An unspoiled island in the Bahamas

Explore the natural beauty, windswept beaches and crystal-clear waters of Eleuthera

A van crosses a bridge, with turquoise water one one side and waves breaking on rocks on the other, at the Glass Window bridge, Eleuthera island, Bahamas
Less than a mile wide in most places, Eleuthera is 100 miles long
(Image credit: Sylvain Sonnet/Getty Images)

Tourism first took off in Eleuthera in the 1950s, but this rugged sliver of an island in the Bahamas is still delightfully "unspoiled", says Eric Lipton in The New York Times. It is serviced by regular flights from the archipelago's capital, Nassau, but has no major resorts and its roads are so quiet, there are no traffic lights. 

This year, Disney is opening a "manufactured, self-contained town" for cruise ship customers at the island's southern tip, but that's unlikely to affect the rest of Eleuthera: it is less than a mile wide in most places, but a full 100 miles long. Most visitors stay in rental houses, and hire cars to visit its sleepy villages, its natural wonders and its dozens of beaches.

Taíno people once lived on the island, but it was unoccupied by 1640, when the first British settlers arrived. The capital they founded, Governor's Harbour, is the nicest place to stay today, with its "hillside colonial homes and white picket fences". 

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Among the best-known sights elsewhere are Cathedral Cave (a limestone cavern where banyan trees grow through holes in the roof), the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve (a botanical garden with more than 400 native species), and Sweetings Pond (a protected lagoon known for its seahorses). There are also some pleasant restaurants (such as the Buccaneer Club), and the weekly Friday-night fish fry at Governor's Harbour is a good chance to mingle with locals over Kalik beer, conch fritters, rum babas and more.

Food and other commodities are expensive, and though there are some decent hotels (such as The Cove, and French Leave Resort), Eleuthera is not a place to look for "day-to-night pampering". Come instead to enjoy its slow pace of life and its natural beauty, from the wild, windswept sands of the ocean-facing east coast to the calm, "crystal clear" waters of the west (home to an "insane array" of tropical fish), and the extraordinary and "seemingly endless" stars visible in the pitch-dark night sky.

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