By Beth Aschenbach and Danielle Norcross
Photography by Paola Wells
The only way to know if a place lives up to the hype is to experience it firsthand, so we recently hopped over for 48 blissful hours. We packed our itinerary with a range of activities, from visits to local haunts to the very best in luxury relaxation. Come along as we share our guide to haute places to stay and what to eat, see, do—and wear!—on Harbour Island.
Getting There: Nestled in the northeast of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, Harbour Island is fairly easy to get to from almost anywhere in the country. We flew out of Fort Lauderdale into North Eleuthera Airport. Then, we took a five-minute taxi ride to the dock and boarded a ferry for a brief lift straight into Harbour Island. Following a stop at the Government Dock, we picked up the golf cart we booked in advance to navigate the island during our stay–an absolute must.
Lovely Lodging: The many homes on Dunmore Town’s harbor side are in close proximity to the island’s best restaurants and shops—and are perfect for families with small children. We rented one using vrbo.com, which has an inventory of enchanting dwellings with names like Chatterbox, Jewelbox, and Coral House, a property currently being renovated by blogger Chassity Evans of Look, Linger, Love. We also highly recommend staying at The Dunmore, particularly in one of the guest cottages designed by Amanda Lindroth, who is known for blending Palm Beach glamour with island ease. There’s also the boutique Bahama House Inn and the eclectic Ocean View Club.
Island Vibe: When we arrived, we noticed a sign that read, “Welcome to Harbour Island: Home of Friendly People.” All of the residents and staff throughout the island made good on this promise, greeting us with big smiles and eagerly helping us in any way possible. When we met our photographer, Paola, she gave us a warm embrace and said, “Welcome to Briland,” the locals’ endearing name for their home.
Downtime at The Dunmore: An otherwise private resort, The Dunmore is open to the public for lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.). In addition to the cottages, Amanda Lindroth was also responsible for the decor at The Dunmore’s indoor/outdoor restaurant, where she blended historic and modern references using shiplap, seagrass, rattan, and orange-striped textiles. Hint: The corner booth is posted all over Instagram. Resort guests can also enjoy the heated swimming pool that overlooks the ocean or kick back on the sea-hued armchairs under the open-air cabana. It’s also fun to sway in the hanging swings scattered around the property.
What to Wear: Lounging poolside demands a bathing suit with panache. We went for off-the-shoulder black polka dots (Beth) and mint with scallop details (Danielle), pairing them with pastel dresses, floppy sunhats, mirrored sunnies, and an oversized straw tote.
Island Delicacy: After getting some sun, we hopped on our golf cart and traveled across the island to Queen Conch. We peeked into the colorful shack to watch the chef make fresh conch salad before finding a table on the wooden deck that rises up over the bay. This is a great spot to sit back, listen to island tunes, and soak up the ocean views.
Saddle Up: The next morning, we wanted to be adventurous so we met at the beach in between Pink Sands and Coral Sands resorts to ride horses. While we grew up riding in Wellington, trotting along a Bahamian beach is something we’ve always wanted to do. We booked it the day before through Marty, who wears a cowboy hat and can be seen all over the island. He met us with two chestnut brown horses named Star Boy and Tex in tow. Both were very sweet, and we bravely opted to ride without saddles, although they are available. Our nervous jitters turned to happy giggles as we rode on the powdery sand, leading Star Boy and Tex in and out of the gently lapping waves as the sun crept above the sea.
Breakfast Treat: A popular family-owned establishment, Arthur’s Bakery specializes in baked goods like donuts, sticky buns, and breakfast sandwiches. We enjoyed chatting with owner Robert Arthur about working for Walter Cronkite in New York City many years ago. He retired to the island but is now busier than ever. Everyone comes here, even the local kids on their way to school. They’re so cute in their uniforms, and so polite! They took the time to hold the door for us and address us with a polite “Yes, ma’am.”
Insta Moment: The cute pineapple fence next to Arthur’s is a common photo op for fashion bloggers. We’re already begging our dad to build us one.
Island Hot Spot: One wardrobe change later, we were dying to check out Sip Sip. When we saw its location directly on the Atlantic Ocean, we immediately knew why this is the place to eat on Harbour Island. The lobster quesadilla costs $45 (gasp!) but is absolutely out of this world and worth every bite.
Shop Talk: After spending the morning beachside, we went down to the bay for some retail therapy. We couldn’t miss Palm Beach-based Island Company’s new blue-shuttered outpost across from the Government Dock. Next door, we popped into India Hicks’ store, The Sugar Mill. Celebrated for her island lifestyle brand (and for her royal ties; she’s Prince Charles’ goddaughter), India lives on Harbour Island with her husband and children (we spotted her having breakfast at The Landing the next day). At The Sugar Mill, we found her coffee table book, India Hicks: Island Style, beautiful tassel necklaces, and a curated collection of boho clothes and shoes. Our shopping trip wouldn’t have been complete without buying straw bags emblazoned with “Briland” and “Harbour Island” from the nearby Straw Market.
Night Cap: We met a group of friends for dinner at Coral Sands and dined on the outdoor terrace with palm trees all around and an oversized, black and white–checkered floor under our feet. Then we moved inside to the candlelit bar and lounge area to play pool. Almost all the resorts on the island have a domestic vibe, with comfortable sofas, well-worn furniture, and personal snapshots that would be at home in any stylish living room.
Morning Motivation: Given our late night out, we were ready for a pick-me-up—and Cocoa Coffee House delivered just that. Located in Dunmore Town on the second floor of one of Valentine’s Resort and Marina’s vibrant buildings, Cocoa offers fresh fruit açai bowls and smoothies, served up with a healthy dose of sunshine.
Fresh Catch: Our husbands had requested to rent a boat so they could catch fresh fish. Luckily, they were able to charter one from a chummy commercial spear fisherman right at Valentine’s. He guided them to the best spots around the island, and in just a few hours they were catching grouper, snapper, and lobster
Spa and Fitness: Before heading back to reality, we had to indulge in a little R&R at The Dunmore’s poolside pavilion. We took part in an outdoor cardio workout, followed by an alfresco massage that had us totally melting into the table. For those not staying at The Dunmore, we recommend booking a treatment with The Island Spa, whose therapists will come to you.[/caption]We were bummed when our trip came to an end, but thrilled to take so many memories home with us. Harbour Island lived up to every expectation. The gracious residents, historic charm, blush-sand beaches, and electric-blue water infuse this locale with a special essence we want to experience again and again. We left with an appreciation for a more rustic version of paradise and the realization that coming home to our own island, the slice of heaven we call Palm Beach, isn’t too shabby either.