The capital of the Bahamas Nassau is a unique destination in many ways. For one, it’s vivacious, unlike the relaxed vibe of the rest of the country. Secondly, it’s the archipelago’s only city and teems with endless cruise ship passengers, rum-happy locals, crowded markets, and haring jitneys. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many fun things to do in the Nassau, Bahamas; in fact, it’s just the opposite! Do you want to shop at local markets and dig into Caribbean fare? The city has no shortage of options. Do you want to bask on wonderful white-sand beaches? Nassau’s waters are some of the most pristine and crystal-clear in the world.
All in all, Nassau blends all of the best facets of a Caribbean adventure, making it an excellent place to begin your Bahamanian adventure. To that end, here are the 10 best fun things to do in the Nassau, Bahamas.
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Exploring Cabbage Beach is one of the best and most fun beach things to do in the Nassau, Bahamas. Tucked on the secluded side of Paradise Island, this long stretch of pristine sand and water is one of the best beaches on the island. Here, you’ll find crystal-clear water and an idyllic slice of powder white sand. What’s more, there are even local vendors that hire out beach chairs. So, you can lounge lazily when you’re not frolicking in the waters. Don’t forget to carry your snorkel gear to check out the amazing marine life in the shallows. There are also more adventurous things, such as parasailing and water-skiing. And, of course, there’s no shortage of cocktails and tropical refreshments at the many restaurants and shacks.
One of the most exciting activities you can indulge in is Parasailing Over Cabbage Beach. Since it’s offered multiple times during the day, you can easily indulge in it whenever you want.
Pirates of Nassau Museum
Don’t be fooled by the name; the Pirates of Nassau Museum is Nassau’s only interactive pirate experience. What’s more, it does a fantastic job of telling the seductive, sordid, and swashbuckling tales of Caribbean pirate history. Step back in time to 1716, an era of pirating and when Nassau was a notorious pirate haven. There are many interesting interactive recreations and exhibits that recreate the Golden Age of Piracy. Moreover, the museum even displays authentic pirate booty and dioramas and even has a gift shop where you can buy some amazing souvenirs.
But that’s not all. You even get a chance to lock your children in the brings – as part of the experience, of course! And the location of the museum couldn’t be more apt; it sits next to the Smugglers Restaurant, beneath the spire of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral on a very scenic street.
If you want to explore this place well, check out this Nassau Self-Guided Audio Tour. It takes you around Rawson Square, the Nassau Public Library and Museum, and the Pirates of Nassau Museum.
Spending a day out on Rose Island is one of the most fun things to do in the Nassau Bahamas. The hustle and bustle of Nassau are great, but escaping for half a day is a great idea. And Rose Island is the perfect place to do so. You can reach the instant serenity of this near-neighbor via a quick speedboat trip. The island isn’t much more than a glorified sandbar, but it’s pristine, secluded, shaded, and with a swimming beach. So, it has all the ingredients for a perfect day trip. This Full-Day Beach Excursion to Sandy Toes, Rose Island, not only gets you to the island but also provides snorkeling gear and serves you a welcome drink and lunch! If you love Rose Island so much, you could even enquire about an overnight stay!
Nassau Straw Market
The sponging industry in the Bahamas declined in the mid-1940s. Then, Bahamian women began weaving and braiding the leaves of sisal plants and palm trees into fishing traps and baskets to boost their incomes. Today, this tradition continues at Nassau’s famous Straw Market. The market, which originally sat in a historic market building, relocated to a Bay Street building after a fire ravaged its former home. Today, the place sells much more than just baskets; you’ll also find beaded necklaces, wood carvings, t-shirts, and every other island-themed souvenir you can think of. If you want to experience Straw Market, check out their opening hours, which are aspirational at best.
This Cultural Walking Tour of Downtown Nassau is a great way to see the sights of the city, which ends with a stop at the Straw Market.
John Watling’s Distillery
Nothing is more Caribbean than visiting a local rum factory. And John Watling’s Distillery is an institution in not just Nassau but all of the Bahamas. It’s also one of the most fun things to do in the Nassau, Bahamas. The distillery lies just steps away from the pink-hued Government House and Graycliff Hotel on the grounds of the lush Buena Vista Estate. This 1789-founded establishment gives you a taste of the old Bahamas in the form of small-batch barrel-aged rums. What’s more, they come in three varieties, namely “Buena Vista” five-year aged one, amber, “pale” (white), and “single-barrel” varieties.
You’ll be mesmerized by the actual place, which sits in a great colonial-era great house with an open-arm staircase, sky-blue shutters, and a gracious wraparound porch. Interestingly, it is even featured in the James Bond movie Casino Royale – look for the signboard on the grounds. Don’t miss the Nassau Island Highlights Tour with Rum Tasting, which takes you on a guided tour of the distillery and even includes rum tasting!
Climb the 66 steps that connect the majestic Fort Fincastle to downtown Nassau, and you’ll realize how much blood, sweat, and tears it took the slaves to carve these stairs. The Queen’s Staircase, carved out of solid limestone, was built in 1793-94 and gave troops protected access to Fort Fincastle. They were named in honor of Queen Victoria more than 100 years later due to her role in abolishing slavery in the Bahamas. Today, these stairs make for a fabulous photo op and are flanked by tropical foliage and cooling cascades. When you climb these stairs, you’ll reach the island’s highest point at Fort Fincastle. The 1793-built boat bow-shaped fort offers panoramic views of Nassau and the Caribbean beyond. If you want to see this sight via a guided tour, the Historical Sightseeing Guided Half-Day Tour in Nassau has a stop at the Queen’s Staircase.
Checking out the local fauna at the Ardastra Garden is one of the most fun things to do in the Nassau, Bahamas. The gardens started as a breeding ground for rebuilding the endangered flamingo populations in the country. Today, the Ardastra Gardens and Wildlife Conservation Centre is the Bahamas’ only zoo. While it’s still best-known for its resident pink flamingoes, there are more than 130 species of wildlife, including tropical birds, native rodents, and wildcats. One of the most popular activities here is hand-feeding the lories, as is the flamingo parade every day as the beautiful birds turn and march on command in unison!
Besides the fauna, the garden’s foliage and florae are one of the most dramatic in the entire Caribbean. Vibrant flowers are in bloom throughout the year, with the overhanging lush mango tree canopy protecting them from the harsh sun.
Learn about the culture, history, and, of course, the gastronomy of the country with the Nassau Island Food Tour. The island’s cuisine is a tasty and delectable blend of influences from the Caribbean, the U.K., South Africa, and the U.S. There’s a lot more to eat than jerk chicken and seafood like this food tour will tell you. It takes you to the best culinary spots in Nassau that range from famous street stalls to a five-star property with the island’s only chocolate factory!
One of the most popular tours in Nassau is the Bites and Sites Food & Cultural Tour. The three-hour experience takes you to six different Nassau locations, all small, locally owned businesses. What’s more, your local guide even explains all about Bahamian history and neighborhood street art as you try everything from tropical rum cocktails, steamed chicken with rice and peas, and deep-fried conch.
Blue Lagoon Island
Visiting Blue Lagoon Island, a.k.a. Salt Cay, is one of the most fun things to do in the Nassau, Bahamas. This fun-packed private island is a short and scenic boat ride from Nassau Harbor and is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Not only does it offer close-up encounters with sea lions and dolphins, but it also offers a range of water sports. Animal lovers can participate in the Dolphin Encounters program at 3the massive three-acre marine mammal facility on the island. You can learn about and interact with these friendly mammals under the watchful eye of professional trainers.
Day trippers who want to laze out can also tour the island on Segways, swim or snorkel in the lagoon, or relax in hammocks along the palm-lined beach. Even families have something to do here; the water park is packed with inflatable toys and is a delight for children.
Clifton Heritage National Park
Clifton Heritage National Park is, undoubtedly, the topmost thing to do in Nassau. The park offers a little something for everyone – natural beauty, culture, history, and even tranquillity. Culture vultures and outdoor lovers can take guided tours of the slave quarters, plantations, and villages and soak up the culture and history of the Bahamas. Nature lovers will love the winding trails through the different tropical ecosystems, ranging from coastal coral reefs and dunes to rocky cliffs and wetlands and even an inviting beach. You can even spot songbirds, seabirds, and wading birds along the way. Meanwhile, water bums can follow an underwater snorkel trail and check out the coral reef sculpture garden. Did you know that there are even sunken film wrecks here? Yes! That’s because the now cult classic of “Jaws: The Revenge” was shot on Jaws Beach, which was shot right next to Nassau’s Clifton Heritage Park.
While you can explore the island on your own, there’s an entry fee and a separate fee for snorkeling. So, if you want to save money, bring your own snorkel gear.
Cool Facts About Nassau, Bahamas
- There are 700 islands in the Bahamas archipelago, of which just about 300 are inhabited. Nassau, the capital, is home to the third-largest wine cellar in the world!
- Nassau, and the Bahamas in general, are home to some of the most amazing hotels and resorts, especially the beachside ones. Check out the best hotels in the Bahamas.
- The Bahamas might not be the gay-friendliest of the islands around, but it sure has a rising number of gay-friendly hotels and other places. Here are the Bahamas’ top gay-friendly hotels.
Get Some Culture in Nassau, Bahamas
- Junkanoo Summer Festival: The Junkanoo Summer Festival is a street parade and one of the most vibrant festivals in the Bahamas. This festival originates from the ethnic population of “Akan” in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. This spectacular parade sees colorful costumes, dancing, and music in many places in the Bahamas.
Grab A Bite in Nassau, Bahamas
- Oh Andros: Tucked on the Fish Fry strip in Nassau, this wood-walled restaurant is as “Caribbean” as it gets. Think fried plantains, mac and cheese, rice and peas, conch fritters, and much more. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, try the seafood platter. It features eight shrimp, four swais (white fish) fillets, lobster tail, plantains, rice, and pikliz, a spicy slaw.