Harbour Island (part of the Eleuthera Island group) is one of the finest vacation getaways in all of The Bahamas. Harbour Island snorkeling opportunities are exceptional and varied, and the island itself is the hub of coral reef snorkeling (and scuba diving) for the entire North Eleuthera area.
Harbour island Snorkeling Environment
An extensive and well-developed fringing reef system runs the entire length of the east-facing coast of Eleuthera, but most of this reef system is not readily accessed. Harbor Island is an exception to this generality, with many fine snorkeling sites for coral reef exploration but a short swim or boat trip from shore.
There are basically two choices when it comes to Harbour Island snorkeling on coral reefs of the area. One can snorkel either the exposed (windward) eastern coast where the main fringing reef and large hotels are situated, or (alternatively) the protected (leeward) coast which is far less developed in terms of tourism infrastructure, but has sparser and smaller coral formations.
Under calm conditions, your best Harbour Island snorkeling option is to visit reef sites off the eastern shore. The reef formations here are far more extensive, varied, and complex than on the lee side of the island, and when accessible can rival the very best of Bahamas snorkeling opportunities.
Many of the reefs along the eastern shore are shallow enough for great snorkeling, even for beginners. These reefs can be accessed either right from the beach or via a snorkel boat tour. The main reef comes closer to shore at the far ends of the world famous pink sand beach here, so if you plan to snorkel from the beach that’s where to go.
When the wind is up, you will be better off heading over to the protected lee side of the island and snorkeling some of the many small coral heads and patch reefs that can be easily reached right from the beach.
Harbour Island Travel Tips
The islands of Eleuthera are located about 220 miles from Miami and about 60 miles east of Nassau, perched on the eastern edge of the Great Bahama Bank with nothing but thousands of miles of tropical Atlantic Ocean between the eastern shores of these islands and the coast o f Africa.
Regularly scheduled service from the U.S. to the North Eleuthera airport (ELH) is available from Atlanta, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale. Daily 30-minute flights are also available from Nassau on BahamasAir. Harbour Island (sometimes misspelled as “Harbor Island”) is readily accessed from the North Eleuthera airport by numerous fast motorboats that operate throughout the day.
The central hub of Harbour Island is Dunmore Town. With its Cape Cod like charm, this out island favorite has become (for better or worse, depending upon your point of view) a chic “in” getaway for the rich and famous, who lodge at posh resorts or extravagant beachfront homes.
Not surprisingly, the wealthier clientele have driven the average cost of staying on this lovely island somewhat higher than most of the Bahamas out islands commonly visited by tourists. Still, reasonably priced lodging and dive operations are readily available.