The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas showcases unique paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, photography and other artistic works, housed in a work of art itself – the Villa Doyle. This makes a perfect first stop when exploring the riches of Nassau’s art world.
Once the city’s jail, the octagon Nassau Public Library and Museum was built in 1797 and the cells that once contained prisoners now teem with books, historic artefacts and documents.
The non-profit Bahamas Historical Society, a tiny one room museum on Elizabeth Avenue provides detailed insight into the 500 years of life on the islands including the original settlers, the Lucayans, followed by years of strife, pirates and finally British control, which ended in 1973. Self guided tours cost a donation of any amount.
Those interested in the darker side of the Bahamas’ past must check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum. Come aboard the “Revenge” and see life through the eyes of the pirates who controlled the Caribbean through pillaging and plundering. Learn their code of conduct and walk among them as they drink, gamble and plot in their search for treasure.
Walking Tours of Nassau
While most cruises offer day tours of Nassau, one of the best ways to explore is by foot. Head up Elizabeth Avenue and climb the Queen’s Staircase, a sixty-five step staircases cut into the limestone hill by slaves.
At the top of the stairs explore Fort Fincastle, a ship-shaped fortress built on the highest point in Nassau. Offering the best views of the city, dwarfed only by the vantage point of the nearby Water Tower, a 216 foot structure built in 1928, the fort was completed in 1793.
The sprawling Fort Charlotte in the city’s east end took over one hundred years to complete, beginning in 1788 when work began on the barracks. Completed in 1891, the fort is now open for tours. Many of the original structures remain in tact today including the moat, the ravelin, the north rampart and the underground chambers.
Walking to Fort Charlotte may take a while. To save time and foot strain, take a local bus to the entrance. A one-way trip costs US$1.00.
Another option to walking is to rent a horse-drawn carriage. Most tours begin at Woodes Rogers Walk and cost around 10$ for a twenty minute tour.
Must See Attractions in Nassau on a Bahamas Vacation
Other places of interest include the massive pink colonial house known as the Government House. Now the official residence of the Governor General, if in town on a Saturday come around 10 am and watch as the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band perform during the changing of the Guard.
Several Parks in the city are worth a look. The Garden of Remembrance, located derriere the Parliament Square is home to the war memorial commemorating the Bahamians who sacrificed their lives in the two world wars while just opposite the Parliament Square, Rawson Square features a bust of the first Bahamian Governor General, Sir Milo Butler.
Nassau, with it’s beautiful weather and attractions, makes a perfect Caribbean destination any time of the year
Things to do in Nassau, The Bahamas
While geographically the smallest island in the Bahamas, New Providence and the nation’s capital, Nassau, have become a hot spot for two-day cruises. Ships generally arrive at port at night giving vacationers an entire day in the city. Prince George Wharf, conveniently located within walking distance from downtown, makes duty free shopping convenient and affordable.
Shopping for Diamonds in Nassau, on a Bahamas Vacation
If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then the ladies should get ready to mingle. Downtown Nassau offers a multitude of shops selling diamonds at a fraction of the price one would pay in nearby Florida (Nassau is located a mere 150 miles from Fort Lauderdale). Shops include Diamonds International, Jeweller’s Warehouse and Effy Jewellers, all located within walking distance from the main wharf.
Other items available duty free include Tanzanite, Silver and Emeralds at Tanzanite International, Prestige Silver and Colombian Emeralds International respectively.
If in search of something a little more ‘local’ head over to the Straw Market at the end of the pier. This tiny but bustling market features handicrafts from the island’s local people. Here, savvy bargain hunters can finds anything from wooden carvings to weave baskets as well as cookie-cutter souvenirs like tacky t-shirts and key chains, perfect keep sakes for a Bahamas vacation.
Aqua-adventures at Atlantis Beach Resort, Paradise Island
The biggest hotel, dining and entertainment experience to be found in Nassau lies just across the bay at Atlantis. Based on the mythical water city, the Atlantis Beach Resort boasts 20 swimming areas including children’s pools and a seven-acre protected Paradise Lagoon as well as the six storey tall faux Mayan Temple water slide and the 120 foot tall Power Tower.
Marine life lovers have a chance to meet dolphins up close and personal at Dolphin Cay, an 11 acre state-of-the –art home for these marvellous sea creatures.
The Dig, an underground aquarium in the belly of the ruins at Atlantic, tosses tourists into a maze of subsurface passages surrounded by sea animals. The Dig boasts over 50,000 marine animals from 200 species including sharks, stingrays and flesh-eating piranhas.
Land-lovers can shop away the day at the duty free stores or test their luck at the Atlantis Casino, while Climbers Rush brags 11 different walls for rock climbing experiences of all levels.
Of course Atlantis also contains one of the world’s most beautiful beaches overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Ocean. Chairs and towels provided.
Generally included in day excursions offered by cruise ships, it’s also possible to explore Atlantis by taking a ferry taxi to Paradise Island for 3 dollars one way.
Ideally it takes two days to explore Nassau with one dedicated to Atlantis, beach time and diamond shopping with another to tour the city’s rich museums and other must see attractions. But if one day’s all there is, there’s plenty of things to see and do in Nassau to make the trip back.