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Best Things to do in Nassau Bahamas: 2023 Insider’s Guide

Beautiful scene of Nassau Bahamas landscape with speed boat

Table of Contents

What is Nassau Bahamas Best Known for?
Travel Tips in Nassau Bahamas
What are the Best Things to do in Nassau Bahamas?
Tours: One of the Best Things to do in Nassau Bahamas
Nassau Bahamas for the History Buffs
Nassau’s Paradise Island
Safety and Crime in Nassau

What is Nassau Bahamas Best Known for?

The vibrant city of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas and port on New Providence Island is known for its natural beauty – one of the most convenient ports of call for cruise lines with stunning beaches and a charming blend of the old world and the new in culture, art, and architecture. Experience the island’s culture at Junkanoo Festival, visit landmarks, and explore historical museums. Explore Nassau’s famous Paradise Island and the world famous Atlantis Resort.

Travel Tips in Nassau

The Bahamas are conveniently close to Florida and to most US ports. This makes Nassau one of the most called-upon ports in the Caribbean. If you book a cruise out of the US then odds are it will be calling at Nassau at some point. This means the city can be quite congested with multiple ships, and thousands of cruisers figuring out what to do in Nassau. The best advice that can be given is to be aware of and plan for crowding, long lines, and possibly fraying tempers. If traveling with children something to keep them entertained is in order. There are many beaches in the Caribbean. If you’re traveling with Disney, Royal Caribbean, or Disney then you may wish to save your beach and bar days for when your ship ports at its private islands. Instead, consider visiting the forts, going on tours, or experiencing other features unique to Nassau.

Is Nassau Bahamas Worth Going to?

Nassau offers many things to do depending on your interests so it might be worth exploring. Immerse yourself in the Bahamian culture, the sightseeing or even the parties. If you want to check out the city, there are a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as food tours, distillery tours, excursions, and walking tours. If you’re looking for some sun time, there are some great free beaches to relax on the sand.

How Many Days do you Need in Nassau?

If you’re not cruising on a tight itinerary, it will take 3 days to explore all the highlights in Nassau, from colonial-era sites to beautiful Caribbean beaches, with time to spare for a couple more island day trips.

What are the Best Months to Visit Nassau?

The best months to visit Nassau are from the middle of December to the middle of April, especially winter time. Expect nice weather with temperature averages around 73℉ (22.7℃) with highs reaching a comfortable 81℉ (27.2℃) in December, January, and February. Winter is the dry season in the Bahamas for calm weather to do some exploring. The islands are prone to hurricanes between June and November.

Can you get off a Cruise Ship in the Bahamas Without a Passport?

If you are a US citizen, you can take a cruise that begins and ends at the same U.S. port to The Bahamas without a passport. Though you’ll need to show your birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID.

What are the Best Things to do in Nassau Bahamas?

Walking to Junkanoo Beach in Nassau, Bahamas with cruise ships in the back

Is Nassau Bahamas Cheap?

When it comes to the cost of vacationing in Nassau, Bahamas, the answer mostly depends on your perspective and lifestyle preferences. Nassau is the capital city of the Bahamas and is known for its luxurious resorts, high-end dining, and a variety of entertainment options. However, it’s also possible to experience Nassau on a budget. Affordable accommodations, local eateries, and free or low-cost activities can make a trip to Nassau much more budget-friendly. Many people like experiencing the history and culture by exploring the city’s historic sites or relaxing on its beautiful beaches. It’s also important to note that prices can fluctuate based on the tourist season. So while Nassau can certainly be an expensive destination, with planning and budgeting, it can also be a very low cost experience.

What can you do in Nassau for Free?

If you decide to leave your credit card on your ship’s stateroom, here are some attractions in Nassau you can enjoy for free:

Tours: One of the Best Things to do in Nassau Bahamas

Colorful houses along the waterfront at the ferry terminal of Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a luxury seeker, Nassau Bahamas tours promise a well-rounded and memorable experience. 

Historic Nassau sightseeing tours: Explore the city’s rich history with visits to key sites like the Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. Enjoy a self-guided walking tour of the city’s historic district, taking in the iconic pink Bahamas Government House and the majestic Christ Church Cathedral. If you want to learn about the history of Pirates in Nassau, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum. The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB) occupies a historic colonial-era home from the 1860’s and boasts an extensive collection of historic and contemporary Bahamian art. 

Walking tours: Simply stroll down Downtown Nassau shop district and get a knowledgeable guide by your side. Check out Nassau’s Straw Market, also known as the original island town market. It’s the inspiration behind all of the other island markets you’ll see on your cruise throughout the Caribbean. Although the original building burned down, the new Straw Market is a continuation of the island tradition.

Nassau guided tours: If exploring Nassau on foot isn’t enough and you want to see as much as possible, consider taking a quad bike tour — one of the best things to do in Nassau Bahamas. Many guided tours are available for different time ranges, offering a great opportunity to witness the beautiful sights and history of The Bahamas. The ATV tours feature different experiences, whether it’s the streets of Nassau or the scenic dunes of Clifton Heritage National Park. Discover historical sites like the Queen’s Staircase, Fort Charlotte, and the Water Tower. Some quad tours even take drivers to beaches, islands, and markets. Large groups or families can opt for buggy tours over ATV tours where the four to six seater vehicles with an open-air enclosement take you on a guided tour safely.

Swimming with the pigs: A Nassau staple for beach lovers – Take a boat tour from downtown Nassau so you can visit Pig Beach on Big Major Cay, an island uninhabited by humans but famous for its delightful swimming pigs.

Dolphin Encounter tour at Blue Lagoon Island: The most popular tourist destination in the Bahamas where you can enjoy the Dolphin Encounter tour, a one-in-a-lifetime experience to swim with the most intelligent aquatic mammal in the world.

Food tours: A visit to Nassau wouldn’t be complete without the must-try local delights like conch fritters and mac ‘n’ cheese. Join a food tour to get up close and personal with Bahamian finest cuisine. An option worth mentioning is a tour to six local, family-owned restaurants, where you can observe the chefs at work behind-the-scenes and even take home their famous recipes to try!

Rum distillery tours: Booze and cruise the right way with Nassau Bahamas’ rum distillery tours, where you can sample famous local rum. Since rum is one of the most renowned Caribbean exports, why not enjoy it fresh at the source? Nassau’s specialty, John Watling’s Rum, is aged in white oak barrels to produce a smooth, perfect flavor that symbolizes the warmth of the Bahamas. John Watling’s Rum’s focus on quality and tradition has made it a favorite to both locals and visitors.

Nassau Bahamas for the History Buffs

Nassau is the largest city in The Bahamas with a population of nearly 250,000, and the city has a long history. Although settlers have been there since 1695 the British government lost control of the islands throughout the first decades 1700s. Pirates ruled, and Nassau was the main base for such famous buccaneers as Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and the dreaded Blackbeard. In 1718 the British finally chased the pirates out and restored control of the island, but it wasn’t until crown loyalists fleeing the patriot’s victory in the American War of Independence settled there that Nassau really got started. For those interested in engaging more with history, New Providence has several historical landmarks to explore.

New Providence

Landscape with Fort Fincastle and old cannons at New Providence, Nassau, Bahamas

The name of the island the city of Nassau sits on is called New Providence. The island is rich in Bahamian history. Gambier, Adelaide, and Fox Hill are historic villages settled by slaves when the British shut down the slave trade. These three towns maintain a rich cultural heritage with roots that stretch from West Africa across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. This history can be taken in at the Pompey Museum which is home to a permanent display that records the African experience in The Bahamas. 

Other colonial-era sites to see include three forts. The first, Fort Charlotte, is just west of downtown and combines a history lesson with great views of Nassau Harbor. The Fort’s dungeon offers a different, creepier sort of history. Inland Fort Fincastle was built on the highest point of New Providence and offers fantastic views of the entire island.  Just getting to the fort offers an intimate view of history as the Queen’s Staircase, which must be climbed to get there, is the source of the stone used to build the fort.  The third and final fort, Fort Montague, has an interesting history involving the United States. It is the first place the United States Marines went ashore.

Its stunning beaches like Cable Beach offer crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling. The Primeval Forest National Park provides low-cost hiking trails where you can encounter rare and endemic species of the Bahamas’ exotic flora and fauna. The surf and sand are what most people expect on a cruise, and Nassau doesn’t disappoint. Montague Beach, Saunders Beach, and Goodman’s Bay Park (Cable Beach) are all close to downtown Nassau and the pier. All three are favored by locals and offer authentic experiences away from the tourist zones. 

Nassau’s Paradise Island

aerial view of Atlantis resort water park in Nassau Bahamas

Across the bridge on Paradise Island, you’ll find what are regarded as some of the world’s best beaches.  It is also home to the world famous Atlantis resort. You’ll hear from other cruisers that this is definitely one of the top things to do in Nassau Bahamas! Atlantis is the largest resort in The Bahamas and the second largest employer in the islands, just behind the Bahamian government. Paradise Island is no sleepy place off of the beaten track, but a major resort with prices to match. Atlantis offers what may be the best nightlife on the islands with bars and dance clubs. The daring will delight in taking a risk at the casino. Kids too will have something to do – pools, play areas, and water parks abound. Some other features of the resort include the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, 11 unique pools, and an 18-hole golf course. 

Can I go to Atlantis Without Staying There?

You can visit Atlantis without staying there but there is limited access. You can only visit the shops, marina, and casino. Alternatively, Atlantis resorts offer day passes to book online if you’re keen on stopping by to enjoy the waterpark, marine habitat, or Dolphin Cay.

Is it Free to Walk Around Atlantis Bahamas?

You can explore some parts of Atlantis for free such as the marina, shops, and casino but most likely you’ll spend money while you are there. Without a Day Pass, you won’t be able to enjoy much of the resort. All non-hotel guests must purchase a day pass to access Dolphin Cay, the waterpark, the marine habitat, and the beaches at Atlantis. Atlantis day passes usually sell out quickly so it is recommended to book online ahead of time.

Safety and Crime in Nassau

In most tourist destinations, there are unsavory elements looking to exploit travelers. Nassau is no exception. Visitors, often unfamiliar with the area and carrying cash, become tempting targets for criminals. Exercise caution, don’t believe everything you hear from locals, keep track of belongings, stay together, and avoid deserted areas. The US State Department offers a program to keep travelers informed of advisories and security threats. Signing up in advance and paying attention to updates can be helpful for cruisers, even if they don’t have access to their phones during the voyage.

Is Nassau Walkable?

Nassau is a convenient walkable city, offering many things to do within walking distance as you venture away from the cruise port.

Is it Safe to Swim in Nassau Bahamas?

The waters in Nassau Bahamas are safe and perfect for swimming. However, there are some risks for tourists depending on the weather including strong currents, riptides, and hazardous marine life. Travelers should heed all posted warnings, refrain from swimming alone, and avoid areas with no lifeguards.

Is it Safe to Walk to Junkanoo Beach from Cruise Port?

You can reach Junkanoo Beach by foot with a 15-minute walk from Nassau cruise port and there are many shops and hotels along the walk so you will feel safe. When you disembark at the Nassau cruise dock and exit the port (It requires a bit of a walk down the pier and through the marketplace), make a right and head west toward Junkanoo Beach.

Can you Snorkel at Junkanoo Beach?

When you’re out at sea, you can paddleboard, kayak, or snorkel to explore the vibrant marine life while admiring cruise ships passing by. Try out the water trampoline if you want to feel the rush.

Can you Drink Tap Water in Nassau?

Tap water is drinkable in Nassau, Bahamas – something to note is that locals don’t seem to face any problems but if you’re a tourist, especially for first-timers in a hot tropical country, you might want to drink bottled water. Luckily, resorts and many dining establishments thoroughly filter and chlorinate tap water, as well as bottled water being sold at many stores.

Can you Drink in Public in Nassau Bahamas?

It is legal to drink alcohol in public in the Bahamas. Even though you can drink in public, you should always drink responsibly. In other words, don’t get too drunk or cause any trouble.

How old do you Have to be to Drink in Nassau Bahamas?

The legal drinking age in Nassau and in any other Bahamas city is 18. Alcohol is sold in liquor stores and convenience stores at all hours, except for on Sundays. You cannot drink or purchase alcohol if you’re under 18 years old.

Now that you’ve learned about things to do in Nassau Bahamas, make sure you’re prepared before cruising. Go Port is the #1 land-travel provider – offering a range of cruise shuttle packages from both the Orlando Airport as well as a variety of nearby hotels to Port Canaveral. Cruisers flying in who also need a hotel stay can book a Fly Snooze Cruise package that includes accommodations and all your necessary transportation for one low rate. Go Port’s hotel and cruise transportation packages will be available to reserve online up to a year before your sail date.

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