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Harbour Island

Harbour Island

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
beach + island,
diving + snorkeling,
hiking + trekking,
outdoors + nature
Destinations: 
Bahamas,
Caribbean,
Harbour Island

Great getaway, low key. stay at the Rock House.

ITEMS

Nightlife in the Bahamas

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See + Do

Beaches of the Bahamas

Harbour Island—at the northern tip of the Eleuthera island chain—has a famed pink-sand beach that's three miles or more from end to end and up to 100 feet at its widest point. Its pink hue comes from the foraminifera, microscopic shell animals from the offshore reef. Gaulding Cay Beach on Eleuthera Island may not be ideal for swimmers, but if you want to walk out to sea 150 feet or so through crystal-clear water and still not be in over your waist, this is the place. Morgan's Bluff, on North Andros Island, is where crowds gather every July to watch sailboats taking part in the All Andros Regatta. It's also where the locals congregate every October for the annual Seafood Splash Festival. Pleasant Bay Beach on New Providence Island hosts an annual Independence Festival on Independence Weekend in July, with artists gathering to show off works, such as masks and mini sailboats, all crafted from coconuts. It's hard to imagine when you're in the thick of things at Atlantis on Paradise Island, but walk just a hundred yards or so, and you'll come to an expanse of white sand so gorgeous you have to wonder about the person who first named the island Hog rather than Paradise.

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See + Do

Diving + Snorkeling on the Bahamas

The Bahamas are famed for their diving diversity. The country's coral reefs, blue holes, caves, shipwrecks, and rich marine life are all popular draws for underwater explorers. On Grand Bahama Island, UNEXSO goes beyond the norm with shark dives for scuba enthusiasts. It also awards advance diver certificates. Try the Open Ocean Dolphin Experience, which takes place not in the usual lagoon but a mile offshore in the dolphins' natural habitat (Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island; 800-992-3483; www.unexso.com). Valentine's Dive Center will also introduce you to one of the fastest drift dives in the world at Current Cut Dive: up to nine knots, escorted by hammerhead sharks and stingrays (Bay St., Harbour Island; 242-333-2080; www.valentinesdive.com; Closed Sept.–Oct.). On the Abaco islands, Treasure Divers is a good option for some serious exploration, where certified divers can inspect the 200-year-old wreck of a freighter (Treasure Cay Marina, Abaco Island; 242-357-6796; www.treasure-divers.com). Andros Island has one thing the other islands don't have: The world's third-longest reef, with its famed Tongue of the Ocean dive, which gets the adrenaline running among scuba enthusiasts eager to tackle its mysterious blue holes, with the help of local outfitters such as Andros Diving (Andros Beach Club, South Andros Island; 954-681-4818; booking at least a week ahead strongly advised).

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Eating

Sip Sip, Harbour Island, Bahamas

Court Street
, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Tel: 242 333 3316

Since 2003, this green über-shack on one of Harbour Island's endless sugary beaches has been generating all the sip sip—meaning "gossip"—the island can handle. Not that it's pretentious in any way—far from it. Chef-owner Julie Lightbourn does lovely traditional, fresh island lunches; her specialties include grilled shrimp, conch chili, and carrot cake. It's not her fault celebrity residents keep dropping in.

Open Wednesdays through Mondays 11:30 am to 4 pm. Closed September through mid-November.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Rock House, Harbour Island, Bahamas

Bay and Hill streets
, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Tel: 242 333 2053
Email: reservations@rockhousebahamas.com
Website: www.rockhousebahamas.com

The opening of this ten-room boutique hotel in 2003 heralded the next wave in the St. Barths-ization of once-sleepy Harbour Island. The work of Miami developer J. Wallace Tutt III, who did Villa Versace, and his partner Don Purdy, it has fast Internet, cable TV, VCRs, and CDs. There are also English country armchairs, vases of hothouse-looking flowers, chandeliers, Modigliani drawings, and Picasso lithographs. Service is personal and aiming for psychic; there's a gym, two restaurants (the main one duly attracting the local glitterati on a regular basis), and a martini bar beside the pool, which—going one step too far in the extra-amenities department—is heated. Note that this property is a five-minute walk from the nearest beach.

$400 or more
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Hotel

Pink Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas

Pink Sands Beach
, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Tel: 242 333 2030
Email: info@pinksandsresort.com
Website: www.pinksandsresort.com

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Coral Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas

, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Tel: 242 333 2350
Email: info@coralsands.com
Website: www.coralsands.com

Harbour Island—or "Briland," the most chic Out Island off North Eleuthera—is where you'll find the first capital of the Bahamas, 300-year-old Dunmore Town. Harbour Island is also the home of this much-improved resort. The 37-year-old hotel, named for the famous pink beach, has entered a whole new level of luxe since Jacques and Pamela Brouchier took over management in 2002 and oversaw a total renovation, roping in Barbara Hulanicki (of Biba fame) to apply an appropriately English colonial look. The 36 rooms (plus one beach house and one four-bedroom villa) feature dark wood floors, white louvered shutters, teak beds, white wainscoting, and walls the color of sand (not pink), with matching tonal beiges, creams, and taupes in the upholstery and pillows—all very refreshing and understated. The loft room, with its private ocean-facing terrace, is the best, but even the most budget-friendly rooms are fine, set back from the ocean with views of hibiscus, jasmine, and bougainvillea in the eight-acre gardens. Details are good: a freshwater lagoon pool; no extra charge for tennis or beach toys (kayaks, boogie boards, snorkeling gear, shady palapas); L'Occitane products in the bathrooms; revamped menus at the Terrace restaurant; and best of all, come sundown, the island's top bar.

Closed August 28 to October 8.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.