Harbour Island is regarded as one of the gems, not only of the Bahamas, but also the Caribbean. Its fabulous three mile pink coral beach is rightly seen as a huge tourist magnet, along with the friendly locals and the island’s array of stylish restaurants, boutiques and hotels.
Harbour Island (or Briland, as it is known to residents) is situated just off the northeast coast of Eleuthera. Only three miles long and a half mile wide, it is well protected from the rough weather by the treacherous reefs surrounding the island.
Harbour Island is thought by some historians to have been the intended destination of the Eleutheran Adventurers. In fact, the first settlement on this island was founded before the United States was a nation by rouge members of this same group. This hardy nucleus of adventurers was bolstered by the arrival of Bristish Loyalists from the American colonies, bringing with them expertise in ship building and agriculture.
Its resourceful residents made their way in the world as skilled shipbuilders and farmers. While the island itself has little arable soil, Harbour Islanders were given land to farm on the “mainland’ (Eleuthera) in 1783. Much of the original grant is still being tilled by Brilanders today.
From the 18th century until World War II, ships built on Harbour Island plied the seas of the world. Brilanders built everything from dinghies to swift three-masted schooners. In 1922 they built the largest ship ever completed in the Bahamas, the four-masted “Marie J. Thompson”.
By the late 1800’s, Dunmore Town also became a noted sugar refining center. That skill in sugar refinement gave Brilanders an important second industry – rum. With the advent of Prohibition, Harbour lsland became very important indeed. By the 19th Century, the island’s main settlement, Dunmore Town, was the Bahamas second city, exceeded only by Nassau in population and wealth. Today, Harbour Island is a sleepy community of 2,000 people. Fishing and farming occupy the time of some of the residents, while others are employed in tourism, domestically or by the government. Harbour Island’s greatest natural resource is its people. Brilanders are known for being among the warmest and most hospitable people in the world. They have a special brand of hospitality that is not easily matched. The will add a special element of enjoyment to your stay.
In Dunmore Town you will find that the island’s popularity is founded on its spectacular three-mile pink-sand beach, its intimate resorts, and the warm Briland hospitality, all housed in the quaint New England architecture of the island’s loyalist history. This is a town made for day strolling on the beach, walking along the harbour or exploring the island by cart. Harbour Island offers a dual reality – one that is full of excitement and another that is blessed with inactivity for those who need total rest and relaxation.
This little island offers a base for lovers of all the activities the ocean has to offer – be it boating, fishing, scuba diving or just enjoying the white sandy beaches and lush tropical landscape.
Our mild climate offers sun and fun year-round for full-time residents or those who come here for the occasional rest and relaxation. Balmy, sunshine-filled days and cool, breezy nights combine to make these islands a paradise to visitors and those who call it home.
On this parcel of land stood The Temperance Hall dating back to the days of prohibition in North America.
The Fig Tree
Bay Street, Harbour Island (Adjacent to the area where ships were built like The Marie J Thompson) was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. It served as a gathering place for locals. Another Fig Tree was donated and planted at the foot of the government dock.
A barracks stood on this site and housed soldiers from East India House London during the years Governor Dunmore was in charge (1786-1797).
On this site Lord Dunmore, who served as governor of the Bahamas, maintained a summer home.
These steps were cut out by prisoners. They lead to the Rock House.
The Sugar Mill Monument
On Bay Street was put there in memory of Harbour Island’s four representatives sent to the first parliament in Nassau at the House of Assembly in 1729.
The Old Harbour Island Clinic
Over 100 years old and once housed the fire engine and a library. This building has been renovated and transformed into the luxury hotel rooms of the Landing Hotel.