By Oda Solms-Baruth
The incoming tide brings more granules of coral colored sand on the 3-mile stretch of Pink Sands Beach. The few sun worshippers must decide whether to face their oversized chaise lounges towards the sun, or towards the turquoise-blue waves rhythmically crashing 20 feet below. I gently sink into the dunes as I make my way down the private path from the Glass Windows cottage situated on the 20-acre Pink Sands Resort.
Harbour Island, Bahamas is just north of Eluthera, which was the first island in the Bahamas to be discovered by Europeans. The island began attracting attention in the 1950’s and has become a destination for travelers from all over the world, namely because the beaches are considered to be the finest in the Bahamas, but also because of the local flavor that is difficult to find elsewhere.
It’s a combination of elements that keeps people coming back to this quaint little island. General Manager of Pink Sands Resort Mark Kitchen explains that “there’s an interesting mix of people, returning guests and the local Bahamians. There’s a soul to the island with Dunmore Town, a little bit more to do, yet we’re slightly off the beaten path.” Mark grew up in Australia, studied hotel management and has worked all over the world. To name a few countries: Thailand, Fiji, Africa and Mexico before landing in Harbour Island with his wife and 4-year old daughter. “Generally the style of guest that would want to travel to Atlantis or Paradise Island won’t find the benefit of Harbour Island. We’re just opposite ends of the spectrum, that’s high density, high impact; it’s very different to here.”
I could not agree more. Here you have a much more Bahamian experience. Mark offers an example that pretty much explains it all: “Just before Christmas, I went out to Gusty’s with a return guest of ours and Uma Thurman was up there as well. We’re standing at the bar and Uma is standing on that side and one of our housekeeping staff to the other side with us in the middle. That’s the essence of Harbor Island. From the guy that just cleaned his room, to a Hollywood movie star. Everyone’s casual, barefoot in the sand at Gusty’s having a Gumbay Smash. No pretenses, nowhere you’re from, who you are.” And that might also have to do with why so many people return.
The Pink Sands Resort dates back to the early 1950’s, first owned by a local Scottish-Bahamian family named the Malcolms. Hurricane Andrew devastated the property in the early 1990’s and Chris Blackwell, the renowned record producer for Bob Marley, built up the property with celebrity clientele in mind in the cottage-style, allowing for a more private getaway. It changed hands 5-years ago to a Miami-based investment group. Since then, Pink Sands has been renovated and revamped. In 2008, all the central areas, the beach bar and the cottages were redone.
Weddings at Pink Sands – Chic Elegance
The alluring backdrop is a big part of what makes Pink Sands such a romantic destination for weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. Twelve couples were married on the property just last year. A typical wedding package costing $5,000 includes all legal certification, the set-up of the ceremony and a full-time wedding coordinator to assist with preplanning and onsite management. In addition, the bride and groom can include entertainment, photographer, food and beverage at an average of $250 per person for a wedding reception consisting of a three-hour premium open bar and a fresh seafood buffet of stone crab claws, jumbo shrimp and lobster tails.
“No two weddings are the same,” says Mark, “every bride and groom wants something a little bit different. Certainly we offer very personalized, chic elegance.”
The resort also offers a very aggressive discount structure. The bride and groom get their cottage complimentary after eight rooms are reserved by their party. The more rooms that are reserved, the greater the discounts. The Resort can accommodate 70-80 people between its 25 cottages and 2 estate homes. One-bedroom private cottages start at $495 per night.
It’s very likely that not all wedding guests want to pay that price for a 3 or 4 night stay. The beauty about Harbour Island is that you can get a room at the Coral Sands Hotel (neighboring Pink Sands Resort and situated beachfront) for just $250 a night. The Valentine’s Resort for under $300 a night is also an option or renting a beach cottage on the island with a few friends may bring the price down even lower. There’s a lot of variety. All are beautiful, convenient options.
Pink Sands Resort promises to never have two weddings at the same time. “Wouldn’t do it,” says Mark. “We are too small. My policy is that I really don’t like two brides on the properties at the same time,” So when you are the bride at Pink Sands you are the only bride, “as it should be,” laughs Mark.
If your idea of a vacation is beautiful beaches, local flavor and absolutely no hustle and bustle, Harbour Island could be the island for you.
The Pink Sands Resort, www.pinksandsresort.com/ is offering our readers a 5th Night Free Promotion (Black Out Dates 12/24/11 To 01/02/12 and 3/1/12 To 4/30/12).
While You’re in Harbour Island Don’t Miss
The fresh conch salad and conch fritters at Queen Conch located on Bay Street.
The view and delicious menu at Sip Sip located on the beach.
The dance party at Daddy D’s on Dunmore Street.
The Caribbean Seafood Bouillabaisse at Coral Sands’ Terrace Restaurant.
If You Want More Adventure
Schedule a snorkeling trip through Valentine’s Resort & Marina’s Dive Shop or
hire a bone fishing guide and explore the surrounding Flats.
Book flights into North Eluthera Airport. From there, hop a 5-minute taxi ride to a short water taxi heading for Harbour Island. There are very few cars on Harbour Island and most places are just a short walk. Golf carts are available for rent for $45 per day.
Trade winds give the islands a warm, agreeable climate that varies little year-round. Winter temperatures range from 60°F at night to about 75°F during the afternoon. The most refreshing time is between September and May, when the temperature averages 70-75°F. The rest of the year is a bit warmer with temperatures averaging between 80-90°F. Sea surface temperatures normally vary between 74°F in February and 83°F in August.
Humidity is fairly high, especially in the summer months. There are more than seven hours of bright sunshine per day on average, though periods of a day or two of cloudy weather can occur at any time of year.
Rain showers occur any time of the year, but the rainy months are May to October. Rainfall is mainly in the form of heavy showers or thundershowers, which clear quickly.
For more information on weather, visit www.bahamas.com.
Oda Solms-Baruth is the publisher of the Fairfax Woman magazine and its sister publications, Alexandria Woman and Southern Maryland Woman.