Harbour Island Lifestyle & Local Customs



Harbour Island, or ‘Briland’ to its residents, is the most beautiful of the Bahamas Out Islands and has been named the ‘Best Island in the Caribbean’ by Fodors and Conde Nast. This affluent island is one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas and has managed to maintain much of its old time charm. Bahamas Harbour Island lifestyle is very laid back even though it is one of the most exclusive islands in the Bahamas.

There are no casinos, luxury high-rises or chain hotels on the island but you will find a large selection of first-rate resort hotels and vacation home rentals. These incredible villas are often booked by celebrities and the mega-wealthy that appreciate the unpretentious Harbour Island lifestyle and the down-to-earth treatment they get from the locals.   

Pronounce it Like the Locals 
The locals that live on Harbour Island are called ‘Brilanders’ and they refer to their home ‘Briland’. Briland is pronounced BRI (like ‘dry’)-land. 

It is not necessary to dial a country code when making calls between the US and Bahamas. The area code for Harbour Island is 242 so you can simply dial 1 + 242 + seven digit number. 

The U.S dollar exchanges equally with the Bahamian dollar. Most businesses on Harbour Island accept the U.S. dollar and major credit cards. Many of the street vendors accept cash only.

Time Zone
Harbour Island Bahamas is on Eastern Standard Time.

110 Volts, compatible with the U.S. which means converters are not needed.

Taxes & Tipping
Restaurants add a 10% government and resort tax to bills and an additional 15%-20% tip is standard. Made service in a hotel or any of the Bahamas Harbour Island rentals is usually $2 a day. Bell hops normally get $1-$2 per bag.

Beer, Alcohol & Water
It is safe to drink the water on the island but most people prefer bottled water. The legal drinking age in the Bahamas is 18 years old. The local beer is Kalik which like all beers is very expensive on the island running about $40 a case or 24 beers. You can buy most major brands of liquor at a price much more reasonable that the cost of beer.

Cuban Cigars
Cuban cigars are legal in the Bahamas. A majority of the Cuban cigars in the Bahamas are counterfeit so only purchase them from reputable tobacconists. The cost of one Cuban cigar, if authentic will run you about $30.

Don’t Dress Offensively
Don’t offend the locals by dressing immodestly. Brilanders like all local Bahamians are very modest people and are easily offended by inappropriate dress. Unlike places like Miami Beach, Florida, you won’t find people on Harbour Island walking around town wearing just a bathing suit.

Golf Cart Etiquette
Almost everyone on Harbour Island drives around the island on a golf cart. A wave, nod of the head or simple hello when passing another golf cart separates the locals and insiders from the visitors. It’s also important that you use the correct hand signals when make turns.

Bring Your Pooch
It seems like everyone on Harbour Island has a dog which they bring with them everywhere! If you think your dog will enjoy riding in a golf cart, sitting next to you at a table in a local café, or running freely along the beach’s shore line, don’t leave him behind. There is no pet quarantine in the Bahamas. All you need is a vet’s certificate, an import permit which you can get online at www.bahamas.com and a $10 fee.