Howler Dispatch: Eleuthera

Posted on April 2, 2012

We’re just back from Eleuthera, a tall, skinny island in the Bahamas.  This place seems custom built for us.  Here’s why:

1)      There aren’t a hell of a lot of people there.   Sure, there is Harbour Island to the north with its celebrity sightings and pastel colored bistros (we like ‘Briland too by the way), but on mainland Eleuthera there aren’t but about 4500 full time residents and a handful of tourists and expats at any given time.  Couple this sparse population with the fact that there are 150+ miles of beaches between the Atlantic and Caribbean sides and you’re sure to find yourself alone on the beach (or wave or flat, at the case may be);

2)     Eleuthera has waves.  When we were planning this trip, this was a revelation.  Growing up on the East Coast, the fact that any Bahamian island had rideable surf was somehow lost on us.   Don’t tell anyone;

3)     With hundreds of miles of habitat, there are TONS of bonefish and barracuda and some tarpon and permit too.  We had the privilege of catching a glimpse of some BIG Atlantic side bones and bringing a few to hand.  We only saw maybe .03% of the fishable water.  There are miles and miles of unexplored areas on or near Eleuthera if you have the time;

4)     Since the island is 110 miles long but only 2 miles wide at its widest point, you are never far from the right tide or a protected spot.  Too windy on the Atlantic side?  No worry, just drive 2 minutes and you’re on the protected Caribbean side.   Is the tide slack on the Caribbean side?  No worry, just drive 2 minutes and it’s moving on the Atlantic side;

5)     Kaliks and Goombay Smashes;

6)     Each afternoon you can buy rock lobster, grouper and snapper from local spear fisherman, Daniel, in the harbor (or in front of the house if you’re lucky);

7)     Uncrowded beaches provide fierce playing grounds for beach bocce;

8)     Conch everything;

9)     Friday evening fish fry in Governor’s Harbour brings out the locals and tourists alike.   Fried fish, pork chops, bbq chicken and some concoction called a Rum Bubba (There’s a reason they smile at you and wish you luck when they hand you your first); and

10)  The rental cars (like our early 90’s Kia Sportage with 345,000 miles) belong to locals.   Our owner came up and introduced himself in the grocery store.  “Hey, that’s my car man”.