah Sound +1 (242) 819-4960
Big Mac- Tarpum Bay +1 (242) 422-9972
-It is customary that an 18% service fee is included as a tip at restaurants.
-You will be charged a 10% VAT on all purchases
-Many places are closed on Sundays
-Google Maps is an accurate GPS
-BSD & USD are used interchangeably.
-Most places take cards (except AMEX)
-It’s always good to have cash on hand.
-There are 2 ATMS in Governors Harbour. 1 atm in Rock Sound, bring cash with you as they charge fees and are not always operable.
-WhatsApp is the best way to communicate with Bahamian businesses
-Most businesses don’t have an Instagram but use Facebook instead
-Sandflies a.k.a no Seeums are an issue for those with allergies to them. To avoid discomfort wear light pants at night with shoes. They usually attack the legs and ankles. Alternatively, you can use Picadirn or CUTTER, none of the other natural options seem to work.
We do not have a hospital on Eleuthera, but we do have a 24/7 on-call nurse.
Dial 919 or 911 for emergencies.
-Bahamas Wellness Palmetto Point 242-332-0224
-Family Medicine Center Rock Sound 242-334-2500
Pharmacies are open mon-sat 8:30 am-4:30 pm