Just 110 miles in length and so thin in width that it only measures a mile across at some points, Eleuthera (Greek for “free”) is one of the 700 islands and cays that make up the Bahamas archipelago. Near-perfect year-round weather combined with 200 miles of shoreline are other reasons this Caribbean escape is a favorite among celebrities (Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz both reportedly own homes here).
You don’t come here for celebrity sightings, however. You visit to unplug from the world, to spend hours frolicking in the crystal clear waters and to explore the island’s natural wonders. Should you consider making the jaunt yourself, here’s what two days can look like.
One of the great advantages of visiting Eleuthera is that it has its own international airport (North Eleuthera Airport), which means you can arrive direct from the States via commercial airline, private jet or helicopter. Because the airport is tiny, entry is a breeze and, before you know it, you’ll be on your way towards your destination.
As you traverse Queen’s Road (the only main artery on the island), you’ll encounter the first of the island’s enchanting attractions — the Glass Window Bridge. There is no actual glass wall here, though. The bridge gets its name from what appears to be an optical illusion: look to the East and the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean crash restlessly against jutting rock formations; look to the West, and shallow aquamarine tones of the Caribbean Sea undulate calmly.
The man-made bridge connects the northern and southern ends of the island over a 30-foot width of the island rock formation beneath. It’s considered one of the narrowest points in the world. Take some snaps of the panorama, and try not to get whiplash looking too quickly from side to side.
For your stay, choose 57-room The Cove, Eleuthera. The newest luxury-class resort on the island, the three-year-old Cove sits on 40 acres of lush native land, and is made up of a collection of chic white cottage-style buildings and one larger, plantation-style structure loosely reminiscent of the ultra-luxe Parrot Cay by Como in the Turks & Caicos.
Upon check-in, you’re welcomed with a rum-based Bahama Mama cocktail before getting escorted to your room via golf cart. There are only eight Oceanfront Cove Suites on the property, and we wholeheartedly recommend booking one, if it’s available.
Directly in front of each suite is a strip of grass, a smattering of palm trees and beach. That’s right: Open the doors to your unit, and you’re literally steps away from one of two swimmable, utterly breathtaking private coves.
Take a moment to acquaint yourself with your spacious, 1,000-square-foot accommodation — beach-appropriate white-on-white textiles and linens set against polished teakwood furnishings and creamy travertine floors — then throw on a swimsuit and grab your sunglasses, because you won’t be able to resist the pull of gorgeous azure-hued waters just steps from your door.
The soft sands will feel glorious underneath your toes, and the cool seawater will be just as marvelous as you can imagine. Spend your time swimming lazily or floating away the afternoon. If you need more vigorous activity, complimentary boogie boards, paddle boards, kayaks and snorkel gear are also available.
When you’ve built up a sufficient appetite, head back to your room to don something suitable so you can grab conch fritters and a jerk chicken lettuce wrap at the resort’s alfresco Gregory Town Grill.
The resort can set you up with a private guide and chauffeur to help you explore the island’s most notable attractions. The first stop: Gaulding Cay Beach, a secluded sandy shore boasting the kind of calm, aqua-colored water that inspires artists and photographers. Stop for a moment to admire the scenery and snap photos of yourself with the gorgeous color as a backdrop.
Next, you’re going to visit Eleuthera’s famous blue hole, an underwater cave filled with naturally clear water which gleams with a deep sapphire color at the surface. Similar to cenotes found in the Yucatan, the thing to do here is to jump fearlessly over the 20-foot cliff into the water below. You’ll need to be a better-than-average swimmer and have enough upper torso strength to climb the knotted rope to get out of it, but it’s worth it to experience this natural wonder.
Close by, get a feel for island history by visiting what’s known as Preacher’s Cave, where a captain by the name of William Sayles — one of the first documented visitors to the island — got shipwrecked in the 1600s.
A visit to Harbour Island (called “Briland” by locals) is basically compulsory when you visit Eleuthera. Famous for its three-mile stretch of powder-soft pink sand beaches, the island is located two miles east of Eleuthera and is easily accessible via a 10-minute boat ride from Three Island Dock, which isn’t far from Preacher’s Cave.
Once on the island, rent a golf cart and head to the iconic Pink Sands Resort for a cocktail at Blue Bar followed by a walk along the breathtakingly beautiful, seemingly endless stretch of supreme sand.
There should still be a couple of hours before sunset, so rent a lounge chair and park yourself under an umbrella until it’s time for dinner.
When that time comes, all you need to do is decide which part of the ocean you want to view, in which case you should choose Blue Bar or one of the neighboring hotel restaurants.
If you’re in more of a harbor-view mood, the ideal choice would be to nosh on the daily catch at The Landing Restaurant before taking the water taxi back to your resort and retiring for the evening.
There’s nothing as luxurious or as blissful as swimming in a private cove all by yourself in the morning, so get up early — preferably before the 6:30 a.m. sunrise — and take advantage of the tranquility. You can always go back to your room for a light nap before officially heading out for the day.
Load up on an in-room breakfast of organic eggs, house-cured bacon, avocado toast, a fresh fruit smoothie and a bowl of fruit, because your morning excursion will involve plenty of energy expenditure.
Today, you’re booked on a private boat tour set up through The Cove. A three-to-four-hour excursion, the agenda includes snorkeling, conch diving and lionfish spearing. Because this is a vacation, the boat will be stocked with bottles of crisp, dry rosé and ice-cold Bahamian Kalik beer. And because this is your dream vacation, it will dock along a private strip of beach, where you can cool off in the beautifully iridescent Caribbean water and picnic on the sand with chef-prepared, so-fresh-it’s-practically-live from the ocean conch salad.
By the time you’ve returned to the resort, you’ll have earned a much deserved massage at the spa, where the specialty is a traditional, mat-based Thai massage that stretches the body as it releases tension and invigorates energy lines.
Refreshed from that service, all that’s left is a bit more relaxing — swinging gently on a hammock underneath a shady palm, perhaps? — and looking forward to one final meal, this time at the resort’s on-property Freedom Restaurant and Sushi Bar.
Yes, your idyllic, picture perfect stay in Eleuthera is coming to an end, but not before you experience the island’s unforgettable sunset one more time. As you dine on expertly prepared sushi and other local delights (stone crab claws or lionfish fritters) and soak in the countless shades of pink, orange and purple that light up the horizon, the significance behind the island’s name becomes apparent — Eleuthera is where you’re free to exhale and enjoy all of nature’s wonders.