Best Islands to Live On: Eleuthera

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Why Eleuthera? We really love how this slinky Outer Island has slipped by as other areas of the Bahamas have been developed. On Eleuthera, which means "freedom" in Greek, tropical wilderness still reigns, as seen in deserted pink- and white-sand beaches and in its crystalline blue waters.

Life of an Expat "What planted the seed to move to Eleuthera was the relationship I started to feel with the people," says Chris Maxey, who first visited the island on a winter break from college at Yale more than 25 years ago. "It's such a small place -- everybody knows each other, and they're incredibly welcoming." But it wasn't only the kindness of the Bahamian people on Eleuthera that attracted Chris, 46, who was raised in suburban Philadelphia. "As a guy who grew up going to the Jersey Shore , what hit me was the amazing beauty of the aquamarine water -- just being able to see my feet!" he says.

"The waters are almost as clear as air. They're beautiful to swim in." A swimmer at heart, Chris served six years after college as a Navy SEAL before becoming a teacher at the private Lawrence- ville School in New Jersey. But he kept coming back to visit Eleuthera and he eventually bought a townhouse at Cape Eleuthera on the island's southwestern tip, whale-tail tip. "At Cape Eleuthera you're very close to the Exuma Sound drop-off and the Schooner Cays , which are spectacular uninhabited keys," says Chris. Once he had children, Chris taught them to truly love Eleuthera's wilderness as he does. "We'd spend our days out exploring and diving the cays. My kids literally have nurse sharks as pets -- they've named them all."

Soon Chris started bringing students from Lawrenceville to the island for 10-day adventure-scuba programs, and they were never quite ready to leave. In 1998, he founded the Island School, which combines classes, research, community outreach, problem-solving, scuba-diving and kayaking for high-school students. Chris is also the director of the Cape Eleuthera Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports a Bahamian middle school, and the Cape Eleuthera Institute, which promotes sustainable development initiatives in the Bahamas. "We are a small place out on the edge that's trying to make a difference in the world," says Chris. "That makes me feel good."

Facts of Life

  • Climate: Tropical
  • Population of island: 8,000
  • Percentage expats: 3 percent
  • Population of main town, Governor's Harbour: 843
  • House starting price: $175,000
  • Travel from US: Direct, one-hour flights from Florida; Eleuthera is a one-hour flight from Nassau.
  • Closest hospital: Clinic on Governor's Harbour; main hospital in Nassau
  • Price of local beer: $4 for a bottle of Kalik
  • Language: English
  • Ease of immigration: Easy with capital investment
  • Ease of buying a home: Easy
  • Website: myoutislands.com

Purchasing Paradise

  • $ Airy two bedroom cottage close to Banana Beach: $250,000.
  • $$ Three-bedroom estate on three acres: $500,000.
  • $$$ Five-bedroom haven with observation tower overlooking the Atlantic, Caribbean & Cupid Cay: $1.6 million.

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