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Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

League City, Texas
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1,489 posts
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Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

What are the comparisons, differences. Looking for small island to explore by golf cart or bicycle. Beautiful beaches, fun beach bars and good food. Good food to us is fairly simple. We are not into gourmet fine dining. We do enjoy a nice glass of wine here and there. Candlelight near the beach is a real winner. I would rather pay for atmosphere than fancy food. What are the differences in landscape? Thanks in advance for any input.

North Fort Myers...
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1. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

Elbow Cay is much more casual than Harbour Island. Harbour Island has high end hotels and caters to those that are looking for that. Most of the tourists on Elbow Cay are either staying there for the winter on their boats, or renting houses on a weekly or monthy basis. It depends on what you're looking for.

Harbour Island has one long beach on the Atlantic side. It's a nice sandy beach, and all of the upscale hotels have their areas set up with chairs for the people staying at their hotel. Most of the restaurants are back on the dune and not right on the beach. Pink Beach at the north end has a restaurant on the beach, but I think that's their lunch/bar restaurant, and not dinner. The restaurants at the hotels are upscale and expensive. We weren't staying at one, but tried a few places for lunch. We were not made to feel welcome (they gave us a bad table although there were many available), and the food was very overpriced. We were there during spring break/ Easter a few years ago and there were lots of kids and teenagers on the beach, doing what kids and teenagers do. The beach is quiet if you walk north past the Pink Beach Hotel, but the homeowners in that area don't like people on their beach, and their dogs are not kept on their property. There are food stand type places to eat on the harbor side, but they're conch fritter type places which are OK for lunch, but not for dinner.

At the north end of Elbow Cay you have Hopetown. It's a small settlement, but has numerous stores and restaurants, and a long, beautiful beach with many public access points. The Hopetown Harbour Lodge and the Hopetown Inn and Marina are nice places to stay. At the south end of Elbow, you have the Abaco Inn and Sea Spray Resort which are more remote (a couple of miles away and much quieter). They all have good restaurants, and I would recommend any of them. They all have different views. There are a number of beaches on Elbow Cay, some on the ocean side and some on the Abaco sea side. At low tide, you won't find a much nicer beach to explore than Tahiti Beach on the south end on the sea side. If the ocean is calm, the Lodge has a small reef offshore, and the beach south of Abaco Inn and across the road from Sea Spray is beautiful and nearly empty of people. Firefly Resort has a very nice upscale restaurant on the sea side. If you rent a boat (or make friends with someone who has one), Cracker P's and Lubber's Landing on Lubber's Quarters are great casual island-feel places to go. There's a dive shop in Hopetown called Froggie's that offers diving/snorkeling/exploring/drinking excursions depending on the weather.

From your previous posts, you might be looking at a winter escape from Paradise Island. There's a chance that in either place you could have windy weather for a few days and if it's from the east, there's fewer places to escape to on Harbour Island. If you like to meet new people at the bars and restaurants that you visit, Elbow Cay is a much friendlier place.

League City, Texas
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198 reviews
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2. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

I appreciate the detailed response. Sounds like Elbow Cay/Hopetown is probably more my kind of place. Would still like to see Harbour Island, though. Might be good for me to take a day trip there to see it for myself, before a longer stay. I actually have reservations at Romora Bay, but have plenty of time to cancel. I actually started to question my decision after researching restaraunts. Many have their menus listed on their website. I found them, mainly, to be fine dining. Not a fan. I love a nice atmosphere, and don't mind paying for it, but not a fan of fancy food. I found very little listed on these menus appealing. An Italian place that does not even have pasta on the menu. Go figure! Lots to think about. Thanks for your time to reply.

North Fort Myers...
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3. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

For a visit to Harbour Island from Nassau, find a weekday that's not during a holiday week, has a forecast for calm seas, and take the Bo Hengy. On a good day, the ride through Spanish Wells, and then through the Devil's Backbone is scenic. Don't bother with a golf cart when you get there since that's where everyone else will head, and it's really not needed. Just walk up the hill and hit the ocean-side beach. It's really the only attraction on the island. Pick a restaurant with a menu and view that you like and enjoy the day. The portion of the island that is tourist oriented is really small enough to get a feel for it in one day.

League City, Texas
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4. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

Sounds like a good plan!

Nassau, New...
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5. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

Except (has it changed?) right now with the ferry schedule, I think you only get 3 hours ashore in Briland if you go for the day? So think it would be better to spend the night. But if you are only choosing one to visit - I'd go with Hope Town every time :)

Edited: 11 December 2013, 04:39
Mobile, Alabama
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6. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

From what you say you like I so agree that Elbow will be much more to your liking! If you want to check out some menus like you did for HI, you can find websites for some of the local joints like Cap'n Jack's, Harbour's Edge and On da Beach as well as the "resorts" (not nearly as pricey or pretentious as some on HI- more laid back -I think they call it a "resort" if it has rooms, a restaurant/bar, and a pool) like Hopetown Harbour Lodge, Abaco Inn, Sea Spray Resort, Firefly-

rent a cart or boat- stay a while, plenty of rentals-

great place, think you will like it!

Nassau, New...
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7. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

There are some small cute affordable places :)

Check out Sail Loft, Daisy's Place... http://elbowcayproperties.com/rental-homes

8. Re: Harbour Island vs. Elbow Cay

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