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Remembering Columbus: *Discovery* Day 1492
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Posted by:Oct 10th 2010, 07:03:22 pm
Fig Tree News TeamA shoutout to our very first European tourist, Christopher Columbus ... cheers!

First Colonists Sought Freedom On Island In Bahamas
By: Consuelo Dalton
Home | Travel-and-Leisure

Eleuthera is in the Bahamas, about 200 miles from Miami, and 60 miles east of Nassau and Paradise Island. The island was the first European settlement in the Bahamas. Few traces of the original Arawak settlers now remain. Tourist visitors often notice that the colonial villages are reminiscent of New England architecture. This short article surveys some of the interesting history of Eleuthera, and identifies some Eleuthera island hotels.

Eleuthera Island in the Bahama islands, about 60 miles to the east of Nassau. The island is shaped somewhat like a long boomerang, over 100 miles long, but less than two miles wide. From the island's highest points one can easily see the Atlantic to the east, and the Great Bahamas Bank to the west.

The island was possibly visited, or at least sighted, by Columbus, and the native Taino, or Arawak, population did not fare well from their encounter with the Spanish: most died of European diseases, including smallpox, or were deported elsewhere in the Caribbean to work as slaves. By 1550 the island was totally unpopulated, and few traces of the natives have been found, although recent excavations at Preacher's Cave have found archaeological remains.

The English established a claim over the Bahamas in 1629, but did not attempt colonization until the 1640s, by which time the English Civil War was in progress. The war spread to the English colony in Bermuda, where the royalist faction gained the upper hand. The Puritans and other independents on Bermuda felt that they were losing their religious liberties, and decided to set up a new colony in the Bahamas. Two ships of colonists set sail from Bermuda in 1644.

The first expedition failed, but between 1646 and 1648 the Puritans, under William Sayle were successful, establishing the first European colony in the Bahamas, with about 70 inhabitants. The island colony they founded was named Eleuthera, which is the feminine form of the Greek word Eleutherios, meaning freedom.

The main towns on Eleuthera are Governor's Harbour, Spanish Wells, Rock Island and Harbour Island. Harbour Island is actually a tiny, separate island, lying off the north coast. Water taxi services make it easy to reach from North Eleuthera Airport.

Harbour Island is renowned for its beaches of pink sand, lying on the island's eastern shore. The only town is Dunmore Town, whose attractive, colonial-style buildings and flower-lined streets make it a pleasant place to live or to visit.

Accommodation on Harbour Island includes the elegant, boutique-style Rock House Hotel, and the Pink Sands Resort. The resort has twenty cottages located on the island's famous Pink Sands Beach.

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