I have long dreamt about returning to Harbour Island, probably for years now. My wistful daydreams must have paid-off as at the start of this year I was fortunate enough to, not once but twice! I first went there over ten years ago. It’s long been a favourite spot for fashion shoots, and crews flock there in the winter, not only for the sunshine but also for the photogenic three miles of perfectly pink sand, made up of ground-up conch shells and coral. It truly is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever set foot on and gets better at night when the roseate sand seems to glow.
It is a notoriously epic journey to get there, with a stopover in Miami or Nassau before boarding a tiny six-seater plane. Next, a car to the water taxi that speeds you across the crystal blue waters to your final destination, Harbour Island Port. The journey is easily forgotten when you’re greeted by sea of smiling faces and the sight of all the ice-cream coloured colonial houses along the beach-front with palms gently blowing in the breeze. The promise of a very special stay on this magical island is tangible.
We stayed at Coral Sands hotel for work and later flew my very lucky family out for a holiday. The bungalows sit right on the beach and have been newly refurbished by the designer Barbara Hulanicki. The thirty-eight rooms there are vast (about the size of my old flat in London!) and are decorated in calm neutrals with shuttered windows, hardwood floors and huge, luxurious bathrooms. Every morning, when my jet lagged three-year old woke up at about 4am, we would sit on our deck, with uninterrupted views of the pink beach and wait for the most spectacular sunrises we’d ever seen. The main mode of transport on Harbour Island is golf buggies; it’s a lot of fun. Every morning we would all pile in and drive down to CoCos coffee shop for bagels and coffee. By the end of our second visit, we were greeted as regulars, so much so that we started to feel like locals. Every day, as we drove back, I would revert to my daydreams and fantasise about buying a little house on the beach where we could spend half the year. I’m still thinking about it!
For lunch the ‘Beach bar’ at the hotel is great for salads, pizzas and sandwiches or for a little local flavour we loved going down to the seafront and watching the locals as they made us a fresh conch ceviche straight from the sea in front of you, mixing the fish with lime and mango for a tropical twist, it’s sensational.
Harbour Island is tiny, about three and a half miles by half a mile wide, so you get to know every road within about two days. Swimming, snorkelling, boating are your main daytime activities. Apart from the odd fashion crews, there is no industry other than tourism, giving the island a very laid back feel. However, as most of the resorts are luxury ones, it’s not really a place for the budget traveller: A stay here feels luxurious; exclusive and unique. It’s a place for honeymooners and romantics. There is only one town on the island, Dunmore, and I could never resist popping into the boutiques for a little retail therapy whenever we were there. My favourite by far was ‘Dakes Shoppe’, where I literally wanted everything! Crammed full of the most beautiful summery dresses and jewellery and irresistibly cute children’s outfits, perfect for my little girl.
Our favourite place for dinner was The Dunmore. It’s located next to Coral Sands hotel, so you can walk along the beach barefoot at dusk to reach it, where It shimmers on the sky-line; fairy lights twinkling under the stars. Though quite sophisticated, it has a casual glamour to it. Everything on the menu is utterly delicious, (I know as I must have tried the whole menu over my two visits) especially with a large glass of crisp, dry rose! If you are feeling like a post-dinner drink, Gusty’s is the spot, a tiny, ramshackle and graffiti covered bar with a pink sand floor, an oversubscribed pool table and a good line in cocktails.
We now have a huge photograph I took of the island’s famous beach at dusk, framed on the kitchen wall and have since agreed it was our favourite holiday of all time. Harbour Island is a special place that we fell in love with, so if work doesn’t take me back there, I am sure we will revisit again pretty soon. In the meantime, we all stare at the photograph on rainy days in England and dream of the magical pink beach.
Make magazine stayed at the Coral Sands Hotel Rooms start at $395.00 per night