The Mid-Point of Eleuthera
JAMES CISTERN, although not a large township, is near the center of the island and is a welcome sight for weary travelers going from north to south, as it was many years ago for the early Eleutheran settlers. The name derives from the covered well used by residents to trap rainwater for drinking and bathing. Since the island has no ground water, residents must still get their water either from cisterns or converted pond or sea water from reverse osmosis. Bottled R.O. water is expensive, however, so everyone except the tourists use cistern water (filtered or unfiltered) for everything.
The township has the amenities of other Eleutheran villages - shops, schools, churches, a gas station, and gift shops - and even managed to rebuild the oceanfront main street after Hurricane Floyd, a Category 4 hurricane, paid his unwelcome visit in 1999 and almost completely destroyed the Queen's Highway and many buildings. The townspeople have come to expect these intrusions, however, since periodic flooding sweeps through their low-lying village more often than elevated townships like Gregory Town. More recently, a downsized Hurricane Frances and long-lived Hurricane Jeanne gave the residents enough wind and water to last a decade.
Stop in and see Christina Rolle at Mary's Straw Work Souvenirs (sic). A small seaside vendor, Mary's sells many items you could find elsewhere at a very reasonable price. Besides baskets, you can purchase Bahamian fridge magnets, bottle openers, hats, T-shirts, and other local arts and crafts. While there, ask about the local points of interest, James Point and the Cliffs.
James Point is remote and road there can wreak havoc on your bones and shock absorbers. Be sure to make the trip only in a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle. If you do make the trek to James Point, however, you are in for a treat. The long beach and scenery are gorgeous and you'll probably be the only ones there. This is a great spot for sun-bathing, snorkeling when the ocean is calm, and even a little surfing when the wind is from the south and 3-ft to 10-ft waves are spotted. The water off the point is deep, an ideal spot for sports fishermen who like large game. There is an old shipwreck that can be seen from the road - a great place to explore with snorkeling or scuba gear. To get there, ask a local or travel towards the Atlantic on the road just south of the township.
Moray Pond near the beach is one of the many large stagnant pond and marsh areas that dot the island. Some locals fish here, but it's better for most visitors to stick to ocean seafood!
THE CLIFFS. It doesn't look like much while driving there . . . just a sandy winding road leading an area that appears to be slightly hilly and barren, and dotted with rocks and scrub brush. Take the short walk to the top of the seemingly short ridge, however, and another world opens up. Huge waves pound the ponderously tall cliffs in a fashion reminiscent of the cliffs of Dover, or the final escape scene in the Steve McQueen film Pappillon. Whirlpools and waves angrily gnaw at the rocks, demanding surrender but rebuffed over and over again. Such awe-inspiring moments are few and far between. Hurry north of James Cistern for this one; it's about a mile and easy to get to. Be careful, however, since there are no barriers or restraints at the top, and falling off the equivalent of a 10-story building is not advised. Click on the pictures below to enlarge.
GETTING TO JAMES CISTERN is easy. It's about 7 miles south of Alice Town/Hatchet Bay and 12 miles north of Governors Harbour (4 miles north of GHB Airport).
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