What to do on Harbour Island, The Bahamas’ most stylish isle

Pink sand beaches are just the beginning of this Caribbean island's beauty

Why visit Harbour Island?

You’d be hard-pushed to find a cuter island than this, and not just because it’s only three-and-a-half miles long by one-and-a-half miles wide. This is one of the most stylish and naturally beautiful islands in the Bahamas, known for its pink sand beaches, pastel-coloured houses and ‘buggy life’ – the only way to travel.

When interiors designer India Hicks fell in love with this toy town she quickly made it her home. In the process she brought some old-school glamour to proceedings, renovating a hotel, opening shops and renting out her designer homes. It’s become a firm favourite with A-lister’s ever since – not that you’d notice.

Harbour Island marina, The Bahamas

That’s because all the locals (Brilanders) are on island time. Often seen chatting on their porches or waving to each other from their buggies, they are most definitely enjoying life. But don’t be fooled by the relaxed Bahamian vibe; chic hotels, stylish private rentals and authentic restaurants tick every cosmopolitan box.

What to do on Harbour Island

Pink Sands Beach

There’s no need to take off those rose-tinted spectacles – the sand on Harbour Island really is pink.

Made up of of thousands of broken coral pieces and materials left behind by foraminifera (a tiny marine creature pink and red-coloured shells), a pink sand beach really is a spectacular sight. Stretching for three powdery-pink miles, the one on Harbour Island is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in The Bahamas.

Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island, The Bahamas.

Unlike many beaches this beautiful stretch never feels busy, and it’s here you’ll get a true flavour of the laid-back Bahamian vibe. The beach is particularly otherworldly at sunset, and shoreline horseback rides can be booked for a doubly impressive holiday photo moment.

MORE: The world’s most beautiful pink sand beaches

Explore by buggy

Whilst renting a buggy isn’t essential, it does help tackle the island’s hills. Plus, pootling around in a golf cart is just really good fun.

Golf buggy on Harbour Island, The Bahamas

There is parking at the hotels and restaurants, but you’ll just as likely find buggies parked up under a cluster of trees or by the beach. Just be careful to avoid the chickens and roosters as you zip around the island; they roam freely along the streets – also on island time, it seems.

Try conch salad

Pronounced ‘konk’, this tropical marine mollusk with its distinctive shell is a staple in the Bahamian diet. You’ll find it fried, stewed, cracked, scorched, grilled and even as a chowder. But for a true flavour of The Bahamas, do as the locals do and opt for a conch salad. The tasty conch meat is served with citrus, hot peppers and freshly diced vegetables, and it’s delicious.

Conch salad in The Bahamas

Spot wild turtles

If there’s anywhere to don a mask and flippers, it’s here. Divers should head to Devil’s backbone for three miles of pristine reef and the final resting place for various vessels. Try also Pink House, a breath-taking elk-horn forest with caverns.

Snorkelling wild turtles

For a more leisurely excursion, a boat trip with Duke Davis (+1242 333 2569) is a must. This charismatic captain will not only take you to Harbour Island’s most secluded spots where you’ll likely see wild turtles, sting rays and starfish, he’ll also point out all the best envy-inducing properties along the coastline.

Visit nearby Eleuthera

And not just because you might spot its most famous resident – and Bahamas ambassador – Lenny Kravitz. Just a five-minute water taxi ride away, this long, thin island is also home to The Glass Window Bridge – an extraordinary sight.

The Glass Window Bridge

A narrow strip of land on the island separates the rolling dark blue Atlantic from the turquoise-green waters of the Bight of Eleuthera, and the contrast is stark. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most photographed spots in The Bahamas.

Lady Di’s plantation

No, not that Lady Di! Diane Thompson is a pineapple farmer, and has been for 40 years. She’s also a great character – and her warmth and joking ways will have you as enthralled as her delicious pineapples.

Taking 18 months to grow, these pineapples have a white flesh that’s not screw-up-your-face sweet. Instead, they are juicy and mellow – and plucked straight from the ground. A true taste of the Caribbean.

Where to stay on Harbour Island

The Dunmore

Embodying five-star luxury, this exclusive resort has the charm of a bygone era but with chic hotel cottages and private residences – some with their own beach-front access.

The hotel is located right on Pink Sands Beach, with a private section of sun loungers and activities including snorkelling and scuba diving.

There’s also a stylish clubhouse restaurant, swimming pool and tennis court on site, and the historic town of Dunmore with its cafes, restaurants and shops is also only 300 metres away.

Coral Sands Hotel

Shoulders drop the moment you set foot in this elegant boutique hotel. With just 38 rooms including a glamorous private villa, the emphasis is most certainly on the setting.

Looking out over Pink Sands Beach either from a private terrace or the simple yet sophisticated beach bar, you’ll be mesmerised by those turquoise waters lapping against the pink sands.

Featuring a gym and yoga studio, a heated freshwater swimming pool and one of the best restaurants in The Bahamas, it’s also just a 10-minute walk into the town of Dunmore – or a few minutes if you grab a golf cart.

The best restaurants on Harbour Island

Bahamian cuisine is an eclectic selection of southern American and Caribbean dishes featuring fresh seafood, vegetables and the iconic conch.

The Landing

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As soon as you set foot in the legendary Landing Restaurant you know you have arrived. The colonial décor oozes style and sophistication.

The Library is a delightful place to sink down into a squashy chair and enjoy a Ginger Fro – which we strongly recommend. This classic Landing cocktail made with ginger-infused vodkas is crisp, bitter and sweet.

With an emphasis on classic bases, fresh ingredients and a wonderfully simple combination of flavours, the menu is classic with an inventive twist. And if you need any more convincing, the guest rooms are all designed by India Hicks, whose trademark style you can see throughout.

Runaway Hill Inn

It’s never just the food that makes a restaurant special; it’s the ambience, the service and, in The Bahamas, the views. And with an ocean-front location overlooking Pink Sand Beach, Runaway Hill Inn has it made.

The food’s pretty delicious, too. Ambitious chef Krishna Higgs uses locally grown produce to serve up an extensive menu. Think crispy Bahamian lobster spring rolls, manicotti ricotta-stuffed shells and spring green risotto.

Boasting an intimate vibe, a friendly owner, and a cool bar hangout – this is the embodiment of laid-back dining.

Getting to Harbour Island

Flights to Harbour Island can be reached by flying direct to Nassau and then hopping on a short flight. Alternatively you can fly to North Eleuthera’s airport via Miami and grab a water taxi to Harbour Island.

Bahamas Ferries operate various ferry services including from Nassau to Eleuthera and Harbour Island. There are straight one-way and return fares.

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