Nassau for Families

Photo by Chelle Koster Walton

Pirates, snorkeling and one big sandbox (aka beach) in Nassau

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Nassau showers families with attention, outdoor activity and plenty of cultural and historical engagement. Think pirates, dolphins, birds you can feed by hand, and miles of sand beach in the Bahamas.

Day 1: History and Heritage

For history, you should not miss an off the tourist path experience called Educulture Bahamas. Do not let the name scare the kids into thinking school desks and stuffy museums. This homegrown facility aims to educate families about the all-important Junkanoo tradition that informs all of the Bahamian culture. The colorful holiday tradition involves vibrant costumes, raucous music, and staying up after bedtime.

A small museum at Educulture examines the tradition’s African and colonial roots, then families have the opportunity to experience it hands-on with mask crafts and music making. While in the neighborhood, stop by the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. On weekends, it hosts art workshops for kids.

And what could be more fun than learning about history at the Pirates of Nassau interactive museum nearby?

At the island’s far west end, Clifton Heritage Park lets them climb Pirate Steps, visit plantation ruins, and look for birds on the beach. More steps to climb and burn off energy at the lush and lovely Queen’s Staircase near downtown. It lies adjacent to Fort Fincastle, where they can pretend to hide from a pirate attack. Fort Charlotte is a bigger colonial fortress overlooking Nassau Harbour and its cruise ship port.

Day 2: Critters and Conch

Just below it, the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center is a must for families. Highlights include feeding time in the lorikeet enclosure, where the birds light on heads and shoulders of guests offering food. Pink flamingos roam the grounds freely for more great photo ops. Do not miss their military drill performance.

If you are looking for lunch before or after Ardastra Gardens, Arawak Cay makes for an authentic and affordable Bahamian experience that gives families a taste of Out Islands cuisine and architecture. Start them out with some conch fritters – an easy way to sell them on the islands’ most signature food obsession. Fried chicken is another Bahamian specialty, if they’re not that brave.

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Day 3: Atlantis, Of Course

Of course the ultimate hot spot for kiddles in Nassau-Paradise Island is the Atlantis resort and its Aquaventure water park, aquariums, and marine animal interactions. If you are not staying at the resort, you can purchase day passes of various levels.

The public is also invited to shop and dine at most Atlantis outlets without a pass. Marina Village is especially family-friendly with entertainers and ice cream and candy shops. Bimini Road is a fun Bahamas-themed restaurant for sit down meals. Those staying at the resort will love the Kids Club and the over-the-top, hi-tech CRUSH teens club. Can’t afford a room at Atlantis? Check out nearby Comfort Suites, where families have access to Atlantis amenities.

Day 4: Downtown Nassau and Cable Beach

In and around Nassau on New Providence Island, British Colonial Hilton is near downtown and on the beach. If you are not staying on the beach, you can get day passes to hang out at the Hilton. Otherwise Goodman’s Bay Beach is best for families with a playground and water sport concession.

Recently opened Baha Mar development on Cable Beach is expected to give Atlantis a run for its money with three hotels, lots of beach and manmade water features, and Nassau’s only golf course and casino. For now, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is the only accommodations open. It will remain the most family friendly as two more properties open by spring 2018.

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