Glistening streets and white beaches welcome travellers from all around the world to the city of Nassau on New Providence Island. The rich culture fills the atmosphere with excitement. Fascinating colonial architecture surround you with a sense of the rich heritage of this city. The wonderfully inescapable James Bond theme of Nassau immerses you in a world of beautiful beaches, speedboats, seaplanes and casino nights, all of which set the scene for enjoying the very best things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
Surrounded by the sparkling turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas are a collection of islands that have become world-famous for their spectacular sights and tropical beauty. To visit one of these islands and experience the exceptional accommodation and surroundings is to treat yourself to a perfect vacation. Of the 700 plus islands to visit in the Bahamas, New Providence Island and the city of Nassau serve as an excellent hub to visit the rest of the islands.
Not only is Nassau the Bahama’s capital city, it is also by far the largest and most well developed in the archipelago. Due to the island’s convenient positioning, this city has always been at the forefront of Bahamian development. A plethora of beautiful beaches, shimmering casinos and a number of other things to do in Nassau Bahamas makes this city a perfect vacation destination. It also serves as a tourist hub. You can visit the much quieter and untouched Out Islands of the Bahamas. With the top thing to do in the Bahamas is visiting the famous Bahamas Swimming Pigs at Pig Beach. Many people visit Nassau each year as passengers on cruise ships since Nassau’s port is a common stop for Caribbean cruises.
Updated for 2020! We’ve updated our top list of things to do in Nassau with new adventures, day trips, tours and exciting places to visit.
Looking for hotels in Nassau?
First founded in 1650 by the British and named Charles Town, it was later renamed after Fort Nassau. This thriving island caught the eye of some unwelcome guests in the 18th century. The infamous pirate known as Blackbeard, with the ‘Privateers Republic’ at his back, took the city and turned it into a pirates’ den. Fortunately for the British rule, they were able to take back the city by 1720 and continued development to achieve what we see today. Some of the marvellous colonial architecture has been well preserved and can still be enjoyed on a trip to Nassau.
Nassau Old Town Walking Tour
Of all the things to do in Nassau Bahamas, a walking tour can be the most informative and interesting, while still allowing for a sense of exploration. Nassau’s incredible development over the years has allowed it to be in the spotlight of a number of Bahamian events. Whether you’re interested in sitting in on a parliamentary session, discovering spectacular lookouts or learning about the pirates that once gained control of this land, this tour will not disappoint. Following this walking tour will take you through the brightly coloured Old Town, where vibrant buildings and flower gardens meet. Give yourself several hours to make the most of the walking tour, so that you have enough time to appreciate each and every fantastic stop.
1. Parliament Square
Modelled on buildings from the old capital of North Carolina by Loyalists (American colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown), Parliament Square’s pink buildings host a 16-member Senate and a 38-member House of Assembly. Vital decisions and debates concerning the future of the Bahamas take place within these walls. When the House is in session you will have a chance to sit and watch as new laws unfold and old ones are debated.
Having been built in 1815, a visit to Parliament Square will provide you with a perfect example of colonial architecture. It will also be indicative of the development and preservation of the fantastic city of Nassau. Taking a stroll around Parliament Square and examining the impressive statue of Queen Victoria at its centre is one of the top things to do in Nassau Bahamas. Parliament Square located at (1) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
2. Nassau Public Library and Museum
Though Nassau may be a hub of development and new ideas for the Bahamas, there is also a very strong sense of historical conservation. The Nassau Public Library and Museum is located on the southern side of Parliament Square. This octagonal building was originally built as a prison in 1797, making it Parliament Square’s oldest structure. The prison cells have since been re-purposed to store library books. The building also houses a fascinating museum complete with incredible colonial and Arawak artefacts. Nassau Public Library and Museum located at (2) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
3. Queen’s Staircase
Built in 1793, and arguably the island’s best viewpoint, the Queen’s Staircase is the highest point on the island at 38m tall. This attraction is the water tower of Fort Fincastle and stands roughly 60m above sea level. You can enjoy marvellous views of the ocean and harbour on New Providence Island’s northern coastline. Queen’s Staircase located at (3) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
4. Fort Fincastle
Fort Fincastle was built at the top of Bennet’s Hill as a lookout post for marauders who would try to sneak into the harbour. The building of the Fort was completed in 1793 and was made from cut limestone. It also served as a lighthouse in the early 1800’s. Fort Fincastle located at (4) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
5. Gregory’s Arch
The fantastically resilient bridge known as Gregory’s Arch is an excellent site to stop off and appreciate the strength of old colonial architecture. This arch also marks the area where locals and tourists mingle at restaurants and take-outs. Passing through it gives you a wonderful sense of history as well as a great view of the area of Nassau known as ‘Over the Hill’. Gregory’s Arch is found at the intersection of Market and Duke and was named after Governer John Gregory. Gregory’s Arch located at (5) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
6. Government House & Statue of Christopher Columbus
Similar to the walls of the Parliament Square, the Government House on Mount Fitzwilliam has the unique Bahamian pink and white colouring. This impressive building is the official residence of the Governer General of the Bahamas. In 1830 this building was gifted an incredible statue of Cristopher Columbus that had been imported from London. The statue is placed on the staircase leading up to the government house and overlooks the city of Nassau. This statue was erected to commemorate Columbus’s arrival in the Bahamas in 1492. Government House & Statue of Christopher Columbus located at (6) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
7. Heritage Museum of The Bahamas
The immense historical significance of Nassau can be seen all around the sparkling city. There are, however, certain artifacts and objects from the age gone by that can only be found on display at the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas. These items will give you a far deeper and more fascinating look at the history of the city and of New Providence Island as a whole. Since the building itself was built as early as the 1850’s and holds countless historical treasures, a visit is certainly one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. Heritage Museum of The Bahamas located at (7) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
The Graycliff Heritage Village
Opposite the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas sits the Graycliff Hotel, an enchanting and expansive property. Be sure to just walk in through the front gated entrance and into the 5-star French cuisine restaurant to enjoy the classical interiors. Graycliff has many interesting things to do in Nassau with many exciting activities. Be sure to visit their lush tropical gardens, cigar factory, Humidor Churrascaria, pizzeria, wine cellar and most importantly their Chocolatier! Without doubt one of my favorite stops in Nassau Old Town: Graycliff Chocolatier where they kindly offer free samples of hand made chocolates to try! Be sure to visit the Graycliff Hotel a property.
8. National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
While the Heritage Museum may take you into the past, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas puts on display some truly phenomenal artworks. Featuring names such as Antonius Roberts, Brent Malone and Amos Ferguson, a visit to the gallery is certainly worth your time. While the art may be the main reason for most to visit, the colonial mansion is an attraction in itself. 19th-century class seeps from every corner of the great building. Elegant columns stand around the building and the grand doors open to reveal glossy wooden floors and spectacular artworks covering every wall in sight. Government House & Statue of National Art Gallery of the Bahamas located at (8) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
9. John Watling’s Distillery
The aesthetic pairing of red, blue and white is what first makes an impression when visiting John Watling’s Distillery. The Caribbean is known for its exceptional rum, and New Providence Island is no exception. To go rum tasting in as authentic a place as this is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. John Watling’s Distillery located at (9) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
10. Junkanoo Beach
During a tour of Nassau, it’s always good to take a break and enjoy the local culture. Junkanoo Beach may not be the most beautiful, but it is an excellent place to enjoy the bustling vibe of the city with a cool drink in your hand and perhaps a quick bite to eat. If you’re visiting Nassau between February and April you will find this beach packed with the party-goers and the pumping music of Spring Break. Junkanoo Beach located at (10) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
11. Pirates of Nassau
If there’s one thing that’s exciting about Nassau’s rich past, it’s pirates. The Pirates of Nassau Museum is the perfect place to go to learn more about the days of the Privateers Republic under Blackbeard’s rule. This interactive museum will allow you to board a pirate ship and learn about each display from the historical narration. This fun and entertaining experience is complete with sound effects and re-creations of some of the island’s most gory stories. Pirates of Nassau located at (11) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
12. Christ Church Cathedral
The stained glass windows of the Christ Church Cathedral bring in a number of visitors every year. These colours, set against the white-grey walls of the cathedral, make for a truly impressive sight and a visit to this attraction is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. Built in 1837, the same year that Nassau qualified to be a city, the Christ Church Cathedral is a monument to the tenacity of the colonial architecture in Nassau. A visit to this cathedral will also give you a chance to stroll through the colourful Garden of Remembrance. Christ Church Cathedral located at (12) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
13. Pompey Museum & Pompey Square
The Pompey Museum and Pompey Square bring culture and history together like almost nothing else does on New Providence Island. There’s a colourful hustle and bustle during the many festivals and events that regularly take place in Pompey Square. Visiting one of these events and taking part in the cultural festivities is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. With security around the clock, a visit here is safe and completely worthwhile. What’s more, is you’ll be able to set foot in the Pompey Museum. While the building was used for slave auctions in the 1700’s, it has since been repurposed to hold some truly fascinating artifacts. Most of these items were tragically lost in a fire in 2011, but have since been rebuilt or replaced. Pompey Museum & Pompey Square located at (13) on our Walking Tour map of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
Walking Map of Nassau Bahamas
Hotels in Downtown Nassau
|British Colonial Hilton||Top choice for downtown Nassau, with private beach and outdoor pool.|
|Courtyard by Marriott||Located across the road from Junkanoo Beach|
|Holiday Inn Express||A new addition to Junkanoo Beach|
The Best Nassau Beaches
There’s no question that the Caribbean is known for having some of the very best beaches in the world. The glistening turquoise water and warm white sand have drawn in thousands of people from around the world for years. The coastline of New Providence Island lives up to this sterling reputation. Visiting one of the numerous beaches around the island should be at the top of your list of things to do in Nassau Bahamas. Lying back in the sand with the water lapping at your toes is the idyllic Bahamas vacation experience that everyone should try out.
To the west of Nassau on New Providence Island, you will find Cable Beach. This pristine beach is most well known for the excellent strip of sand that borders the crystal-clear water. You can get your blood pumping by taking part in one of the many water sports on offer along this expansive beach. You’ll also have access to some of the facilities of the nearby resorts, a golf course and even the country’s largest casino.
Stretching out to a length of around 4.8km, a visit to this beach will allow you to take a quiet leisurely stroll on your own, or be in the thick of the excitement and crowds that come to enjoy the sun and ocean. A game of volleyball is often going on during the day and if your money’s burning a hole in your pocket then you can take a look at the vendors’ stock. You can get yourself a drink in a shell to immerse yourself in this tropical paradise and even get yourself some jewellery to take home with you.
If you’d like to feel the rush of seeing the ocean from the skies then Cabbage Beach, on Paradise Island is the place for you. You can take part in the parasailing on offer here and feel the adrenaline pump through your veins as you soar above this marvellous landscape. What’s more is that the setting sun breathes new life into the beach as the party crowd take to the sand. If you’d like some solitude then you can take a stroll to the east where you will find far less people. You can also finish off a thrilling water-skiing session with a calm swim in the beautiful water.
While Nassau may serve as a gateway to the untouched Out Islands and their pristine beaches, there is still a lot to be said for New Providence Island’s coastline. Junkanoo Beach is the perfect example for where convenience and beauty combine to create a fantastic destination. There is a thriving culture that fills the atmosphere of this man-made beach with an excited buzz. You can also take a break from the sun in one of the many beach huts that serve food and drinks. The soft, white sand, crystal clear water and wonderful atmosphere make a visit to Junkanoo Beach one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
Jaws Beach, as you can guess, was named after the Hollywood film that was filmed here in February 1987, Jaws: The Revenge. The film was the fourth in the Jaws franchise (Jaws 4). Jaws beach sits out to the far West of New Providence and Nassau. It lies on the edge of the Clifton Heritage Park (see below). However it’s unlikely you will actually encounter any sharks at this beach!
Excursions to the Bahamas Out Islands
While most people know Nassau and the New Providence Island, many are unaware of the Bahama’s Out Islands. These islands actually make up 84% of the land mass of the archipelago, meaning that if you’ve only visited Nassau, you’ve just scratched the surface. In fact, once you have enjoyed a few Nassau Bahamas excursions, you will mainly view Nassau as a tourist hub. Nassau certainly has some truly amazing beaches and sights, but all of these pale in comparison to the treasures of the Out Islands. The Out Islands are entirely unspoilt. You will often feel as though you are the first human to leave footprints along the beaches of some of the islands. This is due to how pristine they truly are. Day trips from Nassau to Pig Island, however, will show you that you certainly aren’t the first being. And new for 2020 is the new Swimming with Pigs website which is your ultimate guide to everything to do with Bahamas Swimming Pigs!
To enjoy one of the day trips from Nassau to Pig Island is to give yourself one of the most unique experiences that this world has to offer. The name given to this island is quite simply because of the population of Exuma pigs here. These are not, however, ordinary pigs, the Exuma pigs are swimming pigs. As the boat arrives in the shallows on your day trips from Nassau to Pig Island, dozens of pigs will swim out to meet you. The Exuma pigs have become so popular that they’re now at the top of the list of all the Nassau Bahamas excursions.
Read our Guide to visiting the Bahamas Swimming Pigs from Nassau or our guide to Pig Beach.
There are several other attractions in the area that are worthwhile to visit. Thunderball Grotto, the cave used in the filming of the James Bond movie ‘Thunderball’. Visiting the Bahamian Rock Iguanas and the Tropic of Cancer Beach. All of these attractions revolve around one island in particular, Staniel Cay. While staying in Nassau may give you access to a great deal, there’s nothing quite like the freedom of staying at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Out Islands. Having direct access to each of these attractions at your leisure gives you an unparalleled sense of exploration and adventure. If staying on Staniel Cay sounds like something you’d want to do, be sure to take a look at our Staniel Cay article where you will find all the details for making your dream vacation a reality. Book a Day Trip from Nassau to the Swimming Pigs with Bahamas Air Tours.
Now you can stay on the island next door to the Swimming Pigs. This Staniel Cay accommodation consists of 3 luxurious Villas on the water’s edge and only a short boat ride from Pig Beach! That’s right, you can now stay on the island next door to Pig Island. Enjoy a full travel concierge service with flights from Florida and Nassau.
All the excitement of the Nassau Bahamas excursions can really tire you out. Take a day trip to Harbour Island and unwind. Enjoy the world famous Pink Sand Beach and some of the Bahamas’ clearest turquoise water. You can’t help but to sit back and relax. The best part about this tour is that you get to enjoy a full day soaking up the sun’s rays.
Take a ferry to Harbour Island direct from Nassau in the morning and return in the afternoon. If you’d like to do some exploring while you’re on the island itself, then hire a golf buggy. This way you can tour the island at your own pace.
While it may be the largest in the string of Out Islands, Cat Island is one of the most untouched. Named after the notorious pirate Arthur Cat, it’s clear that the island has a rich and exciting history. While everything may seem relatively unspoilt, this large island actually has as many as 1500 residents. The diversity of Cat Island is staggering, offering something for everyone. Beautiful, quiet beaches welcome all who are looking to relax. Wildlife enthusiasts can visit the incredible Bat Caves. Descend into the murky darkness as you hear hundreds of bats squeaking and flapping as they look for a place to hang. If you’re looking to do some sightseeing, then the salt lakes and the plantation ruins are for you. Cat Island is an excellent place to visit during your tour of the Bahamas’ Out Islands. Its marvellous diversity puts it near the top of the list of Nassau Bahamas excursions.
What makes almost all of these Nassau Bahamas excursions more exciting is that you will be travelling by speedboat. With the wind whipping through your hair as you surge through the sparkling water, you can’t help but feel exhilarated. While there are plenty of things to do in Nassau Bahamas, travelling to the Out Islands gives you a sense of the real Bahamas, untouched, unspoilt and exceptionally beautiful.
Rum Tasting at John Watling’s Distillery
John Watling was another pirate that roamed the Caribbean in search of riches. While very little is known about him, John Watling has become a well-known brand of rum that can be found throughout the Bahamas. During a visit to Nassau, you can stop in at the John Watling Distillery and learn more about the development and fermentation process of the molasses.
Certain parts of the distillery are over 200 years old and to add to this fascinating preservation, all the rum that is produced here is made entirely by hand. Each bottle of rum is hand bottled and hand labelled just as it would have been done back in 1789. You will learn about the process of making rum during your visit. These rums are fermented and distilled from hand-cut sugar cane molasses. The rum must remain for at least 5 years in the white oak barrels to achieve the perfect flavour that it is so well-known for.
A visit to the John Watling Distillery will also allow you to take a free, self-guided tour of the estate. You can visit the storehouse and watch the hand-bottling process and have a look at the numerous white oak barrels. You will have the chance to taste the ‘Spirit of the Bahamas’ pale, amber and Buena Vista rums, as well as a Red Turtle Vodka. After all the tasters you may just want to have a full drink. In this case, you can go to the Red Turtle Tavern and enjoy a delicious Bahamian cocktail.
Rum tasting is just as particular as wine tasting. Distinctly different flavours, colours and aromas all provide a different experience. Treating yourself to the traditionally flavoured artisan rum is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
Enjoying artisan rums in an 18th-century mansion in the Bahamas is an experience that everyone should try. Rum has always played such a big role in the history and culture of the Bahamas, whether it be in barrels on Blackbeard’s ship or in the marvellous taverns spread throughout Nassau. To visit this site is to immerse yourself in the rich and diverse Bahamian culture.
Tru Bahamian Food Tour
A brilliant way to discover Nassau Old Town is on foot with a guided food tour where you get a chance to experience some real authentic Bahamian cooking! I joined the bites of Nassau tour operated by Tru Bahamian Food Tours, with our local guide Captain Ron showing us around the back streets of Nassau. The tour lasts approximately 3 hours and makes stops at a number of restaurants, kitchens and food stalls, whilst navigating the Nassau Old Town and many of the historic monuments featured in our walking tour.
Our first stop was at the Bahamian Cooking, where three generations of one family have run this authentic Bahmian Kitchen, where we taste conch fritters and a selection of Bahamian appetizers. But it’s not just food that is tasted on this tour, we are introduced to the Bahamian tradition of the “Switcher”, a sour orange drink that by adding alcohol (usually Rum) to, becomes what’s known as a “Switch-up”. At the Towne Hotel’s Talking Stick Bar we are given a round of Planters Punch to try, which more recently has become known as the Bahamamama cocktail. Keep your eye out for Max, a Bahamian coloured parrot which has inhabited the lobby of the Towne hotel since 1985.
With a detour past government house into the Heritage Village, this food tour takes us into the expansive and lush grounds of the luxurious Graycliff hotel. Look out for the large Indonesian cats in the garden, not to mention the barnacle encrusted sea anchor! The Graycliff hotel is home to it’s very own chocolatier with a chocolate factory and gift shop, which features a chocolate tasting stop on the food tour.
The Bahamian Food Tour is a fun, interactive and tasty way to spend the morning learning more about Bahamian Culture and History; One of our top things to do in Nassau. Tru Bahamian Food Tours run food tours around Nassau throughout the day and evening.
Rose Island Day Trip with Sandy Toes
Picture your feet strolling across soft white sand on a tropical island with turquoise blue waters that fill to the horizons with swaying palm trees in the gentle breeze. This is the Sandy Toes Rose Island experience. One of the top things to do in Nassau, Rose Island is a quick day trip from Nassau Old Town. A boat leaves the waterfront at the Margaritaville on Paradise Island for the short 30 minute sailing to the long thin island called Rose Island. The geography of this small island is intriguing, the southern side is surround by steep cliffs with the northern side blessed with white sandy beaches.
The Sandy Toes experience transports you to their private island getaway on Rose Island where their star attraction is their stunning beach home to Nassau’s first Swimming Pigs (Read more about the original Bahamas Swimming Pigs at Pig Beach in Exuma here). Their pet pigs live behind the beach and have their feeding time on the beach and in the water – que photo opportunity for guests with swimming pigs!
Sandy Toes is more than just a stunning beach adorned with relaxing guests in their hammocks and wooden beach loungers. Their island retreat includes a restaurant (where the inclusive buffet lunch is served), beach bar and clubhouse, gift shop, lookout tower and lush tropical gardens (look out for the nesting chickens!). But it’s on the cliff side of the island that the real magic can be found; A small stretch of reef lives in the shallow blue waters here and on my snorkelling excursion their (Snorkel equipment included in the tour), I had the opportunity to swim with turtles and tropical fish!
A fun and very well organized day out, that gives you an insight to the Bahamian tropical Island experience is not to be missed. The beaches here on Rose Island certainly trump any other beaches that can be found on Nassau. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the lack of overcrowding on this day trip; they only take 100 guests per day, and the Sand Toes property is large enough to carve out your own private slice of paradise for the day.
The Sandy Toes day trip operates daily from Nassau to Rose Island. Hotel transfers included in the price.
Out of town, heading west from Baha Mar, you’ll need a hire car or taxi/tour guide to get there. On West Bay Street are “The Caves”. One of the many James Bond filming locations in Nassau, the caves featured in a scene with Sean Connery in Thunderball film. A fun pit stop for travellers making alonger journey out toward the west of New Providence Island, I wouldn’t recommend a visit specifically for the caves as you maybe left disappointed. A large stone chair sculpture at the entrance is a popular photo opportunity. You’ll need good footwear to walk inside the caves which have bats living in them.
Clifton Heritage Park
The Clifton Heritage Park on the far west corner of New Providence is most certainly one of the top things to do in Nassau Bahamas. It’s such an expansive area, with 208-acre park, opened since 2009, you can very easily spend half a day here, if not a full day! It’s a full heritage experience having been the site of historic settlements of Lucayan Indians, African slaves, American loyalists and even Pirates! The heritage park almost never came into being because developers wanted to turn the site of “Clifton Cay” as it was originally called in to a hundred million dollar gated community. Thankfully that never went ahead and the area has been protected as a beautiful example of Bahamians protecting their islands and heritage.
Dotted across the Clifton Heritage park are Plantation Ruins, rocky debris from a bygone era of slavery. Remnants of the slave walls which acted as dividers for the crops harvested here, The Great House (Master’s Quarters), Slave Village (Slave Quarters) and The Johnston ruins (quarters of Lewis Johnston) are still present today on the park.
Underwater Sculpture Garden
The Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF) Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden is one of the more unique things to do in Nassau Bahamas. In fact it’s the Bahamas very first underwater sculpture park. There are 2 prominent sculptures here; “Ocean Atlas” (actually the worlds largest underwater sculpture) and the “Virtuoso Man” (pictured). It’s a true homage to the natural beauty of the coral reef, the island and the Bahamas marine life. The types of man-made sculpture built for the garden were constructed to create artificial reefs, to further the marine life. There’s more to come in the future here too, having had the Bahamas Government invest $10 million in cleaning up the Clifton Pier which was previously situated here., there are another 2 phases of development left on the underwater sculpture garden. When you visit the Clifton Heritage Park and pay the entrance fee, the staff will give you a map of the garden and show you where the snorkelling spot is, which is marked out by floating buoys on the sea surface.
Pirate Steps at Clifton Heritage Park
Tucked away in the far corner of the Clifton Heritage Park are the Pirate Steps, carved into the limestone cliffs. Historians are unsure when exactly these steps were created, they predate the plantation ruins and it’s thought they existed during the heyday of Pirates in the 1700’s. As you walk down the stair case it will lead you to the base of the cliffs and a pool of crystal clear turquoise water. Large boulders scatter the area so be careful with your footing when climbing the rocks or going for a swim.
Sacred Space at Clifton Heritage Park
The Sacred Space artwork, created by artist Antonius Roberts, is a collection of wooden sculptures perched on the cliff top at Clifton Heritage Park. They were installed just yards away from the ruins of slave quarters and just above the area where slave ships used to dock, perhaps even where slaves were marched up the “Pirate Steps”. Further Sacred Spaces have been installed At Atlantis Resort the Cove Beach and Blake Road in Nassau.
When you enter the Primeval Forest it really is like setting foot in another world. Thick luscious green vegetation surrounds you in every direction as you follow the narrow path that meanders through this fascinating and enchanted piece of nature. One of the few forests on New Providence it is filled with evergreen tropical hardwoods and dramatic limestone sink holes and cakes.
Boardwalks and bridges help visitors navigate the looping path that circumnavigates the forest. A full loop of the forest takes about 45 minutes, but you’ll want to take a slow and steady walk keeping your eyes out for the many birds that live here. Also, if you have a fear of spiders then you might want to wait this activity out. When I visited there were spiders webs entangled across the majority of the footpaths! There’s a small visitor centre which is managed by a park warden. It’s quite far out of Nassau (the other side of the Airport) so it’s a 30 to 40 minute drive from Downtown. My recommendation would be to hire a car for the day and visit the nearby Clifton Heritage Park also.
The Retreat Garden
The Retreat Garden houses one of the largest private collections of rare and exotic palms in the world with around 170 species. The Retreat is managed by the Bahamas National Trust who have their headquarters and educational center here. It’s a 4.5 hectare garden and forest with an impressive network of winding paths and self guided trails.
James Bond: On Location with 007 in the Bahamas
While many people relate the landscapes of the Bahamas to pirates and the popular films the Pirates of the Caribbean, Hollywood has taken a shine to these locations for a series of other exciting stories. John Watling’s Distillery itself was used in scenes from Daniel Craig’s first James Bond film, Casino Royale. At the time of filming (2006), this building was known as the Beuna Vista Estate and has since been transformed into a distillery. During your visit to John Watling’s Distillery, you will find a sign commemorating the filming of Casino Royale and the role that the building played.
The Bahamas are certainly not strangers to the James Bond film industry. Over the years, as many as 4 James Bond films have had scenes from this archipelago. The first film was ‘Thunderball‘ in 1965 with Sean Connery taking up the role of James Bond. This production introduce the beauty of the Out Islands to the world. It also gave the name to a grotto near Staniel Cay which is now known as Thunderball Grotto. Roger Moore was the next Bond to visit the Bahamas in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me‘ in 1977. Giving the world another taste for the beauty of the Bahamas, this film featured the city of Nassau on New Providence Island. Sean Connery then reappeared as Bond in ‘Never Say Never Again‘ in 1983. Scenes from this film were also shot in Nassau. This shows us again what a significant role this marvellous city has played in the film industry. Casino Royale was later filmed in 2006 with Daniel Craig picking up the Bond legacy.
Arawak Cay: Tourist Fish Fry
When it comes to the incredible Bahamian culture, the first thing that springs to mind is the fantastic food. Nassau’s busy streets are packed with local restaurants and stalls, all offering delicious, Bahamian style meals. Seafood unsurprisingly features in almost every dish. Arawak Cay, known by Nassau locals as ‘The Fish Fry‘ is one of the very best places on New Providence Island to taste this country’s legendary cuisine.
One of the main ingredients that make the Bahamian food in Arawak Cay so unique is conch. Once you pry open the shell of this ocean mollusc you will find a juicy, firm white meat. The meat is delicious even when uncooked. However, the skilful hands of the cooks at Arawak Cay will grill, fry or chop the conch. Combining it with spices and salads to create irresistible flavours. You will be offered a range of different dishes, including conch fritters, cracked conch and conch salad, each with their own unique flavour.
A visit to Arawak Cay on New Providence Island is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. This is because of the incredibly friendly atmosphere and fresh ocean air. These combined with the delectable food make for an unforgettable experience. Naturally, conch is not the only sea creature served at Arawak Cay. The range of fresh fish that are caught from nearby waters will have you spoilt for choice.
Arawak Cay is known most famously for its cultural attractions, festivals and events, and of course for its food. However, there are few places on New Providence Island better for enjoying a Kalik beer. Developed and brewed in the Bahamas, Kalik beer is a lager made in Nassau with 5% alc./vol.
If you’re looking for an afternoon of fun, excellent food and a cold drink in your hand, then Arawak Cay is for you. You can watch as general festivities erupt around you in the Bahamian style of bright colours and dancing. To visit Arawak Cay and immerse yourself in the Bahamian culture should be at the top of your list of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
Potters Cay: The Local’s Fish Fry
Whilst Arawak Cay is more of a touristy Fish Fry and has large restaurants like Twin Brothers, Potters Cay is the real authentic Local’s fish fry! Located at the bottom of the bridge that connects Nassau and Paradise Island (opposite Margaritaville, but on the Nassau Side). This is where the locals come! You can get cracked Lobster (deep fried craw fish) and fries for $16, and Kalik beers from $3, so it’s not only the best value on the whole of New Providence but also you get to taste the local Bahamian style of cooking.
Bahamas Junkanoo Festival
A cultural tour of New Providence Island would not be complete without experiencing a Bahamas Junkanoo festival. The Bahamas Junkanoo festivals are full of colour and movement. While they’re clearly very entertaining, there is much debate as to how these festivals came about. Some believe that it originated from the West African Prince known as John Canoe. This is also supposedly how the Bahamas Junkanoo festival got its name. Other’s believe it has French origins. The most popular belief is that it has to do with the loyalists in the 18th century giving the slaves 3 days off a year. The slaves would celebrate and dance around on these days, which may have given birth to this festival.
So what is Junkanoo? It’s basically the Bahamas version of Carnival! Whilst much smaller inscale than more famous carnivals like that of the Rio De Janerio Carnival, what Junkanoo lacks in prestige it surely makes up for in authenticity and intimacy.
Racks of stadium seating line the main street, Bay Street, in downtown Nassau. It’s a ticketed event, with seats starting at $16.80 for those closest to the start line and then rising in price to seats worth $50 at the judging end of the parade at Parliament Square.
The Bahamas Junkanoo Festival is one of the most entertaining and vibrant displays of culture in the world. It takes place on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and during the summertime (Bahamas Independence Day, 10th July) and every Saturday evening in July. The Bahamas Junkanoo festival is really not to be missed. Ensure that your visit lines up with one of the annual festivals. You’ll be treating yourself to a performance unlike any other. The streets flood with men, women and children all dressed in brightly coloured clothing to celebrate.
Which Junakoo Parade is the Best?
The best Bahamas Junkanoo is in Nassau on Boxing Day (although confusingly it starts at 10pm on Christmas Day). From my experience this was far busier than the New Years Day parade in terms of crowd and atmosphere, although the parades from dance schools are different on Boxing Day vs New Years Day. For that reason make sure you buy tickets from the Junkanoo Ticket Office atleast a day in advance.
Paradise Island was not always as well developed and full of attractions as it is today. It was known as Hog Island until 1962 when the island’s first resort complex was built by Huntington Hartford. It would later be known as the Atlantis Bahamas resort. This construction set in motion a series of new developments that eventually brought Paradise Island to the place that it is today. To get to Paradise Island, you will have to take the bridge linking it to New Providence Island. This short trip will give you great views of the hotels and facilities up ahead, with the Paradise Island Atlantis Bahamas Resort making the biggest impression.
To visit the Paradise Island Atlantis Bahamas resort is to treat yourself to luxury like almost nowhere else on earth. The impressive buildings tower over the small tropical paths. Every inch of the resort echoes the Atlantis theme. Turquoise waterways surround you at all times. Atlantis Bahamas Resort is not, however, just accommodation. It also features a waterpark, casino, aquarium and swimming pools to ensure an unforgettable visit. The exceptionally tasteful theme of Paradise Island Atlantis Bahamas resort carries throughout the grounds. This means a visit here should be near the top of your list of things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
One of the greatest things that a trip to Paradise Island offers is the chance to visit Dolphin Cay. This is an exceptional place to learn about these mammals and the things that they need to survive. It was first developed as a rehabilitation centre to look after 16 dolphins who had lost their habitats to Hurricane Katrina. It has since become a hub of information and rehabilitation for all sea creatures in the nearby areas. A visit to Dolphin Cay is always an educational experience. You can snorkel amongst dolphins, kayak beside them or even just jump into the water and swim alongside them as they twirl and play in the turquoise pools.
You can also pay a visit to the family-friendly Aquaventure Nassau waterpark. This thrilling park will have you surging down water slides cruising on lazy rivers or simply relaxing at the beach. Visiting Aquaventure Nassau allows you to let loose and enjoy yourself in the tropical utopia of Paradise Island Atlantis Bahamas resort. The Atlantis theme is carried through to the park. What’s more is that several aquariums are incorporated into the rides as well. This means you’ll be thundering down a slide beside a shark tank, or cruising along the lazy river with a view of schools of tropical fish. Aquaventure Nassau waterpark gives you an undeniably immersive experience that you will remember forever.
The great thing about this waterpark is that it isn’t excessively overcrowded. Meaning that you can make the most of your time here without having to wait in long lines. The reason for this is because the only people with access to the park are resort guests or cruise ship passengers. What this means for you is that you’ll need to spend at least one night in the resort to make use of all these excellent facilities.
If you’ve had enough of splashing about with dolphins and slides, then you can take a relaxing stroll through the Versailles Gardens. This multi-tiered landscape has a spread of brightly coloured flowers of every shade imaginable. Each walkway intersection has a fountain or statue to enhance the luxurious atmosphere of these gardens. To top it all off, you will also have a chance to walk amongst the remains of a 13th-century monastery that was built in France.
A visit to Paradise Island Atlantis Bahamas Resort is well worthwhile. You will have access to a wide range of incredible facilities, a thrilling waterpark and the fascinating Dolphin Cay. All of these things combine to ensure that every moment that you spend here is an unforgettable one. Due to all these spectacular offers, there’s no doubt that a visit to Paradise Island is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
Paradise Island Hotels
|Comfort Suites Paradise Island||Best value choice for Paradise Island! Get free entry to the waterpark!|
|The Ocean Club||Under new ownership
with Four seasons
|The Cove at Atlantis||Located within the Atlantis Resort|
|The Reef at Atlantis||Located within the Atlantis Resort|
Nassau Travel Guide for Cruise Passengers
One of the most common ways in which people visit Nassau is by cruise ship. Since there are so many cruises that are offered in the Caribbean, there is a regular stream of tourists pouring off of these colossal ships. Most cruise ships only stop for the day, which means that if you’re a passenger, you’re going to have to make the most of your day spent here. Before you arrive, ensure you have a list of things to do in Nassau cruise port so that you’re prepared. To make sure you have access to the more exclusive attractions, get yourself a Hilton Nassau day pass. This pass will grant you access to a number of private facilities and beaches that will give your time in Nassau that luxurious edge.
One of the best things to do in Nassau cruise port during your day visit is to go on a walking tour of the city. You can visit as many as 13 different locations along the way that all have fascinating historical stories behind them. Give yourself several hours to do this tour so that you’re sure to make the most of each of the attractions. What’s more is that a walking tour really allows you to get to know the city and the locals better. You are immersed in the famous Bahamian culture as you tour this fantastic city.
Getting a Hilton Nassau Day pass allows you to access some of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. You will be able to take part in kayaking, snorkelling, lounging on private beaches, enjoying the basketball and volleyball courts. You will also receive one free meal pass allowing you to taste some of the famous Bahamian cuisines. The Hilton Nassau Day Pass will also bring you within walking distance of the Straw Market. Here you can browse the stalls and pick up some Bahamian crafts as gifts or souvenirs.
If you’re looking to go shopping, then a trip to Bay Street would be the perfect way to spend your day in Nassau. You can buy any number of souvenirs to take back home with you to remember this fantastic trip. You’ll also have the chance to buy some cigars to really help set the mood for the ambient evenings on the cruise ship. Be sure to have a look at the duty-free section as well, you may find some incredible deals that are not worth passing up.
Visiting this great city on a cruise ship, even if for just a day, will allow you to experience some of the very best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. You can not only enjoy the culinary delights but tour the city and gain access to private beaches along New Providence Island’s stunning coast.
Nassau Travel Guide
The subtropical climate of Nassau means that for most of the year the weather maintains a standard warmth and humidity without much in the way of bad weather. Arriving on New Providence Island is easy because it is home to the country’s largest and most well-developed airport. If you’re touring the Bahamas on a cruise ship, you’ll stop at Nassau’s port for at least a day.
Whether you’re staying at the Hilton Hotel on New Providence Island or the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, you will have a luxurious experience like no other. You will have access to world-class facilities that only accommodation like this can offer.
Things to do in Nassau Bahamas
Visiting Nassau on New Providence Island will provide you with seemingly endless opportunities to explore and discover all that the Bahamas has to offer. Pristine beaches soak up the sun, ready for you to lie back and relax. Thrilling water slides, swimming with dolphins and parasailing above the ocean will pump adrenaline through anyone’s veins. Exciting excursions to untouched landscapes with curious wildlife and stunning scenery is on offer for anyone looking to satisfy their adventurous side. Delectable flavours and aromas wafting from Arawak Cay is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. Rum tasting, visiting museums, exploring impressive mansions, there is almost no end to the things to do in Nassau Bahamas. Not to mention the fact that Nassau provides the perfect hub to visit the spectacular Out Islands.
If you want to find out more about the Bahamas and all that it has to offer, read our Bahamas travel guide and our top things to do in the Bahamas article. You will find these to be informative, giving you excellent insight into planning a trip to this tropical paradise.
Select images courtesy of the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism.
Having worked as an expat in Nassau for two years, I find it amazing that The Primeval Forest on New Providence Island is never mentioned as a place you don’t want to miss! Is is absolutely amazing! I discovered it when on a nature tour with a professional guide named Carolyn Wardle. Googled it for a sample of images you’ll see.
Thanks for this insight into the Primeval Forest. It sounds like a real hidden secret, and I will be sure to visit there when I return to Nassau in a few weeks time!
Primeval Forest on Bahamas Tourism website
Great article!! Super useful and your pics are stunning! Thanks for sharing your experience of Nassau 🙂
Thanks, the Bahamas are the most stunning tropical islands on Earth!
We are going there in november on a cruise dont know how long we will have to look around so please help and advise the best way to see a lot in a small amount of time as we dont know how long we will be allowed off the ship
Hi Valerie, you normally dont get much time in dock, maybe 6 hours at most. If you like cultural things to do then I would suggest my walking tour of the old town, followed by a visit over to the Paradise Island. There is a shuttle boat which operates between Paradise Island and the Cruise dock to get there or back.