It’s time for a day trip! The fifth part of our Eleuthera trip report takes us on a day trip to another of the islands of the Bahamas, Harbour Island. Harbour Island, “Briland” to the locals, is located just a mile or two off the coast of Eleuthera. Although it is only 3-1/2 miles long and 1-1/2 miles wide, the island boasts a number of luxurious accommodations, along with many restaurants and shops, all in a classic Bahamian style.
Harbour Island is a quick 10-minute water taxi ride from Eleuthera. To get to the dock, take the road from North Eleuthera Airport (ELH) to the east until you run out of road. You’ll see the dock, and the water taxi operators who will take you over to the island. The one-way fare is $5 per person.
When you arrive at the dock, you’ll be greeted by a number of folks offering golf cart rentals. Golf carts are the vehicles of choice to get around the island. When we arrived, we decided to walk around a bit to get a sense of how far apart things were, and later rented a golf cart to get around the island. Having now been there, I would recommend renting a golf cart right away. It’s just the easiest way to get from here to there.
We walked around, past numerous homes and shops, all in traditional style with accents of color.
After walking a bit, we stopped in to Valentine’s Resort and Marina, and the folks there were kind enough to arrange for our rental. The shop at Valentine’s and the dive shop just across the path, are loaded with all the gear you need for your stay.
My husband popped across the street to grab some coffee at Cocoa Coffee House, while I stayed to meet our rental.
While waiting, we noticed a rather distinctive golf cart. Tricked out with a Spiderman motif, the cart stood out, so I grabbed a photo. Little did I know how important this would later be.
Once we had our hands on a golf cart, we set out to find the Haunted House, also known as the Glen Stewart Mansion. Follow the pink signs!
The Haunted House is not much of a mystery as far as its location, as it appears on pretty much every map I’ve seen of the island. They even had, at one time, a gift shop. The mystery surrounds the strange circumstances under which the the original owners left. The story goes that the home was built in 1945 by a wealthy family. The owner left one day for medical tests and never returned. Presumably, those tests did not go well. The legend goes that the table was left set for a lavish dinner, and the family was never seen again. In the 1960’s, a Greek shipping magnate bought the estate for his new bride, who upon visiting the property, refused to live there because it was haunted. In the 1980’s, looters ravaged the property and more damage was done by fire. The property is now open for visitors, and I understand that people even get married there.
It was time to see this famous beach. We planned to have lunch at Sip Sip, so we parked our golf cart at the restaurant, and headed down the path to the beach, located just to the south of the entrance to Sip Sip.
The island is known as a hot spot for billionaires and celebrities, but the real star of the show is the incredible three-mile stretch of pink sand beach. The pink hue is attributable to single-celled marine organisms, foraminifera. Foraminafera have calcium carbonate shells called “tests.” The tests of one species of foraminifera, Homotrema rubrum, is red or pink in color, and is abundant in the area. When the foraminafera die, the decomposed tests tint the sand pink. The color is no photographic trickery. It’s really pink!
There were a number of small resorts sprinkled along the way, but no high-rises or corporate monstrosities to ruin this gorgeous beach.
After a nice walk along the beach, we were ready for lunch. We headed back up the steps to dine at Sip Sip.
Sip Sip is beautifully decorated with bright colors and natural wood trim. The name, it is said, comes from the local slang for “gossip.” A little sip of rum, a little sip sip.
I found this interesting sculpture of what appears to be treasures that washed up on the beach or stuff they found in my basement.
Sip Sip has a beautiful view, looking out over the pink sand beach.
When you walk in, there is a board with today’s specials.
Lots of tasty offerings, but first things first, let’s check out the drink menu.
Show me a rum punch and I’m all over it. No regrets here. I am declaring this the best rum punch I’ve ever had, made with a mix of pineapple, quava, and passion fruit juices. I had two. I could have had more, but it would be pretty embarrassing to fall out of a golf cart.
Hey, they have food here too! Let’s take a look at the regular menu…
Spicy conch chili? Sold! It was delicious!
My daughter picked what was my runner-up, the homemade fish cakes from the specials menu.
And my husband had the grouper sandwich.
All the food was amazing. Keep in mind that Sip Sip is only open for lunch, and is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Don’t miss it. Plan ahead!
When we finished our meal, our server gave to us a postcard with a black & white photo on it. The photo was of the chef and owner, Julie Lightbourn, and her mother on the beach when she was just a small child. It was such a personal touch. You can tell she really cares about everything here from the placemats, to the menus, to the postcards that come with your check, and in every detail of the service and the food. I am so glad we didn’t miss it!
Rumor goes that Julie Lightbourn will be coming out with a cookbook soon! Watch for it!
As we were wrapping up our meal, two women entered the restaurant and took a seat at the table next to ours. I recognized one of the woman immediately, as her face, and body, had graced many a magazine cover 25 years back. You won’t see any photos here, although my husband was smiling ear to ear – he’s a huge fan. We’ll leave it to say that at 49 years of age, she is just as beautiful now as when she was a modeling superstar. Really.
Giddy from our brush with celebrity, we were off to explore town a bit more. Leaving Sip Sip, we drove down the hill toward town, when our golf cart decided it was done for the day. It came to a sudden halt, stranding us in the middle of the road. We pushed it off to the side of the road, and gave it a few more tries. No dice. As I was looking at the map trying to find where we were, we were saved. In swept Spiderman! The golf cart was manned by two real-life superheroes who gave us a ride back to Valentine’s, where we dropped off the key to the golf cart with directions as to its location. Our superheroes not only gave us a lift, but we were treated to a catchy, and very funny tune, sung to the Spiderman theme, about “SpiderCart.” I wish I could remember the words, but I’m smiling as I remember the ride. If our superheroes read this, please leave the lyrics in the comments section so I can laugh on the dreary, snowy days to come in Wisconsin!
After bidding our rescuers adieu, we were off to The Landing for a rum tasting!
The Landing, a hotel and restaurant, is housed in one of the oldest buildings in town, once owned by the family of the Bahamas’ first doctor, Thomas W. Johnson. After Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the building was completely renovated, with the interiors designed by India Hicks.
The Landing boasts its own line of wine, vodka, and rum, under the name “Afro Head.” One of the owners of the property is Brenda Barry, the first woman crowned Miss Bahamas in 1961. Her image has become the logo for the Afro Head brand, and can be seen on the labels and packaging, and throughout the hotel.
Let’s taste some rum! Our kind host, Tina, filled us in on the different rums, including the 7-year, the 15-year, and the Signature Rum. They were all delicious in very different ways.
We picked up a bottle of 7-year to take home and share.
We were off to explore some more, but as luck would have it, it started to rain, and it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to let up soon. We popped into Dilly Dally for some souvenirs, including a lovely hand-painted ornament which now adorns our Christmas tree, and headed back to the dock.
I am disappointed that the rain spoiled our afternoon. I wanted to spend more time visiting the shops, admiring the architecture, and checking out the island. I wanted to visit Girls’ Bank Beach to see the “Lone Tree,” hit the straw market at the dock, pick up a treat at Arthur’s Bakery, and do some shopping at Briland Androsia. There’s always next time!
For more information on Harbour Island, check out the Harbour Island Guide.
Did you miss parts 1 through 4? Get started reading here!
More Eleuthera and Harbour Island posts here:
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