Written by Missy Johnston
The island of Spanish Wells lies just to the north of the island of Eleuthera. At less than two miles long, Spanish Wells—also known as St. George’s Cay—is a tiny, yet wonderful place to stop over during a luxury yacht charter to the Bahamas Out Islands. It’s home to roughly 1600 inhabitants, who are mostly fishermen and farmers who earn their living from the island’s resources.
The area’s history is as interesting as its scenery is beautiful, so ask questions and talk to the locals if the opportunity arises. Here’s what to know about Spanish Wells and Eleuthera, Bahamas.
Spanish Wells is one of the places Christopher Columbus discovered on his famous voyages. It became a popular place for Spanish sailors to renew their fresh water supplies after long Atlantic journeys. In fact, the explorer Ponce De Leon visited Spanish Wells for this very reason on his quest to discover the fountain of youth.
The island’s inhabitants are mainly of European descent, originating from families who first fled Europe to escape religious and political persecution and then left Bermuda for similar reasons. This group, called the “Company of the Eleutherian Adventurers,” escaped from Bermuda continuing to seek a place where they could live and practice their religion in peace.
Unfortunately, the journey was not a smooth one. The Adventurers wrecked on the dangerous reef now known as the infamous Devil’s Backbone and lost all of their supplies. The survivors found refuge in Preacher’s Cave, on Eleuthera, which became the site of their new settlement. Settlers used the cave as a town hall and a church for many decades, even after they had built homes and other buildings to live in.
More European settlers came to Eleuthera after the American Revolution, bringing their loyalty to the British crown with them. Eventually, disagreements within the Eleuthera settlements caused a faction to break off and leave for Spanish Wells. The people who now live on the island are the descendants of the original families who lived in Preacher’s Cave.
Today, Spanish Wells is a spectacularly peaceful, tiny island with friendly inhabitants and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.