Eleuthera Travel Guide

by Caitlin
Published: Last Updated on
Woman in pink and black biking walking in blue water in Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas
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After an arduous several months on a political campaign in the US, I was very much in need of a break. After a few days in Florida with a friend, I headed down to the Bahamas. After a few days in Freeport, then a few in Nassau, I made my way to Eleuthera. I went without any type of Eleuthera travel guide and all I knew was where I was going to stay and how to pick up my car rental. I loved Eleuthera. It was an absolutely idyllic paradise and was much quieter and much safer than both the islands of Grand Bahamas and New Providence.

Eleuthera is 110 miles long but just 1 mile wide at its very widest point. It’s full of stunning sand beaches and so much sunshine. No busy nightlife or cruise ships docking every day. This is Bahamian living at its finest.

Though I arrived with no guide, you might not want to do the same – so hopefully this Eleuther travel guide will help you make the most of the island. 

How to Get Around Eleuthera Island

This might be the most important piece of your planning for your visit to Eleuthera. Whether or not you have transportation will dictate everything else you can do on the island.

two yellow birds sitting on a wooden guard rail next to the ocean
Shot from the road on Eleuthera

My recommendation: An Eleuthera car rental will be a game changer – rent a car.

There are taxis, but remember what I just said up there in my intro? The island is 110 miles long, that’s going to be a lot of taxis and A LOT of dollars. Since there’s no one obvious center to the island, no population center per say, and plenty of beaches spread across its length, a rental car is by far the best way to get around.

There aren’t any big name rental car companies on the island. They’re all small, locally owned companies, and they’re all expensive. Like, ouch, expensive. I ended up using Berry Cadet and got a three day rental of a Ford Fusion for $261. I ended up with this company because it was the cheapest, and yes, I shopped around.

It does appear that if you fly into Governors Harbour airport you’ll get cheaper rates as just about all the companies charge for pick up at North Eleuthera Airport (ELH) where I flew into. The charge is $60, so if the difference in flight costs is less than that, head for Governors Harbour and make your way from there.

I made my rental car booking via email and a representative from the company was waiting at the airport with my name on a sign and the keys to the car. I paid for the rental in cash – I could have used a card but there would have been a surcharge and I would have had to arrange that beforehand. The company had nothing from me besides my drivers license number and the cost of the rental. I paid no deposit and was instructed to leave the car in the small airport parking lot before I flew out with the keys under the mat. There’s a lot of trust with this system.

I ended up leaving some cash, along with the keys, when I returned the car because the gas station just before the airport wasn’t open when I arrived back early in the morning for my flight.

If you’re dropping off at ELH before 8 AM, make a plan to fill up beforehand!

There’s lots of info out there about getting a bigger car to get you around the Eleuthera roads which, besides the one main road running the length of the island, can be pretty rough and sometimes virtually non-existent.

My Airbnb host complimented me on my driving abilities so maybe it was for this reason that I didn’t struggle, and I did go down some sketchy lanes, but I say you’ll do just fine in anything similar to the Ford Fusion I had, and if you go for anything bigger, the price of the rental will start going higher.

What to do on Eleuthera Island

Though quiet, small, and secluded, there is plenty to do on Eleuthera. If you’re looking for all night parties, you might want to make a u-turn for Nassau. But, if you’re after beautiful sand beaches, nobody for miles, and plenty of clear, blue water – you’re in the right spot.

Rainbow Bay

The very best spot I found on Eleuthera was Rainbow Bay. 

I honestly cannot understand how this beach is not constantly overflowing with umbrellas and beach towels.

While I was there, there was one couple hanging out at the other end of the crescent shaped stretch of beach, and there was me.

The water at Rainbow Bay is crystal clear, the sand is clean and bright. The sun is shining, it’s right next to, but down from, the road. There are a few covered picnic tables dotted along the sand, no one is around to tell you they cost money, they are just there for your enjoyment. It is perfection all wrapped up into a little rainbow shaped beach.

Rainbow Bay Eleuthera Bahamas
Rainbow Bay, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

French Leave Beach

My first night on the island, I went for dinner at Daddy Joe’s – an Eleuthera Bahamas restaurant pick! – and I got chatting with the waitresses and asked them for recommendations. One of them mentioned French Leave Beach – I am never one to ignore a local’s recommendation, so I went.

google map directions to French Leave Beach on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas
Directions to French Leave Beach

The signs weren’t quite clear nor, it appears, is Google Maps. The Eleuthera map above shows where I ended up, and where you should aim to end up too. On the opposite side of the island is the French Leave Resort Autograph Collection – I’m not sure what the beach there is like as it’s private for guests. If you stay there, let me know how amazing it is! I did try to see if there are other access points on that side of the island and had little luck. So instead I went for where Google Maps marks French Leave Beach. I kept driving down one of the white roads you can see on the map, which turned into less and less of a road, but, since I’ve shaped myself into one hell of a road worthy traveler. I kept on trucking. My rental car might not have been happy with me, but we survived.

Eventually, I found a pull off right next to pinker sands than the pink sands beach on nearby Harbour Island. No joke. Plus, yet again, NO ONE WAS THERE.

O.K., there were two specks of people way off in the distance, but that was it. So few people were there, I went topless. I don’t go topless.

topless woman jumping on French Leave Beach Eleuthera Island The Bahamas - The Country Jumper
French Leave Beach, Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas

Visit Glass Window Bridge

Glass Window Bridge is one of the most famous spots on the island. It’s a spot where the island essentially disappears and is connected by nothing more than a short, narrow bridge. And, since Eleuthera divides the Atlantic from the Caribbean, you can stand on the bridge and see the distinct difference between the two seas. The fierceness of the Atlantic crashes into the north side of the bridge while the water lays calm and peaceful on the south side.

Glass window bridge on Eleuthera island the Bahamas
PC: RyAwesome via Flickr License

Watch the Oceans Collide

If you’re into the idea of watching the worlds of the two oceans collide, drive out to the point of Eleuthera Island closest to Harbour Island. I ended up out there because I thought it was where the ferries left from, it’s not. But it is even more dramatic than watching the waters come together at The Glass Window Bridge. You can stand on the point of Eleuthera and between there and Harbour Island, which you can see, the waves smash and swirl into one another. It’s captivating.

What to do on Eleuthera Island The Bahamas - tip of the island where the oceans collide - google maps

Visit Harbour Island

As I mentioned earlier, there are pinker sands on Eleuthera, but don’t tell the Harbour Island tourists that – they’ve named a beach after it over there. Harbour Island is a bit glitzy, celebrities visit and workers ferry over from Eleuthera. But it’s worth popping over for a day, an explore, and a cocktail. 

Horseback Riding on The Pink Sands Beach Harbour Island The Bahamas
Horseback Riding on The Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas

How to get to Harbour Island from Eleuthera

This information was something I could not, for the life of me, find – not on trip advisor or in any Eleuthera blog. So, you’re welcome.

As I mentioned above, I thought the ferries to Harbour Island might go from the closest point to Eleuthera, they do not. Instead, they go from a point beyond North Eleuthera Airport. If you’re looking at a map, the ferry port is completely unmarked.

The ferries go continuously throughout the day, they leave whenever the boat is full. The trip is 10 minutes long and costs $5 each way. I heard that the boat drivers are known to start drinking once the sun begins to set, so don’t plan on returning after dark, it’s best not to be stuck with an intoxicated pilot, even on a short crossing.

What To Do on Harbour Island

Things don’t look a lot different across the waters, you’re still likely to be laying on sand in the sun. But maybe you’ll get a fancier cocktail over there.

When you get off the ferry on Harbour Island, there will be offers of golf carts for rent. Unless you have physical limitations, these are unnecessary, the island is very walkable. Here’s what to do for your day trip to Harbour Island.

Eat a Conch Salad

Get a conch salad at Queen Conch.  This little beachside shack is just to your left when you get off the ferry. You’ll pass through a small gathering of brightly colored buildings, Queen Conch is in that cluster, on your left, the ocean side of the road. The conch salad there is on point, and also spicy! You can watch them being made fresh in the front kitchen, but sit out back on the open deck atop the waves and amongst the seagulls.

Conch Salad at The Queen Conch on Harbour Island Bahamas
Conch Salad at The Queen Conch on Harbour Island, The Bahamas
Walk on the Pink Sands Beach

Is it possible to have too much sand? Much less, too much pink sand? I don’t think so.

From Queen Conch, head across the island to its eastern side where the pink sands beach is. This beach fluctuates in its pinkness, which is not actually sand but rather tiny pieces of the broken shells of foraminifera – tiny marine creatures. The entirety of the beach is free to access, I cut through the path at Pink Sands Resort to reach the ocean. If you want a sun chair, there are locals, not associated with any of the resorts, which rent them out for the day. I skipped the sunbathing and just walked along the sand, which goes for quite some time.

blue and pink umbrellas, white sun loungers, girl sun bathing on pink sands beach harbour island the bahamas
Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, The Bahamas
Have a Cocktail at Pink Sands Resort

When you’ve had your fill of sun beating down on your face, head up to the deck overlooking the beach at Pink Sands Resort. You don’t have to be a guest to get a cocktail, mocktail, or snack up here. This was, for me, the perfect cap to a day out on the island.

Where to Stay on Harbour Island

I didn’t stay on Harbour Island. Therefore, my following suggestions are based on my research, not my experience.

Harbour Island is about 3.5 miles long and only about 1.5 miles wide. So you can imagine accommodation options are limited. This is a good thing, honestly. I hate overcrowded spots. But, it means what is available is not cheap. You’re looking at spending $400+ per night if you choose to stay on this island, while on Eleuthera you could find much more affordable (though still not budget) options. 

Pink Sands Resort

Located on the eastern coast – the outer coast – of Harbour Island, at Pink Sands Resort you’ll be smack on the long, pink sands beach and the clear water of the Atlantic.

Pink Sands Resort is where I had cocktails, and it’s where I cut through the island to get from ferry to beach. I like resorts that aren’t so exclusive that they won’t let non-guests come and spend money there. So, at least on that point Pink Sands has my vote. If you stay, I don’t doubt for a second the stay will be lux, but you will definitely pay for it.

Budget Range: Luxury

Valentines Resort & Marina

Valentines is on the west side of the island, so it looks out back towards Eleuthera. It’s just next to the ferry and close to the selection of beachside restaurants and shops on the island.

Valentines is basically your only other good option on island. Again, it’s pricey. I didn’t go anywhere near this resort so I have even less to say about it from experience, but the reviews are clearly positive (clean, quiet, comfortable) and the pictures are gorgeous (though I’d like to politely encourage them to invest in some better social media management). If you stay in either of these spots, let us all know how it was!

Budget Range: Luxury


Where to Stay on Eleuthera Island

Your options on Eleuthera are many more and prices are a bit more reasonable – though do be aware that The Bahamas is all together not a cheap country. Again, I only stayed in one spot (you can see where I indicated which one that was below) so the rest of my recommendations are based on my research, not my experience. 

Villa Allamanda

Located in Governor’s Harbour, in the center of Eleuthera, Villa Allamanda  is a great big house. It’s just a street or two over from the coast on either side and about a 15 minute walk to Twin Coves Beach.

The views look pretty rad, and the deck is beckoning. This is a homey property with a hands on host who will help you figure out logistics if you need. There are a number of different room options, some of which include a kitchenette.

Budget Range: Mid-Range

Cape Eleuthera Resort & Marina

Out on the Southwest tip of Eleuthera, Cape Eleuthera Resort puts you right on the water with what I can only imagine is an epic sunset. You will be at the other end of the island from the North Eleuthera Airport, the ferry port to Harbour Island (about a two hour drive), and a good distance from Governors Harbour Airport (about an hour and a half drive).

There’s a restaurant here, which is convenient since you’re a bit of a drive from the rest of what’s happening on the island. Accommodation options include villas or single rooms and are all reportedly comfortable and clean.

Budget Range: High-End


Probably the cheapest options you’ll find on the island are Airbnbs. I stayed at this one, which was down a very bumpy dirt road. This was in what’s called Surfers Beach. I didn’t see any surfers around but I did see lots of massive waves. 

There are loads of other options on Airbnb, and if it’s your first time booking through the site you can get up to $50 off using my link.

What to Pack for Eleuthera

Eleuthera is a fairly typical warm-weather destination. Pack your cute summer clothes, light colors, light fabrics. Here are some specifics that I love to have with me in a spot like this.

Bathing suit: A no-brainer I’d imagine. Bring a few with you. Personally, I like to have at minimum two so one can be drying while I’m wearing the second.

Rash guard: Definitely one of the best beach destination investments I’ve made is a rash guard. I don’t necessarily wear it sitting around on the beach (though I sometimes do) but if I’m snorkeling and my back is exposed to the sun and sunscreen is likely to wash off, it’s such a great protection.

Sunscreen: Another no-brainer, but you might not be able to easily find it nearby to where you’re staying so bring a good amount with you. And make sure it’s reef-safe, bonus points for plastic free.

Reusable water bottle: Rather than buying and tossing plastic water bottles, bring one with you and refill it wherever possible.

Hat: Another sun hack I’ve discovered is just putting on a hat! It makes all the difference at the end of the day as to whether I feel totally wiped out or not.

Sunglasses: I mean, obviously? But also maybe bring a back-up pair because these guys love to break!

Cover-up: For poolside, after a dip, to keep you covered from the sun, when it cools off in the evening

Snorkel gear: Even if you’re just a few feet from shore you might be able to spot some cool fish – and it’s definitely easier to see with goggles than having the salt water sting your eyes.

Mosquito spray: Unfortunately this nuisance is something that can ruin even the most perfect of tropical paradises. Bring some spray with you to stay comfortable, especially around dusk.

Sarong: This may feel like a duplicate of a cover-up, but I like to have both. Sarongs are super versatile and can be used as casual beach dress too.

Other Eleuthera Island FAQ’s

So you’ve decide you’re adding Eleuthera to your Bahamas trip. Good. I’m excited for you. Seriously! Here are some other tips that might help you plan you trip as successfully as possible.

Is Eleuthera Island safe?

The short answer, yes.

My Airbnb host, a native Bahamian, made a point of telling me how safe Eleuthera is. It is not Nassau, she said. And remember, I was instructed to leave an unlocked car at the airport with the keys in it.

The one thing to be weary of: driving at night. The roads are pitch black, people tend to drink, and drive too fast (even if they’re not drinking), and the road is narrow. I made a point of getting off the road before sunset – or only driving a short distance in the dark if I needed to go out for dinner.

How Do I Fly to Eleuthera?

There are three airports on Eleuthera:

  1. North Eleuthera International Airport (ELH)
  2. Governor’s Harbour International Airport
  3. Rock Sound International Airport.

ELH has flights daily from Nassau, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Atlanta, and Charlotte. This is the airport I flew into. I came from Nassau on Bahamasair. It was an unbelievably short flight with unbelievably spectacular views.

What is the Main Settlement of Eleuthera?

On the main island, Rock Sound has the biggest population. Rock Sound is on the south end of the island, I didn’t make it that far so don’t have much information on what the area is like.

There are other little dots along the island: Governors Harbour, Gregory Town, Spanish Wells. None of these are big cities, or even towns. A clump of shops is the very most you should expect anywhere on the island.

Is There a Ferry to Eleuthera Island?

Like I mentioned, I flew from Nassau. Flying was the cheaper, and much faster option. But there are ferries to Eleuthera. No matter where on the island you’d like to get to, all ferries will come from Nassau. So if you’re looking to get to Eleuthera by ferry from any one of the other Bahamian islands, you’ll need to make your way to Nassau first.

If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, I highly recommend Eleuthera. People tend to flock to Nassau. It’s the better known of the Bahamian islands, which is exactly why I’d recommend avoiding it – or using it as a transit spot. 

Go to Eleuthera, hands down.

Got any other questions or a report from your time on Eleuthera? Let me know in the comments!

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Jen February 8, 2019 - 9:43 pm

I’ve never heard of this island, looks like paradise! I love eating fresh conch in The Bahamas, and I would definitely pick a beach right now over the polar vortex in the US 🙂

Caitlin February 8, 2019 - 11:21 pm

Hahah totally feel that! Conch salads are so good, and I totally recommend a visit to Eleuthera!

rachelsb3 February 9, 2019 - 3:58 am

Beautiful pictures, and this sounds utterly blissful! I think my travel to-do list just got a little longer!

Caitlin February 9, 2019 - 6:08 am

Thanks Rachel! I hope you can make it to Eleuthera, it is bliss!

MacKenzie September 2, 2020 - 10:37 pm

I’ve never been to the Bahamas and typically prefer a much busier vacation schedule, but you make a very compelling argument for Eleuthera! It looks so peaceful and beautiful, just like you describe 🙂

Caitlin September 3, 2020 - 12:40 pm

Well, you can keep busy with things like exploring. Just not like actually doing things. I keep busy too and can only lay on the beach for so long, but I love the quiet!

Catherine September 3, 2020 - 12:18 am

Eleuthera is absolutely gorgeous! This is just my kind of vacation spot – I can see myself going to Rainbow Bay and not wanting to leave.

Caitlin September 3, 2020 - 12:39 pm

Honestly if you make it you probably shouldn’t ever leave!

Kelly September 3, 2020 - 1:52 pm

When I visited the Bahamas in 2009 we only stayed in Nassau, but I would love to go back and see other islands! Horseback riding on the beach would be the things I’d like to do most! It looks so beautiful on Eleuthera 🙂

Caitlin September 5, 2020 - 5:06 pm

Horseback riding on the beach anywhere is definitely a must-do! I definitely encourage you to get back to The Bahamas and visit beyond Nassau!

May Durkee September 9, 2020 - 11:47 am

Oh wow!! I’ve been to the Bahamas twice and haven’t been to this place yet, definitely going back now haha.
I’ve done a cruise, didn’t like it (not for me), and went to this fisherman’s island called Chub Cay which is wonderful too. But now you made me want to go back haha. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Caitlin September 10, 2020 - 12:23 pm

I’m glad to hear you didn’t enjoy the cruise! Not that I’m enjoying your displeasure but I’ve always actively avoided cruises so feels good to get some validation in that choice XD. You should definitely go back and visit Eleuthera next time!

Cynthia Mackintosh September 9, 2020 - 12:13 pm

Wow! Eleuthera island is gorgeous! It’s amazing how we, in general terms, tend to go to the most touristy places and not venture out to the off-the-beaten-path places, right? There’s so much to explore. We’ve been to the Bahamas before, but definitely will keep our radar out for this island next time.

Caitlin September 10, 2020 - 12:24 pm

It is such an interesting aspect of human behavior that I will simply never understand. I guess it’s why explorers have always been lauded throughout history!

Meghan Emcee September 9, 2020 - 1:46 pm

Eleuthera Island sounds like such a dream vacation! I can’t believe you went topless on a beach 😛 😛

Caitlin September 10, 2020 - 12:26 pm

ahahah gotta free the nip every now and again!!

Nidia September 10, 2020 - 5:43 am

Wow, that photo of horseback riding on the pink sand beach is every dream come true! Would love to visit 🙂 It is always useful to read about people’s experiences when driving somewhere as sometimes things can be different from what Google Maps say or other way around.

Caitlin September 10, 2020 - 2:58 pm

I know, wish it was me doing that! Though I’m sure their bums were all full of hair after that XD Glad you found it helpful!

Nidia Lisic September 10, 2020 - 5:46 am

Wow, that photo of horseback riding on the pink sand beach is every dream come true! Would love to visit 🙂 It is always useful to read about people’s experiences when driving somewhere as sometimes things can be different from what Google Maps say or other way around.

Caitlin September 13, 2020 - 2:19 pm

Isn’t it stunning! I wish I could say it was me…next time!

Josy A September 10, 2020 - 11:55 am

Woah I didn’t even know you could each conch (the ones we used to search for in Ireland were soo teeny that we couldn’t.) The conches in the Bahamas must be enormous!) I would try that for sure!

I can’t get over how gorgeous the first two beaches are…and how empty! Do most people seem to prefer to flock to busier beaches where someone can bring them cocktails? I can’t think why else places that pretty could be so empty!

Caitlin September 13, 2020 - 2:20 pm

Honestly, me neither! But it’s pretty delicious, I’d imagine quite different to the ones in Ireland XD

I didn’t actually go to any busy beaches, I think for the most part those would have been at resorts so yeah, people would have been brining cocktails, but outside of that business wasn’t really a thing on the island.

Georgina @ Culinary Travels September 11, 2020 - 3:55 am

This is definitely the definitive guide. The Bahama’s look so beautiful. What a great place to visit.

Caitlin September 11, 2020 - 11:43 am

Thank you! Have you ever been?


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