In February of 2019, I spent a week on Eleuthera Island on the Bahamas over Valentines Day with my partner. We were surprised by a few things and felt like we could have planned better if we’d had more information. In this Eleuthera travel guide, I share helpful tips about traveling to Eleuthera Island along with our suggestions on where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and important things to pack.
Eleuthera Travel Guide: 8 Must Know Tips
- Cash is still king. Credit card is rarely accepted and ATM’s aren’t widely available but they use US Dollars. Bring plenty of cash with you and make sure to exchange it before you arrive if needed.
- Food is pricey – almost everywhere! We were pretty surprised at the prices which I documented in a separate post.
- The tap water is fine to drink, although it may taste a bit different.
- Cell service is pretty poor throughout the entire island, and many places don’t have operational Wi-Fi. Even within our hotel room we had issues connecting. This can be difficult if you are trying to have a working vacation.
- There are no cars on Harbor Island so if you need transportation you’ll need to rent a golf cart. They are available as soon as you step off the dock. We secured a $50 per day fee, though we were only there for a few hours. Try to get an earlier water taxi if you are only spending a day there and wants to rent a golf mart to get around.
- A golf cart isn’t necessary, although they’re fun, if you are planning to see the Pink Sands Beach from Harbor Island. (More on this below).
- Bring bug spray! When we visited in February we found some of the quieter beaches had tons of sand flies that made it unbearable to relax there. We didn’t have bug spray and wish we brought it so we could have enjoyed the solitude of the beaches.
- A rental car is a must. Everything is very stretched out on Eleuthera and there’s hardly any public transportation. The poor cell service makes it tricky to call a taxi should you need one. You’ll enjoy the freedom the rental car affords.
Top Restaurants on Eleuthera: Where to Eat
One of the most popular restaurants on the island, and open everyday but Monday, Tippy’s is a fun stop for atmosphere. There’s often live music and it’s a place locals and tourists frequent alike. The quirky menu is written on a large chalkboard which is brought to your table to order, in lieu of paper menus.
1648 An Island Restaurant
We celebrated Valentines Day here with a fancy 3 course dinner that was absolutely delicious. You an also eat breakfast or lunch at 1648 and we’d have liked to tried those too if we’d discovered this place sooner. There was a set menu for Valentines Day but their regular dinner menu boasts items like spicy conch pizza, creamy lobster pasta, and Bahamian style seafood.
With lovely ocean views, an incredible pool, and top quality service it’s a great place to stay for vacation too.
3 J’s Jerk Pit
For local food at the most affordable prices you’ll find, you have to hit up 3 J’s Jerk Pit. We got two chicken lunches for $8 and they were delicious! You can hardly find a drink for $8 in other restaurants so this is easily one of the best budget options around.
Fishbone Beach Bar & Grill
Tucked away on Savannah Sound on Eleuthera Island, this local restaurant offers great views, seafood and vegetarian options, and even has breakfast! The specialty drinks were yummy and at $12 a cocktail they weren’t cheap but were comparable to elsewhere on the island. Tacos and quesadillas are top menu items at Fishbone Bar and Grill. We even passed a hour playing cornhole in the sand after dinner.
We ate breakfast here nearly every morning and a few lunches and dinners too. If you eat fish make sure to try to the fish stew! From January-May there’s a buffet on Tuesday evenings with live music. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this Bahamian food near the sea side.
Queen Conch – Harbour Island
Great seafood with Bahamian and American food options. You can’t get any closer to the water than Queen Conch! As the name suggests, conch is one of the top menu items, served in fried fritter form, cracked, or as a salad.
Top Attractions on Eleuthera Island
A viewpoint where along the thin road connecting the two halves of Eleuthera. From the viewpoint you can see the Gulf of Mexico to your west and the Atlantic to your east and the clear demarcation in water color. A beautiful and strange sight!
Leon Levy Nature Preserve
Tucked away in the southern part of Eleuthera is this wonderful gem of a nature preserve. For $5 you can walk through winding paths and gardens for an hour or two observing flora and fauna both native and imported to the Bahamas. Check out the turtle pond and get above the trees in the viewing tower to see the island from above. This was a highlight for us an a great learning activity to break up the leisurely lounging we’d been doing.
A popular stop for those visiting Eleuthera, this island is where those without budgetary constraints can find their luxury resorts like Valentines Resort and Marina or Runaway Hill Inn. Highlights here are the Pink Sands Beach, golf carts for rent, and some additional souvenir and dining options.
Where to stay on Eleuthera Island
We spent our four nights at Unique Village which we would recommend to other couples. Located maybe 50 feet from a small private beach with just a few other visitors, we enjoyed the on site restaurant which was the only place we could eat without driving.
Though we didn’t swim much, there was also a pool on site. On our February visit, we didn’t encounter very many other guests and had the property largely to ourselves! The rooms were nothing crazy but were comfortable enough and the food, while pricey, was delicious and not much more than any other restaurant we visited.
Eleuthera is very long and narrow and the accommodations can be a bit stretched out. There are a few main areas which you can note on Google Maps where you could stay in closer proximity to the airport or town centers but you’ll likely want a car anyway so our location 2/3 down the island wasn’t a complaint at all.
Be warned that it can be difficult to navigate the narrow, winding dirt roads at night if you don’t know where you’re going and you should plan to arrive at your accommodations for check-in during the day. This likely won’t be an issue as the last flights throughout the islands typically take off before the sun sets.
We celebrated Valentines Day with a fancy dinner at a restaurant called 1648 An Island Restaurant, connected to French Leave villas. If you have room in your budget I’d definitely recommend one of these villas for a more central, luxurious accommodation. Their pool was stunning and the food was some of the best we had the entire trip, if not our favorite meal outright.
Getting to Harbour Island from Eleuthera
On the north east end of the island, you’ll find a large parking lot where you can catch a water taxi to Harbour Island. We did not have to buy a formal ticket. Instead, we paid a man with a boat 5 USD each to join his water taxi, which carried about eight other passengers (a mix of locals going to work on Harbor Island interests paying a visit).
The water taxi did not seem to have a formal schedule but operated frequently from sun up till sundown around 5 PM. We paid $20 in total for the two of us to get there and back.
Once on Harbour Island, we rented a golf cart to get around as there are no cars. We arrived around 1pm and needed to return the golf cart by 5 so we had enough time to enjoy a meal and head to the famous Pink Sands Beach.
In the 4 hours we were there we enjoyed riding the golf cart out of novelty, but decided it ultimately wasn’t necessary for our needs. The beach is less than a mile walk from the dock so if mobility isn’t an issue, I’d recommend saving your money and walking.
We ate at a restaurant called Queen Conch just a few spots to the left when you walk off the dock. It sits over the water which provided beautiful views, and I had pretty good food for a reasonable price taking into consideration that Harbour Island is a more popular tourist destination than the rest of our Eleuthera. I can recommend the rum punch.
As for the Pink Sands Beach, it was a beautiful beach but we found the “pink” to be overhyped. There was certainly a pink tint to the sand, and it’s possible that it’s more vibrant at other times of year, but I suspect that photos which show a clear, bright pink were subject to some serious editing.
Final Thoughts on Eleuthera Island:
We really enjoyed our time in Eleuthera and it was exactly the quiet time we needed together. The price tag definitely caught us off guard at a lot of points though, and I wouldn’t recommend this spot to anyone on a tight budget or with children who need a lot of entertainment or activity. Options are limited outside of enjoying the nature, food, and company.
I hope this Eleuthera Travel Guide has been helpful! To see what we spent on our Valentines Day vacation, check out my post on Costs to Travel Eleuthera so you can build your Bahamas budget without surprises.