Nestled in the northeastern part of the Bahamas is Harbour Island or “Briland” as the locals say because of how it sounds when you say it fast. This small but captivating island of around 1,762 people is a tropical paradise for tourists renowned for its 3-mile stretch of pristine pink sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and relaxed island atmosphere.
I visited the island on a day trip from Spanish Wells and my friends and I had the best time riding around Dunmore town, seeing the main landmarks, shopping at the boutiques, enjoying lunch at one of the restaurants at Pink Sands Resort, and of course, soaking up stunning views of Pink Sands Beach – the most well-known place on the island.
This beach is also ranked among the world’s most beautiful beaches which alone is a great incentive to plan a trip here if you ask me!
Something to note before getting started is that Harbour Island Bahamas is not very budget-friendly. The prices on the island have skyrocketed due to celebrities using the island as their personal playground (imagine being able to fly in on your private helicopter or dock up on your super yacht). That being said, I’ll give some examples of costs and where you can spend less when possible.
In this guide, I’ve also included information on how to get here, my favorite things to do on Harbour Island, suggestions on where to stay on the island, and more! It may be small, but below you’ll uncover the gems of Harbour Island Bahamas!
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Harbour Island Bahamas FAQ
How to Get to Harbour Island Bahamas
Getting to the island can be done by public ferry, private charter, or day trip tour from either Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, or Nassau. The most convenient starting point from the bunch is Eleuthera so I’ve listed that information below as well as transport info from Spanish Wells and Nassau.
Eleuthera is the closest international airport to Harbour Island so if you fly in here you can simply hire a cab from the airport that can take you on a 10-minute drive to the Three Islands Dock for around $10 USD. The 5-minute water taxi ride to Harbour Island only costs an additional $5 USD each way. They run constantly during the daytime and stop around 9 pm.
From Spanish Wells
If coming from Spanish Wells you will need to take a water taxi to Gene’s Bay Dock in Eleuthera where you can then arrange for one of the taxis to take you past the airport to Three Islands Dock where the ferries depart for Harbour Island (the same as if going from Eleuthera).
If there are no taxis waiting here just be patient as some will come. Before getting off the ferry you could also ask your captain to give one of the drivers a heads-up call.
The second option would be to call Calvin Pinder in advance: 242.359.7135 – He captains his own boat and runs his own taxi service! He may be able to run you from Spanish Wells to Gene’s Bay Dock and then also taxi you from there to Three Island Dock where you will take the water taxi to Harbour Island.
Nassau is located around 375 miles away from Harbour Island so getting from Nassau to Harbour Island by ferry will take around 3 hours! Round-trip tickets cost about $150 USD and can be purchased from Potter’s Cay Terminal. To make the journey worth it you would need to spend at least one night on Harbour Island because return ferries leave daily from Harbour Island at 3:30 pm.
A quicker yet more expensive alternative would be to fly from Nassau to Eleuthera airport and from that point, you can just follow the Eleuthera to Harbour Island instructions above. This estimated cost for a round-trip flight ranges between $200 to $400 USD.
7 Things to Do on Harbour Island Bahamas
1. Rent a golf cart and ride around Dunmar Town
Dunmar Town is the only city on the island so this is where you’ll spend most of your time outside of the beach.
Dunmore Town actually has a diverse and captivating history, being that it is one of the oldest towns in the Bahamas. It was initially inhabited by the Lucayan people before European settlers arrived in the 17th century who would create plantations and develop a thriving economy from the natural resources on the island. The town’s name comes from Harbour Island’s first governor, Lord Dunmore.
One of the best things to do on Harbour Island is to kick things off by securing a golf cart rental as this is the best way to explore the colonial architecture. Plus, who doesn’t love the wind on their face? I know I do!
Make sure to check if your accommodation includes or offers reasonable golf cart rentals beforehand because many of them do. If you’re just vising on a day trip like me then there are a few companies in town to book from. We went with Booking Bahamas which is located right off the Government Dock. Our group paid around $60 USD a day per 4-seater cart. If possible, make sure to set up your rental before you get there.
2. Pink Sand Beach
One of the most mesmerizing beaches in the Bahamas is found on Harbour Island! With sparkling turquoise waters and pink sands, this beach is truly a gem! But whatever you do, don’t come to Pink Sands Beach expecting the sand to be bright pink like all the overly edited pictures on Google and social media because you will be disappointed.
I found the pinkness of the sand to be very subtle. From far away it’s not super noticeable but if you get up close you can really see the pink hues of the sand. The color also depends on if there are clouds or not. By the time we arrived at the beach, it was actually stormy which wasn’t ideal but it was still pretty!
Pink Sand Beach is 3 miles long and is still relatively secluded so you won’t face any crowds! It really is the perfect place for relaxing!
3. Eat at a Pinks Sands Resort restaurant
The famous Pink Sands Resort sits directly on the Pinks Sand Beach and its two on-site restaurants aren’t just for its guests but they are also open to the public! Getting here is only a short golf cart ride away from the middle of town making it one of the best Habour Island activities, especially for lunch when it is light outside. Just look at that view!
The fine dining choice at Pink Sands is Malcolm 51 which offers a top-notch menu with a focus on various types of seafood inside their appetizers and entrees. They also have a couple of veal, vegetarian, and beef options too. Then, choose a wonderful drink from their extensive wine, beer, or cocktail list and enjoy dining inside or out.
Your other choice is Blue Bar & Kitchen which has a more laid-back setting and menu. This is where my group made lunch reservations and we loved the atmosphere and waterfront view which can be seen from both the inside and outside tables.
Think of items like sandwiches, burgers, wraps, tacos, and poke bowls. I went for the Crispy Chicken Sandwich which was good but it didn’t seem to match the $27 USD price tag. I quickly learned this is a typical price for a meal like this on Harbour Island.
Blue Bar is also known for their delicious breakfast and brunch spread and tropical cocktail list.
My Finding’s Tip: To save money make sure to stock up on water bottles or gallons from the island supermarket as bottled water from restaurants can cost upwards of $12 USD.
4. Lone Tree
The Lone Tree is exactly what it sounds like, a tree standing all by itself! The quirky thing about this landmark is that it actually sits in the shallow part of the beach close to the shore so during high tide it’s not acceptable to walk out to it.
So make sure to add this to your list of things to do on Harbour Island during the daytime because when the tide is low this is the perfect opportunity to walk right up to the tree. Just watch out for the protective bird that lives in the tree as it doesn’t like visitors!
You can check the tide charts here.
5. Shop the boutiques
Knowing that there are many billionaires and tourists that frequent the island it was no surprise that Harbour Island has some adorable boutiques to shop at! Shockingly, not everything was out of my price range either so I was able to buy a few goodies which is way more fun than window shopping. Here are a few of the spots that stuck out to me the most!
- Harbour Island Canvas – I was wowed by this shop. They sell the coolest one-of-a-kind bags all made out of old ship sales and high-quality materials. The patterns on each item are all unique and different so you’re really getting something no one else will have. I bought a hat to take home but I definitely want to come back for one of their beach bags someday – I just didn’t have any room in my luggage!
- Dake’s – Boutique clothing store that is aimed more at the middle-aged woman but I still found a few cute pieces. They also have great jewelry and accessories!
- Dilly Dally – Nice place to buy souvenirs and Harbour Island t-shirts.
6. Try fresh Conch Salad from Queen Conch
If you’ve never heard of Conch Salad it’s a must-try island speciality made with tomatoes, onion, Bahamian spice blend, sour orange, and conch.
According to my Bahamian friends, they strongly believe the Conch Salad from Queen Conch to be the BEST conch salad you’ll find anywhere in the Bahamas.
I was so excited to try it but when we pulled in we were disappointed to find out that they had just closed for the day. So my tip to you is to make sure and check their hours before you go because it is one of the best things to do on Harbour Island!
Thankfully the conch salad I did get to try while in the Bahamas was made out of conch that I watched my friend’s dad dive for when we went boating so I wasn’t too disappointed!
7. Enjoy a coffee from COCOA Coffe House
If you’re anything like me, there will always be time to find a quaint cafe to hang out and enjoy a drink in.
COCOA Coffee House is on the top floor of a bright yellow building right on Bay Street in the center of town so you’ll have no problem finding it.
They serve a variety of things here from espresso drinks to smoothies to matcha, chai, and tumeric lattes. I really enjoyed my iced chai latte!
If you’re feeling a bit hungry go for a fresh pitaya bowl. Craving something savory? Their avocado toast or omelet will do the trick!
Prices here are higher than necessary but overall it is one of the more affordable places on the island. Another thing I liked was their inside and patio seating, plus, they have free wifi if you want to get work done!
Where to Stay on Harbour Island
Because Harbour Island is only three miles long and one mile wide it doesn’t boast any massive high resorts but what you can expect to find is a handful of charming villas, guesthouses, and small boutique resorts. Because accommodations are limited I highly recommend booking months in advance before everything is completely booked! I’ve recommended the top options below for all budget types.
The Sugar Apple Lodging $ – One of the cheapest stays on the island with a dreamy location right across from the beach. It averages under $200 USD a night for a basic room with a kitchenette but there is a 3-night minimum in order to book here. If that fits into your plans you can expect to find ultimate relaxation here as everything is private and secluded. You can also pay more for a one-bedroom suite with a balcony. Golf cart rentals can be booked from the property.
Coral Sands Hotel $$ – You’re coming to Harbour Island for the beach and this beachfront property has stunning views of the water from its pool deck and delicious on-site restaurant. If you want a view from your room that will cost an average of $570 USD for a king room but basic rooms begin at $430 USD. The comfort of the mattresses is praised among reviewers. Other amenities include a free continental breakfast, a game room and a tennis court.
Valentines Resort & Marina $$$ – One of the most highly-rated resorts on the island complete with a freshwater pool, spa, Boat House restaurant, boutique, and gift shop. The rooms are all apartment-style with a kitchen/kitchenette, a dining-living room, and include a view of the water! Valentines Resort is also perfect for families as they have rooms that hold up to 6.
Tips for visiting Harbour Island Bahamas
Bring cash – You will need it for the ferry and a lot of places on the island only accept cash.
Stock up on water from local grocery stores – The water on the island is not safe to drink, even the residents drink from bottles. Unfortunately buying bottled water from restaurants is extremely costly (can cost up to $12 USD) so I recommend bringing water with you or stocking up at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in town.
Everything is expensive -Going along with the last tip, instead of planning on buying what you need when you get to Harbour Island bring with you as much as you can!
Final Word on Visiting Harbour Island Bahamas
Thanks so much for reading my guide on Harbour Island Bahamas. If you were skeptical before, I hope you can see that Harbour Island is definitely worth visiting even if you don’t have the budget to stay overnight!
This uncrowded island allows all of its natural beauty to shine! I know one thing is sure, you’ll be free from your worries if you choose to visit!
If you are an island lover, you can find more island inspiration in the related blogs listed below.