Planning a family trip to Eleuthera

Steps to the beach at Caresaway.
Steps to the beach at Caresaway.

Like so many special places in the world, Eleuthera is a pretty remote island making advance planning key to having a great experience with kids. We were given a lot of advice– some of which we took and were glad we did, some of which we ignored and wished we hadn’t– which I’ll pass along here, as well as a few things we learned for ourselves along the way.

B.Y.O.C. – Bring Your Own Coffee…and peanut butter, and granola bars. The grocery stores in Eleuthera are a slightly larger version of what you might find at a 7-11 in the states. Mostly processed food with very little selection, and very expensive. Everything is flown or shipped over from Nassau, so fresh meat is non-existant and good produce is pretty hard to come by. However, if you hang out by the docks around 2:00 in the afternoon, you can buy all the fresh grouper and lobster your heart desires.

B.Y.O.G – Bring Your Own Gear. The snorkeling in Eleuthera is outstanding. We went every single day and saw amazing sea life. Our house did have a few sets of snorkeling gear and fins, but I regretted not getting good sets of our own that fit properly. If you’re big into surfing, you probably want to look into bringing your own board(s) too. You can rent them from Bahamas Out Island Adventures, but the selection isn’t huge.

Currency – The Bahamian dollar is pegged one-to-one with the American dollar, so there is no need to change money. American dollars are accepted everywhere. You may want to bring a little extra cash, as some restaurants do not accept credit cards. We also paid cash for our rental car.

Car rental – Speaking of renting a car, there are no car rental agencies on Eleuthera. We hooked up with IJ of Johnson’s Car Rentals, a very nice man who rescued us not once, but twice from our own stupidity. We managed to lock our keys in the car early in the week, and then later left a car door open over night, which drained the battery completely. Car categories are 1) car, 2) 4×4 or 3) mini-van…and don’t expect luxury. IJ’s email is johnsonscarentals@hotmail.com.

Where to stay – We rented a wonderful house called Caresaway just north of Governor’s Harbor. We loved this house for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s right on the beach. You can walk right out the back and be on a gorgeous white sand beach with excellent snorkeling right out front. 2) The house is pretty much mid-island, so you can take day trips north or south without spending the entire day in the car. 3) Caresaway is owned by a family that lives there a couple months of the year, so it’s well stocked with everything a family with kids could want or need. Some friends of ours rented a house on Banks Road in Governor’s Harbor, which offered a nice, close-to-town location with easier access to restaurants and the Friday night fish fry. VRBO has quite a few rental listings on the island. We also spent some time at the Rainbow Inn near Rainbow Bay. The owners were so friendly and warm, and the food was outstanding. They have a couple of studios and one 3-bedroom villa. We liked the solitude of our house, but Rainbow Inn offered a bit more action– live music, pizza night– if you’re looking for a more social setting.

B.Y.O.M -Bring Your Own Map. A friend who had spent time on Eleuthera recommended bringing a good map, which was great advice. Although it’s pretty much a straight shot from the top to the bottom of the island, there are beautiful beaches around every corner and it’s nice to know which little dirt road to turn down.

Flights – If you book through Expedia or another online booking service, look into booking Nassau to Eleuthera as a separate ticket. When we tried to book straight through to Eleuthera, the prices were a lot more expensive. There are also flights from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale to Eleuthera that may make sense depending on where you’re coming from.

Part of what makes Eleuthera special is that it’s so disconnected from the hustle and bustle of daily life. That may mean fewer modern conveniences, limiting yourself to fruit and vegetables that are in season, and getting lost once in a while…but with a little advance preparation (and a pound of your favorite coffee), no one will miss a thing!

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