Nassau is the capital of Bahamas a bustling metropolitan hub full of culture and modern amenities. To the north lies Paradise Island. Its name tells you everything. It’s 685 acres of pure uphoria, developed almost exclusively to delight and accommodate visitors. Nassau has been recognized as a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of Crafts and Folk Art. It is one of only three Caribbean cities to receive this honor.
Best Time to Visit
Although the beaches are most crowded, the best time to go is during the high season, which runs from November to mid-April, making it a great spot for spring break.
Top Places to Visit in Nassau
1. Atlantis Paradise Island
The island boasts resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, nightlife, a golf course, an aquarium and a casino. One of the top attractions in the Bahamas. The marine habitat of here is one of the largest outdoor aquariums in the world. It specializes in native tropical species, and the tanks incorporate the ruins and sculptures of Atlantis. Children and adults alike will love the water park.
2. Cable Beach
Nassau’s Cable Beach is so named because the submarine telegraph cable came ashore here. Despite all the resorts lining this iconic stretch of coastline, it still manages to conjure the feel of a classic Caribbean beach, with its soft white sand and turquoise waters. Since the beach must maintain public access, it is possible to spend a few hours wandering around the area and relaxing by the sea. The clear waters here are also safe for swimming.
3. Paradise Island
Formerly called Hog Island, the tourist hub of Paradise Island is home to the massive Atlantis resort as well as numerous other hotels, private homes, and a golf course. This long cay, running parallel to the northern edge of New Providence Island, is connected to the mainland by two bridges and forms the harbor at Nassau.
4. Blue Lagoon Island
Also known as Salt Cay, Blue Lagoon Island is a private island about five kilometers from Nassau offering a range of watersports as well as close-up encounters with dolphins and sea lions. This is one of the most popular side trips from Nassau. At the island’s three-acre marine mammal facility, animal lovers can participate in the Dolphin Encounters program to learn all about these friendly mammals and interact with them under the careful watch of professional trainers. Day trippers can also tour the island on Segways, relax in hammocks along the palm-lined beach, and snorkel and swim in the lagoon. Children will love the water park packed with inflatable toys.
5. Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Center
Best known as the home of the marching flamingos, the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, & Conservation Center is set on four acres of tropical gardens. The flamingos entertain visitors by marching in formation to commands. This zoo specializes in the conservation of Caribbean species, including the endangered Bahama Parrot and several species of iguanas and flamingos. Children love the petting zoo and hand-feeding the friendly rainbow lorikeets.
6. Nassau Straw Market
After the decline of the sponging industry in the mid 1940s, Bahamian women began braiding and weaving the leaves of palm trees and sisal plants into baskets and fishing traps as a way to boost their income. Today this tradition continues at the Straw Market in Nassau. Shoppers can buy woven items such as hats, mats, and baskets, as well as fine wooden carvings, colorful fabrics, and many other souvenirs. The historic market building was destroyed by fire in September 2001, but the market continues and has become a downtown institution.
7. National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
Housed in the lovingly restored Villa Doyle, a large historic Neoclassical mansion, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is the most important art institution in the country. The oldest section, looking toward the harbor to the north, was built in the 1860s by William Henry Doyle, Chief Justice of the Bahamas. The southern wing was added in the 1920s by Sir Walter K. Moore. The impressive collection includes paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and textiles from Bahamian artists, spanning the early 20th century to the present day.
8. Queen’s Staircase
Cut by slaves into solid limestone in the late 18th century, the 66 steps known as the Queen’s Staircase gave troops protected access to Fort Fincastle. More than a century later, the staircase was named to honor Queen Victoria and her role in abolishing slavery in the Bahamas. Today, visitors can appreciate this amazing feat of construction as they climb the steep staircase, now flanked by a cooling cascade, to Fort Fincastle, the highest point on the island. Built by Lord Dunmore in 1793, the fort is shaped like the bow of a boat and affords panoramic views of Nassau and the ocean beyond.
9. Pirates of Nassau Museum
Though a little light on historical exhibits, Pirates of Nassau Museum is a wonderful way for children to learn more about Nassau’s seafaring days. Visitors to the museum can explore a replica of the pirate ship Revenge and the shanty town of Nassau, see pirate paraphernalia, and interact with theatrical pirate hosts.
Festival in Nassau
The city’s chief festival is Junkanoo, an energetic, colourful street parade of brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic accompaniment of cowbells, drums and whistles. The word ‘Junkanoo’ is named after the founder ‘John Kanoo’. The celebration occurs on December 26, July 10 and January 1, beginning in the early hours of the morning (1:00 a.m.) and ending around 10 a.m.