If you’re thinking about visiting Nassau, or you’re already planning your trip, you’ll soon find out there’s no shortage of things to do in Nassau, Bahamas.
Nassau is located on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. It offers not only an exciting port-of-call and beachfront stay, but also a rich history and its fair share of fun. If you’re wanting to explore other parts of the Bahamas, you can also find boats to take you wherever you’d like to go.
Nassau is located especially close to Paradise Island, making it one of the easiest places to access the island (we’ll be discussing things to do on both islands).
If you’re ready to explore Nassau and the Bahamas, keep reading.
In This Article…
- 1. Nassau Straw Market
- 2. Go to Graycliff
- 3. Visit Fort Montagu
- 4. Tour Fort Fincastle
- 5. Pirates of Nassau Museum
- 6. Nassau Public Library & Museum
- 7. Parliament Square
- 8. Pompey Square
- 9. Cloisters and Versailles Gardens
- 10. Blackbeard’s Tower
- 11. Retreat Garden
- 12. Swim With Pigs
- 13. Dive With Sharks at Stuart Cove
- 14. Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Center
- 15. Strut With the Flamingos
- 16. Explore a Bat Cave
- 17. Experience the Stingrays
- 18. Clifton Heritage National Park
- 19. Primeval Forest National Park
- 20. Queen’s Staircase
- 21. Cabbage Beach
- 22. Blue Lagoon Island
- 23. Cave Beach
- 24. Junkanoo Beach
- 25. National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
- 26. Doongalik Studios
- 27. Popop Studios
- 28. Take a Tour
- 29. Visit Atlantis Paradise Island
- 30. Aquaventure Water Park
- 31. Baha Mar Casino
- 32. John Watling’s Distillery
- 33. Humidor Churrascaria
- 34. Bahamian Club
- 35. Scuba Diving
- 36. Glass-Bottom Boat Tour
- 37. Arawak Cay
- 38. Potter’s Cay
- 39. Dundas Centre
- Answers to Your Cruise Questions
- Remember These Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas
1. Nassau Straw Market
What started as baskets to carry fruit and other goods have turned into a local tourist attraction. Located on Bay Street in downtown Nassau, the straw market is a great place to learn about the industry that locals have been building since the early 1940s.
You’ll find much more than baskets here, though. Everything from t-shirts to wood carvings can be found here. You’ll also be able to find island-themed paraphernalia.
With this in mind, you’re likely to come across items that are mass-produced and shipped from abroad. If you’re seeking out local artisans, be sure to ask the vendors if their goods are locally made. While you’re likely to be supporting a small business no matter what you buy, it’s smart to be diligent if you’re wanting genuine Bahamian creations.
Worth Reading: Nassau, Bahamas Travel Tips – What You Need to Know
2. Go to Graycliff
Though Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant can provide food and a place to stay, it has a lot more to offer than that. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Located in downtown Nassau, the second you step inside you’ll feel like you’ve been taken back in time, but that feeling is short-lived. Not only can you find a pizzeria and chocolatier on sight, but you can also learn to roll cigars and have a rum tasting to go alongside it. You can visit the Bahamian heritage museum and even take a tour of the wine cellar.
If you want to get creative, you can pay a visit to that chocolatier we talked about earlier and learn to make some for yourself! With the help of a master chocolatier, you’ll be enjoying your creations in no time. If you’d rather sample, that’s an option as well.
3. Visit Fort Montagu
Dating back to 1725, Fort Montagu is the oldest standing fort on the entire island (though there was a second structure built in 1741). It’s located at the eastern end of Nassau Harbor along the waterfront. It was originally built to defend the Brits’ possession of the island against Spanish invaders. It was later destined to become the location of the US Marine Corps’ first military action.
Marines set sail in 1776 to retrieve a supply of gunpowder the Brits had stored there. They came up empty-handed, but still managed to take control of the base, leaving the Bahamian militia to retreat. Visitors can tour this sight Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
4. Tour Fort Fincastle
Constructed in 1793, this paddle-shaped fort was named for the governorship at the time, John Murray, also known as Viscount Fincastle. Placed atop Bennet’s Hill overlooking Nassau and Paradise Island, Fort Fincastle boasted six cannons and one howitzer.
You can learn more about this fort during one of its daily guided tours. Whether you’re going for the information or the views, everyone in your group is sure to have a good time.
5. Pirates of Nassau Museum
If you didn’t know, Nassau was at the heart of the Golden Age of Piracy from 1690 to 1720. Shallow waters made it the perfect place for pirates to hide out and pillage to their heart’s content without much worry about the outcome — large warships couldn’t sail close to the shore.
Now, you can explore what that time was like with a visit to the Pirates of Nassau Museum. Interactive exhibits make it perfect for visitors of any age. While you’re sure to learn plenty during your visit, you’ll also be able to enjoy the art and entertainment accompanied by each exhibit.
6. Nassau Public Library & Museum
What started as a prison has now become a place where visitors can go for quiet time and a place to learn. The old prison cells are now used to house books, charts, artifacts, and more.
When you explore the museum, you’ll also be able to find historic prints, newspapers, and even colonial documents. Admission to the Nassau Public Library and Museum is free.
7. Parliament Square
These pink buildings were erected by Loyalists in the late 1700s and early 1800s. While Parliament Square is a popular tourist attraction, it’s also where the government meets to conduct official business. These buildings house the House of Assembly, the Senate Building, and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas.
While these buildings remain a nod to the past, so does the Supreme Court wearing traditional British wigs and robes while in session.
Here, you’ll also find a statue of Queen Victoria and something for the entire family to enjoy. Learn about the history of Nassau while taking a stroll through its colorful streets.
8. Pompey Square
Pompey Square is named after a slave who led a revolt in 1830. It ended up being a key event that influenced the eventual passing of the Emancipation Act in 1834. The Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation now stands in a place that was once a slave auction lot and public market.
That isn’t all this historic square has to offer, though. Adjacent to that museum lies the actual Pompey Square, which houses an entire host of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.
In the center of it all is an interactive water feature for visitors to splash around in. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, this is an area that everyone can enjoy.
Also, during various times of the month, visitors can check out Creative Nassau — an open-air market where you can find locally-made Bahamian art.
9. Cloisters and Versailles Gardens
Located on Paradise Island, a short boat ride can bring you right to the beautiful views that the Cloisters and Versailles Gardens have to offer.
These rectangular gardens are situated about 75 feet wide and carry you from the Ocean Club to the south end of the island, where you’ll be able to overlook Nassau Harbor. As you explore the garden, you’ll be able to find bougainvillea and hydrangeas situated among the Bermuda grass.
The hours vary throughout the month, so be sure to check that it’s open before you head out.
10. Blackbeard’s Tower
Did you know that Blackbeard actually spent a lot of his time in Nassau? During the Golden Age of Piracy, one of history’s most notorious pirates was said to have his own lookout on the island.
If you’re visiting, you can easily visit Blackbeard’s Tower. Visitors can climb to the top to enjoy the view, and even spend time exploring the spot.
Looking for buried treasure isn’t necessary, though. A lot of the treasures that Blackbeard hunted down were common goods like cocoa and sugar. Instead of getting your hands dirty, you can just take a trip to the grocery store!
Also, contrary to popular belief, a lot of pirates did not, in fact, bury their treasure.
11. Retreat Garden
Established in 1985, The Retreat Garden was New Providence’s first national park. It’s situated in the heart of downtown Nassau, but still gives its guests a place to escape the cityscape with lush greenery and rare tropical plants.
What was once a private estate is now home to one of the world’s largest private collections of palms, and it’s even equipped with trails and boardwalks for visitors to travel on. Events can even be hosted here, like weddings or birthday parties, and you can even find a gift shop to visit.
12. Swim With Pigs
If you’re not looking to visit historic sites, why not take a swim with the local pigs? Nobody knows how exactly they arrived on the island, but they’re definitely not going anywhere. In total, there are about 20 pigs and piglets running around the beach and enjoying their time in the sun.
Locals and tourists alike visit these pigs daily, and they’re sure to provide fun for everyone in your group.
13. Dive With Sharks at Stuart Cove
If you’re seeking thrills, look no further than Stuart Cove.
Stuart Cove offers multiple packages, but the most eye-catching is the Shark Feeder program. While you do have to meet a list of pre-requisites (including being a certified diver), it’s all worth it.
Accompanied by a professional and experienced shark feeder, participants are taken on a two-day adventure to prepare themselves for the ultimate event — hand-feeding wild sharks.
The package also comes with snacks, ice, and water to drink while you take your private boat to the feeding spot. Once you’re there, a photographer will accompany you to document the entire experience.
14. Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Center
Head to the heart of Nassau to explore over four acres of picturesque tropical gardens and different species of wildlife.
What started as a nature preserve created in the 1950s, Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Center has blossomed into a thriving development. Thousands visit every year to experience the conservation center, tropical garden, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility all rolled into one.
Not only can you hand-feed parrots and experience the petting zoo, but you can personally meet boa constrictors. You’ll also be exposed to the national bird of the Bahamas — the flamingo.
Ardastra is perfect for visitors of all ages.
15. Strut With the Flamingos
Did you know the national bird of the Bahamas is the flamingo? The bird was once in danger of becoming extinct, but after hunting the bird became illegal the population was once again left thriving.
You can easily visit them at Ardastra Gardens, but they can also be found in the wild if you’re watchful enough.
16. Explore a Bat Cave
Located about six miles from downtown, the Nassau Bat Cave is a hidden gem amongst the other relics.
When you arrive you’ll find the perfect picture-taking spot on a chair showered in seashells. Once you move further, you’ll come across the bats and their cave. While tours of the place are rare, you may come across locals telling stories of the cave and its origins.
If you’re exploring on your own, this is a great place to start. Once you’re done, head across the street for a perfect water view!
17. Experience the Stingrays
If you’re visiting Atlantis on Paradise Island, the Atlantis Stingray Experience is a must-try. You’ll encounter not only hundreds of Cownose stingrays but also tropical fish of many species.
You have the option to snorkel among them to get an up-close and personal interaction, or you can simply feed them while on your tour.
Smaller children use the shallows in Stingray Lagoon while older (or taller) guests have the chance to wade in waist-deep waters. During your tour, a guide will demonstrate how to properly feed them while teaching you more about the species.
18. Clifton Heritage National Park
Once you’re done interacting with the animals, it’s time to hit the trails! Clifton Heritage National Park is the perfect way to explore relics and the history of the Bahamian past while still getting sun and enjoying the water.
The three groups this park works to teach guests about are the Lucayans, the Africans, and the Loyalists. The preservation area was opened to the public in April 2009 and is managed by the Clifton Heritage Authority.
Among the relics, you’ll also see local wildlife and fauna, as well the Bahamas natural ecosystem in its many forms. Everything from cliffs to dunes to sandy beaches to coral reefs — there’s no one way to experience this park.
Whether you’re simply looking for a place to hike, camp, and explore or you want a humble dose of history, Clifton Heritage National Park has it all.
19. Primeval Forest National Park
This park spans seven and a half acres of the island’s hardwood forest and is a relatively undisturbed piece of land. Primeval Forest National Park was established in 2002 still allows guests to experience lush views of greenery and the coastline.
You can even have a peek into sinkholes up to 30 feet deep and 50 feet wide. Don’t worry about falling in, though, the boardwalks have your back.
20. Queen’s Staircase
Originally built by slaves to provide a direct route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City, Queen’s Staircase was later named to honor Queen Victoria. It was under her reign that slavery was abolished in England by Parliament in 1837.
Now, it is a modern marvel that tourists climb to access the shortcut that it was originally built to serve as. The entire thing took over 16 years to build and has lasted to this very day.
21. Cabbage Beach
Located on Paradise Island, Cabbage Beach is great whether you’re looking to spend a day on a jetski or you want to seek out a quiet space away from all the noise.
The beach stretches just over two miles long, leaving plenty of space for beachgoers to pick their noise-level preference. Access is also free to the public.
Be sure to check the weather before heading into the water, though, because rip currents are common for this beach.
22. Blue Lagoon Island
Blue Lagoon Island is one of Nassau’s most famous and intriguing tourist attractions. Often referred to as “The real Caribbean,” this island offers visitors the experience of a private island getaway.
You can go for beach-only access, or you can upgrade to an animal encounter for the day. The beach-only package comes with a day on the island, complete with lunch and access to the hammocks and a view of the dolphins and sea lions.
The animal encounter allows you to interact with those same dolphins and sea lions, though you can’t book them until you’re on the island.
Both packages can also be upgraded to include water sports like kayaking, snorkeling tours, and water bikes.
Whether you’re looking to visit with friends or family, the memories you make on this island are sure to last you a lifetime.
23. Cave Beach
The limestone caves and caverns of Cave Beach were once inhabited by the Lucayans who inhabited these caves — the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. This beach was also the first point of arrival for Christopher Colombus.
While exploring the caves is a fun attraction that drives visitors to the area, the beach itself is never very crowded. This leaves you with a taste for private island life without all the hubbub.
24. Junkanoo Beach
This beach is just a short walk from the cruise ship dock, meaning you have easy access the moment you step foot onto the island. It also joins together Arawak Cay and Long Wharf beaches, so you’ll have access to all the amenities those beaches have to offer as well!
It’s also a popular spot for locals to gather on the weekends. You can experience horseback riding on Junkanoo Beach during the day, and visit the Crystal Palace Casino at night if you’re feeling lucky.
25. National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
When you’re ready to escape the heat of Junkanoo Beach, you can access the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Here, you’ll be able to find collections of historic and contemporary art.
The museum offers family programs for you and your children to learn about Bahamian art and culture, but there is also access to the public if you simply feel like roaming about the exhibits.
Whether you’re simply wanting to view the art or purchase some for yourself from the gift shop, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is a must-see on any trip to Nassau.
26. Doongalik Studios
Doongalik Studio Art Gallery is nestled amongst gardens in a historic building. It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a taste of local art and interpretations.
Its goal is to expose visitors to Bahamian art, culture, and heritage rather than simply staying for the sandy beaches and ocean expeditions. So, if you want a taste of the locals’ experience, give this studio a visit.
27. Popop Studios
Popop Studios is another local studio that specializes in the field of preserving and advancing Bahamian art and culture.
This studio exists to not only allow veteran artists a place to display their works, but also to give new artists a platform to speak about their art upon.
While most art can speak for itself, Popop Studios believes in showing the world what true Bahamian alternative art and culture is like. This studio is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to immerse yourself in local art and culture.
28. Take a Tour
Whether you want to walk, bike, ride a segway, or an ATV, there’s an island tour option for you. There are also food tours and jet boat experiences for you to take advantage of.
There are guided and self-guided tours for anything you’d like to experience more on your trip, and there’s no shortage of fun in the sun for you to find.
If you’re looking to get a lay of the land before the rest of your stay, we recommend starting with a tour of downtown. It’ll show you all of the best local spots, give you a bit of information about them, and even allow you to scout the area for spots not mentioned during the tour.
If you’d rather stay within your tour group, this is also the perfect opportunity for you to explore Nassau in the way you feel most comfortable.
29. Visit Atlantis Paradise Island
Atlantis isn’t actually found underwater, it’s located on Paradise Island. At this luxury resort, you’ll have access to different restaurants, attractions, pools, and a direct walk to the beach. It’s conveniently located about 2 miles from the port, so you could walk if you wanted, but finding transportation is also easy.
Popular restaurants include Bimini Road in the Marina Village, Plato’s if you want to catch the big game, Murray’s Deli overlooking the Atlantis Marina, and so many others.
You can have fun with the marine life at Dolphin Cay. This rehabilitation facility’s first residents were dolphins rescued from Mississippi after their habitat was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Now, you can swim, paddleboard, kayak, and even snorkel among these creatures and so many more. You can even become a trainer for the day and work alongside an animal behavioralist to learn more about these aquatic mammals and their life at Dolphin Cay.
If you’d rather stay dry, Atlantis also offers trips to nearby islands, tennis courts, a fitness center, and yacht or fishing charters. If you’re looking to slow down for the day or night, you can enjoy a pottery class, go shopping, pay a visit to the library, and even settle in for a movie at the Atlantis Theatre.
The unique thing about Atlantis is that you can purchase gift cards to the resort, so if you want to give the kids a card for the day, you won’t have to worry about how much they’re spending! Overall, this spanning attraction is worth a visit no matter how many times you visit the island, there’s so much to do!
30. Aquaventure Water Park
With 141 acres filled to the brim with waterslides, pools, and other adventures, the Aquaventure water park is sure to excite anyone who visits.
Whether you’re looking for speedy waterslides or a leisurely float down the lazy river, you can find experiences to enjoy throughout your entire visit.
Guests can book a private cabana for the day, complete with food and drink service, a personal safe, refrigerator, private changing area, and room for up to six people to enjoy their stay.
31. Baha Mar Casino
At Baha Mar Casino, you’ll find the chance to play slots, table games, and even sports wagers. Whatever your heart desires, it’s sure to get lucky with time spent at this casino.
32. John Watling’s Distillery
John Watling’s Distillery is located in downtown Nassau, overlooking the harbor. It’s situated on the two-acre Buena Vista Estate and offers panoramic views of not only the water but also the estate’s tropical gardens.
You can take a free guided tour of the estate, but self-guided tours are also available to the public. On your tour, adults will be able to sample small-batch pale, amber, and Buena Vista rums, as well as vodka, and a gin infused with botanicals from the islands.
Your tour will show you around the estate and the storehouse, and end with a chance to enjoy an authentic Bahamian cocktail, and the ability to look around the gift shop.
33. Humidor Churrascaria
Attached to the Graycliff Hotel is a different experience that you’re more likely to find in Brazil. The term “churrascaria” actually refers to the Brazilian way of grilling, cut, and serving meats with large knives.
At Humidor Churrascaria, you’ll have unlimited access to meat offerings served at your table alongside a buffet filled with vegetables, fresh fish, salads, and other Brazilian specialties.
Visitors with any dietary needs are sure to find something they love at this restaurant.
34. Bahamian Club
For a true Bahamian restaurant experience, the Bahamian Club is the place to go.
Here, guests can enjoy American steaks, Bahamian seafood, and anything else in between. Though it’s also attached to a hotel, you don’t have to be a guest to eat here.
35. Scuba Diving
Stuart’s Cove isn’t only good for shark tours. You have to be certified to dive here, but divers can experience all the walls, reefs, and wrecks surrounding the island when they are there.
When you book a scuba diving experience, you’ll be taken out by boat in the morning and given time to roam the waters at leisure. Visitors can also book afternoon dive trips, which have different things to offer with each boat that sets sail.
No matter which package or time you decide upon, you’re going to have access to round-trip transfers and the use of tanks, weights, weight belts, and even water and ice. You’re expected to bring (or rent) diving gear, though, and snacks, extra beverages, and tips for the crew.
If you’re not dive-certified, there are also courses offered by Stuart’s Cove.
36. Glass-Bottom Boat Tour
Explore the coral reefs and other sights of the sea without ever getting wet with a glass-bottom boat tour!
These tours can be experienced romantically or as an adventure for the entire family — the choice is yours. Some excursions also offer snorkeling once you reach a certain point.
Either way, you’re going to be witnessing marine life in its natural state, which is its best state.
37. Arawak Cay
If you’re seeking out dinner and a show, Arawak Cay is the place to be. Located on Nassau Harbor, this local favorite is lovingly referred to as “The Fish Fry.”
The sand taken from the harbor was used to build Arawak Cay and has since become known for its restaurants and shows — all of which allow you to experience the best that Bahamian culture has to offer.
While you’re enjoying your fish fry, you can also experience the area’s open stage and seating. Here, Junkanoo groups like The Valley Boys rehearse for local Junkanoo parades and even play regular shows from time to time.
38. Potter’s Cay
Located east of Nassau, Potter’s Cay is one of the best places in the Caribbean to try fish fry.
All morning, divers and fishermen search for conch, crab, and other fish to cook up. Afternoons are spent cooking, talking, and selling the day’s catch. Potter’s Cay consists of 40 stalls with 40 different ways to cook up a fish fry.
The thing about Bahamian fish, conch, and crab is that everyone is going to have their own way of cooking it.
One surefire way to decide which stall to try? Ask a local before you go.
39. Dundas Centre
If you’re looking for a taste of local theatre, Dundas Centre is going to be the place for you. This space offers two performance theatres and aims to show the public just how dynamic Bahamian theatre can be.
You can keep up with events and shows happening here. Who knows, you might find your next favorite show by paying a visit.
Answers to Your Cruise Questions
Whether it’s your first time on a cruise or your hundredth, questions can come up. Here are the answers to a few.
While crimes do occur in Nassau, not all areas are unsafe. Crimes often don’t happen in heavily populated tourist areas, but they are more common in the “Over the Hill” area.
It’s also important to note that commercial recreational watercraft is not heavily and consistently regulated, and crimes are sometimes committed aboard those — specifically by companies who don’t have safety certifications to operate in the Bahamas. These crimes usually occur on jet-skis.
For this reason, U.S. government personnel aren’t allowed to use independently operated jet-ski rentals on either of the islands we discussed (Paradise and New Providence).
The cruise port is about a 10-minute walk from downtown Nassau. Once you leave the port and pier, you’ll find taxis, information desks, and a festive center.
While it’s easy enough to walk or bike to many locations around the island, they’re definitely not your only option. The island has its own public transportation you can use (the Jitney bus service).
You can also call upon a taxi, water taxi, or utilize any shuttle services your cruise line offers. Scooter rentals are also available in abundance.
Nassau is a bustling tourist area, so there are a lot of popular options to choose from during your visit, but the most popular is probably Atlantis Paradise Island.
With beach access, plenty of restaurants and activities, the casino, Aquaventure water park, and one of the world’s largest outdoor aquariums — it’s enough to make you never want to leave.
This is going to depend on your itinerary, cruise line, port, and tour guide, but your excursion ticket should come with detailed instructions on how to reach your excursion group before departing.
If you’re still confused, find a staff member aboard the cruise ship. Chances are, someone will either know where to go or know someone with the answer.
If this is your first time on a cruise to the Bahamas, this question might be on your mind. How do you know which excursions are the best? How do you know you’re truly getting your money’s worth when it comes to booking them?
Well, the first thing to remember is that it’s your trip. Nobody is going to know what you want to experience quite as you will, so it’s important to do your research before booking anything to ensure you get the experiences you desire.
If everyone has recommended feeding sharks to you, but you really want to spend a day in Arawak Cay, then that’s what you should do.
After considering your wants and needs, the next thing to consider is time and distance. You want to plan your excursions accurately so you’re 1. able to make them all 2. not feeling rushed between each one.
If there’s something you’re considering embarking on independently, do some research before you do. If it’s far away or potentially dangerous, it might be best to go with an organized group.
In short, yes, you need a passport to travel to the Bahamas. Any stay under 90 days does not require a visa, but any trip longer than that does.
Fortunately, you can use your credit or debit card in almost any country your bank allows without having to worry about currency (though conversion rates will apply). Just be sure to let your card carrier know you’re traveling.
It’s also smart to bring at least a small amount of Bahamian dollars with you once you’re onshore. Some cruise ships will have an ATM that dispenses this currency, or you can do it once you arrive onshore. It’s good to note that not every cruise ship is going to have a conversion counter aboard.
While this question is going to depend on the time of year, it’s good to know that Nassau rarely sees temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Other conditions like clouds, fog, rain, or even wind are going to vary.
Remember These Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas
When you remember these destinations, you’re allowing your trip to become that much more exciting. Any island you choose to visit is going to offer versatility in its entertainment options, and Nassau is no exception.
Also Read: IDEAL Things to Do in Bimini, Bahamas
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly fish excursion or you want to live it up into the early hours of the morning, you’re sure to find something to please everyone in Nassau.
The biggest thing to remember during your cruise, though, is to relax. Don’t stress if you don’t reach all of these things to do in Nassau, the Bahamas in one trip. It just means you’ll have another reason to go in the future!