If you can take your eyes off the sea (not easy, we know), you’ll discover that Nassau boasts an intoxicating array of delights for all the senses. Savor the conch fritters under Paradise Island Bridge and chase them with a fine rum, freshly distilled. Follow the babble of voices to the spirited Straw Market, where local artisans display their handiwork. Bask in the glow as late afternoon sunlight warms the pink stonework of Parliament Square.
In Nassau, the pleasures on land more than keep up with the treasure of the sea. Whether you’re up for a leisurely stroll or a full-day of island exploration, here are some of our favorite island-based destinations.
DOWNTOWN NASSAU AND BAY STREET
Among the most popular destinations are Bay Street and Downtown Nassau. This area is home to the commercial district and is also the first place that most visitors see when they disembark from any of the cruise ships that dock at Prince George Wharf. As a result, it’s a main hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. You’ll find everything from luxury shops to local stores, fine dining to street foods, and family entertainment options to exciting nightlife.
If you’re interested in local arts and crafts, don’t miss out on a visit to the world-famous Straw Market. As early as the 1940s, the women of The Bahamas began to boost their income through weaving projects using the local plants and grasses. You’ll enjoy a wide selection of Bahamian collectibles and beautiful local art.
ARDASTRA GARDENS, ZOO, AND CONSERVATION CENTER
One of the best things about spending time in The Bahamas is having access to the remarkable flora and fauna in the region. A great way to see both at the same time is to visit the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre. This is the only zoo in all of The Bahamas and is home to over 135 beautiful and unique animals.
The highlight of a trip to the zoo is undoubtedly the parade of flamingos. Three times a day, flamingos take over and grace visitors with a fantastic show that you’ll never forget.
Just across Nassau Harbour is Paradise Island. To reach the island by foot, simply walk over the Paradise Island Bridge from Downtown Nassau. You can also catch a taxi or the ferry.
On the island, visit the oldest lighthouse in The Bahamas, Hog Island Lighthouse. It gets its name from when Paradise Island was known as Hog Island and it is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the West Indies. Paradise Island also offers plenty of shopping and dining options.
On your way back to Nassau, stop under the Paradise Island Bridge at Potter’s Cay. This is where you’ll find an amazing local fish market, the ideal place to buy conch fritters or a fresh conch salad.
JOHN WATLING’S DISTILLERY
An unmistakable side effect of spending time in Nassau is learning to embrace a more relaxed way of life. No matter how busy your schedule might be, there is always time for a cool drink or watching the gorgeous sunsets.
At John Watling’s Distillery, they make a tasty local rum better known as the “Spirit of the Bahamas.” The distillery is located in Nassau within the Buena Vista Estate, which dates back to the 18th century.
On a tour of John Watling’s Distillery, you can view the entire production process. Explore the estate itself and get a feel for what Nassau and the rum trade might have been like over 200 years ago.
Of course, no tour of John Watling’s would be complete without ending at the Red Turtle Tavern, which is known for exceptional rum-based cocktails. You can even pick up a few bottles of rum to take home for yourself or as a souvenir for a friend.
NATIONAL ART GALLERY OF THE BAHAMAS
If you want to know about the history and culture of The Bahamas, stop at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. The gallery is located in Villa Doyle. This mansion was built in the 1860s and was the home of William Henry Doyle, the first Chief Justice of The Bahamas. The building itself is a thing of beauty with wrap-around porches and spectacular views of the city and ocean from the upper balcony.
Inside, you’ll find exhibits and works of art dating from the precolonial era to today. There are also frequent special events where visitors can take art classes, attend screenings for independent films, or attend social events.
Junkanoo Beach is just a short walk from Downtown Nassau and a great place to experience the local vibe. It’s a public beach and is popular with cruise passengers because of its close proximity to Prince George Wharf.
There are plenty of amenities and activities the entire family can enjoy. Because of its location on Nassau Harbour, the water is calmer than many other beaches located directly on the oceanfront. This makes it a great beach option if you have younger children.
HISTORICAL SITES IN NASSAU
Nassau has so much history and culture and there are many sites you should visit to help you understand the uniqueness of this area and The Bahamas in general. A few of these include:
QUEEN’S STAIRCASE – This staircase was created between 1793 and 1794 and consists of 66 steps (65 of which are visible) that were hand-carved from solid limestone. The staircase provided a direct route from Fort Fincastle to the city of Nassau and was later named in honor of Queen Victoria.
FORT FINCASTLE – This fort is located next to the Queen’s Staircase and atop Bennet’s Hill. Built in 1793, Fort Fincastle protected Nassau Harbour from pirates and also served as a lighthouse.
FORT MONTAGU – Built in 1741, is the oldest fort still standing on New Providence Island.
FORT CHARLOTTE – Construction began in 1787 and it is the largest fort on New Providence Island. Complete with a moat, dungeon, and underground tunnels, it is a top draw for visitors and residents alike.
PARLIAMENT SQUARE – Construction of these pink government buildings began in the late 1700s and consists of the House of Assembly, the Senate Building, and the Supreme Court of The Bahamas.
CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL – Christ Church was built 1841 and is of Gothic architecture. The church is considered the “Mother Church” of all Anglican churches in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
There are several guided tours available that will take you to points of interest all across Nassau.
ENJOY EASY ACCESS TO ALL OF NASSAU AND BEYOND
Margaritaville Beach Resort, Nassau, Bahamas is perfectly positioned for your days of island exploration. Knowing you’re always a stone’s throw from your own residence means you can revel in all the sights, sounds, and flavors of the islands.