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Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Carbondale, Illinois
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Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

We love Eleuthera. We are actually here now. 3rd time in little over 3 years. We have 3 kids that are teen or preteen. I was wondering if anyone that is well traveled in Caribbean, can suggest another island that is slightly more "civilized, Americanized..." Whatever you want to call it. I know many on these forums will want to hang be by my toes just for suggesting it but just trying to find something remotely comparable in beauty and lacking in people but maybe just a few more options when it comes to dining, groceries, etc. One of the reasons we love ELH is that you can go to the beach and you may be the only people there. I just wonder if there is somewhere else in Caribbean where the kids and my husband and I would all be happy. I know we won't have many family vacations with them left. Hoping to find a compromise to make everyone happy. :)

savannah sound
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1. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Try St. Johns, usvi.

Had to type usvi in lower case. I guess TA thought I was angry. I'll pop'em with a whelk!

Laurel, Maryland
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2. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

How about the Abacos? Not quite as remote as Eleuthera, but lots of options for groceries and dining. The islands are small, so with a rental boat you can island-hop and really get away. The best times to visit, however, are the "shoulder" season -- spring and fall -- so that might be a problem with school-aged kids. In the summer, you might have to work a little harder to get away.

Nassau, New...
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3. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Funny you ask, as I consider Eleuthera to be very Americanized already! Abacos are very much more "civilised" as you put it. But if you want an American experience, why not settle for an Ameican city on the coast? Myrtle Beach, Lauderdale by the Sea, Sanibel Island, Nantucket, South Padre Island, all fit the bill. Or, as DH suggests, one of the American virgin islands or perhaps even Puerto Rico.

I think once you lose the balance of civlised vs isolated, the whole equation changes. Having a beach all to yourself does not coexist with loads of infrastructure. It's hard to find the compromise!

Eleuthera
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4. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Dusty has touched on the point where economics connects with logic to answer the question: For Eleuthera to have a wider array of better restaruants, high-grade grocery shopping, more tourist-oriented "things to do", etc., it would need a larger population base and a heavier tourist load. And once that happens, you're no longer the only folks on that lovely, hidden beach all afternoon. It's pretty hard to have both. I don't know of many subtropical islands that balance solitude and first-rate infrastructure while remaining affordable to the average family.

There are only +/- 8,000 full-time residents and a few hundred expats and tourists on the island at any given time. You'd have a hard time naming a rural town of 8,000 anywhere in the U.S. that has the number and range of restaurants as Eleuthera -- or much better grocery shopping, for that matter.

One of the more popular central beaches is in my back yard. I went swimming 3 times this week and only saw other humans once, and they were about half a mile away. That would not be the case if we had more attractions. I am not against development and enhanced tourism, it's good for the locals, they need it. But for right now, I'm happy to put up with occasional shortages of bread and milk, or a limited choice of restaurants, to enjoy that sort of solitude in such a magnificent setting.

Chicago
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5. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

I'd consider Anguilla. It's got fairly low development density, lots of incredible beaches, with some being basically entirely deserted, and its fairly compact so its easy to drive around and explore. You might not have a mile of beach to yourself, but its pretty easy to have a hundred yards of beach to yourself.

Price of lodging is probably the biggest hinderance with going there, and the logistics are a little more complicated (though that helps keep the number of people fairly low). Its got great food options ranging from roadside local BBQ, lots of beach bars, to 5 star places that would compete well in any major city. No shopping or nightlife, so it does maintain that sleepy feel.

Carbondale, Illinois
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6. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

"Rustic" may be a better description than civilized. We clearly love it here. Last time we came for 3 weeks and this time we are here for two weeks. I just wanted to reach out to the more well-traveled followers on here to see if any other Caribbean beaches even remotely compared to Eleuthera yet had a little more dining options and grocery options. I realize more infrastructure means more people. We have traveled to many of the US beaches and we don't care for them after coming to Eleuthera. I am not asking for a bunch of criticism. I know these forums can easily go south pretty quickly. Just some helpful honest suggestions would be great. Thank you for your time.

Windsor, Canada
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7. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

The other option for an "Americanized" tropical paradise is Hawaii. There are parts of Kauai and the big island that offer more amenities without being extremely crowded, or perhaps Molokai.

Happily everyone has a different idea of the perfect mix of solitude and amenities. The two criticisms that I hear most often about Harbour Island is 1) it is too crowded, and 2) there is nothing going on. I know people who consider that Eleuthera has become too developed and are looking at somewhere like Long Island instead.

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Have you been to Exuma yet? It's a more developed than Eleuthera as it has the Sandals resort, but we still found plenty of deserted beaches. Tropic of Cancer beach was completely deserted when we were there, and is truly one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. For activities, you can do the swimming with the pigs thing, visit the Chat and Chill for the Sunday pig roast and feed the sting rays, go to Santana's for amazing lobster dinner (and check out her photo album full of celebs), etc.

Virginia Beach...
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9. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Hi Renee,

My wife and I loved Eleuthera, and agree it is a bit spread out though.

You didn't mention your family's main interest but,,,,,,

If you like the idea of "boating" to various Cays in the Bahamas the Abaco's are a good choice with access to un-populated beaches especially during the off season. Boat rentals are very reasonable on the Abaco Cays and mainland.

Even without a boat some of the Cays have a lot to offer with just a golf cart. I can only speak from experience about Green Turtle Cay. We loved it, If beaches, snorkeling or fishing is your interest its hard to beat. A barrier reef runs about 3/4 of the ocean side of the 3mi. island, if calm it's a quality beach snorkel. For dining there are plenty of choices on such a small island and for fancier choices the GTC club and Bluff house are very good. For excursions there is Brendal's, a renown dive/snorkel operator, Lincoln Jones tours, even kayak rentals.

We like it because once you get there "its easy," compact and relaxing without the driving involved on Eleuthera. The older I get the more I like "easy".

If you want way more developed and one of the easiest places to get to, Turks and Caicos can be a nice vacation. Personally we will stick with the Bahamian out-islands as they offer exactly what we enjoy.

Hope you enjoy the remainder of your time on "Eleuthera"

Pittsburgh...
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10. Re: Question for vacationers to ELH and other Caribbean islands.

Rum Point on Grand Cayman is nice. Not nearly as deserted as Eleuthera, but less so than STT. The island has all of the amenities that a cruise ship port island would, shopping, night life, restaurants, but the majority of the tourists seem to stay on the west side of the island. Rum Point is a bit of a hike from the bulk of the touristy spots, although there is a public bar service beach at the point itself, immediately adjacent (east and south) are many villas that seemed to be unoccupied. I would stay away from the ones around the inland bay, it was kinda stinky. Be sure to visit the botanical gardens and blue iguana preserve, the nicest ive been to. The beaches are a little rocky and the reef farther out than in Eleuthera. A bit more expensive as well. We considered going back but that was before we found Eleuthera.