One of the best things about sailboat cruising is that we get to experience so much of the world that is off the typical tourist path. We visit pristine white sand beaches, where Capt. Mike and I are usually the only two human beings to be found. (Although there are always plenty of lizards!) And I marvel at the fact that there are still miles of ocean shore that are NOT covered in condos and sunbathers. However, the flip side of this blessing is that we don’t get the opportunity to explore the interior of the islands we visit. We’re usually limited by the distance we can cover on foot in tropical heat.
So to remedy that situation, we decided to join forces with the crew of Leef Nu and Elixir to rent a car and really explore the towns and natural wonders of Eleuthera. It’s a long and skinny island (110 miles long, and often about a mile wide) so we had to motivate and get an early start to have any hope of seeing it all. From the Rock Sound anchorage, we started north. Big thanks to Kevin for driving and figuring out the whole “drive on the left side” thing. Since we had plenty of room in the van, we pulled over a few miles outside of town and picked up a little old lady hitchhiker who promptly fell asleep in the passenger seat and stayed that way for the next hour and a half. We couldn’t bring her all the way to her destination, but I hope we helped her out a bit that day!
First stop was the Glass Window – a narrow ridge of rock less that 30 feet wide that separates north and south Eleuthera.
The scenery is extremely dramatic because the velvet blue deep Atlantic Ocean forms the east side and is full of fury and waves and rocky cliffs, while the lighter turquoise shallow Bight of Eleuthera forms the west side in calm and quiet waters. At its narrowest point, there is only room for the road that crosses the water on a one-lane bridge. Every few years, a hurricane ravages the bridge, disrupting life on the island until it can be repaired. Most recently, a rogue wave pushed the entire bridge about 15 feet west (!) and it was easier to move the road to the new location than to move the bridge back to the road. I thought this would be a quick stop, but we just kept hiking to new vantage points and taking more pictures.
Just south on the bridge is the best, most powerful blow hole I’ve ever seen! I expected a blow hole to expel a huge plume of sea water toward the sky. Maybe I was confusing it with a geyser? Instead, it’s a bit of magic – an invisible force that inhales a deep breath, and puffs it back out, complete with a haunted “whooooooo” noise. A conveniently located tin can kept us entertained for ages: drop it in the hole and minutes later, whoooooo-pop! The can shoots skyward!
Next stop – the Queen’s Baths where on a calm day, at low tide, you can linger in the baths for hours, enjoying the sun-warmed water and checking out the shells and interesting creatures caught in the tidal pools. But if you’re there on rough day or at high tide like we were, instead you decide to appreciate the force and beauty of nature from a safe distance. Still beautiful though!
Just outside the little town of Hatchet Bay, we took a narrow little dirt road until we no longer felt safe driving the rental car. Just across from our unofficial parking spot we found a hole in the ground and climbed down to check out the caves.
At first glimpse the cave was cool, but seemed fairly small. But we followed a trail of string along the ground and it kept going….and going….and going. At times, I expected blind albino creatures from a horror movie to scuttle out from the shadows of our head lamps, but I just kept breathing, and kept following that string, and eventually exited from a different hole in the ground about three quarters of a mile away. The cave was truly amazing. Back in the states, there’d be an entrance fee and a tour guide and a gift shop. Here in the Bahamas there was just us – and ancient stalactites, a rainbow of colors, caverns high enough to stand up in, and tunnels so low we had to crawl. Oh, and bats! What a cool adventure.
After all that adventure-ing, we’d worked up quite an appetite. So, acting on a tip from my new friend Amy, we stopped at LeoRose Sunset Beach in James Cistern for a late lunch and some great live music!
And THEN……. ok, this is exciting. I’m getting all giggly just thinking about it again. After we parked the rental car and wandered down the beach toward our dinghy and returning to Sanitas, we ran into DAN AND KIKA OF SAILING UMA! If you haven’t heard of Sailing Uma, they are YouTube sailing video celebrities who bought an old, inexpensive sailboat and spent about a year getting her in good condition to sail, and then have been cruising in a very sustainable manner, capturing their adventures and their boat projects in truly stunningly beautiful videos. They are charming, talented, artistic, and so much fun to watch! And… I can now tell you from personal experience after Capt. Mike got all fanboy on me …. they are very genuine and down-to-earth people. So after crossing paths on the beach, they joined us on Sanitas for cocktails and to share travel stories. (In case you’re wondering, when YouTube celebrities stop by, I break out the last stash of charcuterie and hummus imported from Florida, as well as a bag of precious tortilla chips 😜). And if the day couldn’t get any better, they invited us over to Uma for a quick tour and to sign their chalkboard wall. If you haven’t headed over to YouTube yet to subscribe to their channel, do it! now! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAye0mf2A8g&feature=share