ELEUTHERA, THE BAHAMAS — She is affectionately known here as "Lady Di” but what Diane Thompson really is is the “Pineapple Princess” because she rules over a plantation that produces the best crop of the sugary fruit on this enchanting island.
Thompson’s sweet success has certainly put the spotlight on Eleutheria, which lies 80km east of Nassau, with people coming from around the world to enjoy the fruits of Thompson’s labour.
Pineapples are Eleuthera’s best-known produce but the crop Thompson produces in her well-attended plantation are the best and the ones most in demand.
The cheerful Thompson has become an inspiration to younger farmers on this unique archipelago and teaches them how to preserve and prosper off the fruit indigenous to Eleuthera.
The energetic Thompson’s connection to her pineapple fields runs deep — she has been tending them for more than 40 years now and is so entrenched that she knows the soil and each batch of pineapples like she knows the back of her hand.
Above: When she's not tending to her pineapple fields, Diane Thompson, known as Lady Di, greets visitors with a smile.
On many occasions, she is called upon to give pineapple tours, and because of her love for pineapple farming, she gladly accepts.
Tourists who want to purchase one of Lady Di’s precious ovoid fruits are urged to call her before the crop ripens, so she can put your name on a waiting list — and that list is usually quite long.
The island’s annual Pineapple Fest attracts people from Canada, the U.S. and Europe and many of those visitors stop by Lady Di’s farm to sample her sweet treats. She always greets them with her infectious smile and a mischievous sense of humour that melts your heart.
Above: Tiny Eleuthera is known as a surfer's paradise thanks to the giant waves that wash ashore.
Pineapples are just one of the delights of Eleuthera. The long, thin island is blessed with pink sand beaches, like lovely French Leave Beach, and some of the biggest waves in the Caribbean, which attracts surfers from around the globe.
Sleepy Gregory Town, with just 400 permanent residents, is the island’s commercial hub and where the annual Pineapple Festival, now in its 33rd year, is held.
Surfer’s Beach is where the boarders like to gather when the sun dips into the sea and quirky Elvina's Bar, where the ceiling is decorated with dozens of surf boards, is their favourite hangout.
The island is renowned for its caves, the most famous of which is Preacher’s Cave where the earliest settlers took refuge when they first arrived.
Shallow swimming spots abound on Eleuthera, which is why it’s so popular with family travellers.
Lady Di truly does rule over a very special part of The Bahamas.
- For more on Eleuthera and other attractions and festivals in The Bahamas, go to http://www.bahamas.com