As the song goes, Nassau may be funky but the Out Islands are the real gems in the Bahamas. Strung like a necklace archipelago, the tiny specks of serenity are wooing couples who prefer a quieter wedding vibe nowhere near the cruise ship ports, glitzy casinos or high-rise mega-resorts. “We highly value the wedding market for all our Out Islands,” said Raymond Francis, executive director, Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board as he suggests dessert and coffee at the oh-so-trendy Blu Bungalow restaurant in Harbour Island, “romance is a win-win for us all.”
Quite the Pair
Two of the most exquisite, Harbour Island and Eleuthera are marketed as one destination by travel agents and grouped together as one by the Out Islands Promotion Board. A 45-minute flight from Fort Lauderdale and twenty-five minutes in the air from Nassau, Harbour Island, off the northern tip of Eleuthera, is storybook cute with 2,000 residents who drive 1,500 golf carts, umpteen chickens crossing the road and delectable delicacies like rum punch and hummingbird cake. Dubbed “Briland” by the locals, the island is coveted for its pink sandy beaches, friendly locals and charming hotels with architecture that reminds visitors of New England.
With a name like Valentine’s, you know this is one resort ripe for romance. Seaside in Harbour Island, romance is big business at the all-suite resort with an enthusiastic staff who loves to organize weddings. On the edge of Dunmore Town with its array of little stores and delightful restaurants , the resort is pretty with thirty-eight suites in four low-rise buildings each named for one of the Out Islands. En-suite dining with specialities delivered from the Boathouse restaurant or cooking in the mini-kitchen is the big draw for couples. “The best part of my job is working with folks who come here for their wedding,” said Alexis Ross, front desk manager, “After talking with them and knowing what they may want, I like suggesting ways they can enjoy the privacy of the island.” For couples who like to explore, the resort also has its own marina and offers a slew of activities on the water. “We encourage couples to try their hand at deep-sea fishing,” adds Alexi Ross, “and if they land a tuna, our Chef will prepare it in their own suite or at the Bathhouse restaurant.”
From the Greek word for freedom, Eleuthera or Lutra in the local slang, suits those who prefer frolicking in the sea over putting down another bet at a poker table in Nassau. With just eight thousand full-time residents, Eleuthera is all about lobsters, taking a dip in the crystalline water so shallow you can wade in more than a hundred yards without getting your shoulders wet, taking five on a sun lounger and saying I Do on the beach. “This is a very happy island,” smiles Jackie Gibson, senior manager, Eleuthera Tourist Office, “the reason we’re so popular for weddings is because we’re always in a good mood and that rubs off on our guests.”
Leading the pack of wedding-friendly resorts, Sky Beach Club is the only hotel facing the sea and very trendy with couples from all over the world who come for a no-frills barefoot ceremony on the beach. “We’ve had wedding parties book the entire property from our four bedroom villas to our one bedroom bungalows with the glass-enclosed rain shower,” said Stephen Kappler, general manager. Picture-perfect, the beach is carpeted in pink sand, the Bistro grills the tastiest Hog Fish Snapper this side of anywhere and on-site concierges cater to every whim from stocking the villas with fine wine to arranging a tour to the legendary Glass Window Bridge.
Make a Date
Valid for travel through June 19, $300.00 airline credit to Nassau/Paradise Island is too good to miss. Click www.bahamas.com for details.