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Thread: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

  1. #1
    SteveO is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jun 2003 Boston, MA Posts: 90

    Trip Report from "the Next SBH"


    Edited by JEK to remove HTML, which isn't enabled.


    Harbour Island-Bahamas May 2008



    The next St. Barts? The Nantucket of the Caribbean? Celebrity hideaway? Worlds best beach? These are just a few things that I have heard about Harbour Island, Bahamas prior to my first travel to the quaint location just 1 hour from South Florida. Having traveled to several Caribbean Islands over the last 10 years my trip to one of the most exclusive stretches of beach was well anticipated.

    After leaving my Boston address where temps were in the low 50s that morning and arriving in Fort Lauderdale to make my connection to Eleuthera I encountered a very social couple waiting at the airline gate for our Continental Connection flight. After they asked if my wife and I were staying on Harbour Island they wondered if we have ever been before. When we told them it was our first visit, they said "The First of Many". Later I will realize how true this statement will become.


    The Setting: The Rock House

    I was a little hesitant booking the Rock House at first because it would be the first time traveling to an island destination and not having immediate beach access. However, owners Wallace Tutt and Don Purdy have created a luxury getaway like no other. Upon a leisurely stroll from the Ferry Dock after being whisked quickly from the North Eleuthera airport, The Rock House stood up on a raised bluff overlooking the harbor. Upon check in, the onsite Manager Eric carried our 70lbs of luggage to our upgraded room the Asian Suite. Awaiting us was a modern two bedroom suite equipped with two full baths and a decorative style only Tutt can bring to the plate. Through out the room to paint the setting was included several coffee table books on Island Architecture and Style and vibrant Orchid plants displaying pastel colors. Attention to detail is taken seriously at the Rock House from the mix CDs encompassing International Music to the high thread count linen bedding. One thing that stood out was after giving us a quick tour of our room and carrying our excessive luggage across the grounds I offered a tip to the manager Eric and he respectfully declined saying, "Don't worry about it." It was this kind of attitude from the staff of the Rock House team that made me feel like a reoccurring invited guest of Wallace and Don.



    The hotel is best described as a meticulously styled Island Inn consisting of 9 guest rooms. It reminds me of properties you can find in Newport RI or Nantucket, only difference is service and style is at a forefront. The Rock House has a certain flare and style that reminds me of Tom Beach in St Barths, but only better.
    The grounds of the Rock House are similarly impeccable to that of their guest quarters. Palm thatch huts dot the property outside many of the guest rooms and the pool area is as inviting as any I have seen playing soft rock music over the property speaker system. Each day you can find the management team preparing for that evening of dinner, where the restaurant acts as one of islands Social Hub.


    The Island

    No bigger than 10 square miles Harbour Island is lined with pastel colored colonial houses where the pace of life is as fast as the golf carts that scurry along the paved roads. Wild rooster and chickens span the island interior and the friendly locals carry a smile on this tourist invaded town. Many of the homes carry construction dates back to the 1800s. Mode of transportation is gasoline powered golf carts, a promising sign that a stop light will never be installed on Harbour Island.

    The Beach

    Although the Rock House is not located on the beach, it is a mere 5 minute Golf Cart drive that takes you past the local school to a public beach path next to the popular Lunch spot Sip Sip. Upon walking down the concrete steps surrounded by tones of green landscape on each side, the first site of the aqua shades of Atlantic Ocean is memorable. The hotel sets up beach umbrellas and chairs exclusively for guest adding a nice touch including a cooler filled of Fiji water bottles. The beach is endless and the shades of blue in the water are well pronounced. Shoals Bay in Anguilla or even the lovely stretch in Providenciales Turks & Caicos may only be slightly comparable to that of the Pink Sands Beach. If you look closely to where the waves meet the sand you will see the crushed pink shells included in the beach to give it a hue of light rose. Unexpectedly though was a lot of seaweed washed up that beach workers meticulously cleaned each day to maintain a clean landscape. One of my favorite things about Harbour Island is the 3 1/2 mile stretch of sand lined with million dollar villas and small beach hotels such as Coral Sands and Pink Sands. Each day upon our morning stroll we would cross paths with the same faces that contained a smile that showed their happiness of being in a tropical utopia.

    Restaurants
    Dining is a taken as a serious activity on Harbour Island as the small island encompasses some of the finest food stops I have encountered on any island destination. Although prices are steep, the quality of fresh produce, fish and meats is shared with local dining establishments.



    Lunch is a must at Sip Sip (meaning Gossip) where dishes such as lobster quesadelias and goombay smashes are served up. This can't miss spot displaying electric green and a blue pastel color is located on the bluff overlooking the ocean. You can hear the slight roar of the lunch crowd as you enter the restaurant which includes an inviting bar in the entry way. The Angus Burger is cooked to perfection and the bread and sides offer plenty of flavor. It is here where you will see the same repeat offenders enjoying a leisurely afternoon break from the beach sipping rum punch and talking about spotting Julia Roberts at dinner last evening.



    Comparable is The Blue Bar located on the impressive grounds of Pink Sands. Again the pastel tones of blue compliment the backdrop of the gentle sea as you enjoy a lunch under a well positioned umbrella. Warm Sandwiches are served best with a Kalik beer and the setting is promised never to get old.

    If you are looking to escape the beach setting and want somewhat of a lighter fare a hidden gem in town is the Dunmore Deli which includes some of the best sandwiches I've eaten. Quality cold cuts on amazing selections of fresh warm bread made this a stop I enjoyed more than once on my stay. After lunch stop by Arthur

  2. #2
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,073

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    i tried to open the link to no avail.....
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  3. #3
    JoshA is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2005 Annapolis Posts: 4,106

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"


  4. #4

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    I have also been to Harbor Island. This review is spot on. I have stayed at Rockhouse and have had a very similar experience. Pink Sands is worth a look if you prefer beach front. I have not been to Pink Sands since the acquisition by Coral Sands. If you are not looking for Casinos etc. this is the best of the Bahamas and a very easy trip from the East Coast.

    To some extend the rush by much of the travel press to brand the island as the next St. Barths is unfair and inaccurate. The topography, culture, history etc.. are all very different. Harbor Island has a much more "west indies" sort of feel. The lodging and the food and the private residences are very upscale, but most of town seems pretty consistent with the way its been for a long time.

    As noted correctly, there is no shopping and you don't have the European culture that permeates SBH. Its also not a yachting destination - at least not yet. The beach is absolutely stunning.

    Definitely worth a look and an easy long weekend from the eastern us.

  5. #5
    RickyG is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2006 Naples, FL Posts: 2,829

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    I wish this post fit on the web page....

  6. #6
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,705

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    I wish this post fit on the web page....
    Ricky, get a 30" monitor and it will :-)
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  7. #7
    RickyG is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2006 Naples, FL Posts: 2,829

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    JEK thanks for the edit.

  8. #8
    SteveO is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jun 2003 Boston, MA Posts: 90

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    Sorry guys, I have to figure out how to upload the pics with the report.

  9. #9
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,705

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  10. #10
    charlieh is offline
    SBH Member Joined: May 2006 Greensboro, NC Posts: 293

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    Steve - that is one heck of a travel report and it certainly got my attention.

    Please talk about the expense of vacationing there. I hope it is not like SBH in that regard.

  11. #11
    SteveO is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jun 2003 Boston, MA Posts: 90

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    Charlie,

    Sorry for the belated response. The cost of meal and food is mongo EXPENSIVE. You'll spend at least $120 a night (that is 3 course with 1 drink) at dinner. The food is really good but due to the lack of options they charge for it. Although St Barths can be expensive, there is such a range of restaurants that you can go cheaper and still have a great meal. Not so in Harbour Island.

  12. #12
    charlieh is offline
    SBH Member Joined: May 2006 Greensboro, NC Posts: 293

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    Thanks Steve - looks like Provo will be my next SBH.

  13. #13
    33T is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: May 2008 Coral Gables Fl Posts: 4

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    For years I have always gotten a good laugh when someone writes that Harbour Island is going to be the NEW St Barths. We have been going to "Harbour" since the mid 90's and have seem lots of changes, mostly good. My opinion when trying to compare Harbour with SBH is much like comparing apples to oranges. They both are great but in different ways. I usually take the boat over from Miami (250 miles) and everyone else flies in either on commercial or charter. Much like SBH we always take a home, rates mirror those on St Barths. The beach is one of our top five. Dining is VERY limited but good. Visit Flo's where JB "supposedly" wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise. Good burger but I prefer Le Select. Golf carts are the choice for getting around this small island. If you are not a hardcore fisherman,this is a wonderful getaway for a long weekend. May is the top month for the yellow-fin tuna migration and for July 4th the island is mobbed with boaters from So.Florida much like New Years in Gustavia. Harbour has always been a family destination whereas St Barths never has. Planning to be in St Barth this April and June and Harbour in May.

  14. #14
    LHouchin is offline
    SBH Member Joined: May 2003 Tulsa, OK Posts: 112

    Re: Trip Report from "the Next SBH"

    Just returned from a brief stay on Harbour Island. My view may be a bit scewed because we did not stay on the island. We were on a power boat. Had dinner and spent time at The Rock House and Pink Sands. They are very nice and very upscale, but in general, Harbour Island is not much competition for St. Barths. We are not changing our travel plans.

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