Harbour Island, Old School Glamour in the Bahamas

By Kipper Hendrick


We traveled to this small island five years ago which is located a few miles off Eleuthera for our honeymoon. We stayed at The Dunmore and experienced heaven on earth.  This month we decided to go back to this crown jewel of the Caribbean for our wedding anniversary. This tiny island is only 3.5 miles long by a half mile wide and fewer than 2,000 residents, but it’s full of beautiful beaches, colorful cottages, chic hotels, and restaurants. 


The Dunmore


Known by many as the “Nantucket of the Bahamas” Harbour Island draws the rich and famous due to its beautiful setting, privacy, and diverse local flavor. Its warm, gentle breezes, golf cart accessibility, and vibrant nightlife, make the Bahamas “oldest city” a coveted destination. 


Like many other islands to visit in the Caribbean, this one is hard to get to. Most people who travel on commercial or private jets fly in to North Eleuthera airport (ELH/MYEH). There are many commercial flights from Miami, Atlanta, and Ft. Lauderdale. After you arrive in North Eleuthera, you take a taxi for the short 10-minute ride to the dock and then hop on a boat for a 10-minute water taxi ride to Harbour Island. 


Harbour Island history is as colorful as the pastel painted New England-style buildings and vibrant flowers that line its streets. Harbour Island in the Bahamas was originally inhabited by Arawak, one of only two tribes of the Lucayan Indians. 


Dunmore Town Harbour Island dates to the 18th century and is one of the oldest settlements in The Bahamas. The town was named after the Earl of Dunmore, the former Governor of Virginia. Dunmore fled to The Bahamas when the Revolutionary War began where he was awarded the title of Lord Dunmore, Governor of the Bahamas. During this time Governor Dunmore laid out the boundaries of the town in the center of Harbour Island giving it the shape it is today. Dunmore Town is second in importance to Nassau. 


The Dunmore


Harbour Island is the most beautiful of the Bahamas “Out Islands” and has been named the “Best Island in the Caribbean” by Fodors and Conde Nast. This affluent island is one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas and has managed to maintain much of its old-time charm. Harbour Island lifestyle is very laid back even though it is one of the most exclusive islands in the Bahamas.


The Dunmore


The U.S dollar exchanges equally with the Bahamian dollar. Most businesses on Harbour Island accept the U.S. dollar and major credit cards. Many of the street vendors accept cash only.


The pink sands beach in Harbour Island has been named as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The beach’s beautiful pale pink sands stretch for 3 miles down the Atlantic side of the island and spans up to 100 feet wide in some areas. The color of the pink sands beach comes from a microscopic organism that has a reddish-pink shell called foraminifera.


Thanks to friends in Palm Beach, we stayed at their fabulous two-story condo at Valentines Marina. Valentines is a condo-hotel known for its laid-back ambiance, 51-slip, full-service sport fishing and yacht marina. We quickly headed to the private beach owned by Valentines on the opposite side of the island. We were in luck to have miles of pink sand, chaise lounges and yellow umbrellas just for our use. We bought new snorkel gear in West Palm Beach and were blown away by the ocean beauty and sea life. 


Valentines Resort & Marina


Valentines Resort & Marina


Fun Fav: The golf cart is the primary choice of transportation and there are several companies that rent them including  Dunmore Rentals Golf Carts and Ross Golf Cart Rentals


Valentines Private Beach


The Other Side


There are many chic tropical boutique hotels to stay on the island – bring your best Palm Beach inspired attire. Day time is casual with bikinis and colorful cover-ups and dinner is the time to dress up and feel the island life come alive. Check out The Ocean View Club,  The Dunmore,  Pink Sand Resort, Coral Sands Hotel and The Rock House , as well as Runaway Hill


Coral Sands Resort


The Rock House


Harbour Island is best known for the excellent restaurants and outdoor activities. Some of the best restaurants on the island include The Ocean View Club, The Dunmore, The Rock House, The Landing, Da Vine Wine and Sushi and Runaway Hill. 


The Rock House Restaurant


Runaway Hill


Check out the Landing for a lovely breakfast and dinner on the patio. The Dunmore for lunch and dinner, which has the atmosphere of a private club and the charm of a different era. Be sure to start your evening over cocktails in the glamourous 60s-era dining room showcasing vintage photos of the Bahamas on the breezy oceanfront patio then indulge in their fine dining. This is the place to see and be seen and remains the height of Harbour hip. 


Each morning we made sure to try a few of the island bakery’s and loved Arthur’s Bakery. Arthur’s family runs it now. You feel like family here.  


Fun Fav: Arthur’s Bakery has homemade doughnuts and fresh raisin bread. Owner Robert Arthur is a great resource for real estate information on Harbour Island and can you all about the current market.


The Briland Club


Most mornings we were early in line at Cocoa’s Coffee House, located across the street from Valentines Marina, on the second floor. Here you can enjoy an incredible view with a Lavazza coffee, green juice or a smoothy.   


Thanks to my dear friend Whitney from Chicago, she always gives us the latest go to spots as she has been coming here for years. She recommended Runaway Hill for dinner, and she was right!  We booked our first dinner there and it was fabulous. 


Fun Fav: Runaway Hill Inn for dinner – get the vegan & vegetarian menu and order the Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Cake. 


Whitney’s Favs: For quick market items, go to Piggly Wiggly in town but the better spot is Captain Bob’s. Her favorite spot for dinner is The Landings, she always gets the Tai curry chicken. She loves taking a boat over to Man Island and recommends the Sweet Spot for healthy foods and smoothies. Be sure to find the basket lady, she has a little stand outside of town. 


Signs Around Town


Center of Town


Ocean Blue


Near South Bar is the new Briland Club, where we had a fabulous lunch at the marina overlooking the eye-popping mega yachts. The food and vibe were over the top swishy. The Briland Club is Spread over 27 acres, including a marina and members’ club called the Haunted House, bocce and pickleball courts and golf simulators. The club and homes are designed by renowned interior designer Bunny Williams.  


If you want to island hop, hop over to “The Other Side” which is a beautiful solar powered “Glamping” Site situated along a small, secluded beach across from Harbour Island, populated only by swaying palms, the tents, shacks, and garden. The concept is a blend of home meets safari. 


Harbour island is home to many famous people. The most famous is a descendant of the Mountbatten family and goddaughter to Prince Charles, she was even one of Princess Diana’s bridesmaids. India Hicks is a designer, writer, businesswoman and former fashion model, who has lived on Harbour Island with her family for more than two decades. You can shop at her store The Sugar Mill  She and her husband David and I have been hosting guests for decades at Hibiscus Hill Harbour Island — three individual houses, each lovingly built or restored and ready to rent for families. 




We experienced another fun Chicago connection to the island. One night we were on our way to dinner and stopped by Valentines Marina to see a stunning yacht with a Chicago Blackhawks flag. When we got closer, we marveled at the 123-foot yacht Blackhawk. With its distinctive Blackhawks flag, Blackhawks welcome mat, and two Boston Whalers aptly named Power Play and Slap Shot we were witnessing yachting history. We met the owner, the affable Danny Wirtz who shared stories about the yacht which has been in his family five decades and keeps the yacht in the Bahamas and Harbour Island which is a family favorite. We talked about Chicago and quickly realized Danny and my husband Bud both grew up in Winnetka on the same street and attended the same schools.  


Blackhawk – Tender “power play”


Sunday was the highlight for us, we attended service at Lighthouse Church of God. We were there for a service during our honeymoon, and the pastors prayed over our marriage and remembered us again. The music, prayer and worship are not to miss and will make your heart soar. 


During this time, the Bahamas, renowned for its turquoise waters, 700 islands, celebrated a momentous milestone, 50 years of independence on 10 July 2023. There were celebrations all over the island and Bahamian pride was all around us. It was indeed a special time.