The Other Side
I sometimes feel like I overlook the Caribbean when it comes to trips. I think my mind is somehow pre-programmed to think of it in certain ways; it’s in no way off the beaten track, it’s expensive and it somehow feels like an easy option rather than heading east to Asia or further south to South America. But I’m coming to realise I actually really, really love the Caribbean. The different personalities of all the various islands and their residents, the colourful homes and stores, the beaches and turquoise seas that to me rival the Indian ocean, and of course, the infamous rum punch (or Goombay smash if you’re in the Bahamas). And you know, sometimes I want the kind of trip where there’s little else to do aside from sunbathe, swim and wait for cocktail hour and the older I get, the more I realise there’s nothing wrong with that when you work hard and live a busy verging on relentless life in a city. I love exploring temples and markets and historical sites, but sometimes I want to go somewhere where the pressure really is off and the main focus is switching off, winding down and just enjoying each other’s company for an unadulterated week or so. Just writing that is making me pine for it all over again!
After taking in St. Lucia, Bequia and Jamaica in the past, the Bahamas remained somewhere I really hadn’t explored and after reading about Harbour Island in the bible that is Conde Nast Traveller U.K last summer, I placed it right at the top of my bucket list and started plotting my escape this easter. After one night in Miami (we stayed at The East which was perfect as it’s downtown rather than on South Beach so only 15 minutes from the airport), we were on a plane to Eluthera followed by a two minute car ride and a 10 minute boat before arriving at The Other Side. Nope, not something from Stranger Things season three, but a white-washed, shipwrecked boutique hotel on a deserted strip of beach on the Bahamian island of Eluthera, just a short speed boat ride from Harbour Island. Owned and run by the guys who run The Ocean View Club on Harbour Island itself, I can’t think of a better place to arrive to after a long journey. While in Miami, I realised I’d brought the wrong camera charger and had a mad dash around Miami, calling and looking for one to no avail. My mood was ever so slightly stressed as we headed for the Bahamas. As much as I love 35mm and continually swear to shoot more and more on film, the uncertainty of it always kind of stresses me – ‘are they all going to come out blank?!’ my mind screams. So, yes, arriving at The Other Side felt like a wave of fresh air and as soon as I stepped foot on the dock, I put the camera woes behind me and felt instantly lighter. The interiors are gorgeous, with lots of wood, white paint, faded fabrics and blue and white porcelain dotted around. There’s a big, well-stocked honesty bar and the kitchen is free to pop into whenever you want to help yourself to snacks and extras, and most importantly this is all happening against a backdrop of turquoise sea and palm-fringed white beach. There’s a super easy, slow pace that wafts through the entire place and it kind of feels like everyone staying there is all part of a lovely, unpretentious club, or at least all in on a secret. You inevitably end up chatting to other guests at breakfast or over margarita at the end of day, sharing tips on things to see and places to eat iver on Harbour Island or indeed other places in the world. Friendly without ever being overbearing, the atmosphere here is pretty much the perfect kind of mood to start a holiday on. There’s also one of the most photogenic pools I’ve ever come across, floating over the ocean with perfectly placed outdoor showers and only dragon flies and coconuts for company.
We stayed in one of the higher set ‘shacks’ rather than the beach front ‘tents’, although I’ve definitely camped enough to know ‘tent’ definitely doesn’t do these justice. The shacks were magic to me, and essentially summed up what I’d like my dream holiday home to look like. Random antiques and a big four poster bed with white linen curtains that blow in the breeze, and an big terrace with rustic sliding doors that looks over the bay. We’d wake up early from the jet lag and the first thing we’d do is draw the curtains, open the doors and go back to bed with the sound of waves blowing in. Not to get too cheesy about it all, but I can’t remember being happier than I was on those mornings. There are set menus for lunch and dinner, but being only seven minutes by boat to Harbour Island (and TOS have a golf buggy the other side you can borrow to zip around in), we tended to head over there for food as there were so many places I wanted to try; more on where to eat, drink and be merry next time. We only stayed here two nights as I wanted to spend a couple of days on Harbour Island itself but I have to say, if I went back, this place would definitely be a big contender as it’s kind of nice to have the luxury of enjoying everything Harbour island has to offer while being able to escape to your own little oasis over the water when you feel like it. It’s these kind of places where time goes by so quickly as you fall into rituals almost immediately. Sunset cocktails while playing backgammon in the breezy, open-air ‘drawing room’; watching the odd torrential downpour from our cocoon of a bed; not wearing shoes from dawn to dusk…
Turns out the Caribbean isn’t all big hotels and well-trodden paths. With a little digging, there are some amazing, off the beaten tracks bolt holes on islands with still plenty left to explore….
Terracotta bikini | Faithfull the brand
Floral bikini | Matteau
Yellow string bag | Mango
Denim shorts | Cut-off Reformation jeans
White linen shirt | Yoli & Otis
Signet ring | Lucy Williams X Missoma
Watch | Omega
Ph. by yours truly