Nassau has all the charms of the Caribbean in one place. It’s known to be the home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and tourists from all around the world visit Nassau to relax in the warm, tropical climate, to enjoy the themed resorts, and of course, to browse the duty-free downtown shops.
Nassau is the capital and largest city of the Bahamas, and one of the most popular cruise ship ports in the Caribbean, receiving over 3 million visitors yearly. Commonly defined as a primate city, dwarfing all other towns in the country, it is the center of commerce, education, law, administration and media of the country.
Pirates? The harbor attracted settlers in the early days, particularly pirates. In fact, Nassau’s population consisted mainly of pirates until 1718, when The Bahamas first Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers, expelled them, restored order and built Fort Nassau.
Fun fact: did you know it’s illegal for Bahamian citizens to gamble?! And that Nassau is the perfect place for shopping, especially for jewelry, since they have beautiful precious stones such as emeralds. Do you know any other fun fact? Please, share with us.
With that being said, we’ve picked the top things you need to explore in this historic town:
Atlantis Paradise Island + Paradise Island
Atlantis is a luxury hotel, host of one of the largest outdoor aquariums in the world, water park, and an entertainment complex, and it’s one of the top attractions in the Bahamas, all in one place.
Located at Paradise Island, formerly called Hog Island, constructed in 1817, offers easy access since it’s connected to Nassau via two bridges. This place provides fun for the whole family. A trip there is a must!
Have we told you that they have a water slide ride of the iconic Mayan Temple?!
Snorkel + Dive with Sharks + Swim with Pigs
Fan of water sports and cute creatures? Well, Nassau also offers options for all of that. Starting with Snorkeling, where you will see more colorful marine life than you ever imagined.
How about a swim with pigs? You can take a water sightseeing tour which also includes a special experience swimming with Pigs at Pig Beach. This tour is an excursion you’ll never forget!
Insider Tip (1): the Bahamas Pig Beach is not in Nassau, but it is in the Exuma Cays. So, if your cruising time permits, we highly recommend this boat tour.
Insider Tip (2): there are Boat tours that offer all of these attractions in one tour. If you have any questions about this, please let us know.
Now, if you’re really into water adventure, how about diving with the magnificent and mysterious sharks?! This is the ultimate diving adventure where you will get to dive with reef sharks as they get fed by a professional. Don’t worry, they will instruct you and make sure you have fun beyond your expectations.
Incredible right? You would have to try really hard to not enjoy your time in Nassau.
Nassau Straw Market
Perfect place if you’re looking for some authentic Bahamian shopping needs.
Quick background: since 1940’s, Bahamian women have been braiding and weaving the leaves of palm trees and sisal plants into baskets and fishing traps as a way to boost their income.
Located at the heart of Nassau Town on Bay street, nowadays, shoppers can buy woven items such as hats, mats, and baskets, as well as fine wooden carvings, colorful fabrics, beaded necklaces, and every type of island-themed/port souvenir imaginable.
Fact: The historic market building was destroyed by fire in September 2001, but the market continues and has become a downtown institution.
Speaking of the heart of Nassau, it’s always a good idea to explore downtown and experience the culture, history, and heritage of the island. You will see forts, 17th and 18th-century buildings that are still in use and learn plenty of facts in any one of the museums in the town.
While exploring downtown you will also find delicious local cuisine, or as they call the Arawak Cay area.
Sample Rum at John Watling’s Distillery
Easy access, steps away from the Government House, the John Watling’s Distillery, a famous pirate captain of the olden days, was built in the 17th century, and it offers a taste of the old Bahamas.You can sample Watling’s small-batch, and barrel-aged rums. Learn some about the pirate history and enjoy old English crafted rum.
Another great spot to visit is the Queen’s Staircase. Just a short walk from the port, a major landmark that is located in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau, 65 steps (102 feet (31 m), carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794. It was named for Queen Victoria, the reigning monarch of England from 1837 to 1901, who signed the declaration to abolish slavery.
It’s free and open 24/7.
Of course, we need to talk about the incredible beach life Nassau has. There are three popular beaches we would love to recommend a visit:
Junkanoo Beach: if you’re looking for vibrant party mood and close to the cruise port.
Cabbage Beach: for a quieter, relaxing, less crowded beach, white sandy beach with crystal clear turquoise waters. Located at the Paradise Island. Perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling and swimming.
Cable Beach: the best place to sunbathe all day.
Hope you enjoy it.