Visit Harbour Island
HARBOUR ISLAND was a sleepy fishing village in 1787 when Gov. John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore and the last royal governor of Virginia fled from the American revolution to be appointed the first Governor of the Bahamas in its first capital on this small island outpost. Thereafter, the island town was called Dunmore Town, a name seldom used today because of the poor reputation of its namesake. The Governor immediately started a building boom, evidence of which can be seen throughout the island despite numerous hurricanes. The protection of the natural harbour between the island and “mainland” Eleuthera was auspicious for a rapid and lengthy growth process, while the island’s beaches attracted visitors from all over to see sand colored pink from the reddish hue of ancient ground-up shells and coral.
No history of Harbour Island is complete without explaining its links to the rise of tourism in the Bahamas. Dunmore Town is, after all, primarily a tourist town, albeit authentic with its New England-style cottages sprinkled with bright Caribbean colors. Since the mid-to-late 1800’s when Americans first discovered the health benefits of sun, sand and ocean air, tourists have flocked to the islands in ever-increasing numbers. In 1949, the first year records were kept, 32,018 visitors arrived in the Bahamas. By 1990, total arrivals set an all-time record of 3.628 million! (source: Bahamas Handbook 2000) Because Harbour Island, along with Nassau and Freeport, is considered one of the jewels of Bahamian tourism, it will continue to prosper, even as other islands experience recession.
Things to Do
HARBOUR ISLAND is barely 2 square miles in area, but boasts a three-mile expanse of pink sand on the Atlantic side that Conde Nast considers to be “quite possibly the finest beach in the world.” In addition to its surf, Harbour Island has a full menu of activities to enjoy, no matter what your taste or availability. For short visits, grab a quick lunch at the SeaView TakeAway – a lunch concession at the foot of the main dock, on the corner of Bay Street. Then rent a golf cart and travel the island to catch some sights such as Loyalist Cottage, the island’s oldest house overlooking the harbour. Other attractions worth seeing are St. John’s Anglican Church, built in 1768, Wesley Methodist Church from 1848, old homes (there’s a “haunted house” at the southern end of the island, near the marina), gardens, and the historic graveyards.
// // If you have the time and inclination (and lots of money), spend the night at one of the half-dozen or so resort hotels that line the Atlantic coast and play beach volleyball, ride a pony, play tennis, or just soak in some sun. Scuba equipment and boat rentals are also available through a resort concierge. Pink Sands, the Coral Sands Hotel, and others on Harbour Island truly present a vision of paradise for those whose can afford to splurge.
Most people who visit here once resolve to come back again – but staying in resorts every year can be expensive – unless you think outside the box. Buy timeshares, pay for only the time you’re there, and never worry about rising prices again. Call Harbor Island your home away from home – in paradise!
CLICK on the pictures below to enlarge . . .
Harbour Island has something for everyone, from dining at a resort after a game of tennis, to sitting under an oak tree eating a conch sandwich. Scuba diving anyone? To the Top
HARBOUR ISLAND is only available by private ferry, either from mainland Eleuthera ($4 one-way), or via the Fast Ferry catamaran Bo Hengy from Nassau for around $100 (Call 242-323-2166 for details and reservations). Fast Ferry also services North Eleuthera and Governors Harbour from Nassau.
FROM MAINLAND ELEUTHERA: if you’re arriving at North Eleuthera Airport (ELH), take a taxi or just follow the road east until it dead-ends at the dock. If you’re coming from the south across the Glass Window, take the east road from Upper, then Lower Bogue (in the Bahamas, “up” means south and “down” means north. Confusing, huh? Just take a right at the broken phone booth). Follow the signs to the airport and beyond, then park your car at the mainland dock. Grab the next ferry boat you see, get in, pay your $4 and head out. Don’t worry about waiting; these private ferrymen are fast, friendly, and efficient. The whole trip takes about 15 minutes or less and good folks like Jack Higgs (below) will be able to ferry you across, at the same time regale you with stories about the island, it’s people, and the best places to stay, eat, and enjoy. Don’t come too late, though. These ferries won’t run after dark, so plan ahead if you have far to drive.
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