So the 10 year-old kindly escorted us across the street to said bar. Local Bahamian men were on the front porch playing dominoes. There’s just something so wonderful about witnessing authentic island life. We grabbed a drink inside and immediately went out to the front porch. I felt a bit odd barging in on their game but I just had to go watch. So I did. A group of men of all ages were huddled in the corner of the porch, two of them sitting at a table, the others either standing nearby or sitting on the porch rails. I asked a few questions but not to sound like an annoying tourist, more to find out who was winning, who was the best player, etc, just to get them riled up. They started joking with each other, arguing over who was the island champion, all while aggressively slapping their dominoes on the table making their next play. One of them explained that the slapping starts to show authority when they think they have a better play than the other. It was quite entertaining.
A van full of tourists pulled up and the group quickly disbanded, one of them telling us that the ferry was going to leave soon. Apparently, all these men were ferry drivers. After getting completely skunked by the group of tourists that arrived after us yet got on the first boat, we hopped on the second boat to get over to Harbour Island. For clarification, the “ferry” is just a boat. It seats about 10-15 people so it’s not like a small cruise ship as it may sound. It was a short 7-10 minute ride and we were escorted off the boat to the Government dock. We were immediately approached by a man trying to rent us his golf cart. This is exactly what we needed but just for matter of principal, I don’t like to give in to the first person trying to sell me something. I don’t like being sold. But he made it easy and I didn’t feel like asking around for anyone else that rented golf carts. So I took the bait and we rented it for the day (it was noon by this time so the day was really only 5 more hours) for $50. No, I didn’t haggle either. I’m not a haggler and I feel like they need the money more than I do.
Off we went, in our gas powered, cracked window, broken everything, golf cart, driving on the left side of the road, on an island adventure to see what all the Harbour Island fuss is about. I have heard about this place for years, have seen pictures all over social media, and wasn’t sure that I really cared to spend a half or whole day here. But at this point, I’m glad I’m getting to see it as it’s quite different than the main island of Eleuthera. And the pink sand beaches have piqued my interest. First thing I wanted to see was “Lone Tree”, an old dead tree that’s buried itself upright in middle of the sand on the west side of the island. I’ve seen some gorgeous photos taken here so I wanted to capture some myself. The tide was extremely low when we arrived so my pictures make it look like it’s in the middle of the desert rather than in the ocean, but nevertheless, it made for great photos. Another large piece of driftwood close by was neat to check out as well.
We didn’t have a map so we had no clue where we were going, so we just weaved in and out of the roads and made our way over to see this “pink sand” I’ve seen so many photos of. We found a public beach access and were ready for a water break, so we walked down to the beach for a while. Admittedly, it was breathtaking. The beach is incredibly wide and long with flourlike white sand and super clear blue water. I wouldn’t say it was packed but it was certainly one of the more crowded beaches you’ll find in the islands. Several fuddy duddy resorts line the beach so that would explain it. As you get closer to the waters edge, the sand truly is a light pink. From what I understand, when a storm is approaching and the clouds move in, it really brings out the pink color as well. The water here was just stunning and I’m not sure it could have been any clearer. Exuma has competition with this beach but for many reasons, I’d still choose an Exuma beach over this one any day. Duh. More on an Exuma comparison in a later post.
This beach is also where you can go horseback riding. We wanted to do this but for whatever reason, just decided to keep moving on after our dip in the water. Watching the Bahamian man riding his horse up and down the stark white beach and into neck-deep turquoise water was so amazing and beautiful. Let’s be honest, dark skin just looks better on the beach. LOL. I wanted to do a photo shoot of them riding as it was THAT gorgeous. And I’m not a photographer, clearly.
We did a lot of exploring around the island, looking for other cool places to stop. Sip Sip, a restaurant that came highly recommended, just happened to be in our path so we stopped for lunch. There was not a table available and a crowd was waiting outside. We were lucky to find two seats at the bar but oh..em..gee it was so hot where we were sitting, as there was no breeze coming through the corner of the bar. The menu was pretty impressive and we had a shrimp and mango stack that was out of this world (for a mere $28, ouch). The population of this island is primarily tourists so it’s expected to be a bit pricey. Off we went again, bar hopping and circling the neighborhoods. Some were typical Bahamian neighborhoods as you would see on any Out Island, others comprised of those higher end Victorian style gingerbread houses. I could have walked these streets for days. Big colorful wooden shutters bookend the sides of every window. Long wrap around front porches with rocking chairs and white picket fences everywhere. But I have to say, this hood and Harbour Island, in its entirety, was less “perfect” than I expected. One reason I didn’t necessarily have an interest in seeing Harbour Island was because I was under the impression it wouldn’t be authentic Bahamas and a little too perfectly kept for my liking. But I was wrong. Yes, the island is touristy and expensive, but it still has old Bahamian charm and imperfections that make the Out Islands a great escape from the spoiled environment we live in. We ended our Harbour Island day bar hopping our way back to the dock. Because, why wouldn’t we? But it was only 4:30 and we still had to time to also bar hop our way back to the hotel as we had a 1 hour drive ahead of us and still more stops to make in North Eleuthera. P.S. Harbour Island is referred to by Bahamians as “Briland”. They find as many shortcuts for phrases as possible and “Briland” is the result of saying Harbour Island really fast. Or lazy, which ever you prefer.
Pardon, but I had to pee like a racehorse after having a few drinks and I didn’t care where we stopped but it had to have a bathroom. As we turned the corner in Gregory Town, my bathroom wishes came true. Unca Genes Bar and Grill (because “uncle” is just not necessary) was staring us in the face. We saw a few locals sitting on the front porch and thought it would be a perfect place to stop. I quickly ordered a drink and ran to the ladies room. Upon my return, my mom’s sitting at the bar with shots being poured in front of her. WTH? The woman behind the bar is pouring us shots of fireball and welcoming us to the island, asking typical questions like, “is this your first time, where are you from, etc”. She is quite the character. Cycla is her name, as in Cycler but again, who needs the “er” when you have an “a” instead. Sounds way cooler anyway. Cycla is probably a 30 something year old woman with aviators on (to hide her eyes because she got stung by a bee on her head that caused her eye to swell) and a short mens haircut, buzzed on the sides and a fade at the top. She meets us on the porch and continues to entertain us with her jokes, stories, questions, and interactions with other locals. She’s got an outline of Eleuthera tattooed on one calf and pineapple on the other. Cycle is hard core. We tell her our names are Mary and Janet. Side note: I tell some people my name is Mary only because telling them my real name triggers all kinds of questions that I’m just never in the mood to answer. Cycla says “Ohhhhhh hahahhaa Mary and Janet. Like Mary Jane, with a silent T”. Cycla loves the herb. In order to maintain her child-like innocence, I will refrain from blogging about other hilarious Cycla shenanigans. I highly recommend a stop by this place. She’s worth it.
We had to get on the road so we could hit a few more places and eat before dark. The next bar was also one that came recommended by a social media friend, Sammy’s bar at Pascals, which was at the Sky Beach Club. Sky Beach Club looks like a large development that had high hopes but just never really got off the ground. A few awkwardly modern homes are built here and there but the roads are horrible and it looks like they cleared all of the trees off the property to make room for all of the homes (that were never built). In any event, the bar and restaurant were great! Sammy’s is a poolside swim up bar that looked mighty refreshing. The restaurant was jam packed with no available seats. I’m not to used to this. We attempted to eat at the bar but just knew the wait would be too long. So we had a drink, met Sammy the bartender, and made our way back to Governors Harbour. By this time, it was getting dark and we didn’t know where to eat. We’d already eaten at The Buccaneer Club, Tippy’s was about to close, and that leaves us with ????? We drove around the town for a while and didn’t see anything open.
We pull over and ask a lady walking on the side of the road where we can/should eat dinner. No joke, she opens our back door, pushes all of our belongings to the other side of the seat, and says, “just drive straight”. Well ok then!!! “Turn left, pull in here.” We pull into a seedy little parking lot for the Blue Room Restaurant. She walks us in, barges in the kitchen, speaks in Bahamian tongue that I can barely understand, gets a nod from the ladies in the kitchen, and tell us that we can eat here. Score! And that my friends, is how you do it. Those are the little things we’ll talk about for years. She leaves us at the bar and we have a seat. We’re the only ones there and the cook asks us what we want. A menu would be a good start but we didn’t even bother asking for a menu, we just asked what she could make. “Pork or conch?” Ok we’ll have one of both thank you. During what turned out to be a painful and hot hour long wait, at least 15 locals came in and out, 2 of which sat next to us and chatted for a while, one tried taking me home, and we received zero communication from the cooks with a status of our food. We thought about just walking out on several occasions. But I felt too bad about doing that. Other locals were complaining and yelling at the cook ladies as well, in a not so friendly way. We stuck it out, FINALLY got our food, and darted out of there in a hurry. I could already tell we weren’t going to like our food. And I was right, it was awful. Instead we ate some leftovers from the night before. Thanks goodness for those! Blue Room sucked. Noted.
We covered a lot of ground during the day and are thankful that tomorrow is going to be spent in central Eleuthera – where we are staying. So the driving should be minimal and we had to be dressed and ready for Fish Fry at 6:30. If it is anything like Fish Fry in Exuma, we are PUMPED.