Naturally beautiful at a tall and slender 3x.5 miles, Harbour Island has long since attracted the rich and famous from the Dutchess of Windsor to The Rockefellers to Diane Von Furstenberg. Though unlike a Palm Beach or Sant Tropez, its sophisticated without the flash. Just a handful of boutique hotels nestle between its colonial cottages and dot its pink sand beaches…one of the first and finest being Coral Sands Hotel.
In under an hour flight from Miami and ten-minute water taxi, you arrive to Harbour Island’s one and only town: Dunmore. Named after the loyalist governor of Virginia who fled the States when the Revolutionary War didn’t go his way, Dunmore Town is like a colonial dream in technicolor. From the houses to the sand to the sea to the people, everything is vibrant and full of contrasts. If it gives you a sense for style, India Hicks’ designer boutique is directly across the street from Eva’s Straw-work shack; top-notch restaurants serve fish caught from hand-thrown nets; and posh beach bars rival the parties at the corner store.
Follow the narrow streets from the Bayside, past 17th century churches and cottages, and arrive to the Coral Sands. The hotel name stems from the three miles of truly pink sand beach—one of the few and finest in the world. The 38 rooms honor its classic Caribbean colonial style but with fresh renovation, it’s now the hottest hotel place on the island.
There is a steady and melodic breeze that wafts through the hotel, rustling the palms and amplifying the sounds of the ocean. We would start each day on our terrace, look across the pool to the beach and contemplate where we would relax first. (If only life’s decisions could all be this hard.)
Coral Sands sits on a very special beach, and if you don’t believe us ask the Travel Channel who voted it number one in the Caribbean. Pink sand, turquoise water, and palm-thatched tiki huts…it sweeps the ballot. We did our share of lounging in the chaise lounges but with kayaks, boogie boards, and paddleboards, we had plenty of adventures at sea.
While there are plenty of incredible restaurants and fun food stalls on the island, (You have to go to Queen Conch for their spicy ceviche-style salad), Coral Sands’ Terrace Restaurant is hard to beat. Executive Chef Ludovic Jarland is revered as one of the best chefs in the Caribbean for his French and Bahamian fusion. We tried to branch out and order something new each night, like the incredible mahi mahi with chili lime glaze, but the diver scallops with potato pancakes and caviar sauce, was so good we ordered it twice.
To explore the neighboring islands and reefs, we did a snorkel trip with Valentine’s Dive Center. We snorkeled Gretchen Reef and found nurse sharks, porcupine fish, yellow rays, and spotted eels. Though our favorite part may have been this cave on Man Island with its wavy lines like sculpted clay.
There happened to be a very jet-set wedding taking place during our stay at Coral Sands. The Beach Bar transformed into a tropical wedding wonderland and even though we weren’t exactly invited to the wedding, we thoroughly enjoyed their Junkanoo band. This Bahamian music and festival is usually reserved for the December holiday but we hung out with this group, decked out in spangles and feathered costumes, then had our own dance party from our balcony.
If visions of cruise ships and package vacationers had you ruling out the Bahamas, think again. Rich with history, free from chain hotels, and full of natural beauty, Harbour Island is like no other island in the archipelago. Just come to Coral Sands and stay for a while.
Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 44 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications. Connect with @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.