If you are ever forced to pick one place to visit then Nassau, Bahamas is the place. Nassau features all the charms of the Caribbean in one place. This cruise port has the beaches, the people, nature, the history and attractions that mix so well to give you the ultimate cruise destination.
Nassau is the capital city of the Bahamas and it’s located on New Providence Island. It’s a very popular cruise port receiving over 3 million visitors yearly.
This beautiful port uses its natural beauty and charm to provide plenty of attractions that keep visitors entertained. With all these attractions it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what to do, that’s why we picked 20 best things to do in Nassau, Bahamas. Read on to find out more:
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It’s always a good idea to set aside some little time to explore a port of call. Whether you go on a guided tour or a DIY exploration. Port towns offer the best chance to experience the culture, history, and heritage of the port of call. These types of experiences make trips more worthwhile.
Luckily Nassau is one of those towns that offers interesting points of attraction. 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. Besides that, a tour of downtown Nassau will bring you to its famous straw market for all your authentic Bahamian shopping needs. And to Arawak Cay for all the delicious local cuisine.
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Your ship will dock at Prince George Wharf which is very large and able to accommodate 7 vessels at once. This cruise terminal is conveniently located near the heart of Nassau and it’s just a 10-minute walk to get to downtown Nassau.
Once you exit the pier you will find tourist’s information desks, taxi stations, and a festive center. These facilities will provide you with everything you need to get your day in Nassau started.
Photo By: Russell Otway
Check out the Queen’s staircase located downtown at Fort Fincastle. It’s one of the most popular landmarks in Nassau. Also known as 66 steps, the staircase was carved out of limestone rock by slaves in 1793. It was used as the main route between the fort and Nassau town. This beautiful attraction has been overtaken by marshy vegetation such as ferns, moss and looks like a lost Caribbean wonder. Which makes it the perfect place for some great photos, and also an escape from the intense Caribbean sun.
Parliament Square is located south of Rawson square on Bay street. The square has 3 pink and white Georgian neoclassical buildings that house the parliament and other government houses. These great buildings display early colonial architecture that’s so detailed and gorgeous to look at.
Interestingly they are still in use to date. Why don’t you pop in in one of the parliaments sessions and travel back in time imagining how lawmakers in the earlier centuries sat in the same buildings creating laws that curved the fabric of civilization as is today. Or remain in the present and see how laws are made in the Bahamas.
After a date with the lawmakers pop into the Pirate Museum and learn about the sordid yet interesting pirate past of the Nation. Nassau is famous for having been a haven for pirates in the 18th century, where the famous Captain Blackbeard was said to rule. Visit the Pirates of Nassau Museum to learn the history of the nation’s pirates. Among the things that you will see, including a pirate ship and artifacts that depict the pirate’s way of life back then.
While your interest in History is still picked, visit the Public Library and Museum. A history bluffs paradise found in the 18th-century prison now converted into a library/museum.
The Public Library and Museum is based in the octagonal shaped building located on the southern end of parliament square. This building was one of the first buildings to be built in the square. It used to house prisoners but was converted into a library/museum. The cells of the prison now bear library shelves with books on them. The rest of the museum displays interesting artifacts and the history of Nassau. Visit this interesting site to learn about the history, culture, and heritage of the Bahamas. Admission to the center is free of charge.
Visit the iconic straw market located at the heart of Nassau Town on Bay street. Here you can shop for authentic handcrafted Bahamian merchandise. The market displays gorgeous works of straw weaved in straw baskets, straw hats, carved wood animals, and sculptures. Besides that, you can also get beaded jewelry, t-shirts, clothing, and other popular port merchandise.
Nassau has an incredible beach life. If your motivation to visit the port is to have a perfect beach day then you are in for a treat. There are 3 popular beaches in this area.
Junkanoo beach is the most popular beach. It’s an active beach that has a vibrant party mood. It’s not called spring break beach for no reason. It’s also the closest beach to the ship cruise terminal.
But if you are looking for a quieter, less crowded beach, then try Cabbage Beach. It is named one of the best beaches in the world. It is located on Paradise Island. This beach has a soft stretch of white sandy beach with crystal clear turquoise waters. It’s the best beach for just relaxing, sunbathing, snorkeling and swimming. The gentle sea waves make it perfect for families with young ones as well.
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Another notable beach is Cable Beach. A resort-lined stretch of pristine white sand. This is the best place to sunbathe and beach bum all day. However, if you are looking for more remote and secluded beaches then head to the southwestern end of the island to find virtually untouched pristine white sand beaches there.
If you have an hour or more to spare in the afternoon, then visit the Ardastra Gardens. These gardens house a variety of animal and avian life. You will see monkeys, flamingos, snakes, lorikeets and other tropical animals. It’s a nice place to learn about the tropical animals of the Bahamas. You also get to interact with them by feeding some. Go especially when there are shows, like the flamingo march that displays the glorious birds in action.
One thing you shouldn’t miss in Nassau is visiting Paradise Island. It is located just offshore Nassau. This island is connected to Nassau via two bridges. Paradise Island brags of the famous cabbage beach and the Atlantis resort. The bigger-than-the-world resort features the aqua venture water park, walk-in aquariums, 11 pools, the largest open-air marine habitat, a golf course, casino and more. This place provides fun for the whole family. A trip to this island is a must for all fun lovers.
Photo By: Jim Pennucci (Creative Commons)
Atlantis, as mentioned before, is found on paradise island. This place is a water world of its own, you have to experience it to believe it. It’s filled with lots of attractions and fun things to do. Atlantis is the huge resort that you are bound to see when you first arrive in port.
This resort has an aquapark complete with water slides built into a replica Mayan temple. Daring water slides featuring transparent water tubes that cut right through the shark’s habitat. The Adventure Water Park has an artificial river complete with rapids and waves. River tubing, water sliding, walk-in aquarium are just some of the amazing things to do in Atlantis. Not to mention that it’s lined with a stunning golf course on the waterfront stretching alongside cabbage beach.
You’ll need your water shoes for sure when doing many water activities.
It also has the largest open-air marine habitat in the world. The marine habitat hosts many species of sea life. So, you can explore marine life, river tube, go water sliding, golf, beach bum, eat, dance play or relax in any of the 11 water pools in the resort. Clearly, it’s an everything under one roof kind of resort.
Photo By: Garry Wiseman (Creative Commons)
Arawak Cay located about 10 minutes from the cruise pier is a waterfront street lined with local eateries. It’s known as fish fry because all the restaurants there serve fish fry and conch salads/ fritters as the main delicacy. They serve freshly caught fish right out of the waters of Nassau.
It’s also the best place to grab a Bahamian drink. Try sky juice and other delicious daiquiris served there. Some of the most famous joints there include Goldies, Twin Brothers, and Oh Andros.
Fish is not the only thing served at Arawak but other seafood and popular food fare are available at good prices. This is where the locals eat at, so if you are looking to make new friends and learn the secrets of Nassau, this is the place to be.
Fancy diving with sharks? Well in Nassau you get an amazing chance to do so. This experience takes you to New Providence’s best coral reefs where there is plenty of sea life.
This excursion takes you to a two-wall dive at Stuart Cove. Where you will get to dive with reef sharks as they get fed by a professional. You can also go snorkeling or Snuba while on this tour. Or become a certified diver by undergoing the divers training offered here.
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Stuart Cove is a great place to spend time underwater. Besides, if you don’t fancy snorkeling or diving you can captain your own mini sub and go exploring the reef. All in all, you are guaranteed a good time.
Back on land, visit Fort Charlotte, a 17th-century fort that seats on top of a hill on the western corner of the island. The fort is about a mile away, west of the cruise ship terminal. It affords its visitors advantageous views of Paradise Island. And if you love history, you will enjoy the re-enacted history complete with actors dressed in 17th-century attire.
Learn about the intriguing history of the Fort. Starting with the fact that the fort is the largest in the Bahamas, seating on 100 acres of land. It has dungeons, underground passageways, a moat and 42 cannons. Surprisingly, the fort has never been used in battle to-date despite its obvious reason for having been built.
Visit John Watling’s Distillery for a taste of pirate history and old English crafted rum. The distillery is housed in an old plantation style farmhouse that was built in the 17th century. The rum, which is said to be the spirit of Bahamas bears the name of John Watling. A famous pirate captain of the olden days.
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While at this place, you will go through the distillery/ museum-like exhibition learning the history of the place, with complimentary tastings. If you fall in love with the rum there or other products, you will have a chance to purchase them at the gift shop on the site.
You cannot say your trip to Nassau is complete without a visit to the stunning Blue Lagoon Island. This island is located 3 miles away from Nassau and though it’s close to Nassau and Paradise Island it’s well hidden and offers a great secluded experience. Officially known as salt cay, this island bears a spectacular sandbar with crystal clear turquoise waters. It’s surrounded by many lush palm trees. And truly gives off the vibe of a real tropical paradise.
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The lagoon is also a natural habitat for dolphins, sea lions, and native fish species. Make a point to visit this island to enjoy its perfect beaches and a relaxed vibe. And if you are an animal lover then take an extra excursion package for an encounter with dolphins. Then go learn about these amazing creatures while you feed, pet, swim and even get kissed by them. It’s an amazing lifetime opportunity that you won’t want to miss.
To gain a deeper understanding of the local demographic of the Bahamas, visit Clifton Heritage National Park. Visit the park also for its picturesque private beach. That was the shooting site for past Hollywood movies like “Jaws”, shot at the beach in the park. Don’t be alarmed however the water doesn’t have sharks as depicted in the movie.
This historical park shows the history of the Lucayans, Africans, and loyalists. Learn the sacred history of these inhabitants of the Bahamas and see how they used to live. Explore the flora and faunas on the park’s winding trails and lay on the sand at the beach to take in the beauty of the place. Snorkeling is great at Clifton heritage park. You get to see the amazing sea sculptures and sunken vessels, that are now home to a variety of fish life in the park.
If you consider yourself an Art connoisseur, then a visit to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas will make your cruise trip to Nassau all the more worthwhile. The National Art Gallery is housed in an 18th-century great house called Villa Doyle. Just as beautiful and vintage as the house is, so are the art pieces found inside. The gallery is divided into rooms that have special art purposes. A visit to this place guarantees an enjoyable visual experience.
Quench your chocoholic dreams at the Gray Cliff Chocolatier. Learn everything there is to know about chocolates at this old great house now turned into a chocolate factory. While here you will learn how to make gourmet chocolate from scratch. You will also get to taste and purchase chocolates and truffles of your choice.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Nassau and enjoy some peace and tranquility at the Primeval Forest. This 7.5 hectares of lush jungle vegetation is a haven for nature lovers. Not only is this forest adorned with tropical flora and fauna but also interesting natural limestone formations such as caverns and sinkholes. Book a guided trip of the forest and learn the history of the place while exploring the beautiful nature at its best.
You have probably had a dolphin encounter, but what about a stingray experience? Visit Stingray City and meet and interact with harmless brown southern stingrays. Enjoy the gracefulness of these creatures as their silky wings caress you while they swim by you. Enjoy feeding petting and playing with these magnificent creatures. A professional photographer will capture all the memorable moments.
Incredible right? You would have to try really hard to not enjoy your time in Nassau, Bahamas. The 20 things listed above are guaranteed to give you a solid to-do list full of fun. Note the list is not exhaustive and you can customize your own experience by seeking out experienced local tour guides. it is also suggested to book official shore excursions through the cruise lines.
Also Read: Ways You Can Enjoy Freeport, Bahamas
But when all is said and done remember to relax and have fun. If you miss out on any of these activities count it a joy, because it means you will have a reason to go back to Nassau. That’s it from us here. Have a blast on your next cruise. Happy cruising!!