My wife and I just returned from Eleuthera on 3/27/09. When we started thinking about where to get away for a week with just the two of us, Eleuthera quickly came to mind as I had always wanted to do an Out Island vacation and had read about the solitude of the island.
We were only able to get away from family commitments for 6 days and we booked our week at Bonefish Barbi’s. Barbi’s place is located on the Atlantic side and is a couple miles south of Governor’s Harbour Airport and 5 miles north of Governor’s Harbour.
In getting ready for the trip, we read every thread on Trip Advisor and Eleu.Net so thanks to everyone for all the great information that’s provided. Our plan for the week was pretty limited as we just wanted to spend some time together without all the kid and work commitments and hang out on a few beaches, read some books, and soak up the sun.
We packed a rolling cooler with some frozen drink mixers, steaks, chicken, and misc food items. We also loaded up on sun screen, bug spray, books, snorkel gear, travel fishing rod and reel, and clothes for the week.
Saturday, March 21
Left Richmond, Virginia on a 6:00 AM Delta flight connecting through Atlanta and arriving in Nassau in the early afternoon. Spent a couple hours in the airport bar waiting on our Bahamas Air flight to Eleuthera. If you are ever waiting in the Nassau airport, make sure you try a Pina Coloda at the bar by the Bahamas Air counter. Best tasting blender drink I’ve ever had, by far. $9 a drink but a great way to start out a vacation.
Took the afternoon Bahamas Air flight to Northern Eleuthera airport for a quick stop and then headed down to Governor’s Harbour Airport. I arranged for a Suzuki Sidekick through John Bennett and he told us to meet Clinton Knowles at the airport to pick up our ride. He was waiting for us outside the airport, helped us load up our gear, gave us directions to the house, and we headed out.
We had time before the stores closed so we stopped to check out the house and unload our suitcases and cooler. We were very impressed with Barbi’s place from the start. The ocean view was incredible, the grounds were well maintained and full of blooming flowers and native plants, and the house was very clean. It had a stocked kitchen, microwave, coffee maker, blender, lots of books, TV, stereo, gas grill, towels, snorkel gear, couple extra coolers, and many other things I can’t remember.
After unloading and checking the house out, we headed down to Governor’s Harbour. Stopped by the liquor store for a bottle of tequila and rum, ice, and some beer. The liquor seemed very inexpensive, maybe $13 or so a bottle but the Kalik beer was pretty pricey at $56 a case. Anyway, no worries and we headed to Burrow’s for a few supplies. Can’t say that we noticed any major price differences from the states but we really didn’t buy much.
We had arranged ahead of time to have Mavis Johnson prepare a meal and deliver it to the house for our first night so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking after a long day. Barbi had mentioned it as a suggestion and we are very glad we made the call. She brought over conch, rice and peas, cole slaw, and potato salad. The cost was $24 but she had to drive a ways so I think we ended up giving her $40. We ate most of the next day on the leftovers.
After dinner, we wanted to catch up on the NCAA basketball tournament and see how our brackets were panning out. Took a few minutes to figure out the satellite TV setup but after a few tries we had it going. Watched the games and crashed.
Sunday, March 22nd
I woke up early to catch the sunrise and it was beautiful. We planned on spending the first day at the house beach. It was pretty windy as it was much of the week. The ocean was too rough for swimming but it was fine just lying in the sun. The house has 4 lounge chairs and I carried 2 down to the beach. There are only 2 with cushions which worked fine for us and made napping impossible to prevent.
We often read on this site about everybody wanting a private beach. Before coming on this trip we knew from talking to Barbi that there was a house to the south that an older gentleman lived in and there was a house further away to the north that was also a private home. We checked the satellite views and that’s what we also saw. Little surprised when we drove in that there were 3 houses on the road to Barbi’s. That concerned us some but we are a pretty laid back couple when it comes to traveling. In the end, it really didn’t matter as we never had anyone walking on the beach while we were down there and only saw three people all week at a distance. So I would say that Barbi’s place lived up to its reputation as a very private beach.
After a late lunch, we decided to go check out a Caribbean beach and we went a short distance north to Rainbow Beach. Small beach that is probably used primarily by the residents of the surrounding subdivision as there were some tables with sun roofs along the small stretch of beach. We saw 3 couple there but we walked a little further south and there is a little cove that was like we had our own private beach. Did some snorkeling, saw lots of fish, and picked up a few sand dollars. Nice afternoon.
Headed back home and fired up the grill and had some of the steaks we brought with us. Watched the Sunday night basketball games and realized that my bracket was looking really good. Called home to check on the boys and was informed that I was number 1 in the pool. So not only were we going to have a great week, I was going to be able to pay for it with my winnings after the tournament ended!!!
After taking a shower, we noticed that there was water leaking on the floor from a closet where the hot water heater was so we knew there was a problem. Called Byron, the caretaker, to let him know that someone should look at it and then called Barbi to let her know also first hand.
Monday, March 23rd
Another beautiful sunrise and great start to the day. The wind continued to blow keeping the ocean churned up so no swimming today. But another great morning of lounging on the beach, reading, and napping.
Byron had called a plumber about the water heater leaking and he called us in the morning to let us know someone would be stopping by soon to check on it. The plumber arrived and agreed that the water heater needed to be replaced and it was taken care of within a couple of hours. Glad we had made the call because you could see that the water was damaging the wood around the closet door. It didn’t affect our week and glad it was fixed because it would have messed up the week to not have hot showers and it was nice to have it taken care of before anyone else stayed in the house.
A hot topic on this site and Trip Advisor is the seaweed and trash on the beaches. Yes, Barbi’s beach had seaweed on it and some sea trash. We expected it so weren’t surprised and really not bothered by it. Actually, the trash was much less than we expected. We saw less on the Caribbean beaches and more on the Atlantic beaches. We just set up our beach chairs in a somewhat seaweed free area and were careful when we walked through it on the way to the water.
As for the air and water temperature, not sure what the temperatures were for our week but it felt very pleasant. When the sun was shining brightly it felt great. When the sun went behind a cloud and the wind was blowing off the ocean it was a little chilly. My wife always had a sweater with her and would put it on and off depending on the clouds but mostly it was perfect. The water temperature was a little cool when you first got in but felt fine when you stayed in. It also seemed to vary from the Caribbean side to the Atlantic side but that probably had to do more with the wind than the actual water temperature.
We went on a happy hour tour of a couple of beaches for the afternoon. Went north along the Atlantic to a place called The Cliffs and also Hidden Beach. Didn’t stay long, mostly just took some pictures. We then headed into Governor’s Harbour to see if we could pick up some fish from the dock. They only had snapper and we bought enough for dinner. Wanted some lobster but the fisherman said that you need to be there by 2:30 because they usually had some but it was the first thing to be sold. We then went to the bakery to order a key lime pie for the next day. If you want a pie, you have to order it ahead of time and pay a deposit or just pay for it all which we did. Arranged to pick it up the next afternoon and headed back to our house.
Cooked the snapper on the grill and it was great. The TV went out during the day but we weren’t worried but hoped it would be back on before the Thursday night basketball games so we could continue to track the progress of all my winnings.
Tuesday, March 24th
We had read a lot about Lighthouse Beach and dedicated today to the trip. Left the house around 8:30 for the road trip and were excited to see other parts of the island. Stopped at Island Farms just south of Governor’s Harbour and walked around the plants and vegetable gardens. Pretty neat place and we picked up some bottles of grill marinade for friends back home, a few oranges, and some killer cheese bread.
It was 2 hours from our house to Lighthouse Beach but that included the stop at Island Farms. The last 3 miles to the beach is on a pretty rough road. I read where others say you can make it in a regular car but we were glad that we had the clearance of the Jeep. Pretty bone jarring in several places and you are pretty much in first gear the whole way.
Once we arrived, we realized it was well worth the trip. It was easily the most beautiful beach I have ever been on. The ocean was full of coral and the pink sand beach stretched for miles. There was no one there when we arrived and we set up and just enjoyed the view and took pictures. A couple showed up a little later followed by a family of 4 but that was all for the day. Not surprised that we saw others as it is always listed as a must see beach. Spent all day there and it was the highlight of our trip. We took a 2 hour walk along the deserted beach and later in the day we climbed up on the rocks at the south end of the beach for pictures and to check out the Lighthouse. Make sure you do this to see the view and also go over the hill to the bay on the other side. It is protected from the wind and a good swimming area if the ocean is rough. And there are some really cool rock/cave structures there also.
We packed up in the late afternoon and headed back to have dinner at Tippy’s. We were worried about the need for reservations but arrived early enough so it wasn’t a problem. We had a drink at the bar and were seated pretty quickly. Great meal of appetizers and our main courses were shrimp with mahi mahi and blackened tuna. The tuna was to die for. Everyone writes that Tippy’s is expensive and I guess that depends on what you consider expensive. Our bill was $150 and included several drinks.
Wednesday, March 25th
This was supposed to be our “deserted island” day. One of Barbi’s suggestions was to catch a ride from a local fisherman to a place called Bottle Cay which is off Cape Eleuthera. It’s a 10 acre deserted island and seemed like a great way to relive my days of watching Gilligan’s Island. I had contacted a fisherman who had a boat on Tarpon Bay to take us out there in the morning, drop us off for the day, and pick us back up in the afternoon. We had agreed on a price of $200 with the first $100 paid when we got on his boat and most importantly the second $100 when he actually picked us up. Unfortunately, I called him to confirm on Monday night and he said the sea forecast was not looking good for the trip. So that was a bummer but I plan on trying again when we come back one day. You can do a Google scan on Bottle Cay and you will find it on one of the links off Eleu.Net. JB has some pictures of the island from a trip he took. I can’t recommend the fisherman that we had arrangements with because I never met him but his name is Orlando Pinder and his number is 1-242-432-0258. I appreciated him giving us his honest assessment of the sea conditions realizing he was losing some $$$ by not taking us out. He had agreed to drop us off, fish in the area, and pick us up which reduced the cost of having 2 round trips out there and I had gotten quotes up to $350 for the service.
Okay, back to Wednesday. Since we had not made it back to pick up the pie in time yesterday, I headed into Governor’s Harbour to take care of that. Didn’t do much else in the morning and we headed out to check out the north part of the island before lunch. Stopped at Pam’s Gift shop in Gregory Town for some souvenir shopping and had lunch at a place just north of Gregory Town called The Laughing Lizard. It was very good and would recommend it to anyone. Not the fastest service as we were there about an hour but I guess that’s on island time.
We wanted to check out Glass Bottom Bridge and went a little further north to ride over it. It was interesting to see the churned up Atlantic on one side of the road as compared to the Caribbean that looks like a lake on the other side of the road. We stopped by a couple of beaches on the Caribbean side on the way back home. One was called Twin Sisters and was deserted although we didn’t stay long and the other I forgot the name of. We stayed there for a couple of hours soaking up the sun and then headed home.
For dinner, we had some chicken we brought from home and the key lime pie for the Governor’s Harbour Bakery. Great pie! Started to think about the TV not working as we wanted to see the basketball games tomorrow night and called Tavares, who Barbi had told us to contact if the satellite went out, and left a message for him to call us back.
Thursday, March 26th
We had made plans to go to a Caribbean beach today but woke up to a calm Atlantic. So I set up the beach chairs and we enjoyed a great day at the house. We were able to do some snorkeling and just enjoyed the beautiful day. Never saw anyone on the beach all day.
I happened to be up in the house when Tavares called us back. He arranged to stop by and get the satellite working again. I talked to him about TV service on the island and it was interesting. I guess the satellites get scrambled from time to time and what he does is wait for a “fix” to come out in the internet and he hooks up his laptop to the satellite and uploads the “fix”. Only took a couple minutes but he couldn’t promise it would be scrambled again later. He says it will stay on for a day or a month and it’s impossible to predict. I gave him a tip, which he strongly protested at first, but I insisted as I was ready to watch my bracket picks continue to win so I could pay for this vacation. And predictably, I lost every game that night dooming my dreams of a quick buck.
Friday, March 27th
Sadly, we had to go home today so we packed up, cleaned the house, and headed for the airport. We got there about 90 minutes before our flight and probably could have come a little later. But I did hear the lady at the flight desk warning some late comers that they really need to be there an hour before the flight departs to make sure the didn’t miss the flight. I guess it sometimes leaves early.
We flew back to Nassau and had a 7 hour layover. We were hoping to check our bags and head into Nassau for some lunch but realized that once you went through security you couldn’t come back out so we didn’t want to sit in the departure lounge that long nor did we want to lug our luggage around Nassau. So we found the airport bar again and enjoyed a couple more Pina Coladas. We had lunch at an outside “café” across the parking lot that looked like it was used by airport workers. I would recommend you check it out if you have a long layover as it has a bar, TV, and tables.
Finally, we checked in and got on our flight and reluctantly headed back home to join the real world.
In summary, we had a great week as Eleuthera was everything and more that we had been hoping for and we look forward to returning one day and can see easily making it for 2 weeks. Barbi’s place was a great location and perfect house for what we were looking for. It was spacious, clean, private, great location, and incredible ocean views. We would return to the same place without a doubt.
We’ve only been once so can’t say we are experts on Eleuthera by a long shot but here are some general thoughts/recommendations.
We didn’t have a problem with bugs. I was out on the beach at sunrise and outside the house at sunset. We had a strong breeze all week which I’m sure contributed to our bug free week. Several previous guests had written about being bitten so we were lucky. The wind was much calmer on the Caribbean side but we weren’t bothered there either.
Atlantic vs Caribbean side – We would stay on the Atlantic side again. The views are great and the breeze kept the bugs away. We wish the water would have been calmer but I’m sure it can be that way because several previous guests wrote about snorkeling all week. I you wanted a better chance of being able to walk out your door and go swimming then you should probably stay on the Caribbean side. But we’ve only been once so I’m sure those who come each year would be a better judge of what side is the best.
If you like big, fluffy beach towels bring your own. We brought 2 and they were better than anything at the house and probably most houses. Always good to be able to spread them out over a wide area.
Camera Tripod – I brought one of the folding kinds and it makes it easy to take pictures of you and your traveling companion without having to find someone to take a picture which at most beaches would be a problem.
Cell Phone – If you have a need to call home, contact your provider before you leave. We had Verizon and called them in the Atlanta airport to see if we could make international calls and they did something that only took a minute and our phone worked fine. Not sure what the bill will be but I think they said it was around $2 a minute.
Take some good sandals to climb on rocks for the views and over rocks as some beaches will have a section of rock that you need to navigate to get to the next stretch of sand.
If you plan on using the Elusive Beaches book, take a GPS. We used one and it helped.
Houses usually have knives but they are never sharp. I wish I had taken one of those cheap handheld sharpeners to give them an edge. I was trying to trim up the fish we bought in Governor’s Harbour and the knives were too dull to do a good job. A $10 portable sharpener would have been perfect and the next guests at your house would appreciate it.
If you plan on trying to find some of the out of the way beaches, make sure your rental care odometer is working. A lot of the directions you will print off the internet will say things like “go 8.8 miles from the Shell station and take the dirt road to the left” or something like that. Our rental did not have a working odometer so it was hard to figure out which dirt road to take when there are so many that look the same and you weren’t sure how far you had gone. Something to ask your rental guy about if it matters to you.
Take whatever spices you think you might need. If you plan on picking up some fish, think about how you want to cook it and bring what you need to prepare it how you like it.
When the wind was blowing off the Atlantic, it can get chilly, especially when you want to catch a sunrise or are out at night. Bring some sweat pants/top for these times.
Not sure how many houses have a washer and dryer but I would look for a rental that has one. Ours did and it was nice to wash towels and clothes a couple of times and not have to worry about packing too much.
Ziploc bags are good to bring to marinade meat and fish. And bring any marinade you think you might need.
If you want to watch movies, bring some that you haven’t seen. If you like TV and yours is out, the DVD is going to work, assuming the house has one. Same with any music CD’s you want to bring. Our house had a pretty good stack of music to choose from and it was good to have some Bob Marley music playing during the day.
Our house had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and I don’t think we would stay in anything smaller. We could put all our clothes in the extra bedroom and not have to cram all our stuff in one bathroom. My wife likes to sleep later than I do and being able to ease out of bed and close the door and have room to roam without disturbing her too much was nice. I see that some of the houses for rent are more of a studio type layout but we liked the larger setup.
Tell your home owner if you find anything wrong. We called Barbi about the leaking water heater to make sure she got a first hand assessment and it was fixed the next day. When we got back I sent her an email letting her know that the blender was not working and someone had tried to duct tape the part that was broken. It wasn’t a big deal to use but she told me that no one had let her know so she could get it replaced.
I’ve written way too much and probably bored you if you made it this far but wanted to write down everything before I forgot. We took a lot of pictures and I’ve selected several that will relate to what I’ve written so I hope it will give you an idea of what it’s like in Eleuthera if you are planning a first trip.
Doug and Gwen Box
From one Doug to another...great trip report!!!
Thanks Doug. We enjoyed your trip report and pictures also.
One thing I mentioned on Trip Advisor and forgot to mention here was that it helps to know where the pictures were taken so if you view the slide show, click on the "Show Info" button on the top right and it will let you know where the picture was taken.
Definitely one of the best Eleuthera trip report I've
Did you make notes daily to remember it all? If I don't jot down at least few words every day, I have a hard time recalling what I did when.
Liked the pictures as well. Great use of natural light.
I'm glag you guys liked Eleuthera, but I have a feeling you two can have a good time wherever you go.
Great trip report and a superb photo show!
Thanks, I predict that you will be back :)
Well-written report, Doug, and the photos are GREAT! The food pictures are mouth-watering delicious and I wish I could be in Tarpum Bay right now to enjoy some "peas 'n rice" and grouper fingers. Glad you had such a good trip. Lloyd
And nice toes.
Great pics and report guys. We did not know we had fellow Eleuthera lovers so close to us. We go for two glorious weeks every year and it gets better all the time! You will find new treasures each trip!
Jeff and Wendy, Virginia definitely is for (Lutra) lovers. I'm a W&M grad, lived in Virginia Beach for 30 years and own a home on Eleuthera. E-mail or call the next time you're on the island and we'll invite you over for a Kalik.
SO glad you had an amazing visit and hope your future will include returning to our gorgeous ELEU!
Just ONE concern. Hope you did not take any Live
sand dollars as it takes them a long time to regenerate.
GREAT pics & thanks for sharing!!
Kay, how do we reach you? We never pass up a free Kalick! :-)
Jeff and Wendy, click mailbox under my name to get my e-mail address. Phone on island is 332-0085. We're here most of the year.