On Saturday, my post on getting around pricey Grand Cayman for $150 a day appeared in Travel on a Shoestring's Blog Carnival on the Americas. I'm in good company. The Innovative Traveler's action- and tip-packed post "The Secret Lives of Travelers" is resourceful to an almost mind-numbing degree, and several other posts are great as well.
So it's appropriate, in a way, to come up with some tips for navigating a value-rich, budget-poor itinerary in the Bahamas, another corner of the Caribbean not usually associated with bargains. And yes, I know that the Bahamas is not well and truly part of the Caribbean, but since the island nation is close by and generally associated with the region, I'm extending the designation.
Matt Armendariz and I just got back from a quick three-day trip to Eleuthera, where we dashed around the northern half of the island, ate some fried food, drank some Kalik beer, and generally blissed out. The weather was perfect: warm—not hot—and breezy. We're putting a collaborative project together; for now, I thought I'd come up with some tips for keeping costs down on the island.
Travelers accustomed to exorbitant Caribbean bottom lines will be pleased by Eleuthera, where our costs settled around $40 per person per day, not including accommodation and car rental; toss those in, and our costs were about $125/day. Not orthodox shoestring territory, but considering the region's general expense (insane), the quality of the grub (high), the funky friendliness of the guesthouse (excellent), and the mobility factor (limitless), this is an extremely reasonable outlay.
1. Stay at Morgan's Bonefish Harbour in Gregory Town. Two cottages go for $75/night ($450/week), plus a $50 cleaning fee. We stayed in Starfish Cottage, a tiny, rustic, cute little room. The shower is outside. For those who have never experienced the sheer joy of an outside shower on a warm island, you're missing a true pleasure. The guesthouse is run by Kimberly Morgan, a longtime resident who is a treasure trove of information about her adopted home. She brought coffee over in the morning, offered a ton of suggestions, and invited us to a few lively meals.
2. Restaurants on Eleuthera are far cheaper than you might expect. We dined a few times at Cambridge Villas, just down the hill from Morgan's Bonefish Cottages in Gregory Town, and enjoyed a delicious frittered fish dinner for about $20; another night, our fried chicken came to $8 per person. Cambridge Villas also offers some inexpensive motel-like rooms. Pina Café in Governor's Harbour fed us lunch for $10, and Rosy's delicious fruity breads (sold by Rosy out of a house on Queen's Highway in James Cistern) provided an ample breakfast for $7.
3. Rent a car from Hilton Johnson at the North Eleuthera airport. I'm happy to pass his number on to anyone interested. Our jeep ran $220 for three days; we filled the tank up just before dropping it off for $40.
Eleuthera is insanely beautiful and relatively undeveloped. There's a lot to say about it, but you'll have to wait just a short while for our more comprehensive take on the place.