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History of Governors Harbour
GOVERNORS HARBOUR was first named"Colebrooke Town" when first settled in 1648 by the original Eleuthera Adventurers from Bermuda. This township is near the center of the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas and has the rare distinction of being the first permanent European settlement in the New World as well as home of the first Republican form of government in the New World.
THE BAHAMAS and West Indies were a favorite resource for cheap labor for the Spanish Conquistadores and others who followed Columbus west.Today, very few descendants of native Arawaks can be found because their ancestors suffered the fate of most other non-Christians in the Americas: death by new infectious diseases, enslavement, or extermination.
The Arawak island of Cigatoo, was uninhabited in 1648 when William Sayles and his hardy religious freedom-seeking adventurers arrived. Sayles, a former governor of Bermuda, had obtained a charter from the King to establish new lands to south of where the Massachussets Pilgrims had settled. He and his followers wanted freedom from the King's religious laws, and chose their dangerous journey rather than whorship the crown.
SEVERAL WEEKS after setting sail from Bermuda towards the warmer climes in the south, Sayles and his two ships wrecked on the reefs of the northern end of the island, near the area now known as Preachers Cave. Most managed to swim ashore and find haven in the large cavern where they reportedly prayed and preached. It was here that the thankful survivors named their island Eleuthera, the Greek word for freedom.
EVENTUALLY, Sayles' followers made it around the island to a quiet harbour on the Caribbean coast and set up the first new world republic on Cupids Cay in 1648, and a small settlement at Colebrooke Town with some needed help and provisions from their northern neighbors in Massachusets. All was not well, however. Other than seafood, the island lacked natural resources. The rocky terrain made crop cultivation difficult, and the scarcity of basics such as food, water, clothing, and adequate shelter caused bickering that soon divided the new settlement.
SOME ADVENTURERS gave up and returned to Bermuda to beg forgiveness of the King. Sayles journeyed west, this time to discover a naturally-protected harbour on the island of New Providence. He set up the first Bahamian Capital at Nassau while the rest of his comrades stayed in Governors Harbour to eventually develop a thriving pineapple industry. This lasted until the late 1800's when the United States - Eleuthera's biggest customer - developed the Hawaiian islands as a cheaper source of pineapple imports, effectively destroying the local dependence on its favorite cash crop.
TODAY'S BAHAMIANS are still involved in fishing, local industry, and some agriculture. Pineapple is still considered king, although very little is grown anymore except around the township of Gregory Town where the yearly Pineapple Festival in June draws large crowds. Most of Bahamaian revenues today come from the tourist trade and and from private worldwide banking services.
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Things to Do & See
Just about any shopkeeper, store clerk or restaurant waiter will be a great source of information about the island, places to go and things to do. The Old Library is also an ideal place to catch up on some island history and local flavor and sights. CLICK on the thumbnail pictures to enlarge . . .
Just drive around. . . Cupids Cay, the seat of the New World's oldest republic, is a short walk or drive over the land bridge. Wesley Methodist Church (above) has been beautifully restored after the last hurricane, and the large dockyard on Cupids Cay receives shipments from all over the world. The Bahamas' oldest township also has beautiful older homes, quaint little shops, nurseries, and a few nice restaurants. There are two grocery stores in town, one with a Shell station where you can fill up your car. Also, while you're in town, cash your travelers cheques at the Bank of Canada branch or Burrows Grocery, buy liquor, hardware, visit a travel agent, beauty shop, or boutique, and buy a long-distance calling card at Bahama Telephone Company at the top of the hill (look for the big BaTelCo satellite dish!). ALSO, DON'T FORGET to visit the beautiful churches and the town's century-old Public Library (below) that have recently been renovated and/or re-stocked since the last major hurricane in 1999. Click on the pics to enlarge:
RESTUARANTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
For lunch, our favorites include the Bucaneer's Club and Pina Cafe where you can get island specialties like fish and chips or conch salad with cold drink. Buccaneer's also serves alcoholic beverages like Kalik beer, a local favorite. To get there, drive to the only (non-working) stop light in turn then turn on the one-way street headed up the hill. Both restaurants will be to your right a block away.
For dinner, we recommend you check out either Sunset Inn just south of the township for the best in local fare, or the brand new upscale restaurant Tippy's at Club Med Beach on the Atlantic side of town. Just ask for the chef's specialty: Peter Birkweiser from Austria and Massimo from Antigua share cooking duties (Massimo, who is originally from Italy, is also called "Sparticus Maximus" by some local pranksters). Dining at Tippy's is a pleasure: choose from Caribbean, American or Italian fare, and they've even just added sushi to the menu.
If you'd rather be more reclusive, dine at home if allowed. It's always a great idea to buy some fresh fish from a fisherman off the dock (at about 3 p.m. when they come in). We used to recommend getting your organic vegetables from Goodfellow Farms (near Tippy's), but we learned that Karin and Ian Goodfellow are headed for Nassau to set up their farm. They still may have some local crops, however, so ask around. Fresh vegies truly add to a delightful evening feast.
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Transportation & Lodging
TRANSPORTATION. For the best taxi and car rentals in the area, contact Arthur Nixon at (242) 332-6265 for the best deal. He also gives great advice about the Governors Harbour area and can recommend places or vendors for whatever you need.
LODGING. If you choose to stay in the township, there are several options, although during the peak winter and spring months, you may have trouble finding a vacancy. For reasonable accommodations directly in Governors Harbour, try the Laughing Bird Apartments. If you want your own private vacation rental overlooking the ocean, check out Bahama Villa in nearby Ten Bay, about 8 miles south.
BY AIR. Governors Harbour is in the geographical center of Eleuthera. It is eight miles south of Governors Harbour Airport (GHB), with commercial flights to the U.S. and other family islands. Click here for detailed flight information.
BY SEA. Taking a boat or ferry is not the best way to get to the island since Eleuthera is about 200 miles from the mainland U.S., but you can catch the Fast Ferry from Nassau to Governors about twice weekly. If you are shipping anything to or from the island, most of the island's import/export business goes through the port offices located on Cupid's Cay. The mail ship comes twice weekly.
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