We finally had our long-overdue wedding ceremony on Harbour Island (I’ll share more on that I promise, I just want to wait until I get all the photos back!) at the end of November, and our plan was to travel to Africa for our honeymoon over the holidays. Unfortunately, this never-ending pandemic had other plans for us, and less than a week before we were to depart, we had to indefinitely postpone our honeymoon. It was slightly heartbreaking, but the big silver lining was that we would be able to go back to Harbour Island instead and spend the holidays there with our family.
This was my first Christmas on the island – in the past (before Z and I were married) I would spend Christmas with my family and come down just in time for Junkanoo on the 26th. But since we got married (back in March 2020, you can read about that here), we decided to alternate the holidays with our families each year – so this year was Harbour Island!
We arrived on the 19th and brought our little fur baby Bao with us. I was so excited to bring him to Harbour Island for his first time, I just knew he would love the beach so much. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my very favourite parts of HI is the beautiful Pink Sands Beach – a 5km stretch of the most gorgeous and pristine beach, especially at low tide. I look forward to my long walks up and down the beach daily. Usually, I do these alone, so it was so wonderful to have my little buddy Bao accompany me – he made them so much more fun. Bao loved playing fetch on the beach, barking at the waves, and every now and then venturing into the ocean for a swim, or at least getting his feet wet. It’s a little crazy how much joy I got just by seeing him have so much fun on the beach.
We got really lucky with the winter weather this year. Normally in December, it can be very windy, and on the cooler side. Definitely still warm enough to be on the beach and swim, but with a stronger wind and higher waves. This year, for the two weeks we were there over the holidays, it was like summer weather! Hardly any wind and a few days where it was so calm the ocean looked like glass, it was so beautiful.
I still remain convinced that Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island is the most beautiful beach in the world!
This was also the year that we finally got our own boat, which meant we had lots of boat days over to Eleuthera, with picnic lunches and afternoons spent on deserted beaches. We always brought Bao with us too, and he enjoyed the boat rides and exploring the new beaches.
My favorite day was when we took the boat to the sand bar – one of my favorite things to do down there – and saw dolphins! As soon as we arrived at the sand bar and got out, a pod of dolphins swam up. They swam so close to us at the edge of the sand bar I could almost reach out and touch them. There were even a few babies jumping around and playing together, it was so cute. This was my first time seeing dolphins in The Bahamas and the whole experience was magical.
I also learned something totally new over the holidays – how to play pickleball! All because I accidentally got myself entered into a pickleball tournament while bidding at an auction. A few parents on the island put together an amazing fundraiser to raise money for the local school, to build more classrooms and a hurricane shelter. Hosted by The Dunmore, it was an amazing and hugely successful event, with dinner, cocktails, an auction, silent auction, Junkanoo, and some really fun times dancing to Dj Daddy D around the pool (with a few people taking a plunge in their semi-formal attire at the end of the night). The auction was auctioning off pickleball players, and you could buy a player to partner with for the pickleball tournament. Clearly, the people bidding at the auction were assumed to know how to play pickleball. Well, my sister-in-law and I decided to bid on some players but then give our spots away in the tournament to anyone who wanted (and knew how) to play. It was such fun bidding and we won two players. We told the organizers that anyone could take our spots in the tournament – it was all for charity anyway and we didn’t need to play nor did we know how to. The next morning, I got a phone call telling me they couldn’t find anyone else to play with one of our players, and that I would have to play in the tournament, which was happening the next day! So the next morning I got a quick early morning pickleball lesson and played in the tournament that afternoon. It was tons of fun, and even though we lost both of our games, I had the best time. I definitely caught the pickleball bug and played for the rest of our holiday there. It’s an addicting game and such a fun way to socialize on the island, I’m so happy I got thrown into it and found a new sport that I love!
As a side note – I just love a Junkanoo! We had one at our wedding in November, and I loved getting to experience one again at the fundraiser. Usually every year on boxing day there is a big Junkanoo parade/competition in town, but because of covid it has been canceled the last two years. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will resume next year, but I’m just so happy Junkanoo exists. The costumes, music, and energy are thrilling and bring such a party – I love this Bahamian cultural celebration.
A really sweet moment Z and I had over the holidays was when we took our nephew to see the Christmas lights one night. There are some homes on HI that have the most insane Christmas light displays, and I love to drive by and admire them each year. This year, it was even more special with our nephew. We got out of our golf cart (everyone drives golf carts on HI) and stood outside the homes to point out all the different colored lights and Christmas characters – Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, and so on. One of the homeowners was so kind she even let us walk through her yard to see the lights up close. And each time we would get back in the golf cart and drive down the road, our nephew would see new Christmas light displays coming up ahead and say, “Oh my goodness I can’t believe it, another one! Look, more Christmas lights! I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!” It was the cutest thing in the world.
And lucky for us, Bao and our nephew became friends again. They used to be best friends when they were both babies (they’re roughly the same age) but last summer, they hit a rough patch (growing up is hard). We’re happy to report that they love each other again!
Christmas Eve day was spent baking and decorating way too many Christmas cookies. I can’t remember the last time I baked Christmas cookies, but I’d like to make it an annual tradition because it really got me into the festive spirit and was also kind of meditative/calming? Also, they were insanely delicious! I’ll have to get the recipe from my MIL, because people truly couldn’t stop eating them.
As far as Christmas trees go, I’m a real-tree girl all the way. I have a strong aversion to fake greenery for some reason (I even made my own real Christmas garland last year), but I am a big fan of the white Christmas tree we have in The Bahamas. The white just works and the ocean-inspired ornaments we have decorating the tree are so whimsical and fun – maybe because fish and mermaids seem a little out of place on a Christmas tree, but that’s what makes it interesting. I loved sitting by the tree at night or early in the morning, all lit up and glowing when the rest of the house was quiet.
The week between Christmas and New Year, I completely lost track of what day it was. But days were mostly spent on the beach and swimming in the ocean, because we had such amazing and calm weather. There were lots of long walks on the beach with Bao, pickleball tournaments, shopping and eating out in town, seeing friends, eating delicious home-cooked meals, boat rides, and swimming with sea turtles.
New Year’s Eve was a quiet one for us – just a few members of our family (less than 10, which is a very small amount in our very large family). Despite the small gathering, we had an amazing dinner and then rang in the new year with a beautiful bonfire down on the beach. A few passers-by came to wish us a happy new year and chat while they made their way down to the other bonfires happening on the beach, but it was just us for the most part. It was one of my most favorite and memorable New Year’s – no pressure or expectation, just a beautiful night by a bonfire under a starry sky next to the ocean, surrounded by loved ones.
As always, it was a spectacular few weeks on HI. Each time I come to the island, I fall in love with it more and more – the beautiful scenery, rich community, friendly people – it’s so uniquely special and is really starting to feel like a second home. Until next time, Harbour Island! xx