Harbour Island has been the secret of the swell set for over half a century. Those who frequent this little dot of an island barely visible from the casinos and towering hotels of nearby Nassau would like to keep it that way. The enclave is hard to reach and is often referred to as the Nantucket of the Caribbean. In centuries past, locals made money plundering the shipwrecks of the unfortunate captains who made the mistake of trying to sail over the world’s third longest barrier reef. But modern navigation and regular flights to nearby Eleuthra (Harbour Island has no airport) have eased the challenge of arrival, yet the exclusivity remains.
Unlike Nantucket, the water is warm, the sand is pink and powder-soft, and the unique reef systems keeps the water sparkling blue year-round.
1 Getting There
- CHEAP FLIGHT TO NASSAU
- PUDDLE-JUMPER TO NORTH ELEUTHRA
- TAXI TO THE DOCK
- TEN-MINUTE BOAT RIDE TO THE ISLAND
- YOU HAVE ARRIVED!!!
IN-THE-KNOW TRAVELER TIP:
Fly directly to Eleuthra to avoid the chaos of Bahamian customs in Nassau and the white-knuckle puddle-jumper flight.
2 Where to Stay
The Dunmore Hotel, Coral Sands and Pink Sands line up next to each other along the beach and offer a variety of options from hotel rooms to beach front bungalows.
This is the newest property on the island, a venture of the ultra-luxe Eleven Experience company. The eleven-room property sits in the heart of Dunmore town. The freshwater pool and Bond-style tiki bar are the centerpiece of the property that feels less like a hotel and more like a stay with your wealthy aunt. You can be that aunt by buying out the property for $7,800 a night and inviting your twenty-one favorite people.
Choose from the mix of garden- and ocean-view rooms. Some of the larger villas have private pools. Need even more space? Book Pink Sands’ Banyan Tree house and you get a bonus guest house for friends—or teens who don’t want to be seen with you.
This resort was recently renovated, a big deal on an island where the nineteenth-century cottages only occasionally freshen up their pastel paint. Coral Sands also recently built private residences for guests who need more space. The villas, called Hilltop and Sol Y Mar, each have three
bedrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen, along with a one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest house.
The property offers a mixture of hotel rooms and postcard-worthy private residences. Where the Sands hotels are beach chic, Dunmore House is self-described as having “the atmosphere of a private club and the charm of a different era.”
All hotels on the island close from mid-August to mid-November. When they reopen most have minimum stay requirements of at least three days, and many demand a full week when booking around the holidays.
images Courtesy of the resorts
WHAT TO DO
WE’VE GOT ONE SIMPLE WORD FOR YOU
Nothing. The point of traveling to this tiny island is the chance to finally finish the book you’ve started several times or take a nap on the pink sand beach. If you must do something, snorkeling or diving the reef is an obvious choice. Various tour operators offer turtle feeding and swimming tours. Who doesn’t want to meet a sea turtle? There are the usual water sports and spa treatments best enjoyed on vacation. Rediscovering the lost art of leisure is the main pursuit—and your therapist would tell you, a worthy one.
The waters surrounding Eleuthera are home to a disproportionately large number of shipwrecks. Wrecking was an important source of income for the island’s early inhabitants. In the eighteenth century, residents of Harbour Island carried special licenses to assist wrecked ships in return for a third of the recovered loot. – Photograph by @chinoiseriecay
left: The cool bohemian vibe only enhance the experience at the Landing.- Photograph by @chinoiseriecay
right: The only mode of transportation, besides the feet God gave you, are bicycles and golf carts. – Photograph: Courtesy of Eleven Experience
It’s often said the unique bright pink sand is due to the coral, but it’s actually created by insects that live on the coral. Their crushed bodies are washed ashore, giving it the world famous color. This also keeps the sand cool even in the scorching heat of summer. – Photograph by stock.adobe.com
The most coveted souvenir is the monogrammed straw bag from A & A Hidden Treasures.
LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: Harbour Island, Eleuthera and Spanish Wells were settled by Puritans seeking religious freedom. They survived with the aid of New England Puritans who sent supplies. The settlers of Eleuthera and Harbour Island repaid the debt by shipping hardwood and dyewoods to Boston with the provison that the proceeds from the sale go to Harvard College. – Photograph: Courtesy of Eleven Experience
3 Where to Eat
The most famous spot Sip Sip recently closed for good. So the tea sipping and gossiping (where the name Sip Sip was derived) had to find a new home. Arthur’s Bakery, serving up the island’s famous banana bread, is a great alternative.
For dinner, locals prefer the Rock House, while tourists favor the neighboring restaurant, The Landing. The Rock House has been an island mainstay since the ’40s and was decorated by J. Wallace Tutt (designer of Gianni Versace’s Miami mansion). Ask for a poolside table and enjoy your lobster and goombay smash under the palm trees.
The Landing was renovated by the island’s most well-known resident, India Hicks, who gave the restaurant and bar an Ernest Hemingway-meets-Grace Kelly feel.