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Aerial view of the Ocean View Club on Harbour Island

Harbour Island

Interlopers call them the Out Islands but the Bahamians know how special their watery backyard is so they call them the Family Islands. My favourite character in this glittering collection is Harbour Island

Bahamas' Sweet Little Sister

Interlopers call them the Out Islands but the Bahamians know how special their watery backyard is so they call them the Family Islands. My favourite character in this glittering collection is Harbour Island – the insouciant younger sister who gets on with her own thing in her own style. Harbour Island, known to locals as Briland, was created by the universe to my exact specifications of what a tropical island should be – relaxed, luxurious and free from pretence.

Sunbeds and parasols of the Dunmore Hotel
Sunbeds and parasols of the Dunmore Hotel

The flight from Miami barely registers until the grey swathe of the North Eleuthera landing strip comes into view. The scruffy shed-like terminal is exactly as it should be, conjuring thoughts of clammy gentlemen in linen suits with secrets to keep accompanied by icy tropical cocktails. My Bahamas is firmly set in a 1940s era film starring Cary Grant and Lauren Bacall.

Excitement builds to an exquisite ache during the 5-minute water taxi ride to Harbour Island and as my foot lands on the dock and I breathe in that steamy tropical air, I am finally at home. Before I know it a golf cart has putt-putted me away to The Ocean View Club where I plan to do a whole lot of practically nothing while managing to simultaneously feel like I’ve done everything and met all the people I will ever need to know.

Four dogs splayed out against the tiles of the entrance greet me in the only way hot dogs can, with an indolent wag of the tail and a bit of a stretch. Being welcomed at the Ocean View Club is like being enveloped in a big warm-hearted tropical hug. Ben Simmons, the current owner, grew up here. His mother, the indomitable Pip Simmons inherited the place from her family and ran it as a hotel until passing the baton to Ben and his partner Charlotte “Charlie” Phelan.

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