Home today from our wonderful vacation on Eleuthera and just wanted to share a few things. As I noted earlier, our first three days were very rain filled and our vacation got off to a rocky start. We had a group of 11, included 3 14 year old boys, 1 eight year old boy, and 1 6 year old girl.Of the 3 families, 1 family has traveled the Caribbean extensively, 1 family has been to the Caribbean twice, and this was one family's first trip ever, so the travelers were very diverse. I am going to try to break this up into a form that I think would have been helpful to read when we were planning our visit.( This forum was by far the single most helpful tool in planning our trip).
Our rental home/villa- We stayed at Sunrise Villa in Palmetto Point, or as we were told in the " Banks". We have stayed at some very nice spots from the Cayman to the BVIs and we have never had such a SPECTACULAR view or beach at one of our houses. It is on the Atlantic side and I cannot emphasis how beautiful the view. Our biggest regret of the week is that we feel we spent too much time trying to find some of the other beaches and did not spend enough time here.
Car rental- I have noticed that this is one of the questions that pop up on this forum very often and I am going to add my two cents. We rented two cars from Isreal Johnson. Super nice guy and I will recommend him without reservation. We were supposed to have 3 SUVs but he had some mechanical issues very late and we actually ended up with one van and one SUV. It did work out for us and even saved us money by not having the third rental. He met us at the airport in North Eleuthera and even took us to Governor's Harbor. I have some advice for people renting cars in Eleuthera, especially Americans( as we, as a general rule, seemed to be the most spoiled with material things). Do not expect the car that you would get at a Hertz in Los Angeles or Atlanta. You will not get it , nor do you need it. Our cars were very old, very beat-up, but mechanically sound. They took us every were we wanted to go and never gave us one minutes trouble. Our Blazer was nicknamed the Hoopty by the boys, who all rode with me for the week. The Hoopty was loved by those four boys and obtained mythical status. It could do anything. On the plane ride home, one of the boys told me" the Hoopty could get us to Miami quicker than the plane" I wouldn't have traded that SUV for the finest Range Rover in the world!
Food- Unless you have traveled to the Caribbean before, you will be shocked at the price of food in grocery stores and restaurants. Get over it. Don't let $9.00 for a gallon of milk spoil your visit to such a wonderful place. The food selection is actually quite diverse and we were pleasantly surprised at the numerous places we had to buy things. We live in rural Alabama and have to drive 12 miles to our nearest grocery store, so we actually had more to choose from in Eleuthera than we do at our home. One word of advice on Tuesdays, get to the store early. We went into Governor's Harbor to get some things and could not find a parking place at Burrow's Grocery Store. We bought things at Millard's, Burrow's, the Shell in Governor's Harbor, and made one trip to the Marketplace in Rock Sound. Prices can vary on different things at each store. Again, don't let bargain shopping take you away from the beautiful places. Saving $20 on groceries in Rock Sound as opposed to Governor's Harbor isn't worth the lost time, at least to me.
Restaurants - We had a party of 11, so any visit to a restaurant was an event. Most places aren't expecting a group that size. We also chose to eat at the house so we could spend more time on the water. Here is a list of the places we ate. (It is a small list )
Tippy's- The boys all chose to go fishing and the ladies decided to try Tippy's without us. Apparently it was our loss. My wife continually talked about how wonderful the meal was. My wife also raved about how friendly the staff was.
Unique Village- We ate here our first night in, as it was very close to our house. I try to be very positive, but it could possibly have been the worst meal of any trip we have ever taken. It could have been just one of those nights and not indicative of how the food usually is, but the meal had everyone in the group very worried about the upcoming week. I will have to say the conch fritters that I had were very , very good, but that was one appetizer out of 11 meals. I can't recommend this place at all.
Sunset Inn- We ate here on our way back from a visit to Harbor Island. Good place. For some reason that night the mosquitos decided to invade every inch of the island. We ate inside, but would have loved to have eaten on the deck.
Pammy's- Yummy, yummy, yummy. I ate an entire order of cracked conch and fries during the 4 mile drive between GH and Palmetto Point. Super friendly and the only negative I can find is that I couldn't bring Pammy's back to Alabama with me. I cannot recommend this place enough.
Sweet Dreams- I think this is a relatively new place, but it is absolutely fabulous. I had the Sweet Dreams burger and it may be one of the best burgers I have ever eaten ( and yes, I am a burger expert and snob) My wife and son had the shrimp and loved it. Very , very nice young lady who waited on us.
Pascals- On our trip to Rock Sound we ate at Pascals. Good food, friendly people, the kids had a blast playing and exploring while we aited on our food. I would recommend the grouper fingers by the way.
GH bakery- good bear claws and cream cheese danishes. We went a little late in the morning so the breakfast sandwiches were gone.
Beaches- This is why we visit the islands. The beaches on Eleuthera threw us quite the curve ball. We love the waters of the Caribbean. That is why we visit . to snorkel and swim. In Eleuthera , at least during our visit, the Atlantic side beaches and water were vastly, vastly superior. We were very disappointed at the Caribbean side beaches that we visited. Like I mentioned previously, it rained early in our visit and had apparently rained more prior to our arrival. We were told that the Window bridge actually closed for a few days before we arrived. We did not visit all beaches, so that could have a lot to do with it. Twin Sisters was our favorite Caribbean side beach and the beach outside our house on the Atlantic was our favorite of the whole island. We had a fabulous time at the Queen's Baths. A word of caution here. If you are entertaining even the slightest notion of visiting the Baths, take a sandal or water shoe and leave the slides/flip flops at the house. Thank me for that later.
Finally, a word of advice. We tried to see too much early in our trip. The island is too long and things too spread out.
Get to know the people of the island.
I have read and heard numerous times, even read it on a t-shirt, that Eleuthera isn't for everyone. I thought that was a crazy thing to say until I actually visited the island. I now know that is true. If you are snotty and snobby, Eleuthera isn't for you. If you can't enjoy BEAUTIFUL beaches, Eleuthera isn't for you. If you can't enjoy hospitality and wonderful, friendly people, Eleuthera isn't for you. If you decide Eleuthera isn't for you, that's fine by me. It only means I won't have to stand behind you for Pammy's cracked conch or a Sweet Dreams burger or have you cluttering up my view from the " Banks"