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The Ultimate Friends Trip in The Bahamas

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Oct 18, 2021

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Pink-sand beaches in The Bahamas

Photo by Ryan Geller/Unsplash

Pink-sand beaches in The Bahamas

Celebrate your friendship and make memories to last a lifetime as you wander off the beaten path to discover the serene wonder of Eleuthera and its neighboring islands.

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Though COVID-19 has stalled many travel plans, we hope our stories can offer inspiration for your current—and future—adventures.

Famed for its enchanting pink sand beaches and laid-back way of life, Eleuthera is a prime destination for bonding with friends while taking in the bounty of nature, surrounded by the sea. And whether you’re all coming from the same place or different corners, it’s an easy and quick trip for most. This Bahamian island—quieter, friendlier, and with fewer people and less nightlife, yet with better beaches and water than other Caribbean destinations—lends itself to the kind of unscheduled time that brings you and your traveling companions closer together. When you’re not simply sharing the pleasures of complete relaxation, catch up while shopping local boutiques and savoring fresh conch ceviche.

Music lovers and film aficionados should consider timing their getaways for either the Eleuthera All That Jazz festival, a five-day event in April that benefits the historic Haynes Library, or the Bahamas International Film Festival in January, which explores Bahamian culture and brings people to Eleuthera from throughout the Bahamas and worldwide. But any time is a great time to come to this island, where the peace and the pure beauty of nature enchants year-round.

Let colorful shores seduce your senses

The spectacular view from one of French Leave Resort’s oceanfront villas

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The location may be remote (you’ll feel like you are worlds away from the bustle of daily life in the States) but getting here is easy on a 45-minute flight from Miami. Or come by personal boat or yacht and dock at one of five moorings at French Leave Resort, your home base for the trip. Book one of the Villas or the four-bedroom Royal Ocean House (with a private infinity pool) to get the most out of your time here with your group.

The epitome of relaxed elegance, with the Caribbean shore to the east and the Atlantic to the west, the Autograph Collection hotel resides along the island’s renowned pink-sand beach, French Leave Beach. The blush-colored sand stretches a full mile, considered one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. You could spend all day marveling at the crystal waters of the nearby shoals—and indeed you should take time to do so—but there are many adventures slightly further afield to explore as well.

Seek out hidden treasures

The mysteries of the sea have lured visitors to Eleuthera for decades. Scuba divers can follow in Jacques Cousteau’s fins and head to Ocean Hole, a large inland salt water lake that feeds into the ocean. The legendary French explorer visited in 1971 but never did reach the bottom of the famed “bottomless” blue hole. Snorkelers and swimmers will also enjoy restorative time together in the water here, surrounded by the tropical fish and plant life in this rich ecosystem.

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For an unforgettable view of the water, drive across the Glass Window Bridge, where the boisterous deep blue waves of the Atlantic and the calm turquoise Caribbean Sea meet in a stunning contrast of blues. While there, another hidden gem worth finding is The Queen’s Baths, located about a half mile from the bridge off of Queen’s Highway, but seemingly invisible if you don’t know where to look. Go at low or medium tide, don your water shoes, and take caution not to brush up against prickly sea urchins that reside along the walls of these warm, relaxing pools of water. Float your cares away in these natural hot tubs, and before you leave, snap some pics of nearby rock formations known as The Cow and The Bull, so named for the creatures they resemble.

To view some of the island’s actual creatures, consider a leisurely kayak tour of the mangrove-lined waters of Winding Bay, on the southern, Atlantic-facing side of Eleuthera, which many of the island’s sea turtles call home. Go at high tide when you can capture close-ups of these majestic beings. You’ll need a 4x4 to get you there as the roads are a bit rough at points, but the rewards are worth it.

Head back to your tranquil resort to dine on fresh seafood and other locally sourced dishes at the highly rated 1648 - An Island Restaurant, an indoor-outdoor space with views overlooking the harbor. Sip a tropical rum cocktail such as the refreshing Bahama Mama and savor blackened, fresh-caught Eleutheran Grouper while the sun sets on another gorgeous day in paradise.

Photo by Cristofer Maximilian/Unsplash

Spend time together in nature

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When you’re ready for a little time on solid ground, forest bathe at the 30-acre Leon Levy Native Plants Preserve, located in Governor’s Harbor. Celebrating its 10th year as a world-class botanical garden, the first national park on Eleuthera offers winding hiking trails, on which you’ll see exquisite orchids, medicinal plants, and hardwood trees. Walk along the Tower Trail to reach a lookout tower that boasts incredible views of the landscape and nearby Atlantic Ocean. 

Island hop in style  

Charter a boat and spend part of a day on Harbor Island, where you can rent a golf buggy to better cruise around. Take in the colorful Bahamian cottages and local art galleries, and browse elegant fashion finds for men and women at India Hicks’ adorable boutique, The Sugar Mill Trading Company, housed in a 150-year-old building on Bay Street. Head back to home base for one last night of luxurious slumber and awaken with another glorious sunrise before departing this dreamy island with unforgettable memories you’ll be reminiscing about for years to come.

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