A GUIDE TO HARBOUR ISLAND, BAHAMAS
Our entire family’s favorite vacation spot is typically the BVI’s but we weren’t able to make that happen this year and so I began a search for something similar but different. We sure found it in the “out islands” of the Bahamas! If you are like us and you like something a little less touristy….I’ve put together a great comprehensive guide to Harbour Island Bahamas for you…..and got some great Bahama travel tips for you!
Initially, I found it hard to figure that information out…that’s why I’m writing this guide for you all. We all know about Nassau etc. but I found it hard to figure out what the “out islands” were, and how to gage how far things are from one another. After all, there are something like 700 Bahama islands (around 30 are inhabited)
We decided on Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, neither island is more than 3 miles long, with the island of Eleuthera between them.
Why Bahamas? Well if you saw my Instagram stories while there (still in my IG highlights) you’ll get a taste of why….it is just absolutely beautiful….the water, the sand, the people, the charm, the small towns. It seemed the most similar to the beach bar/restaurant vibe that we love in the BVI. The hotel we booked in Harbour Island wasn’t available all of the dates, so we began in an Airbnb on Spanish Wells, and we are so glad that happened! Spanish Wells is tiny, there are no car rentals, only golf carts (unless you live there) no hotels, only home rentals….and more laid back than Harbour Island, not a lot to do but explore for hidden beaches, enjoy the beach or water, eat at 3 of the great restaurants, book a boat and captain for the day to take you around to explore the other islands and things to do (more on that in a bit). Harbour Island had more activity, more people, restaurants and resorts. So each island a bit different – both amazing.
GUIDE TO HARBOUR ISLAND, BAHAMAS –HOW TO GET THERE:
American and Delta offer flights into ELH (N Eleuthera Airport) We flew Southwest, so flew into Fort Lauderdale, then Nassau, from Nassau you can either take a ferry (which is 2.5 hours) or fly there on a 15 seat plane. Bahamas Air, Pineapple Air and Southern Air all fly between those islands. Not going to lie, this was out of my comfort zone, but wasn’t going to do the 2.5 hr. ferry ride. It worked, we made it.
Once you land at the N Eleuthera Airport, you’ll grab a $10 per person taxi to take you to the ferry dock. At the dock, you’ll grab a fast boat ferry $5 per person. This looks like just a simple boat, and there will be island residents hoping on with you to travel to the island for their jobs, but you will get on – with all of your luggage – and fast boat over to your island, takes about 10 minutes. Seems like a lot, but simple really. And the effort gets you to islands that aren’t terribly touristy, feels like a more authentic experience.
SPANISH WELLS :
No hotels, only home rentals. No rental cars, only golf carts. There is a grocery store that is surprisingly well stocked on all the goods you would need.
WHERE TO EAT ON SPANISH WELLS:
The Sandbar Restaurant , The Shipyard Restaurant, and Wreckers – which overlooks a marina and you’ll see some fishing boats as well as larger yachts which is fun to see. There’s a resident manatee or 2 that stay there for the redfish droppings as the guys are cleaning the fish.
OUR FAVORITE THING TO DO ON SPANISH WELLS :
We enjoyed exploring the island on our golf cart, and finding hidden private beaches. I brought our blow up floats and the portable small compressor (linked there) and we floated in the ocean for hours, drinks in hand in our Yeti cups. Drove to the end of a street and saw a sand bar WAYYY out in the water and walked to it. AMAZING! Clear turquoise water, just unbelievable.
HARBOUR ISLAND :
Leaving Spanish Wells, we golf carted to the dock, boarded another tiny, fast ferry and headed to N. Eleuthera, had a taxi arranged (grab the contact for your 1st taxi driver and arrange him to grab you. not always taxi’s readily waiting at the ferry dock) taxi’d to the other side of island to that dock, grabbed another tiny, fast ferry boat to Harbour Island.
WHERE TO STAY
My goodness there are wonderful options! You can rent a home, or stay at one of the beautiful, small, quaint, boutique hotels. No big hotels, I love that. You can stay harbor side or beach side. Either side you choose, you are still a short golf cart ride to everything because the island is only 3 miles end to end. Harbor side, you are near the marina and town, beach side, you are near that beautiful clear water & pink sand beach!! We chose –
The Rock House, and so glad we did! Small boutique hotel, with impeccable personalized service, and the friendliest staff willing to help you at every turn. I love the story behind the owners of this property as well. They care very much about those that work with them. Originally a private home, then a bed and breakfast, now this amazing boutique hotel… and more on the horizon from them very soon.
These are the other hotels I would recommend :
The Dunmore Hotel – oh the charm of the blue and white stipe painted cabana and the touch of coral at the interior of the property with the blue & white! Absolutely gorgeous place and gorgeous view of the pink sand beach.
The Coral Sands Hotel – bright, vibrant coastal vibes, just beautiful. Fantastic view of the pink sands beach for lunch and dinner – the pizza for lunch is so good!
Pink Sands Resort – this property is enormous, cottages, villas, just absolutely stunning, most with an ocean view.
Ocean View Club – the coastal elegance of this place is almost indescribable. Funky but fabulous lobby & bar decor.
Valentines Resort – connected to the marina. Suites and villas available.
Runaway Hill – a small, converted English manor that sits high on 11 beautiful rolling acres. One of our favorite dinner places! They have a home and villas.
WHERE TO SHOP :
We didn’t do too much shopping, but I do know of some key places.
The Sugar Mill – India Hicks’ beautiful store.
Shine – eclectic clothing like Anthropologie, the sister store with beautiful housewares is across the street.
A and A Hidden Treasures – off the beaten path, the sweetest local woman’s stand. She personalizes hand woven basket & hand bags, beach bags, clutches for you. Takes generally about 3 days to get monogrammed but a cool touch to have and so cool to support the local artists.
Harbour Island Canvas – I didn’t get to visit, but has canvas bags are from recycled shells – everyone says it’s a cool shop!
Blue Rooster – High end clothing, and beautiful jewelry.
WHERE TO EAT – GUIDE TO HARBOUR ISLAND BAHAMAS – dinner reservations are always highly recommended
Ocean View Club – on pink sands beach, reservation required, small menu, very well liked dinner spot.
The Rock House – while we didn’t eat there, most count it as their favorite meal. It was always busy at night! The atmosphere is so quaint, the view of the ocean from the indoor porch is stellar.
Coral Sands -dinner – Lattitude 25
Runaway Hill – very small, reservations recommended. Also recommended – the garlic butter truffle bread they bring to your table!!!
Valentines Rooster Tail Bar – at the marina, more casual….ocean views, laid back, great pina colada!
Dunmore Deli – CASH ONLY, sandwiches, can box up and take with you to the beach.
Coral Sands – lunch at the beach bar, large views of pink sands, (pizza is a favorite here)
Queen Conch – known for the phenomenal fresh conch salad. Bar food but fresh, casual beach vibe.
Blue Bar at Pink Sands – great food and views!
Ms. V’s – a little yellow striped shack right on Pink Sands Beach, she has drinks, and burgers, hot dogs etc.
Arthur’s Bakery – crazy busy every morning! They have muffins, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, egg sandwiches etc.
Sybil’s Bakery – didn’t get to go, but everyone says GO! Breakfast sandwiches, pastries.
Cocoa Coffee House – across from Valentine’s Marina, we went twice. Great açaí bowls, smoothies, pastries etc.
The Sweet Spot Cafe – açaí bowls, smoothies, avocado toast, pastries
HARBOUR ISLAND BOAT CHARTERS
One of the best ways to explore Harbour Island is by boat. We went out with captain Clayton with Da Salty Pig and he took us to the sandbar near Spanish Wells where Da Salty Pig has placed the swings you see in photos in the middle of the ocean. We fed sting rays there, swung on the swings, and marveled at this sandbar in the middle of the beautiful caribbean ocean. Then moved locations to feed the swimming pigs, walked amongst bone fish, fed the turtles (my favorite) saw starfish, picked up sand dollars from the bottom, snorkeled….just an amazing full day.
Other boat charters recommended…
Conch & Coconut is a full service concierge and they can also set you up with charters, a captain, golf carts etc.
DEEP SEA, BONE OR REEF FISHING
Spanish Wells Fishing, Captain Kid Tours, Tyman Fishing
It’s an amazing place to just unwind, relax and just enjoy life, and the ABSOLUTELY stunning water there. Everything is on island time, don’t forget, so you can’t be in a hurry which is a good thing. I loved our sunset golf cart cruises and we so enjoyed the locals, for the most part just so warm and welcoming. I loved that literally everyone (even those hopping on a fast ferry to get to work at 6am) said “good morning” to everyone! It was eye opening to me. Where in an elevater etc in the states, no one says anything to one another….not so there…..they all say “‘morning” or “good morning” even if tired and eyes barely open. Also loved that when cruising the island, we would pass other island visitors on the way to dinner, but also pass locals just living their life. It was a great mix of all of the above.
If you get the opportunity to go, go! It’s a great family trip, girl’s trip. A great place to explore or just enjoy relaxing.
Reach out and let me know if you enjoyed this guide to Harbour Island, Bahamas! Let’s be friends over on Instagram (@_cindyswanson_) where you can see more photos from our time in harbour island in the highlights tab. And reach out if you have any questions!