FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
The top 25 places we think should be on every traveler's radar this year.More
High season in Eleuthera runs December through April, when residents of cold-weather climates head to the Bahamas to defrost and soak up some rays. Low temperatures might dip into the 60s, and the water can be chilly. Bring a sweater and a jacket, especially if you are boating. Expect to pay higher rates for rooms, boat rentals, and airfare during this time. For the cheapest hotel rates and some of the best deals on water-sports packages, visit in summer or fall, when the ocean is generally calm and warm. But beware, hurricane season runs June through November, with most risk of storms from August to October. During this time weather can be steamy and rainy.
For those who want to catch some action, the liveliest times to visit Eleuthera are Christmas during the annual Junkanoo celebration, the Pineapple Festival and Conch Fest in June, and the North Eleuthera Sailing Regatta in October. Reserve hotel rooms early.
Junkanoo is celebrated in Tarpum Bay on Christmas Day, and in Rock Sound and Harbour Island on December 26. Celebrations start around 7 pm.
Cyclists from around the globe come in April to ride the 100-mile Ride for Hope, an event that benefits cancer care and research. Riders of all ages and skill levels can ride 10 miles or 100. The route starts at Governor's Harbour. www.rideforhopebahamas.com.
Conch Fest. Deep Creek's annual Conch Fest in June has lots of conch, Rake 'n' Scrape, and arts and crafts.
Eleuthera Pineapple Festival. In June, Gregory Town hosts the four-day Eleuthera Pineapple Festival, with a Junkanoo parade, crafts displays, tours of pineapple farms, the annual 40-mi Cycling Race—as well as an opportunity to sample what Eleuthera natives proclaim to be the sweetest pineapple in the world.
Softball Playoff Games. Softball is the top sport in Eleuthera, and you can't beat Softball Playoff Games in September for excitement and camaraderie with locals. The winner competes in the national tournament. Games are held in Palmetto Point, Rock Sound, Governor's Harbour, and James Cistern.
North Eleuthera/Harbour Island Sailing Regatta. The North Eleuthera/Harbour Island Sailing Regatta in October provides five days of exciting competition of Bahamian Class A, B, and C boats. Onshore activities based on Harbour Island include live bands, Bahamian music, cultural shows, food, and drink.
Eleuthera has three airports: North Eleuthera (ELH), mid-island Governor's Harbour (GHB), and Rock Sound (RSD) in the south. Taxis usually wait for scheduled flights at the airports. Taxi service for two people from North Eleuthera Airport to the Cove is $20 ($60 from Governor's Harbour Airport); from Governor's Harbour to Pineapple Fields, $35; from Rock Sound airport to Cape Eleuthera, $70. Visitors going to Harbour Island and Spanish Wells should fly into North Eleuthera Airport.
North Eleuthera Airport (Eleuthera Island. 242/335–1242.)
Governor's Harbour Airport (Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera Island. 242/332–2321.)
Rock Sound Airport (Rock Sound, Eleuthera Island. 242/334–2177.)
Mail boats leave from Nassau's Potter's Cay for the five-hour trip to Eleuthera. One-way tickets cost $35. M/V Current Pride sails to Current Island, Hatchet Bay, the Bluff, and James Cistern on Thursday, returning Tuesday to Nassau. M/V Bahamas Daybreak III leaves Nassau on Monday and Wednesday for Harbour Island, Rock Sound, and Davis Harbour, returning to Nassau Tuesday and Friday. The Eleuthera Express sails for Governor's Harbour, Rock Sound, Spanish Wells, and Harbour Island on Monday and Thursday, returning to Nassau on Tuesday and Sunday. Contact the Dockmaster's Office. Bahamas Ferries, high-speed catamarans, connect Nassau to Harbour Island, Governor's Harbour, and Spanish Wells. The trip takes two hours and costs $131 round-trip.
Bahamas Fast Ferries (Eleuthera Island. 242/323–2166. www.bahamasferries.com.)
Dock Master's Office (Eleuthera Island. 242/393–1064.)
Rent a car if you plan to travel around Eleuthera. North to south is about a three-hour drive. Daily rentals run about $70. Request a four-wheel drive if you plan to visit Preacher's Cave or Surfer's Beach.
Dingle Motor Service (Rock Sound, Eleuthera Island. 242/334–2031.)
Gardiner's Automobile Rentals (Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera Island. 242/332–2665.)
Stanton Cooper (Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera Island. 242/359–7007.)
You'll want a golf cart if you spend more than a couple of days on Harbour Island or Spanish Wells. Four-seater carts start at about $50 a day. Carts can be rented at most hotels and at the docks.
Abner's Rentals (Spanish Wells, Eleuthera Island. 242/333–4090.)
Dunmore Rentals (Harbour Island. 242/333–2372.)
Johnson's Rentals (Harbour Island. 242/333–2376.)
Kam Kourts (Harbour Island. 242/333–2248.)
Taxis are almost always waiting at airports and at the North Eleuthera and Harbour Island water taxi docks. Your hotel can call a taxi for you; let them know a half hour before you need it.
Amos at Your Service (242/422–9130.)
Stanton Cooper (242/359–7007.)
Banks are open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 to 3, Friday from 9:30 to 4:30. ATMs are available at most banks.
Medical Clinics (242/332–2774 Governor's Harbour; 242/333–2227 Harbour Island; 242/334–2226 Rock Sound; 242/333–4064 Spanish Wells.)
Police (242/332–2117 Governor's Harbour; 242/333–2111 Harbour Island; 242/334–2244 Rock Sound; 242/333–4030 Spanish Wells; 919 Police.)
Harbour Island, more than any other Out Island, is where the cognoscenti come to bask in ultra-luxurious inns and atmospheric small resorts. Follow the celebrities to $600-a-night cottages with views of the pink-sand beach or ultra-elegant rooms in Dunmore Town. Eleuthera offers elegant intimate resorts next to pink- and white-sand beaches happily empty of crowds. Those on tight budgets have a range of friendly, tidy, and affordable inns, a few on the beach, for around $100 a night. For urbanites who want all-out American luxury, there are modern town houses with stainless-steel appliances and granite in the kitchens, and bedrooms for the entire family. Whether you spend a lot or a little, the staff on this friendly island will know your name after a day. Many hotels are closed in September and October.
Don't let the outdoor dining on rustic wood tables fool you—Harbour Island and Eleuthera offer sophisticated cuisine that rivals that of any restaurants in Nassau. Although the place is usually casual and you never have to wear a tie, food is taken seriously. Of course, island specialties such as cracked conch, barbecued pork or chicken, and the succulent Bahamian lobster most locals call crawfish still abound, but you'll also find cappuccinos, steak, and lobster ravioli. Stop by Harbour Island's conch shacks on Bay Street north of Government Dock, where you can eat fresh conch salad on decks next to the water.
Most eateries are closed Sunday. Many restaurants have entertainment on regular nights so plan your dining schedule accordingly.
Restaurant prices are based on the median main course price at dinner, excluding gratuity, typically 15%, which is often automatically added to the bill. Hotel prices are for two people in a standard double room in high season, excluding service and 6%–12% tax.
Eleuthera Tourist Office (Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera Island. 242/332–2142.)
Harbour Island Tourist Office (Dunmore Street, Harbour Island. 242/333–2621.)
Out Islands Promotion Board (www.myoutislands.com.)