You might not know this, but I’ve spent some time performing as a guitar player aboard MSC Poesia, which cruises from ft lauderdale every week. Yes, I’m cruise crew. One of our main ports of call is Nassau. A very popular destination, we’ll often have 4 ships in port at the same time. Since I’m in Nassau quite often, I’ve decided to put together a guide on the top things to do in Nassau Bahamas.
The Nassau port is a naturally beautiful port city situated on New Providence Island in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. A popular vacation destination, the town of Nassau flourishes in the tropical climate of the Bahamas with scenic vistas, amazing beaches, exciting nightlife, and exotic cuisine. There are plenty of things to do in nassau bahamas for adults and kids alike. Nassau is a diverse city with gratifying experiences for all types of travelers.
Among all the islands of the Bahamas, Nassau is the largest city in the Commonwealth and serves as its capital, but the modern growth started just 200 years ago. The overall infancy of the island’s culture provides a delightfully unique opportunity to experience how a variety of national cultures can come together to influence the cuisine, atmosphere, and hospitality. A tropical island at heart, Nassau is teeming with island style, tropical wildlife, and breathtaking views. Fun-filled resorts, water activities, and wildlife encounters mingle with big city life and small-island appeal.
Bahamian natives are fisher people, hospitality specialists, and craft entrepreneurs thanks to the ever growing popularity of their home. A number of national backgrounds make up the fabric of local inhabitants, known as Bahamians, and include people with ancestry in Spain, the United Kingdom, Africa, and North America. Like all other aspects of Nassau’s culture, the local cuisine is also heavily influenced by the culmination of events that created this bustling city.
Any ocean cruiser that chooses to tour the city during their holiday cruise will be astonished by the rich in colonial architecture, world –class resorts and amenities, and tropical island aesthetics. The city’s history is woven with stories of conquest and piracy, touting past governors such as pirates “Blackbeard” Edward Teach and Calico Jack. Rumors that the pirate life never completely diminished in the Bahamas add an element of excitement to the whole experience. There’s no shortage of things to do in the Bahamas!
Nassau’s Rich History of Conquest and Piracy
Nassau’s history is wrought with pirate stories, refugees, and power struggle. Originally known as Charles Town, Nassau was destroyed in the late 1600’s when Spain set fire to the town. The city was rebuilt in 1695 and renamed Nassau to honor peace-keeper and Lieutenant William III, a Stadtholder hailing from the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau.
Nassau was an asylum for pirates between 1708 and 1718 when a slew of English pirate chieftains declared Nassau to be the “pirate’s republic” and named themselves its governors. Among those that claimed governance over the city included famed female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, along with Calico Jack Rackham, Benjamin Hornigold, and the infamous Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.
The pirate hold of Nassau came to an end in 1718 when British captain Woodes Rogers was appointed the Royal governor of Nassau. Captain Rogers subsequently reformed the city to eliminate many of the local troubles, ousted the pirates, and rebuilt the military forts. Between 1720 and 1776, several battles ensued at Nassau in Spanish and American attempts to capture and hold the city. American loyalist Andrew Deveaux finally captured Nassau in 1783.
If you love all of this history, be sure to visit the Pirate Museum of Nassau (piratesofnassau.com) located very close to the ship, downtown at the corner of King and George streets just a block south of the Staw Market.
Nassau’s Natural Beauty
Nassau is a 124 square miles of low-lying tropical paradise with characteristics that include short ridges and a lake system connected by the tides. Where is the Bahamas located? Only 180 miles from the southern coast of Miami, Florida, Nassau is an accessible resort town for holiday travel so its easy to find cheap cruises to the Bahamas. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the natural wonders of the lush tropics that make the Bahamas famous.
On foot, by bicycle, and even by Segway visitors can tour the more than 160 acres of Earth Village where guided tours by local nature experts help to understand the unique ecology of the islands.
Clifton Heritage National Land and Sea Park offers a diverse selection of the natural features of Nassau including coral reefs, rocky and sandy beaches, bird watching, cliffs and ancient dunes. Activities at the park include everything from hiking and fishing to snorkeling and boating.
The Adastra Garden, Zoo, and Conservation Center in Nassau is the perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and children who enjoy meeting new creatures. The zoo offers exciting opportunities to feed tropical birds and learn about the island’s natural inhabitants throughout its 5.5 acre half jungle, half garden facility.
You don’t need to plan a trip to the zoo to get up close and personal with the wildlife in Nassau, however. There are opportunities for delightful and exhilarating experiences all around the city including sea lion exhibits, stingray and coral reef inhabitants, sharks, and dolphin encounters.
Nassau’s Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort
Perhaps the best way to experience all that Nassau has to offer is through the in-depth vacation spot on Nassau’s own Paradise Island resort. Atlantis in the bahamas is one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. The Atlantis Resort at Paradise Island, Nassau’s satellite island, is a wildly popular destination. This all-inclusive resort features everything one could dream of when it comes to tropical vacationing in the Bahamas. From kid-friendly programs to casinos and gorgeous vistas to superior dining, the Atlantis Resort is an adventure as much as it is a destination. There is no shortage of exciting things to do on Paradise Island, regardless of your interests.
Dolphin Cay offers up adventures such as snorkeling the ruins of Atlantis, deep water swimming expeditions, sea lion and sting ray interaction experiences, and access to the island’s beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. Atlantis provides guided water adventures in the habitats surrounding Paradise Island with snorkeling, scuba, and snorkel/scuba expeditions.
The Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis Resort boasts endless water fun with freshwater pools, slides, river rides and even rock climbing. If you love wild-life, you may want to take a (safe) walk on the wild side with a shark adventure by donning a clear glass helmet and walking along the bottom of the Mayan Temple Shark Exhibit or get hands-on acquainted with some of the stingrays and tropical fish.
If you are looking for one of the top tourist attractions in the bahamas, Nassau’s Atlantis Resort will cater to you. Take a dip in cooling pools or heat up in the spa. Relax on a quiet beach or in one of the cantinas, diners, or lounges designed to bring you the exact experience you desire from your vacation.
Nassau’s Atlantis Kid’s Resort
Wondering what to do in the bahamas if you are bringing a teenager, pre-teen and younger children on your tropical paradise adventure to Atlantis? The Atlantis Resort thought of everything, including experiences that the younger crowd will remember for the rest of their lives. While other vacation spots focus on adult entertainment, Nassau’s Paradise Island is a place for all interests. Whether you want to spend quality time with your loved ones or need to get away for some adult time, they have it covered. I present to you now, Nassau Bahamas things to do with kids.
Atlantis is home to CRUSH, a 14,000 square foot clubhouse complete with an internet lounge, private gaming cabanas, and floor to ceiling game screens for its 24 gaming consoles. CRUSH also houses a café and nightly parties fit for a teen, complete with dance floor and live touch-screen accessible DJ for custom requests.
CRUSH is open to those who are between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but the resort doesn’t exclude pre-teens. Club Rush is for kids between nine and thirteen and offers up age-appropriate fun including gaming adventures, dancing, karaoke, movies, and more.
Nassau’s Atlantis Resort boasts the same type of thrilling experience for children of all ages. Kids between the ages of three and twelve can set out on daily adventures that include interactive electronic art, outdoor play, and special pirate and detective activities for those below five years old. Toddlers can enjoy appropriate activities perfect for the youngest members of the family. Atlantis will keep their imaginations going wild for the entire length of your visit to Nassau.
Nassau’s tropical heat during the day can be ravishing during the summer months, but the heat is always turned up at any one of the city’s bars, tiki huts, and dance clubs. Nassau’s night scene features the world famous Senior Frog’s dance club and the Bambu dance club.
Club Waterloo is Nassau’s most famous local dance club and is complete with indoor and outdoor atmospheres, a full service grill, and affordable happy hour specials. For a memorable night that is filled with all things tropical, consider the newest night club in Nassau, the Bahama Boom Beach Club, for a Bahamian themed night of dancing and carefree frivolity.
If you feel the need to take to the waters during your adult excursions at Nassau, there is even a Booze and Cruise adventure if you can handle the combo! The self-proclaimed hottest party boat in the Bahamas, the Booze Cruise is a glass-bottom boat presenting exciting daytime or sunset excursions that include snorkeling, dining, dancing, and of course – adult beverages.
Nassau Events and Festivals
Nassau’s event calendar holds a party for every type of traveler twelve months a year. From local contests to big-time golf and fishing tournaments, the city is never lacking a reason for the entire city to celebrate with street performances or seaside competitions.
The largest Nassau festival each year, the Junkanoo, treats visitors to street parades and performances in bright, festive colors and Bahamian style music between December 26th and January 1st between 1:00 AM and 10:00 AM daily.
Soon after the Junkanoo Festival in January, Nassau hosts a Polar Bear Swim with a twist for snowbirds. Nassau has a tropical climate year-round, so pulling off a true polar plunge event takes some creativity. The locals execute this event in island style by floating huge blocks of ice in the winter-cooled waters just off of the beach.
Things are always quick to heat up in the Bahamas and February festivities include a Valentine Massacre Regatta hosted at the Atlantis Resort. The resort also hosts the Atlantis Superboat Challenge in September and many other festivities throughout the year.
June brings in the Pineapple Festival, the annual Conch Cracking Contest is in October, and a Wahoo Fishing Tournament takes off in November. The Nassau Police Department Band wraps up the year with its annual Christmas Concert just before the Junkanoo Festival is set to ring in the new year.
Nassau Shopping and Dining
Nassau is dubbed the commerce center of the Common Wealth of Bahamas and the variety of shopping venues is certainly an indication that the title is well-earned. Bay Street is host to many shops and provides an opportunity to grab everything from authentic Nassau crafts and souvenirs to world-famous labels like Cartier, Louis Vitton, and Coach. Bay Street is the main shopping district you’ll find when you walk off your ship and out of the cruise terminal.
Doongalik Studios show off local Nassau artistry for those who are thinking of purchasing authentic Bahamian paintings and décor. The local Straw Market offers flea-market style shopping with access to unique collectibles and local crafts.
The dining venues in Nassau present fare for every taste; island style adaptations, authentic Bahamian delicacies, and simple comfort foods. While on the island, consider trying authentic Bahamian cuisine by choosing a local restaurant that is sure to serve up some of the island’s favorite foods including conch, guava duff, and johnny cakes – an island variation of cornbread.
Bahamian cuisine is inspired by the multiple nationalities contributing to Nassau’s rich history with influences of West Indian flavor, British simplicity, and Spanish flair. Some of Nassau’s most famous local food restaurants include Native Way for local seafood, the Oasis Restaurant and Bar for authentic Bahamian dishes, and Bahamian Brothers, a restaurant with rave reviews for their preparation of Nassau’s specialty food, conch fritters.
If you have a little extra time to really delve into the local seafood cuisine, consider a trip to “fish fry”. Fish Fry is a small community of fish houses-turned-restaurant just outside of Nassau that cook up some of the most authentic Bahamian seafood cuisine on the island. Traveler’s Rest is a famous seaside diner preparing local seafood dishes as well, if you fancy and excursion to one of the Out islands.
No Bahamian vacation would be complete without some opportunities to unwind and hit a round of golf or head off-shore for a fishing expedition. In addition to boating, cycling, and hiking Nassau provides beautiful venues for sports enthusiasts that land on the island.
Each year, Nassau plays host to a Pro-Am Golf Tournament in January and there are several golf courses spread across New Providence Island. Paradise Island, Cable Beach, the Sheraton, and Blue Shark golf courses are available year round to golfers.
The Wahoo Fishing Tournament in September is a huge attraction at the Atlantis resort that attracts fisher people from all over the world. There is no shortage of sport fishing options on the island and fishing excursions can be obtained through a number of charter companies.
Relaxing in Nassau
Sometimes, it just feels good to lie back and put your feet up. Nassau is loaded with the hustle and bustle one would expect from the biggest city in the Bahamas, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for peace and relaxation. The Atlantis Resort on Nassau’s Paradise Island provides numerous ways to relax during your stay. Since Nassau is a big city, finding some quiet time just means getting away and traveling to a quiet beach or relaxing during an afternoon ride through one of the island’s many natural conservation areas. Nassau tends plenty of gardens for weary travelers as well. The Versailles Gardens on Paradise Island, for example, offer up peace and tranquility among lush native plant life.
Fun for the Kids in Nassau
Children love Nassau thanks to its bright and cheery atmosphere, natural wildlife exhibits, and grand scenery. The sights and sounds around the city are awe-inspiring to the kid in all of us! Entertaining the real children in your party is a breeze with all that Nassau has to offer.
The most comprehensive entertainment options for the children in your life are available at Nassau’s Paradise Island Resort – The Atlantis Resort. The resort offers the unique opportunity to get-away while on vacation with full-service supervised activities. There are plenty of other kid-friendly activities around Nassau for you to enjoy together.
The Pirates of Nassau Museum is a virtual journey in time, back to the days when Nassau was the Pirate’s Republic. Kids get to make their way through the old pirate’s life from a moonlit dock with pirates in a nearby tavern to the swashbuckling adventures of life on a pirate ship.
The Queen’s staircase is a set of 65 steps carved with hand tools into a solid limestone rock in the late 1700’s to honor Queen Victoria’s 65 year reign. The staircase also serves as a shortcut to Bennett’s Hill – an area that overlooks the city of Nassau.
Weather in the Bahamas
The weather in Nassau Bahamas is tropical all year, with highs in the summer soaring to the mid-nineties and winter lows in the lower-sixties. Just get there and enjoy the amazing Nassau Bahamas weather.
Weather Almanac – Weather in Bahamas – Nassau, Bahamas
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 77⁰ F 78⁰ F 80⁰ F 82⁰ F 85⁰ F 87⁰ F 89⁰ F 89⁰ F 88⁰ F 85⁰ F 82⁰ F 79⁰ F
Avg Low 62⁰ F 62⁰ F 64⁰ F 66⁰ F 70⁰ F 73⁰ F 75⁰ F 75⁰ F 74⁰ F 72⁰ F 68⁰ F 64⁰ F
Days With Rain 8 6 6 5 10 15 17 18 17 16 9 8
Rainfall 1.86″ 1.59″ 1.58″ 2.12″ 4.58″ 9.17″ 6.21″ 8.50″ 6.75″ 6.91″ 2.23″ 2.04″
Island Travel and Safety (Beware of pirates!)
It is unlikely that you will run into a real pirate during your stop in Nassau, but always put safety first. Aside from walking, traveling the island is easiest and safest by taxi or small busses known locally as jitneys. There are many attractions within walking distance from the port, as well. Nassau is generally safe for tourists and few crimes are directed at travelers, but travelers should be aware that the old fashioned “pirate mentality” is still present in modern day Nassau because of the many secluded islands and cays in the Bahamas that are attractive hideaways for modern day drug dealers, human trafficking gangs, and, yes, pirates!
When compared to other U.S. cities, the crime rate in Nassau is elevated due to pick-pockets and commercial theft, so just be aware of your surroundings and keep your important items in your front pockets. Don’t travel to unknown or unpopulated areas at night and avoid being alone in remote locations of the island. Nassau is policed by local policemen who are dedicated to public safety. Paradise Island provides a safe sanctuary for most people because of 24-hour security presence around the island. Just contact the Nassau county police with any issues.
Could Nassau be your best holiday? With all there is to do, you may never wonder what to do in Nassau Bahamas again. Could this be the best island in the bahamas?