Harbour Island has the accolade of being the prettiest island in the Caribbean, with a gorgeous three mile pink coral sand beach, reputedly one of the cleanest and widest in the Bahamas. Dunmore Town, the island’s only settlement, is over 300 years old. It was laid out by Lord Dunmore in 1791, the then Governor of the Bahamas, who had a holiday home there. The town has countless colourful, charming cottages, some of which date back to the prosperous shipbuilding days of the late 1700s and early 1800s.
With great reviews in several of our guidebooks, we decided that Dunmore Town was somewhere we would definitely like to visit. Unfortunately getting there was not going to be straightforward. There is a passage along the northern shore of Eleuthera, known as The Devil’s Backbone (there’s a name that fills you with confidence!) and all our guides and charts highly recommended the use of a pilot (typed in bold, underlined, font 28). We can take a hint…. Jock Morgan (aka Bandit) is a local Spanish Wells resident who seems to have a hand in all things nautical and is the primary pilot in the town. We spoke to him on our initial arrival, then on picking up one of the moorings to the east of the town and his name then popped up when we enquired about pilots in Pinder’s Supermarket on the harbourside.
A quick radio message to him on the Monday morning and we were on. Bandit arrived at noon as agreed, with the addition of a pack of home baked cookies for the girls from his wife – they know how to make friends!
The journey round was interesting, to say the least. At points we found ourselves so close to the shore, it was alarming. Bandit guided us round perfectly. I looked at our location on the chart a few nervous time and we were bang on centre of the channel. He did it by eye.
We arrived at Valentine’s Marina about an hour and a half after leaving Spanish Wells. The marina is part of a marina and resort complex so is very well served, with a restaurant, bar, shops and (most importantly) swimming pool. With the imminent arrival of my sister and family, we had a quick turnaround with a clean-up, laundry, quick dip in the pool for Hannah and showers. A couple of hours later they arrived safely from North Eleuthera airport on the daily flight from Nassau with Bahamas Air. After much excitement from five small children, we managed to get them all on board and into bed at a fairly reasonable hour. Sadly we were parked up next to a rather more sumptious boat than ours and I feel that Thomas, although impressed with our boat, kept eyeing up our neighbouring 150 ft stinkboat of a neighbour with a little bit of jealousy. I think we all were!!
Day one was spent on the aforementioned pink beach – it truly was glorious! We staked our claim on a patch of the beach in between the loungers and parasols belonging to the hotels having a prime position overlooking the ocean. There was sea, there was sand and there was most definitely the sun so everyone was happy. Hannah managed to befriend two little English girls (Scarlet and Marina) and so the kids spent most of the afternoon at the water’s edge playing happily in the sand. The day was finished off with a trip to the pool, which conveniently washed off all the sand! Hannah again made friends, this time with Nora, whose parents owned the dive shop at the marina. Her grandparents were visiting and they brought Nora down to our boat for a visit, much to Hannah’s delight, and this was then followed with a reciprocal visit to Nora’s house.
The following day was spent very much like the first – it’s a hard life! Much excitement was had, though, with a manatee coming up to the jetty and drinking from the fresh water hose. She was apparently a regular and was pregnant. She had a band around the top end of her tail where marine biologists are able to attach a locator in order to track her movements. The kids found this all very exciting, as did we!
The girls’ social life continued to thrive with an invite to the local dance class from Nora and, as we met Scarlet and Marina at the beach again, they were kindly invited round to their house. Their parents had recently bought a beautiful cottage on the island as a holiday home and were busy sorting out architects, shipments and the like. We had a great sociable afternoon and met yet more lovely people.
On our final morning we managed one last dip in the pool and a trip to the harbour to take some photos of the lovely old buildings. Bandit then arrived for our return trip, armed with fresh bread this time! Harbour Island was well worth the visit and if we ever win the Euro-millions, I know where my holiday home will be. However we were looking forward to getting back to the quieter, more laidback life in Spanish Wells.