Harbour Island, The Bahamas

Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas

Per usual, we were a bit late in booking our accommodations and our options were pretty limited on this tiny island during our travel dates so we paired our trip to Harbour Island with a few nights on the Island of Eleuthera.  I wasn’t all that interested in visiting Eleuthera but this simply made the most logistical sense since we had to fly into North Eleuthera Airport (ELA) to get to Harbour Island. Trust me though, I tried for weeks to figure out a quick, affordable and convenient way to get from Harbour Island to The Exumas but alas, I could not.

In full transparency, we spent much of our Babymoon just relaxing on the beach or at the pool so I don’t have a ton to report in the way of activities or excursions but read on if you’re interested in learning more about Harbour Island – where we stayed, what we ate and the logistics to navigating it all!

April 14, 2019 – Arrival to Harbour Island

Coming from the west coast was a bit challenging as we were forced to fly the day prior from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in order to catch a one hour early morning flight on Silver Airways to North Eleuthera Airport. Once you land at ELA it takes all of 10 minutes to go through customs, collect your checked bags and get out the door. From there, just follow these three quick and easy steps to get to Harbour Island:

  1. Grab a taxi right outside of the airport to Three Island Dock. [Note: We paid $5 per person but our hotel originally said it would be $10 per person. We shared a taxi with a few others from our flight so that may have decreased the price per head. The taxi ride is only about 5 minutes long.]
  2. Once you arrive at Three Island Dock, take a water taxi across to Harbour Island’s Main Dock. [We paid $5 per person and the boat ride is about 5 minutes long.]
  3. From the Main Dock grab a golf cart taxi to your hotel. [Again, we paid $5 per person and the golf cart ride is about 5 minutes long.]

It might feel kinda sketchy because you’re just being ushered along but I promise it’s super easy and safe. The only time we had any difficulty was trying to find a taxi from Harbour Island’s Main Dock to the hotel. We had to wait about 5 minutes for someone to come along and offer us a ride since our hotel did not provide this service.

We arrived a bit early and our room wasn’t ready so we spent the morning relaxing on the Pink Sands Beach at our hotel. For lunch we went next door to Sip Sip at the recommendation of some fellow hotel patrons. The restaurant was packed so we grabbed drinks from the bar while we waited. [Note, this was my favorite virgin piña colada of the trip (and trust me, I had quite a few)!]

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{Pink Sands Beach at Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}
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{Lunch at Sip Sip and the best piña colada on Harbour Island}

When we sat down we were fully prepared to order the Lobster Quesadilla which we were told is a must have until we saw that it costs $48! Little did we know at the time that this type of restaurant pricing is typical for Harbour Island, which was perhaps the biggest surprise and only negative feedback I have about the island. In any case, the sticker shock led us to skip the quesadilla and instead Kevin got a $16 jumbo hot dog & chips and I got a $26 arugula and walnut salad with pomegranate dressing. All very good but not necessarily worth the price tag, in my humble (or maybe, cheap) opinion.

After lunch we went back to the beach for a bit before heading out to explore the island. It’s quite small and takes only 15 minutes to get from one end to another via golf cart [Note, our hotel organized the golf cart rental through Johnson’s Rentals for $50/day]. Even though the island is super small, and arguably bike/walkable, the golf cart is definitely part of the Harbour Island experience. Along the way, we stopped a few times to peruse dinner menus before ending up at Rooster Tail Bar & Grill, located on Valentine’s resort right near the Marina, for a happy hour drink [Note, happy hour is 4-6PM daily].

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{Cruising around Harbour Island on our golf cart}

Back at the hotel, we jumped on Google and found an Italian place, Acquapazza, that had good reviews and sounded appetizing. However, when we arrived we were turned away and told they were fully committed for the night. Thank goodness for Christopher, the nice bartender there, who took pity on us (I honesty think because he saw that I was pregnant!) and offered to serve us at the bar until a table opened up. Luckily one did after our appetizer course and we were able to enjoy our entree and dessert on the beautiful patio.

I definitely recommend making dinner reservations for each night ahead of time. We did not and assumed we would be able to walk in to most places but this was not the case. 

April 15, 2019 – Beach Day

Monday morning we woke up and went for a long walk North along Pink Sands Beach. This is when we noticed that the powder soft sand is actually pink! A quick, non-verified, Google search tells me that the Pink Sand “gets its hue from thousands of broken coral pieces, shells, and calcium carbonate materials left behind by foraminifera (tiny marine creatures with red and pink shells) that live in the coral reefs that surround the beach.”  Pretty cool if you ask me!

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{Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas}
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{Pink sand on Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island}

Then we hopped in our golf cart and set off to go find a good latte. We actually planned to try Bahama Coffee Roasters, which we had seen the day prior but when we pulled up, the place was a ghost town. To me, an empty coffee shop on a small vacation island before 10AM is never a good sign so we bailed and then stumbled across Cocoa Coffee House back on Valentine’s resort. They claim to serve Starbucks Coffee and offer a variety of breakfast options. The food was decently tasty but pretty slow to come out.

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{Cocoa Coffee House on Harbour Island}
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{Acai Bowl from Cocoa Coffee House on Harbour Island}

After that our day pretty much followed the same routine as the previous day – beach…Sip Sip for lunch…beach. There were a few late afternoon rain showers that quickly passed through and instead of packing it in, we took a swim in the ocean and it felt like bath water.

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{Pink Sands Beach after late afternoon rain shower}

That evening we planned to have dinner at our hotel, Ocean View Club but had some time to kill before our reservation so we went in search of ice cream. Our hotel recommended Tropic Hut but the ice cream selection was very limited and the quality subpar. I think it actually doubles as some type of fast food/convenient type store and I wouldn’t recommend it.

We finished off the night back at our hotel for a delicious dinner and nightcap at the Honor Bar before heading to bed!

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{Dinner at Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}
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{The “Honor Bar” at Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}

April 16, 2019 – Beach Day 

For breakfast we checked out Sweet Spot Cafe and both got acai bowls. The cafe is a cute vegan/vegetarian spot that people rave about but I found fairly mediocre. They also didn’t have a great coffee/morning beverage selection which seems like a big miss for any establishment called a cafe.

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{Sweet Spot Cafe on Harbour Island}

Before heading back to the hotel though, we wandered into the cute clothing and home goods shops next store/across the street, both called Shine Boutique. The curated goods are all super chic but also super expensive. Though, I did end up splurging on a small Octopus figurine for the baby’s nursery as meaningful piece of decor and a keepsake from our trip.

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{Shine Boutique on Harbour Island}

Then we were back on the Pink Sands Beach. At this point our days probably start to seem a little monotonous because they’re pretty much the same but really, isn’t that the point of a babymoon?! The only variation being lunch since Sip Sip is closed on Tuesdays so we went back to Rooster Tail Bar & Grill.

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{Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}

This evening we had dinner reservations at Rock House and were seated at a table perfectly located in the front of the restaurant with great sunset views. We also really enjoyed the service, food and ambiance – the interior has an old world country club feel – and everyone seems to know each other. After dinner, we hung out in the back by the pool and enjoyed one last drink before heading back to our hotel.

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{Dinner at Rock House on Harbour Island}

April 17, 2019 – Dunmore Town Shopping

We started our morning in typical fashion with a trip to Cocoa House then stumbled across the Farmers Market at Valentines, open Wednesdays from 10AM-3PM. It’s small but features many local artisans and is a great destination if you’re in need of souvenirs or gifts. For example, Harbour Island is a great place to pick up straw bags and other straw goods that are all hand woven.

Post Farmers Market, we spent a few hours swimming and sunning before heading to lunch down the beach at Runaway Hill. I don’t know if it was the menu variety or that we’d become jaded to the food pricing by this point but we really enjoyed our lunch here. Great beach views, not crowded or noisy and solid food lunch options.

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{Lunch views from Runaway Hill on Harbour Island}

Then we went back into town to do a little shopping and purchase provisions for our next stop – The Cove on the Island of Eleuthera. Apparently the shopping scene on Harbour Island is somewhat legendary. However, take that with a grain of salt because it’s a very small island and there are only a handful of boutiques but almost everyone we spoke with (locals and frequent visitors) recommended we hit the shops at some point.

At the top of everyone’s list is Blue Rooster, a cute clothing and accessories boutique. Similar to Shine, it’s very expensive so mentally prepare yourself. We also visited Miss Mae’s, Dilly Dally and The Princess Street Gallery. And if you’re looking to buy straw goods, our hotel said A and A Hidden Treasure, a small stand run by a local mom and daughter, has the best quality.

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{Blue Rooster Boutique on Harbour Island}
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{The Princess Street Gallery on Harbour Island}
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{A and A Hidden Treasure straw goods stand on Harbour Island}

Back at the hotel, we showered and got ready for our final dinner on Harbour Island at The Dunmore. We arrived a bit early so we could grab a drink and explore the property which is beautiful and pristine. Our dinner here was the favorite of our trip (again, probably jaded by this point) because the Dunmore is just an overall well-run establishment. After dinner we walked along the beach under a gorgeous full moon back to our hotel. It was the perfect last night!

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{The beautiful grounds of The Dunmore on Harbour Island}
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{Dinner at The Dunmore on Harbour Island}

April 18, 2019 – Half Day Boat Charter

Going into our trip, the one thing I wanted to do was see the swimming pigs. I know it sounds super cliche and touristy but I LOVE animals and I LOVE seeing/engaging with animals on all of my trips – elephants in Thailand, Safari in Tanzania, Turtles in Hawaii, you get the idea. The mere thought of seeing, touching and potentially holding a pig was too much for me to resist!

Problem is, I promised Kevin that we wouldn’t over schedule ourselves so I purposely didn’t book anything ahead of time. After a day or so of R&R I finally convinced Kevin to go but by then many of the group trips to the swimming pigs were full. That meant our only option was to do a private charter and those are not cheap.

In my research, I came across a company called Conch Coconut. Their website seemed legit but they only had a handful of TripAdvisor reviews and they handled all of their business via WhatsApp so I was a bit skeptical. I will say that Shaq (presumably the owner) was very communicative and willing to negotiate half day charters down to a more reasonable price ($375 for three hours).

However, things got a little messy when another couple we had befriended at our hotel asked to join us. It forced us to switch days and boats which ultimately increased the price ($650 for four hours). Not a huge deal given that we were splitting the total but things continued to go south from there. Let’s just say there was a lot of back and forth on the start date and time and miscommunication about the boat availability and captain.

While I do believe Shaq has the right intentions, he lacks experience and has A LOT to learn about operating a tourism company. To the unsuspecting tourist, this boat trip could have been the highlight of anyone’s vacation – we did after all visit the pigs, find Star Fish, see turtles and sting rays in the wild, cliff jump from a rope swing (not me) and get amazing views of the island and surrounding waters. That said, Kevin and I regularly charter boats on our vacations and know good quality and reputable businesses when we see them, this is not. Shaq’s poor judgment, lack of planning and virtually non-existent captain vetting was dangerous and irresponsible.

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{Starfish on boat charter around Harbour Island}
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{Swimming pigs at Spanish Wells in the Bahamas}
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{Boat charter around Harbour Island in the Bahamas}

In the end all parties were fine so it makes for a memorable experience and funny story – thank goodness – but I would not recommend Conch Coconut. If you’re looking for another company, look into Da Salty Pig or a tour/charter through Valentines Dive Center until Shaq has a little more time to stabilize his business.

I will say they did generously drop us and our luggage on Eleuthera where we caught a taxi to the The Cove for the second half of our trip.

XO,

Kara & Kevin


Accommodations & Country Specific Details

Stay: The Ocean View Club

We LOVED our hotel on Harbour Island. Think boutique beach rustic. It’s definitely a little salt and sun worn but that only adds to the charm. With just a handful of rooms, you instantly feel like fast friends with the other hotel guests and family among the staff. Plus, you don’t have to fight any crowds to get a drink at their “Honor Bar” or a table for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

My favorite aspect of this hotel though was it’s prime location on the Pink Sands Beach. Their beautifully manicured private section of the beach never felt crowded and always had towels, beach chairs and umbrellas available for hotel guests only. Plus, a quick walk in either direction on the beach provides a good selection of food & drink options.

As for the nitty gritty, I loved the cold lemon water and apples available 24/7 in the lobby and the air conditioner basically turned our room into an ice box which felt amazing after a day in the sun. We also really enjoyed the food – lunch & dinner – though we never tried the breakfast menu. The rooms were clean and the customer service was excellent. We would definitely stay here again and recommend it to others traveling to Harbour Island!

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{Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}
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{Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}
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{Ocean View Club on Harbour Island}

Transportation:

To Harbour Island: By air via United Airlines and Silver Airways. I believe Delta also flies directly to North Eleuthera Island.

Around Harbour Island: As mentioned earlier, we rented a 2-seat golf cart through Johnson’s rentals for $50/day. I believe the 4-seat golf cart is $60/day. You could potentially walk or bike around Harbour Island because it’s really not that large but golf cart seems to be the popular choice. You see almost no cars on the island but golf carts line the streets, especially in the evenings when people head to dinner.

Currency: Bahamian Dollar (BSD) and US Dollar (USD) accepted everyone. Exchange rate is one to one.

Language: English.

Outlet Adapter: The standard voltage is 120 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type A and B. Standard United States adapters.

Passport/Visa Requirements: To enter the Bahamas, you must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of departure. British and American passport holders can enter with less than six months remaining on their passports if visiting for up to 21 days.

Vaccinations/Medicines: N/A

Weather: We had pretty perfect weather while visiting in mid-April. There were a few quick rain showers, usually later in the day and moderate cloud coverage from time-to-time but we didn’t mind the break from the sun. Plus, the air and water temperatures were perfect during the day and evening temperatures were pleasant.

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