Hello, Harbour Island

It’s January in North Carolina as I’m posting this. It’s cold, dark, and I’m jealous of all the animals that hibernate. So, I thought I’d share one of my favorite warm and sunny spots I visited last summer. Lets imagine it together.

Picture this: A tiny island in the Bahamas. It’s filled with pastel-painted colonial homes, picket fences draped in bright fuchsia bougainvillea, and views of the azure Caribbean around every corner. There’s always a breeze in the hot, salty air—especially if you’re lucky enough to find yourself on one of its coral pink sandy beaches.

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It’s a favorite for celebrities—most notably, Prince Charles’ goddaughter, India Hicks, calls the island home (and owns a shop there called The Sugar Mill). And while it has its share of glamour, it still feels old-fashioned and authentic in a way that’s not always easy to find in the Bahamas.

Everyone seems to know everyone on the island that’s called Briland by the locals. And touches like the colorful handpainted signs directing you to the Dilly Dally shop (“Dilly Dally Dis Way” and “Dilly Dally Dat Way”) all over the small streets the wind around the island give it a playful charm.

Travelers come here to rest and relax in style. While you’ll find one nightclub (Daddy D’s where there is an actual Daddy D) and a few upscale resorts and restaurants, this island feels more… is there a word for “Old Money Bohemian?”

STAY

Sure, you could stay at one of the island’s gorgeous beachside resorts like The Dunmore, which is known for its pink sand beach and retro restaurant filled with old black and white beach photos. But the most photogenic spot on the island has to be the Coral House.

This historic cottage overlooking the harbor is easily the best Airbnb experience I’ve ever had and seriously could not have been more gorgeous. Do yourself a favor and click through the photos of it here. (And follow it on Instagram here.) It’s cozy and bright, and has beautiful spaces for outdoor dinners, poolside cocktails (it even has its own cute little bar!), and cooling off with a good book on the couch.

It’s easy walking distance to plenty of spots, but you’ll want to rent a golf cart to explore anyway.

DO 

You’re going to want to spend most of your time here near or on the water. This is in part because that color blue is irresistible. And in part because there’s no better way to cool off in the hot Caribbean sun.

Spend an afternoon on the pink sands beach (there are plenty of public access points where you can park your golf cart). Or reserve a boat for the day from Da Salty Pig Adventures where the friendly Capt. Bruce will take you to pristine white sandbars and to the local version of Pig Island to swim with pigs.

If you’re in the mood to shop—or just need a break from the sun—you’ll also find some charming boutiques on the island. Stop by Dake’s Shoppe or Blue Rooster in Dunmore town for fun finds.

However, the best souvenirs may be in one of the small open-air huts along the road, A and A Hidden Treasures, which sells customized straw bags and hats. The trick is to go early in your trip so they have plenty of time to customize the exact bag you want to take home.

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EAT + DRINK

There aren’t many restaurants on the island, which actually makes it a great way to see who your fellow vacationers are during your trip. While we were there (for one of my friend’s weddings*) this other wedding was also happening. It’s such a small island that we ran into that group at every single restaurant we visited. So, fun people watching.

Start your day at Cocoa Coffee House, a cute little cafe on the second story of a bright yellow home just down the street from the Coral House. With fresh pressed juices, acai bowls, and avocado toast, it’s a good spot to start a day spent in a bathing suit.

Across the street is The Boat House restaurant at Valentine’s Marina, which is a breezy dockside restaurant with tasty fish tacos and potent cocktails that make an ideal midday meal on vacation.

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But the best lunch destination on the island may be Sip Sip, whose name is local slang for gossip. Sit on the umbrella-covered deck, order the lobster quesadillas and spicy margaritas, and settle in for people watching with a backdrop of pink sands beach and the turquoise Atlantic Ocean beyond.

If you’re looking for an elegant spot to indulge in the local seafood, make reservations at Rock House. The restaurant is part of a 10-room luxury hotel housed in an old colonial home overlooking the harbor (just steps away from Coral House). And its spectacular sunsets make this the perfect place to end your day.

Getting there: You’ll probably have to fly through Miami to get to Eleuthera—it’s a pretty tiny airport. From there, you’ll take a taxi to a speedboat water taxi, which will take you to the island.

*I feel I should also share that my friend Erin’s wedding was AMAZING. She had this beachside bonfire one night and her ceremony was on this incredible white beach. And seriously every single detail (down to these place settings at her rehearsal dinner) was just like a ridiculously gorgeous dream.

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