Harbour Island has been our home for 22 years. There are so many good places to eat here, starting with Arthur’s Bakery for a breakfast of warm banana bread and all the delicious things that do have sugar and gluten in them. Arthur’s Bakery, corner of Crown and Dunmore Street (+1242-333 2285).
One of the best places for brunch – ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter or coconut bread with lime curd – is The Landing, a hotel I helped renovate many years ago after a hurricane destroyed much of it. It still has the dark polished-wood floors, white walls and gauzy fabric draped over four-poster beds – simple, mostly monochrome rooms. I gave the bar and restaurant an Ernest Hemingway-meets-Grace Kelly feel; if you’re there in the evening, have a drink called the Ginger Fro – it’s made with ginger-infused vodkas. The Landing, Bay Street (+1242-333 2707; harbourislandlanding.com).
For lunch, don’t miss Queen Conch, which is run by a local family. It’s a wooden shack on the bay with a gigantic conch sign that blows in the breeze. You sit at tall wooden stools and watch the mother-daughter team scoop out the conch flesh and chop it up right there in front of you, with sour oranges, hot chilli and a lot of fresh tomato, onion and green pepper. It’s wise to ask for “tourist strength”, because otherwise it will blow your bikini off. Queen Conch, Bay Street (+1242-333 3811).
It’s lovely to rent a little boat from Duke Davis in the afternoons – they’re pretty basic, but all you need for a swim and a snorkel – and motor to one of the completely deserted islands nearby: Ben Bay, Jacob’s Island or Pigeon Island. They’re all pink sand and coconut trees. Or you can head to the amazing bay at Whale Point, which is filled with turtles and giant orange starfish the size of placemats. Duke Davis Boat Rental, +1242-333 2569.
You can buy a boogie board at local lumber store Chacara if you need one. And there’s some good bonefishing in the lagoon on Windermere; it takes a drive along crazy, potholed roads to get there, but if you’re keen, you might well think that it’s worth it. Chacara Lumber, King Street (+1242-333 2176).
If you’re coming to Harbour Island to shop, you’ll need your wallet. It’s tiny, but high-end. I recommend Blue Rooster, owned by a wonderful Bahamian lady called Gabrielle Kennedy, who sells kaftans and preppy clothes. There’s a lovely shop called Shine owned by Stephanie HD, an amazing Bahamian-German woman who handmakes all her jewellery. And another Bahamian friend of ours, Dake, has a shop in a tiny wooden shack selling über-chic swimwear, scarves and jewellery. Blue Rooster, King Street (+1242-333 2240). Dake’s Shoppe, Crown Street (+1242-333 3045; dakesshoppe.com). Shine, Bay Street (+1242-333 3793; facebook.com/shineharbourisland).
Our shop in town is called The Sugar Mill; it’s on Bay Street, at the end of the main dock. There’s a palm frond-papered changing room and mahogany shelves with zebra skin-framed mirrors. I was inspired by The Cross in Notting Hill, so we have everything from buckets and spades to embroidered evening gowns. The Sugar Mill, Bay Street (+1242-333 3558).
For a fancy night out, we always tell friends to go to the Rock House; it’s sort of Miami-orientated and they don’t take children. You can eat around the swimming pool; order the lobster and red velvet cheesecake, and ideally something from the very serious cocktail menu. Rock House Hotel & Restaurant, Bay and Hill Street (+1242-333 2053; rockhousebahamas.com).
Then there’s The Dunmore, which was decorated by a friend, Amanda Lindroth; to me, it has the most charm of any place on the island. There are wonderful old prints all around the dining room, and you can eat their amazing fish tacos while you watch the moon come up. The rooms there are lovely too – spread across a few bungalows, with sisal on the floors, lots of rattan and ikat and pretty Indian quilts. And it has a fantastic beach. The Dunmore, Colebrook Lane (+1242-333 2200; dunmorebeach.com).
Of course, there’s the original Pink Sands hotel. It’s been through some ups and downs; a few years ago they asked David [Flint Wood, my partner] to redecorate the main rooms, as they were a bit tired. The main rooms are especially pretty, with dusty-rose fabrics and rattan furniture that was stained in India; it’s still very elegant and quite club-like. Pink Sands, Chapel Street (+1242-333 2030; pinksandsresort.com).
One of the great things about Harbour Island is that it’s about beaches and family and nightclubs. There’s great dancing at Daddy D’s. It’s mad there, with a great mix of people, and there’s a lethal cocktail called a Goombay Smash. The Gullywash – gin and coconut water – is also very good. Afterwards you can hit Peter Pan’s, a snack shack that serves a burger the size of a boxing glove. Daddy D’s, Dunmore Street. Peter Pan’s, Princess Street.
A sort of hidden island secret is Ocean View, overseen by Charlotte Phelan and Ben Simmons, the son of the previous owner. They refurbished it completely and created a lovely, funky little hotel with a gorgeous design: lots of bright colours and exotic prints. The Ocean View Club, Gaol Lane (+1242-333 2276; ilovetheoceanview.com).