By Nausheen Shah
September 11, 2019

Located in the Bahamas, just northwest of Eleuthera Island, Harbour Island is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the Atlantic. Called "Briland" by locals, it’s a destination just as famous for its pink-sand beaches as the stylish jetsetters who frequent the resort destination, including Uma Thurman and Elle Macpherson.

Visitors shouldn’t waste any time getting to that famed pink sand. On the east side of the island, there are three miles of blushing beaches which get their magnificent hue from foraminifera: a small sea creature with reddish-pink shells.

It will be tempting to spend all of your time on the beach, but don’t hesitate to wander into the water. Harbour Island’s shore is protected by a unique reef system, which keeps the sparkling blue water clear — and ideal for snorkeling. If you’re up for deeper ocean exploration, the island boasts excellent professionally-guided dive tours (think: shipwrecks, coral reefs, and underwater caves).

Related: The Very Best All-inclusive Resorts in the Bahamas

If you’ve never heard of a Goombay Smash, this island is the place to try one. The official drink of the Bahamas is a combination of several rums and tropical fruit juices. It’s the perfect way to end a long day of soaking up sun on the shore.

Shopping on Harbour Island is another popular activity for travelers. Known to many as the Nantucket of the Caribbean, tourists can wander in and out of colorful, sophisticated boutiques filled with one-of-a-kind finds. Make your way to Dunmore Town to explore the curated shops along charming streets.

Because it wouldn’t be right to leave Harbour Island without an old-fashioned souvenir, don’t return home without stopping into A&A Hidden Treasures for a timeless piece, like a silver palm plait bag. Other must-buy gifts include Barbara Hulanicki’s silk scarves, available at the Siren Song gift shop at the Coral Sands Hotel.

Here are 10 more things to do on Harbour Island.

1. Stay at an oceanfront cottage at Coral Sands Hotel

The newly renovated, 39-room property offers charmingly spacious cottages (one and two bedrooms) with private entrances to the stunning turquoise waters and blush seashore of Pink Sands Beach. Owners Jorge Mora and Silma and Tom Sherman enlisted Eddie Lee to freshen up the 50-year-old property with a modern, yet homey feel while still maintaining the vibrant colors of the island.

The Coral Sands Beach Bar is the perfect place for lunch in between dips in the Atlantic Ocean, and for dinner, the upscale Latitude 25, which reopened in November 2018, fuses Moroccan flavors with the already palatable local island fare.

2. Rent a golf cart and explore Dunmore Town

While locals are allowed to drive cars around the 3.5 by 1.5-mile long island, the best way for tourists to explore the terrain is by golf cart.

With its pastel facade and English colonial houses cloaked in vivid fuchsia bougainvillea, Dunmore Town is the picturesque center of the island. Simply winding through the quaint streets and discovering restaurants, boutiques, and vibrant churches is quite lovely. They town even has a tiny Pigly Wigly grocery store with all the basics.

3. Grab coffee and freshly squeezed juices at Cocoa

If you’re in need of a strong Starbucks-like caffeine fix, fresh acai bowls, or fresh juice, this is your place. You’ll find this lemon-yellow, second-floor house across from Valentines Marina. Have breakfast on the white wooden terrace or take your coffee for a stroll along the marina. It’s definitely a great way to jump-start your morning.

4. Promenade along Pink Sands Beach

Without question, you will be spending most of your time swimming and sunbathing at the exquisite Pink Sands Beach. It’s pure heaven. But make sure to wander along the shoreline as there are many other adorable boutique hotels, restaurants, and jaw-dropping real estate to stumble upon.

5. Eat lunch at Sip Sips

In Briland, the local slang for “gossip” is “sip sip,” which is likely why this restaurant is the first place everyone on the island visits. Indulge in the restaurant’s renowned lobster quesadillas and spicy margaritas, and enjoy the view over Pink Sands Beach. This hot spot is only open for lunch and we promise that you’ll want to come back before you even leave.

6. Purchase a monogrammed woven tote

As soon as your water taxi pulls up to Harbour Island’s dock, you’ll notice everyone is carrying colorfully embroidered, jute woven totes. It’s one of the specialties of Briland — and A and A Hidden Treasures sells the best quality totes, other woven accessory trinkets, and provides a quick turnaround for custom embroidery.

The shop is located outside of Dunmore Town and is a bit hidden, but definitely worth the hunt.

7. Order conch fritters at Queen Conch

Just down from the landing dock in Dunmore Town, you’ll see the wooden terrace of Queen Conch hovering over the bay. This spot is perfect for a sunset snack and all the conch dishes are made in front of you. Favorites include conch ceviche, conch fritters, and cracked conch.

If you get lost, look for the towering mountain of conch shells piled on the left side of the restaurant.

8. Go horseback riding at sunset

Pink Sands Beach shows its true romantic colors at sunset, so if you’re feeling a bit adventurous look for Marty’s bevy of chestnut horses on the beach between Coral Sands Hotel and Pink Sands Resort. Typically, Marty is galloping in his cowboy hat up and down the shoreline, and in true island fashion, if you would like to make a reservation, you need to speak with him directly as he doesn’t have a phone.

9. Have dinner at Rock House and The Landing

It’s a toss up for the best dinner location on Harbour Island’s bayside. While locals prefer the Rock House, tourists favor the neighboring restaurant, The Landing. In our opinion, both are a must.

The Rock House has a clean and simple colonial-style interior that was decorated by J. Wallace Tutt (who also designed Gianni Versace's Miami mansion) and an alfresco poolside dining area under towering palm trees. Order the Roasted Bahamian Lobster Tail and a Goombay Smash, the island’s signature cocktail.

The Landing is known for its sleek, plantation-style design by India Hicks (Princess Diana’s youngest bridesmaid) and its port-hued, Hemingway-esque bar where it’s imperative to have a cocktail before you dine. Reserve a table on the veranda and make sure to order the Goat Cheese Ravioli.

10. Bar hop and dance the night away

Going to bed early is typical, as Harbour Island is known to be quite relaxed. But when the weekend rolls around, everyone heads out to the island’s bustling bar scene.

Gusty’s Bar is the preferred choice for those who like to get started early. Later on, Daddy D’s is the place to be for dancing into the night. You’ll find Daddy D himself spinning under flashing disco lights that penetrate into the streets. After your worn out from dancing, meet your fellow partiers at the Vic Hum Club, the oldest bar on the island. This spot tends to draw late-nighters who face off in inebriated ping-pong tournaments and basketball games.

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