We kicked off our week in Western Caribbean with our first stop in PrincessCays. We boarded our tender boats and were ferried over to land.
Located at the lowest tip of the Bahamian Island of Eleuthera, Princess Cays is a beach party hosted for Princess guests offering beach and water activities for families and people of all ages.
As tempting as a day of fun in the sun was, we chose to discover what lies beyond this perfect beach. With a 100 mile long island, granted, it’s only 2 miles wide, there’s GOT to be more than meets the eye!
Described as an island forgotten by time, we had a must-see list of places covered on the tour that got my attention, so I guess it wasn’t totally forgotten by time if they provided air conditioned transportation…..right?? Did I ever mention I’m not a “tour” person that likes to gets shuffled around in a bus? Well my friends, today, I became just that: a clueless tourist being led by a very lovely and enthusiastic guide to what I hoped would justify the time and money spent in this place.
And the driver is not kerpunkled up – or the Bahamian way of saying drinking too much — they DO drive on the wrong side of the street on purpose, like in Britain So keep that in mind if you’re renting a car in the Bahamas. What I didn’t realize is the bus ride to wherever we were going would be so long…and that the main road, and only road, was lined with dusty houses in disrepair and landscape in its natural state — a view not exactly abundant with photo ops. These surely must NOT be the quaint villages the brochure mentioned. Not only has this island been forgotten by time, but forgotten by real estate developers. Some areas are even too remote for Cable and Internet to reach. It’s gotta get better from here on…..right?? I hope?? Because there’s no going back to Princess Cays now!
Eventually our patience was rewarded with a stop at one of the pristine shorelines with the clearest pale emerald green water I ever remember seeing. Ragged coral stones didn’t make for a stroll along the water, but the color and the smell of the sea made you really feel alive! Awww, it’s time to go already….I could’ve used another 10-15 minutes here.
For such a small sliver of land, Eleuthera makes up for it in history. Eleuthera is said to have been the birth place of the Bahamas when a group of Puritans arrived from Bermuda in search for religious freedom. Even its name derives from “eleuthero”, or freedom in Greek. And much of the island we’ve seen so far looks pretty much like it did way back then. Before the Puritans arrived, the island was inhabited by the Lucayan Indians. What THEY didn’t find here was freedom because they were enslaved by the Spaniards in the 1500′s and sent to South America’s gold and silver mines.In the video I will show you Rock Sound: a bottomless ocean hole!! That’s right! One of nature’s incredible wanders, has left everyone wondering WHERE in the pits of Earth IS the bottom of this ocean hole?
It was nice to see as we continued our drive that there are indeed beautiful and quaint neighbohoods with the kind of pastel buildings I imagined.
The locals here are simple people, deeply religious and proud of their island, history, and culture. Some of their local expressions reflect that. For example, when asked how you’e doing, one reply is: Between Oh Lord, and Thank God“. When someone is confused, they mix up like conch salad. We may have our own joke about a one horse town, but island isn’t far from it: there’s only 1 movie theater….1 police station….one fire truck….one ambulance….and one clinic. If you need to go to a real hospital, you’d have to be taken by boat the main island. So if you worry about your house burning down or you might need an ambulance one day, it’s best you live close to them! At least crime is low enough here for only 1 police station to suffice.
Our next stop is Tarpum Bay, a fishing village where on good fishing days, seafood is sold fresh off the main dock. On non-fishing days like this, the beach is quiet and absolutely beautiful! Today was particularly windy and I kept trying not to loose my hat! Across the street is St Columba, one of the oldest churches on the island established in 1849.
On the way to our final destination, and the grand finale of the tour, I learned more about this tiny island. Bahamas was a British colony until it gain its independence in 1973, and according to sources, the economy faltered as large resorts were abandoned or sold off to government interests. The travel industry makes up a whopping 70% of this island’s revenue, the rest is a combination of exporting fish, goats, sheep, hogs, and certain citrus fruit vegetables to the rest of the Bahamian islands.
The cost of living in Eleuthera is high too with supplies having to be delivered on the island by boat: a gallon of gas is almost double as ours, as well as main staples like milk and bread. Milk rund around $9 a gallon. These high costs are offset by no income tax paid by the locals. With a population of only about 11,000, the locals are a close knit community. To give an example, our tour guide Colleen told us about the Eleutheran Store Credit card…which is NOT your typical Macy’s store credit card! It works something like this: You go to the store, but don’t have enough money yet to buy rice or bread till pay day. The store clerk writes down your name and your purchase ammount, and you pay them back when you get the money….no interest rates, just good ol’ fashioned honor system, just like here in the States, right??
The last stop at the gorgeous Four Points Restaurant on a white sandy beach overlooking the Caribbean emerald water was the highlight of the entire day! Here we feasted on local Bahamian and Eleutheran food like conch fritters, jerk chicken, conch salad, more…everything, including our cold beverage, made with traditional coconut! I have never before or after tasted conch fritters like these….the food alone made the whole trip worth while!!
In the video we are all performing the traditional Bahamian Junkanoo! It’s a load of fun and if you have the chance …join in!
On the way back to the excitement of Princess Cays and the lap of luxury that awaits us on Crown Princess, I realized that what impressed me the most about this island would’ve had little to do with pretty architecture or manicured landscaping. What mattered most to me was the natural beauty of the beaches and surrounding water, the warm and friendly locals that welcomed us and appreciated our visit, the simple and unpretentious way of life — ok, or as some called it: the lazy island life, the incredible food, history, and the unspoiled natural land free of tourist shops, malls, condos, and resorts. I also want to mention that due to the location of PrincesCays, we only saw the southern part of the island….we have yet to explore the northern part. Perhaps one day we’ll return and spend a few days here on this island on our own, driving on the wrong side of the road instead of a rushed bus tour, forgetting about time all together!!
Thank you for joining me today on the Bahamian Island of Eleuthera. See you next time in Western Caribbean on the Crown Princess!!This video was made possible via Twitter Press cruise sponsored by Princess Cruises. The content of this show represented the real experience of the participants and content was created without any influence or compensation by Princess or its representatives.