Visiting Nassau - What to See and Do
(Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport NAS, Bahamas)
The capital of the Bahamas
archipelago is a lively small Caribbean city, with just enough going on to lure visitors out of their resorts and off the beach for occasional jaunts through its streets. Nassau
is the main city on New Providence, but many of the attractions are on the smaller adjoining Paradise Island.
Downtown Nassau is where roughly four-fifths of the Bahamas population lives, so it has got a bit of bustle (islander pace, of course). British colonial-era government buildings, a handful of museums and charismatic old seaside forts offer a nice break from the beaches. There are also some decent markets in Nassau and plenty of places to eat and have a drink with the locals.
The little Paradise Island is linked to Nassau by two bridges and is home to the enormous Atlantis casino resort. This is where you come to entertain yourself with its slightly Vegas-style atmosphere and endless array of activities and diversions. Between the two, you've got all the makings of a well-rounded Caribbean holiday.
Ten things you must do in Nassau
- Fort Fincastle is a classic Caribbean colonial-era fortress attraction, built in 1793. It sits atop Bennet's Hill and rewards visitors who climb the Queen's Staircase with lovely views over Nassau, the coast and Paradise Island. It is free to visit and although there's little left of the fort itself, the huge old cannons provide great photography backdrops.
- Living in colonial-era Nassau wasn't all sand and cocktails. It was brutal dangerous work and a visit to the impressive Albert Lowe Museum will help put the reality of life into perspective. It may appear little more than an old mansion, but inside, the daily life of 18th-century Nassau comes to life with photographs and memorabilia.
- It is impossible to visit Nassau and not notice the sprawling Atlantis Paradise Island resort next door. Despite its blatant tourist appeal, there is a lot to do at this resort. From its casino to its Vegas-style shows, shopping arcades, countless restaurants and seaside water fun, the Atlantis is one-stop Bahamas fun.
- If you are curious about life under the sea around the Bahamas, spend some time in the Seaworld Explorer. This submarine holds 45 passengers and descends beneath the waves for a 90-minute tour of the natural marine world. You don't go very deep, but the huge windows ensure that everyone gets a great view of the sealife and ocean floor.
- To see what the pantheon of Bahamian art looks like, spend an hour or two browsing the pleasant National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in downtown Nassau. This is the only place in the world to see real local art from these islands, and there are some notable talents at work. As an added bonus, the gallery is housed in a beautiful historic 18th-century building.
- Check out the local flora and wildlife attractions of the Bahamas at the island's worthy Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre near Fort Charlotte. The highlight is undoubtedly the troupe of pink flamingos that have been trained to march in formation, as if they are in the army. This is really quite a spectacle, complementing the exotic wildlife in the zoo and the lovely gardens, with their informational nature paths.
- Parliament Square is the heart of colonial Nassau and home to a number of important and impressive government buildings, dating back to the 18th century. The Supreme Court, Queen Victoria's Statue, the Senate and the Gardens of Remembrance are just some of the historic highlights lining this square.
- You may think you've stepped back into Renaissance France when you walk through the Cloister, an amazing garden inside the One&Only Ocean Club resort. The site is actually a 12th-century Augustinian monastery cloister from southern France that was dismantled, shipped to Nassau and rebuilt in perfect detail. It is free to visit and quite an inspirational setting.
- Cable Beach sits right next to Nassau, where it offers easy access to 4 miles / 2.5 km of pretty sand and sea mixed with an endless parade of eateries, bars and entertainment. Every kind of water sport activity and facility can be found along Cable Beach or just inland, off its promenade strip.
- Get in a round of what may be the most beautiful golf you will ever experience. There are two 18-hole courses nearby. The Cable Beach Golf Club is the oldest in the Bahamas and a classic Caribbean beauty, while next door on Paradise Island, the Ocean Club Golf Course is an absolute stunner.