History & Attractions

HISTORY & ATRACTIONS

There is a palpable sense of history on Harbour Island. Through the 15th and 16th centuries it changed hands from English to Spanish rule several times. The first sparks of gentrification came in the mid 1700’s, when Lord Dunmore, an English Loyalist from Virginia, established a part-time residence on Briland, as the Island was then known (he later became governor of the Bahamas). At this point, the Island had a mixed population of freed slaves who had come from Bermuda, expat Yankees, English aristocrats and Loyalists who fled America after ending up on the losing side in the War of Independence.

In 1900, Dunmore Town became the Bahamas’ second city after Nassau, living off fishing, shipping, distilling, sugar cane and the pineapple crops grown on neighboring Eleuthera. The assorted population prospered, developed a great sense of place and established the unique Harbour Island spirit we find today — an inimitable, peaceful mix of races and social standing with pride in their island and a resistance to intrusion or change.

The Island’s evolution into the quiet vacation hideaway that it is today began in the 1940’s. Since then, its following has grown virtually solely by word-of-mouth, to the point today at which it is one of the chic-est, most sought-after islands for international business magnates and high-profile celebrities who prefer their vacations to be distinctly low-profile.