Things to Do in Bahamas
Rose Island is an idyllic private getaway off the coast of Nassau. Home to a coral reef and a lone beach bar, this tiny, tropical islet offers an exclusive setting for snorkeling and sunbathing on an 11-mile (18-kilometer) stretch of uninhabited, privately owned Bahamian beach.
Located a mere 50 miles east of the US Florida coast, Grand Bahama Island’s Freeport Cruise Port at Lucayan Harbour is a popular and convenient jumping-off point for cruisers (especially Americans) to experience the Bahamas’ famous white-sand beaches and opportunities for water sports. In contrast with the other Bahamian cruise port in the capital city of Nassau on New Providence Island, this laid-back launch pad for Caribbean fun is less about the bustle and more about the beach break.
The Queen’s Staircase, one of Nassau’s most visited attractions, holds an important place in Bahamian cultural history. Around 1793, slaves carved this 102-foot (31-meter) staircase, comprised of 65 steps, out of solid limestone. Later it was named in honor of Queen Victoria’s 65-year reign and her role in abolishing slavery in the Bahamas.
Overlooking the city of Nassau from its vantage point atop Bennett’s Hill, Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 to protect the island of New Providence from outside invaders. Much of the imposing building remains intact today. Visitors come to explore the fortifications and enjoy the view from the highest point in Nassau.
High atop a hillside overlooking the harbor of Nassau is the British-colonial Fort Charlotte—the largest fort in Nassau. Constructed in the late 18th century for a battle that never took place, this historic site offers picturesque views, hidden underground passages, a waterless mote, remote dungeons and even authentic canons. Guides are available to help travelers navigate through subterranean halls far below the fort, but well-place signage and plenty of light means visitors can just as easily explore the grounds on their own.
Built in 1801 on an estate on top of Mount Fitzwilliam, Government House is often considered the best example of Georgian Colonial architecture in all of the West Indies. The mansion is painted a vibrant pink with a bright white trim (a nod to Nassau’s famous conch shells) and is the residence of the Governor-General of the Bahamas.
Just off Paradise Cove on Grand Bahama’s southwest coast, Deadman’s Reef is one of the area’s top snorkeling spots. The shallow waters are teeming with coral, colorful reef fish, turtles, rays, and more, and are ideal for all levels.
This 12-acre (5-hectare) park was dedicated in 1973 to the Groves who founded Freeport. Walk the idyllic botanical garden to take in the lush plant life, native animals (including macaws, alligators, and iguanas), and, of course, snap plenty of Edenic photos.
The evening fish fry is a much-loved tradition across many Caribbean islands, and Arawak Cay in Nassau, Bahamas, brings the custom to life. Find colorful huts selling fresh fish dishes, such as conch salad and lobster, along with vendors making tropical cocktails, and there’s often live music, too.
The 40-acre (16-hectare) Lucayan National Park is home to some of the most spectacular secluded beaches in all of The Bahamas, as well as one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world. Nature trails and boardwalks lead through mangrove, pine, and palm forests, home to a wealth of animals and vegetation.
More Things to Do in Bahamas
A commercial hub spread across 9.5 acres (3.8 hectares), the Port Lucaya Marketplace is one of Freeport’s most popular attractions. After browsing dozens of handicraft vendors and specialty stores, unwind at one of the restaurants or bars, then head to Count Basie Square—the heart of the market—for live Bahamian music.
Get out your eye patch and peg leg and get ready to delve into one of the most infamous and legendary aspects of Caribbean history. During the Golden Age of Piracy, from 1690 to 1720, pirates patrolled the waters of the Caribbean, terrorizing merchant ships and no place played a greater role in illegal pirate operations than Nassau, home base to the world's largest concentration of swashbuckling seafarers.
A trip to Pirates of Nassau takes one back to the Golden Age when pirates ruled the Caribbean. A favorite of both adults and children alike, this museum is one you won't want to miss. It is said that when a pirate slept, he did not dream of heaven, but of returning to Nassau. Come and find out for yourself what made Nassau pirate paradise.
Famous for its golden sands, the Bahamas' Cable Beach is a popular water sports and lolling destination for visitors to New Providence Island. This 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) stretch of idyllic beach is home to several massive resorts—including the Atlantis on nearby Paradise Island—each with their own claim staked in the sand.
For a real taste of Bahamian culture, head to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB) in Nassau. Housed in a classic 19th-century colonial-style building known as Villa Doyle in the center of town, the gallery displays paintings, sculptures, and other pieces by local artists from the 1850s to the present day.
The traditional craft of straw working is an integral part of Bahamian culture and industry. Each island has its own distinctive braiding style that locals use to create beautiful straw hats, baskets, and other goods. The Straw Market on Nassau is the ultimate place to pick up these traditional Bahamian souvenirs.
With its stretch of white sands fringed by coconut palm trees and a lush rain forest, Blue Lagoon Island, or Salt Cay, is an idyllic escape from the crowds of Nassau, offering everything you'd expect from a tropical island. Bring the whole family along for a day of fun in the sun, or take it easy for a day of pure beachy bliss on Blue Lagoon Island Beach.
The Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas is the ultimate resort and water park. Accommodations range from standard hotel rooms to villas and condos to the Bridge Suite (once ranked the world’s most expensive hotel suite). And even if you’re not a hotel guest, you can still enjoy some of the resort’s amenities, such as Dolphin Cay.
With tropical birds, lemurs, jaguars, iguanas, and more, the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre in Nassau is educational fun for the entire family. The zoo is also home to a marching flamingo show, where the salmon-colored birds show off their marching skills, and popular lory and other animal feedings.
The island of Nassau is the seat of the Bahamian government and the four bubblegum pink buildings that house its key branches lend a distinctly island vibe to what’s known as Parliament Square.
The pastel Georgian-style buildings of the Supreme Court, the Public Library and Museum and the Houses of Parliament surround the square, where a statue honoring Queen Victoria stands. This government center is within walking distance from the main cruise ship ports, as well as numerous shops and restaurants, making it a perfect stop to learn a bit of history while touring the town.
The Gothic-style Christ Church Cathedral has become one of the island’s most famous houses of worship. Its brilliant white stone tower, vaulted mahogany ceilings, detailed altar and handmade stain glass windows draw travelers to this Anglican church. Memorial plaques from the 1800s explore the history of Nassau’s previous residents, while the 400-year-old grounds and Garden of Remembrance offer travelers wandering town or docking at port for a day with a quiet, contemplative place to escape the noise of city streets.
Just across the water from the Bahamas’ main island of New Providence, Paradise Island is a fun-filled destination with stylish resort hotels, beautiful beaches, restaurants, casinos, and more. Visitors come to take in a show, try their hand at the blackjack tables, or enjoy some wet-and-wild exhilaration at the world-famous water park.
There’s just something about being on tropical islands that calls for an ice cold beverage, and Bahamian Brewery is where to find them when visiting Grand Bahama. Opened in Freeport in 2007, this wildly popular craft brewery has rapidly grown to become synonymous with sipping beer in the Bahamas. Their flagship drink, Sands, is ubiquitous throughout the island chain to the point where many would unofficially call it the national beer.
While taking a tour through the Bahamian Brewery, hear the backstory of how it was founded and why small details, like the glass used for bottling, all add up to create tropical beers that are lauded throughout the islands. When touring the nearly 20-acre grounds, you’ll witness the 25 different steps that go into making the beer, and hear how the company is committed to sustainability and supporting the local community. At the end of the tour, belly up to the tasting room bar to sample the eight beers on tap, from the rich, bold, Strong Back Stout, to the grapefruit flavored Radler.
With its pink exterior and unusual octagonal shape, the Nassau Public Library is a well-loved local landmark. Although you might not think to visit a public library while on vacation, a detour to see this building is well worth the effort. The library once served as the town’s jail, and the books are housed inside the former jail cells.
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