When I needed to escape another East Coast snow storm I looked to book the Caribbean but everything was sold out or impossible to get to. I booked Harbour Island because it was available and I wasn’t terribly excited about it. I worried the Bahamas wouldn’t be warm enough, I’d be bored to tears with no kids camp, tennis clinics or sunrise yoga on the beach, blah, blah, blah. How wrong I was.
We stayed at the Coral Sands Hotel, situated right on the pink sand beach for which this island is famous. Our room was large with a separate dressing area and a balcony with sea views. We slept with the doors open and the sound of the ocean lulling us to sleep. The pool is the absolute best on the island despite its lack of poolside services. You will have to hike it a bit to the beach to collect towels or find an attendant to help you open your umbrella, and you will have to bring your own Goombay Smash up from the bar. There is limited lunch service on the beach and no lack of boogie boards and sand toys for the little ones. The staff was warm and welcoming: Romanda helped us book our dinners and Terrence even bleached a conch shell for Erela.
The Dunmore next door on the same sweet beach has just had a complete overhaul and its 13 rooms are perfection in dark wood and raffia with island colors and all the modern conveniences. The Landing reminded me of my days in Key West. It’s one of the oldest buildings on the island; a cozy guest house on the harbour side with rooms designed by resident India Hicks and a bar where you could imagine Hemingway holding court.
In addition to being your cozy home on island, The Landing boasts the best breakfast on Harbour Island and some of the best dining altogether. We ate there most mornings as Erela befriended the proprietor’s daughter, so it was ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and French toast with whipped cream in caramel sauce along with a harbor view from your porch-side seat (and an additional five pounds to your waistline).
As Sip Sip was closed for vacation before the season rush, we lunched beachside at The Dunmore daily. The conch ceviche, lobster tacos and Norma’s Terrace salad were on high rotation. Note that The Dunmore staff was friendly and happy to accommodate my five year old’s requests for pen and paper, but alas no children are allowed at dinner time. The Rock House has a similar dinner time policy, allowing children to only dine early and by the pool rather than in the main dining room overlooking sunset views of the harbour. The food, however, was exceptional with fresh mahi mahi in a coconut Thai curry nearly blowing my mind.
Other island options include sunset drinks at Romora Bay, where if you time it right you can see the nurse sharks circle as the fisherman bring in their catch. Acqua Pazza was an excellent dinner choice with a child. As I watched the sunset over the bay and sipped a Bahama Mama, Erela ran around the lawn outside the adjacent ‘haunted house’, climbed trees and hung out in the hammock. An arugula salad from their own garden and local lobster ravioli were delicious.
There are several options on the bay side and Queen Conch reigns supreme. A ‘shack’ near the water’s edge where the local conch man pulls conch from their shell and discards the shells in a pile on the beach and smiling women in head scarves prepare the ‘exotic’ salad with fruits and veggies, this is the perfect casual-dinner over-sunset-with-the-kids -place. Liquor is BYOB so pop over to the bar next door for a Goombay Smash in a plastic cup to sip with your excellent conch fritters or spicy shrimp.
Want more Harbour Island? Stay tuned for next week’s post, highlighting the island’s charming boutiques and my favorite things to do in this Bahamian paradise!