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Trip Report Eleuthera Trip Report

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The Okiehicks (www.okiehicks.blogspot.com) hit the beach to celebrate graduations, and our 26th wedding anniversary. Those traveling included myself, husband and three children 22, 18, 17, daughters boyfriend, sister, brother in law and nine year old niece.

Travel:
Since we live in the middle of nowhere our first travel day included a three hour drive to the airport where we boarded US Airways flights to Nassau and a Southern Air flight to our final destination beautiful Eleuthera Bahamas. The 16 hour travel day was uneventful, although I did have a moment of concern when going through security at MCI when my bag was scanned and rejected. The contraband turned out to be a can of refried beans. Yes refried beans, did you see the title? OkieHICKS. One way us hicks have been known to stretch our dollars to exotic locations is to pack a big suitcase full of food. On our first visit to the store when I picked up a small jar of pickles for $4 and a small bag of Doritos for $6.00 I was very happy I packed the food suitcase and endured the embarrassment of the refried bean check! The Southern Air plane gave me a bit of a pause. Peeling paint, no vent covers on the air conditioners, ripped seat cushions and the one plane trip where I thought we might actually need those instructions on what to do in case of emergency, no instructions to be had! This was my first experience with small Bahamas’ airlines and this may be typical. I was thankful it was only a 15 minute flight!

Our home for the nine days in Eleuthera was a wonderful vacation rental Savannah Sunset (www.savannahsunset.net). Peter the caretaker, met us at the Governor’s Harbor Airport and we drove about 30 minutes south to Savannah Sound. I cannot rave enough about Savannah Sunset. It is a fantastic rental. Wonderful location, beautiful deck to the water, privacy, fun beach house décor and outfitted with everything you could possibly need. Every part of Savannah Sunset is top of the line and in perfect condition. It is our consensus that all future vacation rentals will be compared to Savannah Sunset and come up short. I cannot imagine topping it!!

Our plan for the week was to visit deserted beaches, snorkel, and enjoy family time. Eleuthera was the perfect destination for all three.

Our Favorite Beaches:

Jacks Bay Beach: We were at this beach for several hours and never encountered another soul. The highlight of Jack’s was swimming with a large group of turtles! Not anything else to see in the beautiful blue shallow water here.

Lighthouse Beach: I had heard such stories about the road to Lighthouse which after driving it I found to be a bit exaggerated, maybe because we live in Oklahoma with bad rural roads and we are used to it, but bad road or not, Lighthouse Beach is totally worth it. Pristine sand as far as you can see in either direction with decent snorkeling just a few yards from the beach. Lighthouse was my favorite beach just for the remote natural beauty. I feel quite blessed that I was able to experience it and the thought of future development here is heartbreaking!

Pawpaw Beach: We renamed this beach Sand Dollar Beach due to the abundance of sand dollars all over the ocean floor. This was a favorite of my niece because it was such fun to dive down and pick up a sand dollar every time. We visited this beach three times and only once shared the beach with a young family.

Smugglers: Smugglers is an interesting small beach that is accessed by climbing down rock steps cut between huge boulders. When you come out of the rocks you are on a beautiful cozy beach, to your right are crashing deep blue Atlantic waves and to your left a boarder of huge rock outcroppings that are perfect for a shady picnic. We visited this beach twice and had it all to ourselves both times.

Twin Sisters: We enjoyed snorkeling at this easily accessible beach. When snorkeling between the “sisters” we swam through thousands of small silver fish which was fun!

Travel Tips: I enjoy planning vacations almost as much as taking them and always try to be very prepared. One thing that I didn’t quite understand was how few places credit cards are accepted. I didn’t realize that even gas stations and grocery stores would not accept credit cards. Bring lots of cash!

I definitely recommend the book “The Elusive Beaches of Eleuthera” by Geoff and Vicky Wells. (www.elusivebeaches.com). We found the book helpful and a good starting point for our adventures. I also read several times that a GPS is needed to find the beaches. We did take one but never used it the whole week. We printed off this map (www.eleuthera-map.com) that worked perfectly.




Harbor Island: We took a day trip to Harbor Island. When we walked up to the boat dock I approached a small building for information on the ferry. When I asked if this is where you purchase tickets to Harbor Island I gave several locals a good laugh! No tickets required you just board a small boat that holds about 12 people and 10 minutes later give the captain five dollars when you get off. We rented golf carts at the dock and spent a couple hours touring. We stopped at the Pink Sands Beach for a photo and a Ziploc of sand to carry back home. My kids quickly walked ahead of me when the gallon Ziploc came out of the beach bag. “Hicks” stuff can be haunting for teens. The beach was beautiful and I am glad I got to see it, but it didn’t have anything on Lighthouse Beach in Eleuthera. Just more people! Harbor Island is not at all what I imagined. I knew that it had lots of tourists and wealthy residents so I was envisioning a walk able village with neat streets, pretty gift shops etc. I was picturing Grand Cayman on a smaller scale. It is nothing like that. It felt like a mess to me, golf carts going every which way as well as some cars mixed in which I didn’t expect. There were pretty cottages but “regular” houses too. This was the one day where we got really really HOT which I am sure influenced my opinion.

The highlight of our Harbor Island day was our snorkel trip with “Lil Shan’s” (www.lswatersports.com). Our first stop to snorkel was Cistern Rock off of North Eleuthera. It was a wonderful stop with lots of fish, coral, and fans. The next stop was “Starfish Alley” we got out of the boat in about 4-5 feet deep water and were amazed to see all sizes of starfish everywhere. Then we were off to snorkel a ship wreck, a new experience for us and a last stop where we enjoyed seeing huge fish, lobster, coral and fans. Luther was the captain of our charter and he was an excellent guide. He took the time to share all kinds of interesting and educational information about the ocean; fish and area and he got in the water and snorkeled with us at each site. I cannot speak highly enough of Luther and Lil Shan’s Water Sports. They were excellent!! We enjoyed Harbor Island but were thrilled that we were staying on Eleuthera with a daytrip to Harbor Island instead of the other way around!

Hitchhiking: Picking up hitchhikers is not something that we would ever dream of doing at home, but I had read that it is very safe and helpful to do so on Eleuthera. I was so happy that we went out of our comfort zone and picked up a hitchhiker near James Cistern. We ended up making a friend. Larry not only directed us to the Laughing Lizard, an interesting place for lunch that we probably would have missed, but he also took my son spear fishing which was a great experience. We all enjoyed getting to know him and learning a bit about his island life!

Sight Seeing: We enjoyed Preacher’s Cave, photo ops at the Glass Window Bridge, a bit of souvenir shopping at Pam’s Island Gifts, driving through the settlements taking photos of the many churches, houses, and beautiful beaches.


Food: We cooked in several evenings but also enjoyed a few meals out. Savannah Sunset provided us with a welcome meal of fried chicken, mac and cheese, rice and beans on our arrival night prepared by Barbie’s in Tarpum Bay. We enjoyed it so much we ordered another meal. We visited the “famous” Tippy’s and enjoyed the outdoor deck with million dollar view; Cocodimama was another tasty lunch on another beautiful beach. If looking for a resort on Eleuthera Cocodimama looked very nice. One evening after a full day at the beach we had fun trying Conch pizza from Mate and Jenny’s.


Our family had one of our best vacations ever on Eleuthera. It is a very special place. Beautiful deserted beach after deserted beautiful beach, gorgeous clear blue water, wonderful snorkeling, welcoming and friendly people. Everywhere you look is another beautiful view and every person you encounter has a smile and a wave. We were blessed to have visited!

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