Located in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Florida, and just north of Cuba is The Bahamas, a nation consisting of more than 3,000 islands, cays and islets stretched over about 466,000 square kilometres (180,000 square miles) of ocean.
A popular retreat for holidaymakers, one of Islands in the group which has a reputation for having some of the best beaches in The Bahamas is Eleuthera Island.
Eleuthera is a long, but very thin, island that is located about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the capital Nassau. There are some smaller islands and cays located offshore from Eleuthera, with two of these, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells boasting beaches that are popular but which, because of their length, rarely seem to be crowded.
There are a number of small communities spread along the finger bone-like arc of the island, one of which is Gregory Town, a small, typically “laid back” Bahamian town which is close to one of the island’s best surfing spots. Each June, Gregory Town sparks into life with its annual Pineapple Festival, an event that provides a wonderful excuse to join in the partying to celebrate the virtues of the humble pineapple.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, Eleuthera was inhabited by the Taino people, but they were captured by the Spanish and sent to work in the mines on Hispaniola in the 16th century, where they eventually died out.
However, there has been continuous European habitation since then. As well as the Spanish, Puritans settled there in 1648 and gave the island its modern name, which is a Greek word meaning “Freedom”. Sadly, the slaves that were sent there felt no sense of freedom, but the historic buildings which exist on the island due to such a long inhabitation do provide a good reason to visit for those who are seeking more than just sun and sand.
The narrowest section of the island is called Glass Window Bridge, which was built upon a natural arch which links Exuma Sound to the Atlantic Ocean. Here you get clear views of the dark, deep waters of the Atlantic and clear, turquoise and shallow waters of the Caribbean.
Because of its length of 180 kilometres (110 miles) there are three airports on the island, North Eleuthera, Governor’s Harbour in the centre of the island and Rock Sound in the south to make it easier for visitors to reach their resorts.
With part of the island facing the Atlantic surf and the western beaches offering more protection from the weather; a plethora of beaches and several great islands just offshore Eleuthera is a destination that has a lot to offer visitors, with the advantage of being far more laid back than Nassau.