If You Love… Cape Ann
Go To The Bahamas For… Low-key beach towns with lots of hidden pockets
By Donna Garlough
The 700 islands of the Bahamas have long suffered a lowbrow reputation among travelers, who cringe at Paradise Island’s casinos and the rundown capital, Nassau. But here’s a little secret: the multitude of less-traveled Out Islands are a laid-back Eden. Dotted with small fishing villages and relatively few resorts and hotels, places like Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Andros, Bimini, the Abacos, and the Exumas boast a vibe not unlike the former fishing towns of Cape Ann-unfussy and authentic, with some of the best coastal stretches in the world.
Like the locals of Ipswich, Essex, and Gloucester, Bahamians know their way around shellfish. Only instead of clams and oysters, it’s conch: cracked conch, conch fritters, conch chowder, conch salad, and more. While seemingly remote, certain Out Islands are exceedingly accessible to New Englanders. After hopping a flight from Boston to Nassau, a daily ferry quickly delivers travelers to the pencil-thin island of Eleuthera, where the ultrasecluded The Cove resort awaits (800-552-5960, thecoveeleuthera.com). The 26 bungalows, rooms, and suites feel both airy and intimate; the splurge-worthy two-bedroom Point House has panoramic ocean views. When it’s time to dine, don’t be surprised if fresh local crab shows up on the restaurant’s menu-the owners’ sons often catch them in a nearby lagoon.
When you’re ready for a little more glitz, head to the even smaller, skinnier Harbour Island, a.k.a. Briland, a five-minute water taxi ride away. It’s a retreat where rock stars (Lenny Kravitz, Mick Jagger) come to relax. Try the sprawling Pink Sands Resort, with its gorgeous pool and acclaimed restaurant (242-333-2030, pinksandsresort.com). (Think fried plantains, jerk-spiced pork chop, and grouper steamed in banana leaf.) Or hole up at the nearby Coral Sands, which offers similar amenities at less exclusive rates (242-333-2350, coralsands.com). For grilled steaks and local lobster in an upscale setting, hit the restaurant at The Landing (242-333-2707, harbourislandlanding.com). And martinis at the Rock House Restaurant are a must (242-333-2053, rockhousebahamas.com). Combined with the outrageously pretty views on this island, they’re more than sublime.