Harbour Island or Eleuthera

Old Aug 14th, 2007, 11:17 PM
  #1  
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Harbour Island or Eleuthera

Hello: I am researching options for a visit to the Bahamas in June '08. Our family of four will be celebrating our daughter's HS graduation. Our youngest is 11. We plan to spend (4) nights at Atlantis but would like to start the trip with (4) nights on either Harbour Island or Eleuthera. Our daughters like to feel a sense of community yet they like to explore. We will be interested in kayaking, snorkeling, exploring and of course a GREAT beach. A pool would be an added plus as well as a good restaurant.
I'm trying to decide between HI ( Coral Sands or Runaway Hill ) or Eleuthera ( The Cove or Cocodimama ). I'm finding that accommodations for (4) are not easy to come by short of booking two rooms which really boosts the price.
Having said all of that, I'm leaning towards Harbour Island as I think our girls will feel that there's more going on but my husband and I might appreciate the larger island with more area to explore.
Can anyone offer input based upon the above info. - any guesses as to which location would suit us better?
Another question for those of you "in the know" - Can you see any other islands or lights from other islands from either HI or Eleuthera - we LOVE that!
Thanks in advance for any input. We really appreciate it.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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Eleuthera is more rustic as compared to HI. HI has a much better selection of hotels and restaurants. A more sophisticated feel. HI has one nice pink sand beach that runs the length of the island. The island itself is only about 3 miles or so in length. Coral Sands and Runaway are better hotels than Cocodimama or the Cove. Cocodimama sits on a beach on the caribbean side and is good for shelling. They do not have a pool. We had lunch at their restaurant and thought the food was pretty bad. Eleuthera is 110 miles long and quiet. Many more beaches to explore on Eleu. Most will be deserted. Many are in their "natural state" meaning you may see trash on the beach that washes up along with sea weeds etc. The beach on HI looked "clean". There are a handful of decent restaurants with Tippys being the best of the bunch. You drive in golf carts on HI which your girls would like. You would have to rent a car on Eleu. Car rentals are a hit or miss. Usually cars are old, no ac etc. You do not see lights or other islands from Eleu. I think based on your description you may prefer HI for this trip. You should take a day and explore Eleu.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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Hi mnag. Thanks very much for the feedback. Though my husband & I would enjoy the VERY laid back nature of Eleuthra, I'm thinking you're right that the girls would prefer HI. As a group, I'm sure we'll all have a good time on HI. Tell me, do you know if children are able to drive the golf carts? Obviously, our 17 yr.old drives but our 11 year old only drives "go-carts" - which she dearly loves!!!
Lastly, as mentioned, I'm talking to both Coral Sands and Runaway Hill Inn as we do want to be on the beach. The prices are still a bit high when having to sleep (4). Do you know of any other good options, on the beach, that I might have missed. Once again, thanks for your input!!
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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We've been to both islands. I prefer the very quiet atmosphere of Eleuthera, but I also enjoyed the activities and BEAUTIFUL beach on H. Island. H. Island still has a lot of charm to it. There was one place in H. Island that was absolutely gorgeous, but I'm having a hard time remembering the name. A smaller, more intimate place to stay on the beach. Have you checked into house rentals? That could save a ton of money and allows for more flexibility. Most places rent by the week, but extending your vacation could still end up less than staying at a hotel.
Caroline
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 10:27 AM
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Thanks Caroline. Good idea to look into a home rental. I know I've seen a web site here somewhere that can probably point me in a direction for home rentals. If you think of the name of the place on the beach , would love to look into that as well. Again, many thanks.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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Sorry Ljyoung, not sure if your 11 yr old is eligible for driving the golf cart on HI. You may want to check with one of the companies in the attached link http://www.harbourislandguide.com/golf-cart-rentals.htm

House rental is a great idea. Here is a website for HI rentals

http://myharbourisland.com/rental.htm

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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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We've had very good luck using www.vrbo.com
We've also rented houses in Spanish Wells - it's a 'quirky' small island just a short ferry boat ride from H. Island, but this island is definitely not for everyone. More of a residential and working island. But we liked it because we could bonefish right outside our back door.

Caroline
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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I agree with Mnag's thoughts. I'd think your children would find HI more fun. Eleuthera is really really quiet. Good luck with your hotel or house search.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 02:39 PM
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You will love Harbour Island, it really is a gem and the last few years has really been discovered.

Runaway Hill is my favorite place to stay, but I think they have a rule of no kids under 16.

You might look at Romora Bay, which is on the bay side of the island with a lovely pool and GREAT restaurant. The accomodations are villas so sleeping 4 would not be a problem. The view of the ocean/bay sitting by the pool is really breathtaking.

Coral Sands is also very nice, but a bit pricier than Romora www.romorabay.com.

Harbour Island is very safe so your girls can have a bit of a run around the island, and they will probably meet other kids that they will want to hang out with.

The best local restaurant is Angela's Starfish. Angela does THE BEST conch anything, fritter, salad, cracked, burger....YUM.

Arthur's Cafe is a local hangout as is the pizza shop. Arthur's is great for breakfast and they have internet access.

There are usually special things going on so you might check www.briland.com for more info and www.myharbourisland.com as well as the Bahamas Tourist site www.bahamas.com.

You might want to explore Eleuthera for a day and you can arrange a rental car through the hotel. Spanish Wells you can get there by water taxi and is also worth a visit. VERY interesting local history there.

If you head down Eleuthera, it takes HOURS to get downisland, and you will go over an interesting bridge which is called Glass Window. The dark blue ocean on one side and the aqua color on the other.

One thing to remember is that ALL the water taxis go off duty at sunset, so if you miss the last water taxi over, you are stuck on Eleuthera overnight.

I have lots of friends onisland, so let me know if I can be of any more help.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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i'm on Harbor Island right now. We're staying at Valentine's Resort, and I highly recommend it! Valentines has the best dive shop on the island. Last time, we stayed at Pink Sands-and that's hard for 4, plus I actually like Valentine's better! i've been through Coral Sands and Romora, I would stay at either too-but my fav so far is Valentines. Easy to walk around, or rent a golf cart which is fun.

We are also ending at Atlantis, and split HI with Eleuthera.

My recommendation-skip a night at Atlantis, and split your stay. 3 nights at Atlantis is probably plenty-plus all of the specials they run are for 3 nights.

Then you could do 2 nights HI, 3 nights at Pineapple Fields. Rent a car in Eleuthera, buy "The elusive Beaches of eleuthera" on Amazon.com, and explore.

Everybody wins.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 06:28 PM
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Yes, Spanish Wells (George's Cay?) certainly has interesting 'history' to say the least. Go to shake someone's hand and count how many fingers they have. Look in the phone book and see only 2 or 3 last names for the whole ilsand - that explains it all.
But we love it there, and we love the people. I remember locking the door after the owner of the house showed us around. She came back asking why we locked the door, stating that nobody locks their doors in Spanish Wells.
I also enjoy walking out on their sand flats digging into the sand with my toes and finding their unique sand dollars; bleaching them; soaking them in a water and glue solution and bringing them home.
But even more than Eleuthera and Spanish Wells, I think I found our paradise on Great Exuma. Just something else you might consider. Even so... you can't go wrong with H. Island. Your kids will love it there too.
Caroline
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Old Aug 16th, 2007, 01:29 AM
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I sense that you all share a true fondness for these islands. I'm embarrassed to say that I passed through, many years ago, and stayed on a small island in a tiny place w/out electricity. We had a little boat and motored to a nearby island for supplies. Today, I have no idea where it was in the Bahamas but it WAS memorable in many ways! Oh those college days. Anyway, back to the present - I appreciate all of the web sites. I will review. Also, thanks travelbuff for the restaurant ideas. Blamona - you're actually there right now - I'm envious! I looked at Valentine's web site and the property looks very nice. I'm struggling though with the thought that I want to be on the beach side rather than the harbor side - I feel that the girls, especially, would like to be able to run right out to the beach - a reason I'm not really looking at Ramora Bay either. Am I off base here? But my options seem to be getting smaller. In reading the tripadvisor reviews of Coral Sands, I don't think I want to stay there soooo, the search continues. Still need to look into the house idea.
Spanish Wells does sound kind of funky -obviously an interesting past. Thanks Caroline for the extra color!
As always, all comments truly appreciated as I try to figure this one out.
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Old Aug 16th, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Whoa! I was just checking prices for rentals on Harbour Island and Paradise Island. Just a thought... but have you considered a more 'out island'?
As I mentioned, we enjoy Great Exuma. Lots to do and lots of lodging choices. And beautiful beaches. You'd probably want to rent a car. Driving wasn't too bad, but stay off the road at night. We stayed at SeaStar house rental. Very nice, with 3 kayaks. Right on the water (not a sandy beach, however). Here's another link for possible rentals:

http://www.bahamasweb.com/

We've never been to Abaco, but I've heard great things about that too.

There was a resort-type place on Great Exuma. We stopped by there for lunch, but I can find out the name of it if you'd like. I know they had 2 bedroom units on the beach - not glitzy, more laid-back and reasonably priced.

Harbour Island is very nice, but it's very touristy in a sort of casual way.

Nassau: Way too touristy for me

Harbour Island: Still very touristy but quaint

Eleuthera: Too remote, but some nice house rentals and beaches

Exuma: Ahh... Just right

Questions? Just ask, and I'll try to answer them.
Caroline
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Old Aug 16th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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Thanks Caroline. I had considered Exuma as well ( Palm Bay Beach Club around George Town)but the Bahamas Air flights from Nassau have pretty inconvenient times and cost a bit more than out to HI ( but I guess I would save the extra $$ in the lodging! ). We had planned to fly out to HI and take the ferry back. But, if I were to go back to thinking of Exuma, can you tell me:
1) Is the beach about as nice as that on HI?
2) How do you get around on Exuma? I know the girls would like the whole golf cart thing.
3) Decent restaurants?
I don't know, maybe I should give Exuma another look. Thanks for your added input when you have time.
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Old Aug 16th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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I can see how the expense of getting from Nassau to Exuma could add up. We've just taken flights from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale to the Great Exuma. Seeing that you want to do 2 islands adds a bit more planning. Do any other airlines fly out of Nassau? Do try to avoid Bahamas Air if at all possible.
Yes, it was Palm Bay that we also considered before deciding on the house rental. Palm Bay is nice.

The beach at H. Island is truly one of the prettiest I've ever seen. You'd really need a car on Exuma to get out and experience the island. Lots of beaches to explore. I'd say if money was no object, then go for H. Island. You do have plenty of restaurants to pick from and the golf cart would be a kick. My husband and I are more 'do-it-yourselfers' when it comes to the food part of a vacation. We really prefer to cook our own meals with a restaurant splurge every now and then.

I'm not sure about the restaurants on Exuma. We did rent a small boat one day and went over to the beautiful island across the way (can't remember the name). We ate at a small, beachside restaurant there. There are several over there right on the beach. Beautiful beaches on that island (directly across from G. Exuma) too. There are also ferry shuttles that go back and forth to the other island (Palm Bay might even have one).
Caroline
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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Thanks once again Caroline. Just wondering, on Exuma, the Palm Bay Beach Club seems to be located more on the bay side ( it says it overlooks Elizabeth Harbour ). Can you tell me how this would compare to being on the Atlantic side, like Runaway Hill and Coral Sands I believe are on HI? I We like the surf to be somewhat calm but not so much so that there is no wave action. Do you know if the beach would be just as pretty with the turquoise water ( I'm guessing white sand here )?
THX!
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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Ljyoung: The beach at Palm Bay Beach Club is not that great, but they have free water taxis to Stocking Island, which is spectacular. The water in Exumas is super calm, like a swimming pool, not much wave action. Harbor Island has small waves more consistently.

On another post, I stated I think Coral Sands may work best for you.
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Old Aug 18th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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hi blamona. I just asked you some questions on the other post.
Thanks for this help. As you can see, I'm trying to sort things out - but, if the beach at Palm Bay isn't great, and there isn't much wave activity, I think I'm back to HI. I think I will contact Valentine's resort ( are they IN Dunmore Town? ). The price would be better than Coral Sands, it's just the whole "beach thing". I'll be curios to hear how you like Eleuthra and Atlantis too!!
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 06:20 PM
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Dcsam-Caroline,

Could you please tell me more about the house you rented SeaStar on Exuma. I'm seriously thinking about renting it. The beach looks very rocky from the pictures. The website says soft sandy bottom. My family prefers no rocks, but if you can go in either direction of the beach and have some sand would be nice. The water looks a bit rough in the pictures too I know it is on the Atlantic side. Calmer water is better, I know sometimes that can be unpredictable. Anything negative or positive about your experience you are willing to elaborate on would be most appreciated.

Thanks,
Kris
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