Although Filomena Natoli has made her name as the go-to for some of Australia’s most famous faces, this free-spirited makeup artist feels just as at home barefoot on a beach as on set with the fashion industry elite. During her 10-year career Filomena has travelled to some particularly beautiful parts of the world in the name of work, but The Bahamas has stayed on her holiday bucket-list. Recently, the stylish creative made the pilgrimage with her family and here she shares her must-see, -eat and -stay destinations for the picturesque locale.
What were you anticipating by holidaying in The Bahamas?
The Bahamas has always been on my go-to list, particularly Harbour Island. It was purely personal, however I definitely want to get back there and shoot. As a family we are sun chasers; a relaxing beach holiday was what we were after.
How did you get to the Bahamas?
Our trip in total was three weeks, starting in Los Angeles for three days where I had meetings and I could get a little shopping in and eat at our favourite places. When we are in LA we always stay at The London West Hollywood. We then flew to Miami (five hours) and stayed for three days. You don’t have to, but I wanted a few days there! We stayed at The One Hotel in South Beach.
From Miami we flew to Eluethra, Bahamas which is a one hour flight. Once you are at the airport there are plenty of taxis and drivers ready to take you to the port where you take a 20 minute boat ride to Harbour Island. Pre-booking transfers isn’t necessary as there are water taxis constantly transporting people back and forth to the island.
Tell us all about the secluded spots you visited..
We went to the ‘Naked Tree’ which is where many iconic photographers and supermodels have shot over the years. In terms of discovering a secret spot, the island is tiny. I would recommend taking a boat trip out to the Spanish Wells, hopping on and off your boat.
How did you find getting around the islands?
On the island itself, a golf cart is the only mode of transport and boats for island hopping! Too much fun.
What was your beauty and skincare regime for this holiday?
For summer vacations I always have my La Roche Posay SPF 50+. A good hair mask to treat my hair for sun and salt exposure. I always opt for sheer tinted moisturiser as a base, and I take a bronzing powder as you can use it as a blush and eyeshadow. I also take a gradual tan with me as I try not to purposely sun bake, so I have a little gradual tan to give me a little colour without the sun damage.
What are your hero products for a sun-soaked vacation?
SPF is essential and should be paramount when you pack for a summer holiday. A good cleanser to cleanse the skin thoroughly of sunscreen in the evening and a yummy hydrating moisturiser. On my trip I used Erno Laszlo Oil Control Cleansing Bar and Result Time Magnesium Serum. For my body I always have Josie Maran’s Whipped Argan Oil, a rich moisturiser that leaves the skin glowing.
Must-pack items for a Bahamas sojourn?
Have fun with swimwear and pack options. My favourites are Marysia, Matteau Swim and Solid and Striped. Lots of cottons are essential! I loved wearing man-style shirts as beach cover-ups, shorts, playsuits and dresses that can be worn from beach to bar. I’m sure Parlour X has you sorted for all these options.
List your must-visit, favourite restaurants, café’s and bars?
Sip Sip for the best lobster quesadilla ever!
Breakfast lunch or dinner at The Dunmore is great, particularly the buttermilk fried chicken.
The Landing for dinner.
The Rock House for dinner, as the view is stunning and the food is Mediterranean-style.
Best places to shop?
Harbour island has zero shopping, but you can pick up some locally handmade woven goodies. The Bahamas is very niche. If you’re keen to shop in transit to Harbour Island; Beverly Hills and Melrose Place are the way to go. Bal Harbour Mall for a luxury fix in Miami, and of course The Webster is a must-visit boutique with the most divine curated brands.
Best family-friendly leisure activities?
Harbour Island itself is not an action packed holiday, it is pure R&R – beach-style. Boat trips and water sport hire are available on the island and horse riding along pink sands beach. I organised a boat take us out to Spanish Wells and around Eluethra where we snorkelled and spotted sea turtles. My two daughters also went tubing which was super fun for older kids.
The girls were keen to swim with the pigs – yes, pigs! – which live on Pig Island, however I discovered it was a four hour boat trip to the Exumas and we all decided we didn’t want to go that far. However I got talking with someone on the beach that told us there were some pigs on an island approximately 30mins away by boat. So off we went we arrived to this little island. No pigs! We found out that some Victoria Secret’s models had arrived and wanted to see the pigs too and they were moved. So, I would definitely ask your hotel concierge when you are there as they do move these piggy’s around. You might get lucky! This story still makes me laugh. Each hotel also has activities for children and with my daughters being 14 and 12, they were more interested in sight-seeing and going to the beach.
Best place for nightlife?
There are no clubs or real night spots on Harbour Island. Valentine’s is a sports bar-style venue and would be the closest thing to a night spot on the island.
What are the must-see cultural landmarks?
Pink Sands beach and the Naked Tree are the most famous landmarks on Harbour Island.
Tell us more about the culture, atmosphere and people of the Bahamas…
The locals of the Bahamas are colourful and friendly. The architecture on Harbour Island is British Colonial with an array of charming white and pastel-coloured cottages, and the marina has an array of the world’s biggest and best super yachts.
The overall vibe is relaxed and fun with a feeling of luxury and exclusivity at the same time, if that makes sense. It’s definitely a playground for models, actors, fashion industry types and families. The island is small so you will generally see the same faces on the beach or at dinner each day, which is quite lovely as you begin to feel you are part of the village.
Are there any neighbouring destinations worth venturing to for a quick get away?
From Australia it may seem like a mission to get to. I wanted our trip to feel like a holiday from the minute we left so I made sure we stayed a few nights in LA and Miami on the way so we could get some retail stimulation and more city-life activities into our vacation before we got to the Bahamas. Before we headed back to Sydney we checked into The Parker in Palm Springs for three nights to gear up for the flight home. Not necessary – a pure indulgence on my part – I just don’t like us all being over-tired from flying, and I’m all about mini-stop overs to make these big flights that much more bearable. Plus it also added to the overall trip!
Any secret travel tips or tricks you can share?
No real secrets, the Bahamas operates like the US.
You can follow Filomena on Insatgram at @filomena_makeup
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