7 Reasons Why Spanish Wells Bahamas is The Perfect Peaceful Getaway
The Bahamas live and breathe off of tourism and 92% of those visitors are Americans. Out of the 700 islands, a majority of people visit Paradise Island off Nassau to visit the one and only Atlantis. The only other Bahamian island I had really heard being talked about was Exuma, the pictures were always showcasing the pigs, lol!
I don’t know if Spanish Wells Bahamas would’ve ever crossed my radar if it wasn’t for my best friend Brooke. She decided to move away from the Michigan cold to this tiny island of just over1,600 residents. When she told me how much of a lifestyle change it was going to be I was a bit unsure of how well she’d adjust. The island has just one grocery store, no gyms, and not many forms of entertainment besides the beaches, restaurants, and the great outdoors.
Since visiting I was able to see firsthand how the people make such an isolated place liveable. Their community, tranquility, and some of the best white sand beaches in the world are the reasons why I could see people enjoying living with less. They really have no choice except to be friendly with everyone because word among neighbors gets around fast. Covid had postponed my trip to visit her in 2020 so I went in July of 2021.
I know Spanish Wells isn’t an ideal vacation for everyone but keep reading if you are looking to retreat somewhere private, calm, and beautiful.
Where is Spanish Wells
The Caribbean island of Spanish Wells Bahamas is located 50.5 miles (81.2 km) northeast of the capital, Nassau, and adjacent to the island of Eleuthera.
How do you get to Spanish Wells Bahamas?
We already went over how small Spanish Wells is, now the question is how do you get there? The most direct and affordable way is to fly into the North Eleuthera Airport. Yup, that tiny building in the picture is the airport!
From there you can go outside and there will usually already be cab drivers waiting to take you to the dock with water taxis that go to Spanish Wells. They only will accept cash. It costs around $20-30, from there just tell the driver you need to go to Gene’s Bay Dock where you’ll wait for a water taxi for $5 each way. Don’t be afraid to speak up if they try to quote you a lot more than that price range.
The other option if you want privacy and no wait times is to schedule your own private pick in advance at a premium. Your diver will meet you at the airport with a name sign and assist you with your luggage. You can also book a round trip package as well.
Why Spanish Wells Bahamas should be on your bucket list
1. Find peace and privacy on Spanish Wells
You know the phrase “on island time”, well Spanish Wells embodies this perfectly. There’s no agenda here. You can take your time because everything will be waiting on you. If you’re stressed, the minimalness of the island really allows your mind to clear and to be present with the moment.
Spanish Well’s privacy is unbelievable. The beaches were practically empty and it felt like I was on my own private island. I can see why billionaires buy whole islands for themselves because the feeling of looking around and just being you and the ocean is indescribable.
2. The island of Spanish Wells is so easy to get around
Spanish Wells is only 5 miles around. Russel Island, another small island is attached to Spanish Wells by a short bridge so there’s a little more real estate to work with. You can walk or rent a golf cart (“buggy” as locals would say) to get anywhere you need in just a few minutes! Bicycle rentals are not an option unless they come with the Airbnb or property you’re staying at.
My finding's tip: For a week stay bring at least $200-300 cash per person in small bills for the airport taxis, water taxis, and random shops that only accept cash.
3. Affordable Accommodations
Since Spanish Wells and Russel Island aren’t overrun by tourists the rates for hotels and Airbnbs are a lot less competitive than other islands in The Bahamas, and in the Caribbean for that matter. Considering how small the combined areas of both islands are there seem to be a lot of Airbnb options in particular. On booking.com there is currently only one option on Russel Island and one on Spanish Wells.
Where to stay in Spanish Wells or Russel Island
$ Bougainvillea – One of the cheapest places to stay on Spanish Wells, the price per night is about $130 including taxes, there is a two-night minimum. A 1-bedroom apartment that is a 5-minute walk from the beach. It’s also close to the food store and restaurants so you could get by without renting a golf cart if on a tight budget.
$ Harbourbreeze Villas – You can ball on a budget here as a golf cart is included with the price. The simple room is bright and tropical and has a well-stocked kitchen.
$$ Hidden Gem Spanish Wells – This property is only two miles from beach access and just a few minutes walk to everything in town but also has a 4-seater golf cart to use if needed. This home is only a 1 bedroom but has two full-size pull-out beds and a fenced-in porch which adds a lot of value to the price.
$$ Fish Fever, Russell Island Bahamas – Newly built 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom cottage is pretty much your own personal resort. It’s a beachfront property with a lounge bed on the beach, not to mention the back patio and kitchen/living areas have ocean views. A golf cart, paddleboard, and kayak are included.
$$$ Island Waves – Not quite beachfront but this rental home has a private beach only a 1-minute walk away. It has three bedrooms and two baths able to sleep 6 adults. It has a private fenced-in yard and BBQ grill. Priced at $390/night, make sure to book well in advance for a shot at this incredible vacation home.
$$$ Seaglass Cottage – This spacious cottage on Spanish Wells is great for large groups (10 max) and extended stays, a perfect home away from home, and has a lot of great amenities.
4. Enjoy the pristine white sand and turquoise waters of Spanish Wells
Really, from the moment I saw the water’s color out the plane window as I was flying over Spanish Wells I knew I was in for a treat. The beaches have the most powdery white sand and the clearest water in perhaps all of The Bahamas.
Spanish Wells Beach | Northside Beach
This beach was literally a 5-minute walk from my friend’s house. How insane is that? I came here often and it was never busy. We even did a snorkeling workout where we did laps out to the sandbar and back, crazy how tiring it was, but being able to look for creatures below was a fun distraction from how exhausted I was.
The view from the beginning of this beach is a bit unusual because the ocean flows in-between Russel Island and Spanish Wells. It’s the first right after crossing the bridge that connects the two islands. It’s such a great hangout spot for day drinking, swimming, and even snorkeling.
It gets deep quickly so I saw sea creatures almost immediately when we started snorkeling. On one of the days, we got up close and personal with a giant stingray. Also at this beach, there are friendly beach cats and a small food stand, Bridge Serenity Deli, which sells conch salad (not very good), drinks, chips, etc.–It has very inconsistent hours so you’re better off bringing your own food and drinks.
5. Enough Spanish Wells Bahamas restaurants to choose from
There are only a handful of restaurants on Spanish Wells but don’t worry, coming from a foodie you have nothing to worry about.
Shipyard serves more upscale bar food and Wreckers is a high-end Greek restaurant with a delicious flaming cheese appetizer, Saganaki, and lava cake. Both of these spots have amazing water views.
I didn’t think there were any coffee shops on the island and I thought I could manage but on day 5 I ashamedly started craving a latte. My friend told me Anchor Snack Bar recently had started offering a full espresso menu in addition to their breakfast menu, it was good stuff! My caffeine crisis was averted, lol.
Budda’s is a classic bar-style restaurant with lots of fried food and more affordable pricing. There’s a small liquor store and gift shop (inside the bus) outside that are also a part of Budda’s, we ended up coming back here another day for beach drinks. Before I left the island I was able to try the hot patties, (curry-based with beef or chicken) from Snack Vault and then to Papa Scoops for an evening ice cream treat.
Most of the restaurants and shops are closed on Sunday's. The Island Mart stays open until 8pm daily.
6. Go Island Hopping
There are a few nearby islands you can easily get to but Eleuthera and Harbour Island are the most popular islands to visit from Spanish Wells.
Jump Into the Sapphire Blue Hole on Eleuthera
I’ve never been to any of Mexico’s cenotes but this one seems like a smaller scaled version. After we built up the courage to jump we were immediately refreshed by the blue hole’s cool water, perfect after biking on a hot humid day. We floated around in our fins for over an hour. The rope ladder is the only way up, so just make sure you have a little bit of upper body strength before you jump in. One middle-aged man struggled for a least a half-hour before he was able to get up.
How to Get to the Blue Hole
We took my friends’ bikes on the water taxi across to Eleuthera, however, unless the place you are staying at comes with bikes you have three options once you get across to Eleuthera; walk about 1.5 miles, call a cab to take you there and back, or book a charter package that stops at a beach where you can walk to the Sapphire Blue Hole (more on this below).
Not many phone services work in The Bahamas so you’ll need to buy a SIM card from town beforehand or have someone in your group with service if you want to call a cab. Preacher’s Cave is a historic landmark worth checking out while you’re there and after all that exploration there’s a gorgeous beach to relax at right across from the cave (where’d you be dropped off if on a charter).
Spanish Wells Charters
Renting a charter is going to cost you hundreds to upwards of a couple thousand but depending on your group size and length of the trip the price will be more proportionate. Here’s a list of the most popular ones. You can scan the websites to see which ones stop at the Blue Hole. On a side note, the great thing about charters is that you really are paying for a personalized tour that fits the interests of the group. If you’d rather spend most of your time on the water there are charters that offer snorkeling, fishing, swimming with the pigs, etc.
Take a Day Trip to Harbour Island
Harbour Island is around the same size as Spanish Wells, yet way more famous. It was once the capital of The Bahamas but now it’s known for frequent celebrity visitors who have nothing better to do than throw their money around. As you can imagine, this means visiting or staying on H.I. will be overpriced. Taking a day trip allowed me to still experience the best parts of the island. It turned out to be a rainy day so we didn’t get to chill on the Pink Sands Beach but the view and the rest of the island activities we did definitely made up for it.
My Finding's Fact: Guests on average spend $18,000 weekly on Harbour Island
How to get to Harbour Island from Spanish Wells, Bahamas
We got to Harbour Island by first taking a water taxi for $5/person from Spanish Wells over to Gene’s Bay Dock on Eleuthera. Then, we took a car (through my friends’ connections) but you can arrange for a taxi to take you over to Three Islands Dock, it’s just past the airport. This is where you’ll take another water taxi for $5/person each way that will get you to Harbour Island.
The second option would be to call Calvin Pinder in advance: 242.359.7135 – He Captains his own boat and runs his own taxi service! He may be able to run you from Spanish Wells to Gene’s Bay Dock and then also taxi you from there to Three Island Dock where you will take the water taxi to Harbour Island (4-minute ride).
What to do on Harbour Island
Rent a golf cart: This is really the only way to properly explore the island -there are several companies listed on google. Make sure to set up your rental before you get there, it’s about $50/day.
Try Conch Salad from Queen Conch: The BEST conch salad you’ll try. My friend and her group of Bahamian friends all agreed on this. They tried to take me but they had just closed for the day :'( I can’t complain too much because the conch salad I did try was made from super fresh conch Brooke’s dad had dived for when we went boating. It’s made with tomatoes, onion, Bahamian spice blend, sour orange, and conch. A must-try island specialty!
- Harbour Island Canvas: I was wowed by this shop. They sell the coolest one-of-a-kind bags all made out of old ship sales and high-quality materials. The patterns on each item are all unique and different so you’re really getting something no one else will have. I bought a hat to take home but I definitely want to save to get one of their beach bags someday!
- Dake’s: Boutique clothing store
- Lone Tree: come at low tide so you’re able to walk right up to it. It’s a great photo op.
- Cocoa House: cafe with lots of indoor/outdoor seating
Head to Pink Sands Resort for lunch: You can choose to dine at either the casual Blue Bar or the upscale Malcolm 51 and then relax at Harbour Island’s Pink Sands Beach. Don’t expect the pink color to look like the over-edited pictures on google, the pink color is very subtle and more noticeable the closer you are to the sand. If you really want a luxurious stay while on Eleuthera you can book one of the private oceanfront cabins that will set you back around $720/night.
If you want more fun facts about this trip to The Bahamas check out this guide I made on Instagram!
Could you see yourself vacationing in Spanish Wells, Bahamas? Comment below your thoughts. If you want to see what I’ve been exploring in my home city of Saint Petersburg check out my Tampa Bay content!
Until next time,
February 19, 2022 at 3:49 pm
The Bahamas look so beautiful! I’d love to swim in Blue Hole and check out some of these yummy food spots you recommended.
February 19, 2022 at 4:41 pm
Yes, I could totally see myself vacationing here, with the white and soft pink sands and those electric blue seas. Although I would be with the middle aged man struggling to get up the rope ladder. The laid back vibe and cool shacks look just perfect. Bucket list stuff!
February 19, 2022 at 5:06 pm
Spanish Wells looks right up our alley! This was a super helpful read and I love how readily available the water taxis are to island hop!
A Capone Connection
February 19, 2022 at 5:41 pm
This looks like an amazing beach to visit. The water is stunning. Adding this to my beach “wish list”. Thanks so much for sharing.
February 19, 2022 at 6:01 pm
Wow what a beautiful place! I’d love to swim in the Blue Hole but boy oh boy am I intimidated by that rope ladder. I’m not sure if I could make it back up!
February 19, 2022 at 8:51 pm
Oooohh, conch salad! Well that plus the gorgeous beaches and warm water – I mean, who could say no to a peaceful getaway here?! Thanks for sharing this lesser known gem.
February 20, 2022 at 4:28 am
Guests on average spend $18,000 weekly on Harbour Island?? Whooooa… That is crazy.
February 20, 2022 at 8:39 am
I would love to spend some time here to recharge and get some writing done. Thank you for putting this place on my radar!
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