As we continue exploring the Bahamas, we find ourselves at Harbor Island in the northeast part of Eleuthera. This is one of those well known laid back vacation spots, due to the wonderful beach, where there are specks of red coral mixed in with the sand giving its famous pink color. The island is big enough to warrant the use of bicycles, but not too big to wear you out while exploring. The best place to start is at the Meeting Place, which is a group of trees in the middle of town. From here you can ride past beautiful churches, solemn cemeteries, lovely homes, cute shops, monuments, and historic stairs taking you from one street to the next.
If you arrive by boat you must go around the north side of Eleuthera through a minefield of coral heads on a lee shore called the Devil’s Backbone. It is recommended you pick up a local pilot at least your first time, because this short stretch has caused more shipwrecks that you would like to know about. Including the Eleutheran Adventurers, who were the original colonists in 1647. Once they made it to shore they lived in Preacher’s Cave for a while and continued to use it for meetings and church. This has been confirmed as the first settlement and birthplace of the Bahamas.
On the west side of the Devil’s Backbone is Spanish Wells, a historically old and visually beautiful town, I was absolutely amazed at how clean the entire town was. I loved the park. The museum is a must see as is the beach. As you look at the harbor you will notice the fishing boats that make Spanish Town the country’s lobster fishing center.
Several miles further west you will find Royal Island, where a fully protected harbor can be found. Ashore you will find the ruins of an estate from the 1950’s and when the weather is settled Egg Reef to the northwest is a wonderful water playground. I found a spot where the swell was breaking and still had 10 feet over the reef, so I could go body surfing even with land several miles away. If that is not your cup of tea then the snorkeling will be, as it is as good as it gets in terms of both coral and fish.
Southwest of Royal Island you can find a shipwrecked freighter with only several feet of the bow now showing above the water. During the late 70’s and early 80’s, Spanish Wells was a transit point for the drug trade. I am told this wreck was intact and partially above water at that time and it was used as a storage depot for drugs.
To go any further south, you must transit Current Cut. You want to go through at slack tide, but then you can anchor the boat and wait for mid tide when the current will be the highest. If you do this, you can swim the current through the cut where it gets up to 6-7 knots.
Next issue we will continue exploring Eleuthera starting with the Glass Window and continuing south.