When someone mentions “The Cove” and “the Bahamas” in the same sentence, most people think of the slick, glitzy, adults-only high-rise that’s part of the mega-resort Atlantis, on Paradise Island. It’s a fortunate mistake that keeps the hordes away from a true Bahamian paradise by the same name. Fifty miles farther east is the practically untouched island of Eleuthera, and the Cove Eleuthera bears no relation to its name twin and is the antithesis of a thumping pool scene, casinos and giant water park.
To the contrary, the property consists of a mere 57 villas and cottages, spread out over perfectly clipped lawns and well-tended gardens, overlooking two talcum powder white sand beaches bisected by a rocky promontory. It couldn’t be simpler—a serene and contemplative getaway whether you’re canoodling honeymooners or a pop star hiding from the paparazzi. Its motto should be “relax, rinse, repeat,” although there’s plenty more to do.
Eleuthera is the eastern lip of an extinct volcano crater, peaking out of the water, 110 miles long and nowhere wider than a mile and a half. The Cove is tucked away in Gregory Town, on the northern third of the island. Given its long, narrow topography, it’s surprising that the island grows anything at all, but Eleuthera is known for its pineapples and hosts an annual festival every June. If this sounds a bit sleepier than, say, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, that’s exactly the point. Eleuthera’s the very embodiment of chill.
So beyond lolling on a chaise lounge, swaying in a hammock or bobbing around in the water, what is there to do? Complimentary stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment and bicycles await and, for the gym rat who can’t miss a workout while on vacation, the fitness center, located in the resort’s spa, has a million-dollar view of the Caribbean. If you want to venture beyond The Cove, take advantage of the resort’s Jeep rentals.
A day trip to Harbour Island will take you past two major points of interest. The Queen’s Bath is a natural hot tub created by the relentless pounding of the Atlantic surf. At mid-tide, the sun warms the trapped water to a bath-like temperature, making for a delightful soak (tennis or water shoes are strongly recommended). Farther north along the Queen’s Highway is the Glass Window Bridge, the narrowest point on the island, where the contrast between the cerulean blue of the Atlantic and the electric aqua of the Bight of Eleuthera is stark and startling.
Cove Comforts: The Cove Eleuthera is located on a long, narrow island. Photo: Sammy Todd Dyess
Continuing on to North Eleuthera, you reach the docks where a quick ferry ride will take you to Harbour Island, a much smaller and more low-key version of Gustavia in St. Barth, with pink sand beaches, superb dining spots, several high-end resorts and lots of hidey-holes of the rich and famous. Be sure not to miss Lone Tree—a piece of driftwood inexplicably standing sentinel on the shore—which is one of the Bahamas’ most photographed spots. Eleuthera’s geology has also given rise to a number of cenotes, or sinkholes, many known only to locals. Stopping at one for an adrenaline-inducing jump is an excellent way to sober up after a bit too much rosé at lunch.
Of course, most people go to the Bahamas to spend time in or on the water, and the reef diving is some of the best in the Caribbean. The Devil’s Backbone has claimed an inordinate number of ships, making it one of the world’s top destinations for wreck diving. Somehow, there’s even a train that sank in 1865. You can also enjoy activities like diving for conch or lionfish using only snorkel gear. While conch are native to the area (and a staple in Bahamian cuisine), lionfish are an invasive species wreaking havoc on the health of the reef. Visitors are encouraged to help reduce the population, and the chef back at The Cove will happily turn your catch into a delicious dinner. Another wildly popular water activity is a visit to Spanish Wells, where you can cavort with the Bahamas’ famed swimming pigs.
For more passive pursuits, The Cove features a beautifully appointed, full-service spa offering treatments like hot stone, deep tissue, localized or traditional Thai massages. Equally relaxing is the Hammock Happy Hour, when cocktail carts are set up to service the hammocks suspended between palm trees. However, the best place to watch the sunset is undoubtedly from the Point Bar, an open-air spot with flawless views to the west. The Cove’s dining options, while limited, don’t disappoint. Freedom Restaurant and Sushi Bar is as lip-smacking as it sounds, while the more casual Gregory Town Grill offers island, American and Asian cuisines.
Whether it’s enjoying coffee from the comfort of your own deck or having one of the incredibly and genuinely friendly staff offer a sincere compliment on your shoes, the Cove Eleuthera stacks up against the most welcoming and pampering resorts in the world. And ironically, there is one hotel you might have heard of that’s a sister property: the aptly named Enchantment in Sedona, Arizona. They could’ve just as easily given The Cove the same name, but then, no one would confuse it with the other one. ◆
— Eleuthera is easy to reach with regularly scheduled flights from Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Nassau, but if you’re feeling particularly flush, Air Flight Charter in Fort Lauderdale offers “anywhere/anytime” service. There’s also a helipad for James Bond wannabes.
The Cove Eleuthra Bahamas, thecoveeleuthera.com