Talk about a blog post title I never thought I’d write!
And man it’s a long one. Feel free to skip down to the trip details if you’re not in the rambling mood.
Although it seems like I’m traveling a lot lately, know that that hasn't always been the case. Growing Alchemy and the blog have led to some undoubtedly incredible work-related travel opportunities in the states and abroad. I fell more in love with exploring the world than I expected to over the past couple years!
Long story short, I really hadn’t taken a totally non-work related vacation since Europe in 2014. Even Italy this Fall was for a Slow Food conference! What does this have to do with the luscious palm tree land that is Harbour Island? Well, I contemplated for some time whether or not to write about the trip on this space. It almost makes it feel less like a vacation. When I think vacation, I think predominantly about de-cluttering my raging mind. I think about zero work. Writing about it turns into work. I left my computer at home for the first time in like, ever.
I wrote this post on the plane to Telluride when this sudden physical burst of inspiration hit me to tell you about the charmed paradise that is Harbour Island. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on page 71 of Big Magic. Maybe as in definitely.
I read a line that captivated me about making and doing beautiful, interesting, stimulating things in life for the sole purpose of joy. Not money, not recognition, not fame. Just joy. Is it just me or is that motivation for creation a lost art?
A lot of things in my life, including this trip, are public knowledge. I post my personal life on various creative outlets each and every day. I don’t know when that expectation started weighing on me, but Big Magic reminded me of the importance of doing things that inspire me just because it feels good. And not feeling like I have to tell anyone.
How does this all relate, you ask? Well, I took a vacation to the Bahamas for pure joy. It was pretty spontaneous. I decided I wanted to leave the country and I booked the flight. I didn’t know where we’d stay or if it would be a bad time with work but I did it anyway. My soul knew I needed a diversion from reality and it kind of guided the way. Does writing about on this on a public space undo that intimacy somehow? Alas, here we are!
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Overall, we adored Harbour Island and would definitely go back. We went in mid-January when the weather was sunny and 75 degrees—just warm enough to be perfect during the day and not too chilly in the evening. It’s an incredibly friendly and safe island that’s super easy to navigate. Even though the island is basically locals and then a ton of tourists, it didn’t feel touristy or commercial at all. There was this delightful old world, colonial charm just about everywhere. The beach is beautiful and the food is superb. It’s also a super easy flight! We met a lot of people that have been coming to the island since they were kids. It’s truly a little slice of paradise.
The only downside is the price tag. Our hotel wasn’t exorbitant, but the food was very expensive. To give you perspective, a cup of coffee is around $4 , an acai bowl is $12, and a Fiji water bottle at dinner is $10. On the plus side, a lot of the food is organic. It’s a small island, so dinner is typically at one of the hotels, which are all upscale. There are some smaller local places with Bahamian food (that’s 90% fried), but not many places in between.
Our hotel included a free continental breakfast with superb homemade banana bread, coffee, and fresh fruit, but we always wanted more food so we ate out for all meals. We didn’t really see any markets and didn’t have a kitchen so cooking at the hotel wasn’t an option. We brought tons of bars, nuts, and dried fruit for snacking, which I’d highly recommend. The good news is that other than food, hotel, and flight, you don’t really have to spend on other things.
I’d recommend going to Harbour Island in the off season (pretty much not December, January, or Mach) because it’s quieter and hotel rooms are discounted. We stayed for 20% off the standard rate!
Where We Stayed:
We spent a lot of time looking for places to stay and after reading the zillion five star reviews on Trip Advisor, we settled on Rock House, a charming adults-only boutique hotel with ten rooms. It’s small, intimate, laid back, and beautiful without feeling fancy and uptight. The service is what truly sets this place apart. You become friends with the staff by the second day. The food at Rock House is known to be some of the best on the island, so of course we were happy to have that right at our fingertips. The blueberry oatmeal was literally the best oatmeal I’ve ever had!
Rock House has a pool and their own designated beach area that was less than a ten minute walk away. You can pretty much walk everywhere on the island, bur I’d recommend getting a golf cart, especially since it’s not well lit at night.
Ours didn't look anything like this, but how cute?!
What We Ate (and Drank):
Of note, eating totally plant-based on Harbour Island would be next to impossible. Breakfast usually involved coffee, coconut banana bread, eggs, toast, and fruit in some combination. For lunch, we’d get acai bowls, conch chili, or other random local dishes. I ate amazing local fish for dinner each night. Most restaurants had a pasta option, but it always either had dairy or fish. I’m always in favor in eating the local fare especially when it’s so fresh. From tiramisu to chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie, dessert was of course a nightly occurrence.
This goes without saying. From the breakfast fare to the local grouper to the key lime pie, the chef-inspired dishes here were phenomenal. The view from the restaurant at sunset will take your breath away. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and insanely amazing cocktails. Don’t miss the Frozen Goombay Smash, a blend of organic orange juice, pineapple juice, coconut rum and Bacardi rum. It was by far the best on the island. I don’t even love alcohol and I drank these daily!
Bahamas Coffee Roasters
Say hello to some of the best coffee you’ve ever had that just so happens to be organic. We walked there a few mornings to grab coffee and breakfast, which was usually poached eggs on avocado toast or jueveos rancheros with a super scrumptious vegetarian chili. They have affordable and tasty lunch options in addition to pizza on Friday evenings, which we sadly missed. Lovely staff, too!
Cacao Coffee Roasters
This cute little café serves Starbucks coffee, acai bowls, juice, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. The bowls in Harbour Island were largely granola and fruit with a little acai; but they were still super fresh and delish. The boyf got sandwiches a few times here for lunch. Overall, it’s more affordable than most hotel lunch offerings.
Talk about a view! Situated right on the beach, Sip Sip has a super cute island vibe similar to Rock House. They’re known for their tasty and inventive lunch fair. I got a really yummy conch chili there along with an okra, tomato, pesto salad. It’ll set you back at least $60 for lunch with drinks, but the view and the food are well worth it. It’s all about the experience, right?!
Oh how we loved this lovely little spot! So romantic. We drove around forever trying to find this hidden gem, but thank God we did. It’s not associated with a hotel, so the prices were a bit more reasonable. It’s a fusion of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine with tons of fresh fish and pasta. My mahi mahi entrée, red wine, and tiramisu were amazing but the ocean-front view was just beyond words. You’re literally a few feet away from the water!
Located almost right next to Rock House, The Landing is a beautiful little hotel with absolutely delicious food. The boyf had lobster with some of the best roasted potatoes I’d ever laid mouth on.
This hotel is simply stunning. We’d love to stay here someday. It’s located right on the beach, so more incredible views! The food and the cocktails were just as amazing if not better than the view. This place is not to be missed, even if it’s just for a cocktail!
This tiny little vegan organic cafe was super close to Rock House. I felt right at home when I walked in the door! We only got acai bowls there, but they have plenty of juices, smoothies, salads, and healthy snacks. We would often go there in the afternoon and share an acai bowl with some of the best granola I’ve ever had.
What We Did:
Lay at the Beach
It’s not called pink sand for nothin’! The beach at Harbour Island is simply magical. The turquoise water is out of a movie. It never felt too crowded. The whole place just felt untouched. We bought a little frisbee to toss around when we got bored of laying, walking, and reading. Oh and you all need to read The Circle sooner rather than later!
I actually planned this trip in honor of the boyf’s birthday. It’s in March, but since the new restaurant is opening soon after I knew I needed to plan a getaway before then. He had never been snorkeling, so I wanted to make sure he could experience that. We saw lots of baby turtles that I almost had to take home with me. So damn cute!
We didn’t actually get to do this, but you can take a quick little boat to the nearby island and explore for the day. We heard they have some awesome caves! This is on our to-do list for next time.
Relax and Do Nothing
Seriously! The beauty of this trip is that there really was no to-do list. The whole point was to have no agenda and to just soak up the sun. Rest, relax, and contemplate whether or not you should ever return home. That’s what it’s all about!