Nassau: the Bahamas’ Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest in Nassau
Who hasn’t dreamt of lying in a hammock in the Bahamas and enjoying every last bit of sunshine? After all, there really is no better place to forget about your worries than a beautiful beach. Whether you’re here because of the white sand, the crystal clear ocean, or the fascinating capital Nassau – the Bahamas are a dream destination! That’s why we have decided to take a closer look at its capital, Nassau.
Have you already started planning your trip? To help you prepare, here’s everything you need to know about the climate, the public transport, and the history of the Bahamas. To ensure you don’t miss any of the most important sights in Nassau, we’ve also listed our 10 favorite places. With these recommendations, you’re ready to go!
Nassau in a Nutshell
If you’re ever on a quiz show, remember that the Bahamas consists of many small islands. The archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is made up of more than 700 isles, although only around 30 of them are inhabited. Geographically speaking, the Bahamas are southeast of Miami and northeast of Cuba. To the east, they’re neighbored by the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Bahamas have a fascinating but also painful past. Before Christopher Columbus landed here at the end of the 15th century, the Bahamas were home to the Arawak. After their “discovery”, colonists captured and enslaved them, resulting in many casualties. It’s also important to remember that the Bahamas became a British colony in the 17th century when Charles I claimed the islands for the Empire. Today, the Bahamas are an independent country, but Queen Elizabeth II is still the head of state, and English remains is still the official language.
The Bahamas’ political center is on the island of New Providence, where the capital Nassau is located. Although the capital only has around 250,000 inhabitants and is therefore comparatively small, it is still the country’s most important city. It’s not only a transport hub but also the seat of many banks and businesses. Since the 1950s, the capital has also been a popular tourist destination, leading to the construction of many hotels here. In addition, many cruise ships use Nassau’s harbor to bring tourists to the Bahamas.
The easiest way to explore Nassau is on foot. There are some taxis available, but they will diminish your travel budget pretty quickly. Nassau is an expensive place, which is why we would also recommend finding accommodation on the outskirts of the city. To get downtown, just hop on one of the minibuses. Alternatively, you could take a water taxi to one of the neighboring islands, such as Paradise Island.
But before you start worrying about the public transport system and how it might affect your budget, let’s move on to the climate in the Bahamas. The best time to visit Nassau is between December and April. Not only is there very little rain during these months, but they’re also outside the hurricane season, which is between June and November.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the national dish of the Bahamas? It’s called Conch and consists of sea snails that are prepared in various ways. You can choose whether you want yours to be fried, stewed, or served as a salad.
You should also keep an eye out for Nassau’s many festivals. Some, like the Junkanoo Carnival, are celebrated several times throughout the year. The festivities for Junkanoo take place on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and on other holidays. The most important thing during Junkanoo Carnival is having fun. Locals spend their time dancing, dressing up in beautifully decorated costumes, and participating in the parade around the city. In August, another significant festivity takes place, the Fox Hill Day Festival, which celebrates the abolition of slavery with many events and performances. If you’re a fan of rum, then you should visit Nassau in February, as this is when the Rum Festival – and its many tastings – take place. The festivals all sound promising, don’t they?
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Nassau
Now that we’ve talked about everything you need to know before visiting the Bahamas, let’s get to the top 10 places of interest in the capital. Nassau holds many exciting places for you to discover!
Beautiful Beaches near Nassau
The beaches around Nassau all look like they’ve come straight out of an advert. They’re famous for their fine white sand, the clear turquoise water, and the giant palm trees. The beaches are the perfect place to relax in the sun, and to go swimming or snorkeling. Paradise Island is home to the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas, Cabbage Beach. It’s only a short trip by boat or on foot from Nassau. A bit further away, you can find Cable Beach, the largest beach in New Providence. If you want to see even more of the main island and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the city, we recommend visiting Love Beach, Cavas Beach, Flipper Beach, and Jaws Beach. You can be certain that these beaches will not disappoint!
As we’ve just mentioned, Cabbage Beach is located on Paradise Island, the small island neighboring New Providence. The two islands are connected by a bridge, allowing you to walk over to Paradise Island in no time. Originally, the island was used for breeding pigs. Today, you can stay there in one of the most impressive hotels in the world, which we will come to in a bit. Paradise Island is also home to the Versailles Gardens and a small French Augustinian monastery. A visit to the beautiful Gardens with their columns and picturesque statues will take you back in time.
Atlantis Paradise Island Hotel
You might be wondering what a hotel is doing on this list. Well, this pink building is just a very impressive sight. It almost resembles a palace and has an incredible 3,800 rooms on offer. Its guests have the choice between a wide range of activities, such as the large casino, the beautiful aquarium, and the fantastic water park. Spend your time watching the sharks or going down one of the amazing water slides. Whatever activity you choose, we can guarantee you’ll have a great time at the Atlantis Paradise Island Hotel!
The Queen’s Staircase
The Queen’s Staircase is a particularly interesting historical spot in Nassau. It is surrounded by tall walls and sprawling plants and was built by 600 enslaved people at the end of the 18th century. The 66 limestone steps lead to Fort Fincastle. Queen Victoria is the namesake of the staircase, as it was she who abolished slavery in the British Empire. Next to the steps, you can see a pretty impressive artificial waterfall.
Fort Fincastle was also built with limestone and was finished in 1793. It’s situated on Bennet’s Hill, the highest point of Nassau. Originally, the Fort was used to defend the capital against pirate attacks. To learn more about its fascinating history, we recommend taking one of the guided tours that are on offer here. The first one always starts at 08:00 a.m. You can also visit some other forts in Nassau, such as Fort Charlotte and Fort Montagu.
If you’re looking for a souvenir or just want to look at some store windows, then Bay Street is the place for you. The shopping street is near the harbor and has many shops for you to explore. It’s also the location of the Straw Market, where – as you might have guessed – you can buy different items made from straw. Whether you prefer hats and handbags or embroidered and delicately painted figurines, you’re bound to find something to take home here. But even if you’d rather not spend all of your travel budget at the Straw Market, it’s still worth a visit! If you do decide to buy something, feel free to haggle over the price a bit. You can spend all day wandering around the market, as it’s open from 08:00 a.m. to 08:00 p.m.
Pirates of Nassau
If you want to learn more about the pirates of the Caribbean, we would recommend visiting the Pirates of Nassau Museum. This interactive exhibition will take you back to the year 1716. It even includes an escape room, in which you and the pirate Blackbeard have to flee from the British army – and you only have 60 minutes before they capture you. Are you ready to take on the challenge?
Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation
The Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation is the place to learn more about the Bahamas’ history of slavery. It’s located in Vendue House, where goods and enslaved Africans were once sold. The museum is named after an enslaved man called Pompey, who gained fame after leading a rebellion. His actions not only demonstrated his extraordinary bravery but made him a role model for many others as well.
Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Center
Did you know that the Caribbean flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas? At the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Center, you have the opportunity to admire this bird close up. You can also visit a flamingo show and take part in a guided tour here. After the flamingo became an endangered species in the 1950s, the Adastra and other local initiatives took measures to protect it. They developed a breeding program which ensures the birth of many new chicks every year. In short, the conversation center is the place to be for any animal or nature lover!
Primeval Forest National Park
If you want to discover more of the Bahamas’ rich countryside, rent a car and take a trip to the Primeval Forest National Park on the island’s southwest. The park is not only home to many fascinating animals and plants, but also to some impressive chalk walls and easily accessible steps and bridges. It’s a great place to go hiking and experience the enchanting singing and chirping of the local birds. Visiting the park is always a fantastic experience!
Sunscreen, a swimming suit, and some goggles – that’s basically all you need to have a great time in the Bahamas. After all, the beautiful sea surrounding the islands holds lots of things for you to discover. But you’re probably right – bringing at least some clothes might be a good idea. This way, you can visit the Pirates of Nassau Museum and the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation. In addition, there are many forts that are worth seeing, as well as a national park. There’s also the world-famous straw market, where you can spend your time wandering around and looking at all the items on sale. At these places, a shirt and a pair of shorts are the right choice of clothes. At the Casino of the Atlantis Paradise Island Hotel, however, you might want to dress a bit more elegantly. While you’re here, marvel at the magnificent architecture of the hotel as well as its stunning aquarium. It’s such a wonderful place!
The best solution is probably to just take your whole wardrobe to Nassau – except, maybe, your winter coat. This small but fascinating city has so much to offer! Plus, once you feel like you’ve seen everything, you can just take a boat to one of the neighboring islands and continue your adventure. There are dozens of sights waiting for you in the Bahamas. Why not pay a visit to the famous Pig Beach? Or take a trip to Freeport? The choices are endless – what are you waiting for?