Eleuthera Island History Notes
Eleuthera Island was founded in 1648 and is the birth place of the Bahamas. Captain William Sayles and a group of Puritans, known as the Eleutheran Adventurers, sailed from Bermuda in search of religious freedom. Along the way, they found this beautiful gem of an island and named it Eleuthera. From the Greek word “eleuthero” or “eleuther”, Eleuthera means “free” or “freedom.” You can still get a feel what the founders felt when you visit the island. Eleuthera has that unspoiled and untamed feel about it.
Lucayan Indians originally occupied Eleuthera. Not much is known about this era. Much like the Puritans, the peaceful Lucayan Indians had come to the Bahamas in search of a more peaceful place to live. The Lucayans were enslaved by the Spanish in the 1500s and shipped to South America to work in the gold and silver mines.
Eleuthera Bahamas North is approximately 225 miles from Miami / Ft. Lauderdale. The island is reported to be 110 miles in most quarters, however the details on how this measurement was derived is not cited. By some counts, the island is around 90 miles long -- 73 miles as the crow flies from extreme ends. More fascinating is the average width of the island which ranges anywhere from one half to two miles... you are never far from the beach. The “narrowest place on Earth” is on Eleuthera at the famed Glass Window Bridge where the distance from one side of the island to the other is less than 100 feet.
Known as “Citagoo” by some of the inhabitants, Eleuthera's population is reported to be somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 people. Many of these people are farmers and fishermen. One of the biggest export crops is the pineapple. Gregory Town hosts a Pineapple Festival every year on the first weekend of June. This four day event features local culture, food, pineapples of course, and a Junkanoo party.
Eleuthera is known to have some of the best dive sites in the world; most famous for “Current Cut”. Known as a “fast drift dive”, the fast current moves between the rock walls of Eleuthera and Current Island. At the right time of day, a scuba diver can drift the 2/3 mile distance in about 10 minutes. Other famous dive sites on Eleuthera include The Blue Hole, The Train Wreck and Devil's Backbone.
Other points of interest include the cave at Hatchet Bay. Located in the countryside of Eleuthera, this beautifully vaulted, mile long, three level cave is made of limestone and populated with graffiti, bats, and a water room. Explorers used the tar weeping from the rocks to write on the walls. Beautiful stalagmites and stalactites can be seen throughout the cave. This cave was purported to have been used by pirates to hide their treasures.
Another famous Eleutherian cave is Preachers Cave. This is where Captain Sayles and his fellow travelers made camp and held their religious services. There is a stone plaque at the entrance of the cave which says “William Sayle ship wrecked at Devil's Backbone found refuge here. Sermons held 100 years.”
And then there's bonefishing on Eleuthera Island. Miles upon miles of wadable flats are there as well as fishable surf where one can catch snapper, jacks and barracuda. While there are many popular areas to go for bonefish, there are that many more than get very little pressure. It pays to talk to the locals who fish every day.
Eleuthera is not known for gambling, shopping or amusement parks. What it is known for is its natural beauty and serenity. Anyone who has been there will attest to that. If you like the color of a turquoise blue ocean, pink sands, shock blue skies, warm weather and cool breezes, Eleuthera Island is the place for you.
Read more about Eleuthera and its beginnings at Devil's Backbone...