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Long, skinny, beautiful: Eleuthera (Charlotte Observer)
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Aug 13th 2007, 05:49:11 pm
Fig Tree News
Monday, Aug 13, 2007

Long, skinny and beautiful

Thomas Sands, 35, was born and raised in Eleuthera, the Bahamas; he is a broker/appraiser for the Cotton Bay Starwood residential vacation development.

Q. There are hundreds of islands in the Bahamas archipelago. What is your island like?

Eleuthera is 110 miles long by 2 miles at its widest point. The area at Glass Window Bridge is where it's thinnest, maybe 80 to 100 feet. Most of the island is at least a mile across.

What it looks like varies from one area to another. Southern Eleuthera, where I live in the town of Rock Sound, the land is generally wider. Along the island's western shore the elevation goes from flat to 75 or 80 feet. It's steeper on the Atlantic side though it's still a gradual slope. As you move north, there's higher elevation close to shore and deeper water close to shore. There's an area called Surfers Beach where there's almost no barrier reef between the Atlantic and the shore. It's well-known for surfing.

At the northern end, there are a couple islands off the main island. Harbour Island is a mile off; you take a ferry to reach it. It is famous as an island escape for the rich and famous, offering high-end luxury, boutique-style resorts and residences. Harbour Island is probably less than a mile by a mile and a half but is one of Eleuthera's larger residential centers, with maybe 1,000 people.

Spanish Wells, another town nearby on a small island, has the largest fishing fleet in the Bahamas.

With the main island and surrounding islands, Eleuthera has a population of 12,000 to 15,000.

Q. Sounds like wall-to-wall people.

There are multiple towns, basically one every 10 miles. Many would have a population of about 200. John Millers, farther south from where I live, has approximately 20 people.

Q. I've read that several resorts were abandoned 20 years back. Are they still standing?

Our economy is driven by what happens in the United States. In the late '70s and early '80s, there was deregulation of airlines and (adverse) changes in the U.S. tax laws. Also, hard times in the American real estate industry dramatically affected our economy.

A few that failed have remained. The old Club Med at Governor's Harbour, with 200 or 300 rooms, was purchased and demolished. Plans are being completed for developing that site. The old Cape Eleuthera property was demolished, its marina was refurbished, and 17 or 18 two-bedroom villa units were just completed.

The old Cotton Bay is still in limbo. While the new Cotton Bay will open next year, the original was founded in the '50s or '60s and developed for a select group -- the Chryslers, Rockefellers, the owners of Johnson & Johnson, George Bush Sr.'s uncle, and others. It had to cope with a changing market and open its doors -- to become more of a commercial entity -- but the restructuring didn't work well.

Q. Who goes to Eleuthera?

A variety of individuals, but generally those who don't prefer a city experience. They've tried Atlantis and Freeport (in the Bahamas) but are looking for the family experience.

Eleuthera isn't overdeveloped; there's still a sense of space and privacy -- the "real island experience." At the same time, the telephones and electricity are in place and any level of technology is available that you may not find farther south in the Bahamas. There's convenient shopping, too.

Q. What's different in grocery stores?

There will be some European brands. Most things are imported in the Bahamas, so you'd probably find some specialty items you might've otherwise found in a separate store. We have to mix the offerings.

Q. What does Eleuthera sand look like?

Along the Atlantic, it's pink -- natural white sand with fine pieces of coral and shells that are naturally ground by the action of the ocean. It is powdery sand, not coarse.

The sand is less fine on the western, Caribbean side. That's where you go to see excellent sunsets. Some visitors like shelling as a hobby; the shells are easier to find on the western side, where the water is generally more calm.

If you go to a beach and find someone already there, you can just to go another place where there's nobody. I did that just yesterday.

Q. When is peak season?

Most Americans travel during winter -- Thanksgiving through April or May. If you're a sport fisherman, you can push that to June and July. There's an abundance of mahi-mahi, kingfish and wahoo. Many Americans come down on boats to fish. They'd be heading back to the States now.

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