Promise not to tell? One of the best kept secrets of the Bahamas is Harbour Island. This romantic little island, known as “Briland” by its inhabitants, is a short hop from the States. A one hour flight from Florida to North Eleuthera followed by a brief cab and water taxi ride gets you to this Bahamas gem in a hurry.
Harbour Island is less than 4 miles long and a 1/2 mile wide. Its long wide beach is famous for its hard-packed pale pink sand. The likes of Fodors and Conde Nast rate it as one of the “best Bahamas beaches.” The beach, combined with some great restaurants, hotels and vacation home rentals, makes Harbour Island a destination of choice amongst Bahamas enthusiasts. It’s no surprise to find a few “rich and famous” there — they know they won’t be hounded.
Central to Harbour island is Dunmore Town. This quaint and friendly community features old Victorian structures adorned with Bahama’s colorful pastel paint schemes. No high rise hotels, fast food or traffic jams on this island!
Golf cart rentals are the transportation of choice. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and just plain walking the beach are some of the popular activities. To be sure, Harbour Island is not known for its shopping and night life nor is there any gambling. If you seek large crowds, wild parties or theme park rides, this is not your destination.
Harbour Island’s weather is delightful; especially during late Winter and Spring when there is little chance of rain. Ocean breezes take any edge off of moderately warm temperatures ranging from the 70s to 80s during the day and late 60s at night. Air conditioning during season is unnecessary — ceiling fans are adequate. Nothing beats falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean through an open window.
Dining out is casual. The better restaurants include Pink Sands Hotel, Coral Sands, The Landing, Rock House, Romora Bay Club and Harbour Lounge. For local fare, Ma Ruby’s should not be missed. And there are more… Part of the pleasure of exploring the island is checking out the restaurants. When compared to other Bahamian islands, Harbour Island has one of the best selections of restaurants — all within close proximity to any place you stay.
On the ocean side, hotels include Pink Sands Hotel, Coral Sands Hotel and Dunmore Beach Club. On the bay side, it’s The Landing Inn and the Rock House. On a budget? There are other hotels to choose from. Visiting Harbour Island is not cheap, but if it was, then everybody would be there, right?
Harbour Island’s vacation home rentals and villas are numerous. Location and size come at a price. If you desire “beachfront”, the better locations are usually on the north and south along the east coast. If you want to save a little, there are some nice rentals in Dunmore Town and others located in the interior of the island. The beach is always minutes away.
Look for home rentals on the internet offering more than a few photos so you know what to expect. A number of rentals are handled by rental or real estate agents who may not provide much in the way of details, descriptions, map locations or photos. Owners who care about promoting their home rental typically have independent web sites and accept e-mail inquiries directly.
The better house rentals on Harbour Island are booked nearly a year in advance of prime season. Those who want the best make early reservations — many are repeat customers. You can also take a “standby” position on a number of rentals in hopes someone cancels. Ask for referrals and double check policies for deposits and refunds.
If you seek a memorable and relaxed Bahamas vacation coupled with sun, sea, great food and a romantic beachfront that will knock your eyes out, consider Harbour Island. See you on the beach!
Copyright © 2004 Perry Joseph