Nassau Bahamas
Things To Do

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Nassau Things To Do

Arawak Cay: Better known to locals as Fish Fry, the cluster of beachside restaurants located on Arawak Cay is the best place to sample real Bahamian tastes like conch chowder and conch salads, fried fish and boiled fish, peas and rice, tasty johnnycakes and lobster.  Best of all, the prices are more reasonable than most restaurants since locals frequent it regularly. Conch fritters seem to be the most ordered by tourists but try the fresh conch salad; far tastier. One of the best things to drink with the local seafood is Kalik, the good Bahamian beer brewed in Nassau. Or be adventurous and have what’s called Sky Juice, a blend of gin, coconut juice and condensed milk. Best not to drink more than one. Arawak Key, located on West Bay Street across from Fort Charlotte, is about a mile from the cruise ship terminal. It’s a pleasant walk there but you may opt for a cab ride. 

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre: Ardastra’s 5 acres of tropical gardens opened to the public in 1937, making this tropical greenery include an aviary of rare tropical birds and other exotic animals from different parts of the world. The Zoo is renowned for its marching flamingos, the national bird of The Bahamas, which perform daily at 10:30 a.m., 2:10 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. This, of course, is always subject to change so check the Gardens link, above. Located on West Bay St., on the left, just past Fort Charlotte. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except

Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island: To be honest, Nassau’s attractions were fairly pedestrian until this mega fantasy resort opened.  Many of the facilities are not just for guests but open to anyone who purchases a day pass to the 141-acre Aquaventure Water Park, the largest in all the islands. The park includes water slides, water rides and swimming pools, not to mention the oceanfront beach. Atlantis day passes, which come in several types and can sell out early, are not offered during some peak holiday periods. Hotel guests have priority.

Fort Charlotte: This fort, built in 1788, includes a waterless moat, a drawbridge, ramparts, and even dungeons. Constructed by Lord Dunmore, he decided to name the massive structure after the wife of King George III, Queen Saharia Charlotte. The fort is impressively armed with 42 cannon, none of which were ever fired due to an act of war. Fort Charlottes lies about 1 mile west of central Nassau. It is located on West Bay Street, opposite Arawak Cay. Contacts: (242) 322-7500, (242)325-9186

Fort Montagu:  Erected in 1741, Fort Montagu is the oldest of Nassau's 3 forts. Built on the waterfront at the eastern end of Nassau harbour (on East Bay Street), it was intended as a stronghold to repel Spanish invaders. Beyond the fort stretches a public beach overlooking Montagu Bay, the location of several international yacht regattas and Bahamian workboat races. Tours of Fort Montagu conducted daily from 8am-3pm. Free. Contacts: (242) 322-7500, (242)325-9186.

Fort Fincastle: Located at Bennet's Hill on Nassau's highest point. Near the Water Tower and Queen's Staircase. Walkable from the cruise port.

Government House: Built in 1801, the pink and white residence of the Governor-General of The Bahamas is located on downtown Nassau's Duke Street. Sprawling on a 10-acre site atop Mount Fitzwilliam with a magnificent view of the coastline, the building is known as an example of Bahamian-British and American Colonial architecture with tall white columns and a broad, circular driveway. The 12-foot high imposing statute of Christopher Columbus, almost as old as the house, was imported from London in 1830. The Bahamians are proud to celebrate the fact that Christopher Columbus landed in their country, on the island of San Salvador, in 1492. Of note: The Changing of the Guard ceremony occurs here every other Saturday at 10am, accompanied by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. No interior tours of the Governor's House are available. However, it is possible to walk the grounds. Walkable from the cruise port.

Junkanoo Expo: With colorful costumes and floats, this must-see museum celebrates Junkanoo, Bahamas' greatest celebration held between Christmas and New Year's Day. It's located at the cruise port, next to Festival Place.

Potter's Cay: In busy Nassau, a good place to gain a look into local Bahamian life is Potter's Cay, on the Nassau side of the bridge that leads to Paradise Island. Potter's Cay, home port for the local conch (pronounced "konk") and commercial fishing fleet. You can find freshly prepared local dishes here, too, but Potter's Cay isn't as commercialized and the same tourist stop as Arawak Cay. Instead, this is one of the easiest places to meet Bahamians who are not the usual hotel employees and shop keepers. As for taking photos, be polite and ask for permission first. You're more likely to get an OK if you become engaged with the people first.

Pirates of Nassau Museum:This museum (located in the Lofthouse building on Marlborough Street) offers a world-class, interactive and educational experience into the 18th century era when pirates dominated the Bahamian waters. Walkable from the cruise port.

Festival Place at Prince George Wharf: This is the busiest cruise ship port in all the islands.

Queen’s Staircase: Small outdoor shopping area at the bottom of an old limestone staircase supposedly carved out of rock in honor of Queen Victoria but not likely. Near Fort Fincastle and Water Tower. Walkable from the cruise port.

Scuba Diving Sites: In addition to classic coral reefs, Nassau has a remarkable collection of underwater movie sets. Many have changed from being instantly recognizable as movie props to man-made reefs with a richly varied critter population. Winners, either way.

Shopping: Bay Street, in the heart of downtown Nassau and only a few minutes from the Prince George Wharf cruise dock, is the heart of downtown Nassau and the island's main shopping district. Walkable from the cruise port.

The intersection of Bay and Market Streets also is the location of the famous Nassau Straw Market. Yes, it did burn down but it's back again and bigger than ever. Only this time it's more fireproofed and enclosed so it can get hot in summer. (Go early) The Straw Market has scores of vendors, making this a good place to look for handicrafts. But you need to shop carefully. Lots of vendors offer SOC (Same Old Crap) but you'll also find many items truly worth seeking out. Most visitors consider the Straw Market the best place to buy cheap handicrafts--but only if you bargain! With so many stalls offering SOC, feel free to look elsewhere and bargain hard. BUT if you spot something truly unique, and something you really will care about once you get back home and will regret not buying, you know what to do. Buy it. But bargain first! Straw Market vendors expect that. Don't be hoodwinked into all the seller's protests. Walk away but stay close. If they don't follow, accept the last price.

The shops of the Atlantis resort are well worth exploring, and deserve more than window shopping if you have the big bucks. Don't feel intimidated about entering and looking in the shops. They're often surprisingly empty. Everyone is outside.

Water Tower: Wonderful views from Nassau's highest point. Near Fort Fincastle and Queen's Staircase. Walkable from the cruise port.

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