Family Getaway to Harbour Island, Bahamas
Last month we took a 5-day trip to an out island of the Bahamas called Harbour Island. It was our first time visiting the Bahamas so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it turned out to be an incredible trip that I’ll never forget.
I grew up on the beaches of Florida, have traveled to multiple Hawaiian islands, Thailand, and the South of France, but Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island easily competes for one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The water is a crystal clear, turquoise blue with soft powdery sand that’s sprinkled with tiny hints of pink. It’s quiet, not overcrowded, and kept in pristine condition.
While I expected the beach to be beautiful, what I didn’t expect was how much I would appreciate the authenticity of the island. Spanning a total of 3.5-miles in length and about a half-mile wide, Harbour Island is somewhat remote and can be difficult to get to. For us it looked like a direct 1.5hr flight from Atlanta to North Eleuthera Airport, a 5-minute taxi ride to a ferry boat, a 10-minute ferry boat ride to the island, and finally a 3-minute taxi ride to our hotel. Sounds like a lot but it was actually a seamless process.
Because of it’s remote location, big developers have yet to inhabit the land which means there are only small boutique hotels and independent vacation rentals to choose from. All of the shops and restaurants are locally owned and most of them close down for almost 3-months during the off-season. Overall it’s an interesting mix of understated Bahamian design and slow-paced, rustic island life.
Although there were some signs of local poverty and plenty of run down buildings (likely from hurricane damage that had never been repaired), overall the island felt clean, safe and family friendly.
In fact, Brandon and I both agreed that we felt safer on Harbour Island than we did returning home in Atlanta. As an American that feels sad to say but unfortunately it’s true. That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a great place to take your kiddos!
Where We Stayed
Coral Sands Hotel. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous booking this hotel, mostly based on the mixed reviews, but it far exceeded my expectations. The ocean front cottage we booked was super clean, comfortable, felt very private and the view was to-die-for. Waking up to the sunrise and being able to sit on the back deck while Grant napped for 2-3hrs every day was priceless. The other rooms at the hotel looked very nice but the oceanfront cottages are definitely where it’s at.
What We Did
Explored the Island by Golf Cart. Even though the island is small, it is still worth renting a golf cart to get out and explore. There are so many colorful homes, little boutique gift shops and delicious restaurants to discover. Plus, if you have a little one, they will love riding in the golf cart. Every morning Grant would ask when we were going get to back on the golf cart, ha! We rented ours from Conch and Coconut which isn’t the cheapest place to rent from but they felt the most trust worthy to me based on my research.
Disclaimer: Brandon let Grant sit in his lap to pretend like he was driving but apparently it is illegal to drive with a child in your lap. It isn’t illegal for the passenger to have the child in their lap though. :/
Took a Boat Tour. To visit this part of the Bahamas and not get out on the water would be a sin. We decided to book a half-day tour with Paulie’s Charters and even though the day didn’t go exactly as planned, it still turned out to be an awesome day. We swam with turtles and sting rays, snorkeled, spotted a dolphin and several starfish, and explored a deserted island that we had all to ourselves.
Paulie grew up on Spanish Wells (an island right next to Harbour Island) so he is super knowledgeable and has a fun local accent too. His boat is on the smaller side which makes it perfect for a family of 3, however, it does limit how far you can go in choppy waters which is ultimately why our plans changed a bit. Next time I would take a ferry to meet him in Spanish Wells so that we explore that area more.
Take A Land Tour. We didn’t do this because we were only there for 5 days but I would definitely consider it on a return trip!
Hung out at the pool. Another perk of Coral Sands is their fresh water infinity pool. We actually had it to ourselves every time we hung out there which was awesome. G loved splashing in the kid-friendly section at the bottom and I was thrilled to be able to sunbathe in a lounge chair while him and daddy played in the water. ;)
Enjoyed the Beach. Pink Sands Beach is by far the highlight of the island so you’ll want to plan to spend plenty of time there. The hotel provides chair service as well as beach toys and boogie boards. Going down during sunset and seeing the pink sky against the turquoise water is an absolute must.
Relaxed. You can see where this is going, huh? My plan for this trip was not to have many plans other than hanging out at the hotel and this is the perfect location to do that. We spent nap time sipping cocktails and enjoying the view along with the local wildlife that would occasionally approach us. It was the perfect treat for parents of a little guy who never stops talking or moving.
Where We Ate
Latitude 25. This is the main restaurant at Coral Sands Hotel and it’s honestly the reason I ended up deciding to stay here. They have three vegan options on their dinner menu and they all are well-rounded, creative meals, not just an assortment of side items. We tried all three entrees while we were there, in addition to the vegetable empanadas, yucca fries and sorbet trio. Everything was incredible!
The hotel also has a continental breakfast that is far better than most hotels, however, it isn’t quite as vegan friendly as I would like. You can still get by on the granola and bread but I would love to see a dairy-free yogurt (a local vegan restaurant actually makes their own coconut yogurt) and a few vegan pastries.
Beach Bar at Coral Sands. This is where the hotel serves lunch and drinks amongst a magnificent open-air view. The plant-based options include hummus and pita, falafel, and a miso caesar salad with cashew parmesan.
Cocoa Coffee House. This adorable coffee shop is on the marina side of the island so if you’re staying on Pink Sands Beach you’ll have to drive your golf cart to get here but it only took us a few minutes. We loved coming here for their açaí bowls, avocado toast and smoothies, as well as their vegan vegetable wrap for lunch.
The food here was also some of the most affordable on the island which isn’t saying too much because it is still expensive. In fact, we felt like the food on Harbour Island was even pricier than Hawaii so just be aware of that before you go!
Da Vine Sushi and Wine Bar. This is a definite must for dinner as they have a plethora of plant-based options on their menu. Sushi, vegetable gyoza, edamame, ramen, and delicious drinks to0!
Sweet Spot Cafe. This all vegan cafe is a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch. While I wasn’t blown away by the food that we had, everything was still tasty and thoughtfully prepared. I think I just my expectations a little too high since it’s entirely plant-based. That said, it is definitely worth a visit!
The Dunmore. A trip to Harbour Island without visiting the Dunmore would be amiss because it’s such a special place. While the views at Coral Sands are equally as beautiful, this property is definitely more polished. The design and decor is beautiful, as is the presentation of the food.
You won’t find anything vegan on the menu but they will modify things to make them suitable to your diet. We went for lunch and had a quinoa salad with chickpeas that was tasty, albeit overpriced, but the experience was worth the visit. Hopefully they work on adding more plant-based options soon!