NASSAU Located on the island of New Providence, Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas. You’ll find the islands’ best sightseeing and historic buildings there. Also expect to find a crowd: Nassau is a very busy place, thanks to the high volume of cruise-ship passengers. In addition to the attractions in Nassau proper, there are a number of tourist sites on Paradise Island, a spot of land off Nassau that has been transformed into a high-rise gambling and leisure haven. It’s connected to the capital by two arched, one-way bridges.
To have a good time in Nassau, approach the port with an open mind. Even though it’s an international city and commercial center—and firmly a part of the present—it still maintains its old-world island flavor. Things may take a little longer than you’re used to. Slow your pace as you explore Nassau’s rich history, tranquil beaches and turquoise waters—one of the best commodities of the Bahamas.
Sights—The Georgian government buildings and Garden of Remembrance in Parliament Square; the Nassau Public Library and Museum, a jail-turned-library; Fort Fincastle and Queen’s Staircase; Fort Charlotte; Bay Street Straw Market; the calm setting of the Versailles Gardens and 12th-century Augustinian cloister on Paradise Island.
Museums—Bahamian art at The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; history exhibits at Pirates of Nassau; the history of Junkanoo at Educulture Bahamas.
Memorable Meals—Graycliff for the old mansion’s architecture; homemade pasta and filet mignon at Cafe Matisse; the fresh catch at The Poop Deck near the marina; elegant and romantic Luciano’s of Chicago for its great views; the fish-fry true Bahamian vibe of Arawak Cay at Twin Brothers Seafood and Steakhouse; contemporary-chic atmosphere at Dune.
Late Night—The casinos of Cable Beach and Atlantis Resort; sophisticated drinks at Bullion Bar; dancing at Charlie’s on the Beach or Club Waterloo.
Walks—Climbing the Queen’s Staircase; strolling along the white sands of Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island; visiting the shops and restaurants along downtown’s Bay Street and sidestreets.
Especially for Kids—Swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island; the flamingo show at Ardastra Gardens; Atlantis Resort’s Aquaventure Water Park.
Junkanoo, held twice a year, is an important festival for Bahamians, dating from the 17th century when slaves were allowed three days off per year. They celebrated at that time, wearing grotesque masks and walking on stilts, letting off steam after a year of endured hard labor.
Cable Beach’s name comes from the spot where the first telegraph cable from Florida to Nassau was laid in 1892.
Nassau has been a hot spot for James Bond fans ever since Sean Connery starred as 007 in the film classic Thunderball in the 1960s, and the actor keeps a home there. Six other Bond films have also filmed in Nassau.
Touted as the largest casino in the Caribbean, the Atlantis Casino is part of the megacomplex Atlantis Resort, which just happens to be the biggest resort in the country.
Dolphins that were displaced during Hurricane Katrina were rescued and now live at Dolphin Cay of Atlantis.
The Graycliff restaurant is home to the third-largest wine cellar in the world, holding over 250,000 bottles.
Beyonce and Jay Z are frequent guests at the One & Only Ocean Club.
Bahamian English is a mixture of island lingo and African influences. The “h” in such words as “house” or “thanks” is usually not pronounced.