One of the oldest settlements in The Bahamas, founded before the United States was a nation, Harbour Island lies off Eleuthera's northern end, some 322km (200 miles) from Miami. It is 5km (3 miles) long and 1km ( 2/3 mile) wide. The media have hailed this pink-sand island as the new St. Barts, a reference to how chic it has become. These days, beware: If you're jogging along the beach, you might trip over a movie star.
Affectionately called by its original name, "Briland," Harbour Island is studded with good resorts. The spectacular Pink Sands Beach runs the whole length of the eastern side of the island and is protected from the ocean breakers by an outlying coral reef, which makes for some of the country's safest swimming. Except for unseasonably cold days, you can swim and enjoy watersports here year-round. The climate averages 72°F (22°C) in winter, 77°F (25°C) in spring and fall, and 82°F (28°C) in summer. Occasionally, evenings are cool, with a low of about 64°F (18°C) from November to February.
To the amazement of even the island's most reliable repeat visitors, its clientele has gotten almost exponentially richer and more famous since the turn of the millennium. There's a building boom of ultra-upscale villas and a migration into the island by some staggeringly wealthy billionaires who have included Ron Perlman (CEO of Revlon) and India Hicks (a relative of England's royal family and former fashion model). Colin Farrell, Sylvester Stallone, and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, along with various titled aristocrats from the old houses of Europe, make discreet but strategic appearances throughout the winter months. This new influx of the mega-wealthy has led to prices going far upward and caused something of a run on building sites along "zillionaire's row," a deliberately rutted and potholed byway north of the town center. No one is thrilled with these changes, especially the deeply entrenched owners of the island homes, and any attempt at expansion by any of the local hotels is rigorously opposed by increasingly politicized contingents of local residents and homeowners.