Island Spotlight: Eleuthera & Harbour Island
The island of Eleuthera, whose name is taken from the Greek word meaning “freedom”,was founded in 1648 by a group of Puritans fleeing religious persecution in Bermuda. This group of religious refugees, led by Bermuda’s former governor, Captain William Sayle, called themselves the “Eleutheran Adventurers” and gave the Bahamas its first written constitution. But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the Eleutheran Adventurers. The settlers had come to grief through shipwreck and other misfortunes, were starving, living in a cave, and were in desperate need of assistance. Puritans in Boston, Massachusetts, heard about the band of brethren that were attempting to colonize the Bahamian island of Eleuthera and came to their aid in 1650 – sending a ship with provisions and a fat sum (estimated between £600 and £700). Grateful for the assistance they received, the rescued brethren sent the ship back to Boston filled to the brim with Brasiletto wood, which was used in the construction of Harvard College, a part of the now famous Harvard University.
Today, Eleuthera remains natural, untamed, and relatively undeveloped with miles of pristine white and pink sand beaches, lush tropical greenery, and seemingly endless pineapple fields. Much of the architecture here is influenced by the English Loyalists who settled here in the 1700s. There are more shipwrecks here than any other island in The Bahamas, especially along The Devil's Backbone, a shallow and jagged reef off the coast of the northern edge of Eleuthera. It has torn the bottom out of more vessels than any other reef in The Bahamas. Dive enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the wrecks, as well as the vibrant coral reefs, and numerous underwater caves.
Located a mile off of Eleuthera, Harbour Island may only be about three-and-a-half square miles, but it’s history is as colourful as its pink, powder soft sand beaches and its charming pastel painted cottages and quaint boutique hotels. Harbour Island’s hub, Dunmore Town, gained fame as the original capital of The Bahamas. If you meander down to the end of Bay Street and follow the curve to the western edge of the island, you’ll find the Lone Tree, one of the most photographed icons of Harbour Island. This large piece of driftwood resembles a sculpture. It’s said to have washed up here during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and anchored itself on the shallow sandbar in a picturesque upright position, providing a gorgeous photo opportunity.