Eleuthera - Diving Out There
Divers in search of a true Out Island experience need to look no further than Eleuthera. Stretching some 100 miles north to south and just two miles across at its widest point, this land mass sits between the ocean-swept reefs of the Atlantic coast and the shallow, underwater gardens of the Great Bahama Bank. While surprisingly close to Nassau, the long, crooked island of Eleuthera, with its stunning pink-sand beaches, is a world apart, and it provides a plethora of unique diving opportunities.
Along its northern shore, it's possible to ride a 4-knot current through schools of fish at Current Cut, then explore a train wreck at the nearby Devil's Backbone. Just inland, a mysterious, limestone sinkhole holds artifacts from the Arawak culture. The truly adventurous can explore the Sink Hole, aka the Bone Cave. Located at the north end of the island in the middle of a mango plantation, this complex cave system, which bottoms out at 95 feet, offers a look at remnants of the ancient Lucayan civilization, as well as blind cave fish.
But, perhaps, the most exciting news to come out of Eleuthera in quite some time is being made on the island's southern end. The brand-new development of Cape Eleuthera is near completion. In addition to being a world-class resort destination, the Powell Pointe Resort at Cape Eleuthera will allow divers unprecedented access to the deep waters of the eastern Exumas, and the opportunity to search for lost shipwrecks along the coast of Rock Sound - a settlement once notorious for its population of "wreckers," who would use false navigation lights to lure unsuspecting ships to doom on the nearby coral reefs.
As compared with established dive areas, such as Nassau, Grand Bahama and the Exumas, South Eleuthera is an almost undiscovered territory. One thing that divers are guaranteed to find is water clarity - in the 150- to 200-foot range - which is a signature of the Southern Bahamas. The island's drop-offs typically start to descend around 80 feet, giving divers the sensation of flight when hovering over into the abyss.
If anyone ever tells you the walls in the Bahamas are not as spectacular as others in terms of physical formation, then these people haven't seen the southern islands and their deep fissures, tunnels and archways that appear throughout the eastern edge of the Bank. Intertwined with the reefs' formations are tapestries of ornately colored sponges, which seem to glow against the dark waters below.
Back on top of the shelf, many shallow reefs in the 10- to 70-foot depth range are graced with tall coral heads separated by wide gullies of sugar-white sand. Tenants of these coral castles vary from gorgonians, giant barrel and orange elephant ear sponges, to plentitudes of small fish.
All this awaits those who come to Cape Eleuthera. And who knows what else might lie below. Only time and the efforts of some adventurous divers will tell.
Intimate, secluded and exclusive sums up Powell Pointe Resort at Cape Eleuthera (capeeleuthera.com). Cape Eleuthera's spectacular setting blends an authentic island atmosphere with all the contemporary amenities one might expect. Less than 220 miles east of the Florida coast, Cape Eleuthera's convenient location is ideal for a weekend island getaway. Yet the glassy-blue waters, pristine natural surroundings and charming Bahamian hospitality are reason enough to stay a lifetime.
The main property is comprised of four-star, waterfront resort homes with welcoming front porches and decks, king or queen master bedrooms, as well as many services and amenities to suit all guests' needs, providing a taste of the island lifestyle. These spacious homes are situated in small groups surrounding the full-service, deep-water marina. The Cape Eleuthera Marina is the Bahamas Out Islands' largest, with a dive shop and charter boat on the premises. For more information on diving in the Bahamas, contact the Bahamas Diving Association (bahamasdiving.com).