Discover the beating cultural heart of the Bahamas in Nassau in 3 days. Nassau dates back to the days of pirates and post-Revolutionary War Loyalists fleeing America for their lives. The city slopes upward from Nassau Harbour, on the northern shore of New Providence Island. It boasts a multitude of historic forts, churches, government buildings, and other commercial structures dating back to colonial days. Nassau shares the spotlight with Paradise Island, on the other side of the harbor and vital cruise ship port.
Curious explorers can find a treasure trove of attractions to discover on the flipside of their playing on the beach and in the waters. Art-lovers should head to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, housed in a beautifully restored hilltop colonial mansion. In a different colonial home nearby, rum-lovers can tour John Watling’s Distillery and sample the wares.
The Graycliff Hotel complex resides in the same neighborhood, providing opportunity for visitors to tour a cigar factory, a chocolate factory, and an artisans’ village; and to dine in glorious historic luxury in the inimitable Graycliff Restaurant. Other don’t miss sights downtown include the Queen’s Staircase and adjacent Fort Fincastle, Government House (where the public is invited to tea with the governor twice monthly) and Fort Charlotte.
At harbor level, visitors find the duty-free stores, shops, restaurants, and famed Nassau Straw Market on Bay Street. On both sides of the harbor (in Nassau and Paradise Island), water sports charters take enthusiasts fishing, boating, snorkeling, and exploring private islands offshore.
For a taste of the Bahamas Out Islands, keeper of traditions, visit Arawak Cay, on the west side of downtown Nassau – a cluster of restaurants and bars that serve the conch salad, cracked conch, fresh fish, Bahamian lobster, guava duff, and other dishes signature to the Bahamas.
Outside of the downtown area to the west, Cable Beach is resurrecting as the sexy resort beach scene it once was before Paradise Island’s Atlantis stole its thunder. The Baha Mar mega-resort promises to be Atlantis’ latest competition, where visitors will find the island’s only golf course and casino. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is currently the only accommodations open. Many of the fine and casual restaurants have already opened, too. Try Katsuya for divine pan-Asian cuisine.
Farther west, at island’s end, a trip to Clifton Heritage Park flashes back to Nassau’s plantation era and further to prehistoric times. It appeals to both history and nature buffs with ruins, a beach, and trails. Head to an old-time settlement along the island’s south coast such as Adelaide Village.
Nature lovers find a different brand of respite at The Retreat gardens and nature preserve at New Providence’s East End.
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When it’s beach time, you won’t have any problem finding one that fits your sun-and-sand fantasy – from partying Junkanoo Beach in Nassau to secluded Love Beach to the west and resort-lined Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island. Of course, Atlantis resort is the main attraction on Paradise Island, and even non-guests can buy day passes to enjoy the plethora of beach, water park, animal interaction, casino, shopping and dining attractions on property. Another 18-hole golf course at One&Only Ocean Club is accessible to guests.