You may already know that Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas. You might even already know that it’s a remarkable destination full of beautiful scenery, stunning beaches, and incredible culture. But there’s more than meets the eye in these storied isles, and its history is as colorful as its coral.
At Margaritaville Beach Resort, Nassau, Bahamas, we’ve got the inside track on the islands’ memorable backstories and modern marvels. Here are just a few of the fascinating distinctions that make Nassau so special.
Once a Major Pirate Capital
In the 18th century, Nassau served as a kind of capital for pirates who wreaked havoc throughout the Caribbean and beyond. From 1706 to 1718, a group known as the Republic of Pirates held control of Nassau until the British regained power.
For a brief period of time, Nassau was home to about 1,000 pirates, while the non-pirate population was significantly lower.
Home to One of the World’s Biggest Wine Cellars
Nassau is known for delicious cocktails and tasty fresh seafood, but it is also gaining a reputation as a destination for wine connoisseurs. That reputation is partly due to the presence of the Graycliff Wine Cellar. This wine cellar boasts more than 250,000 bottles from 20 countries and more than 5,000 vintners. You’ll have no trouble finding the perfect wine for your palate.]
Every year since 1988, Graycliff Wine Cellar has earned the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Since 2015, it has also earned an impressive three-star rating from the World of Fine Wines. You can splurge on wine dating back to the 18th century or find popular blends from recent years.
Hosts the March of the Flamingos
In the 1950s, there were as few as 3,000 flamingos left in the Caribbean. One of the efforts introduced to protect the flamingo population was sending some of the birds to the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre. Here, the idea of The March of The Flamingos developed.
Today, Ardastra still holds this colorful, fun event. Three times a day, a flamingo trainer marches the synchronized flamingos around in spectacular fashion. It’s a treat to see in person, and it’s something that kids and adults alike will love.
Originally Known by Another Name
When Nassau was first settled back in 1650, the British named it Charles Town. The name was intended to honor Charles II, the King of England. In the 17th century, however, Nassau was a hotbed for fighting, with multiple nations fighting for control over the highly desirable destination.
By the end of the century, Charles Town was renamed Nassau. This was to honor William III, who belonged to the House of Nassau, originally from Germany. Nassau still has a diverse population, and even its origins have influences from around the world.
It’s Pretty in Pink
Nassau is home to an impressive collection of architectural landmarks, and anyone who has visited the city knows that the pastel hues are a hallmark of the area. In fact, some of the most important buildings in Nassau are a pastel pink color.
To see for yourself, head to Parliament Square. The buildings there are a fantastic example of early Colonial architecture. Built in 1815, they boast a color rarely seen on government buildings, but it fits in perfectly with the tropical style and design found throughout the city.
Snow in the Tropics
Many people flock to Nassau to escape cold weather, and that’s usually a safe bet. But on January 19th, 1977, Nassau saw snow for the first and perhaps only time in recorded history.
On that day, a cold front and a high-pressure area combined to create wet flakes of snow that fell in parts of Florida and The Bahamas. Although there was no measurable snow accumulation, it is still a day that older residents of Nassau remember. Here’s to hoping that was a once-in-a-lifetime event in this tropical paradise!
Backdrop for Major Movies
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that many of Hollywood’s most popular movies were filmed in The Bahamas. After all, when a movie is set in paradise, where better to film than Nassau?
Way back in 1954, Nassau cemented its place in movie history when 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was filmed on the island. Then, it was the backdrop for James Bond films like Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Never Say Never Again. The Beatles even filmed scenes from their movie Help! on New Providence Island.
Location of Famous Junkanoo Festival
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Junkanoo, but once you experience this thrilling event, however, you won’t ever forget it. The origins of Junkanoo aren’t entirely clear, and there are plenty of legends that explain this event’s 500-year history.
Some believe that Junkanoo was named for a West African Prince called John Canoe while others believe it refers to the French term for masked people, or gens inconnus. Still more trace Junkanoo back to a three-day celebration where British workers danced in the streets in masks and costumes.
Today, Junkanoo is celebrated on the day after Christmas. Starting before dawn, groups dance, sing, and perform through the streets of Nassau. Troupes spend months rehearsing and making costumes, ensuring that this celebration is truly spectacular.
There is also a summer version and another on New Year’s Day, but December 26th remains the biggest and most exciting way to celebrate Junkanoo in Nassau.
Exploring The Fascinating Culture and History of Nassau
These facts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rich history, heritage, and culture of Nassau. Now that you’re in the know, you’ll appreciate even more the singularity of the Bahamas. And those details are just a tiny taste of the history and culture you’ll discover when you explore these fabled islands for yourself.