If the first few things that come to your mind when you think of the Bahamas are shallow turquoise-shaded beaches, soft white sand, golden sun rays, platters of the freshest seafood and epic water parks – then you have had the right idea about this tropical destination.
Nassau – once pretty much the Tortuga of the Caribbean Sea, is now one of the most incredible beach destinations you can visit as a traveller. What is there to see and do – especially within a day? How can you make the most of it? Can you really cover all of it in one day?
It’s a challenge – but we’re going to give you all the details you’ll need to make that decision. Here’s our take on how to spend a day in Nassau, Bahamas!
Where Exactly Is Nassau?
The Bahamas is actually found in the Atlantic, within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies. Nassau -the capital and the largest city in the Bahamas dominates the entire island of New Providence (the most populated island of the Bahamas).
Scott Kelly (NASA Astronaut) famously described these lands as the ‘most beautiful place from Space’, and we don’t doubt that.
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Recommended Time To Visit Nassau
Before we run off and dive into all the incredible things Nassau has to offer travellers (in one day – if that’s possible), you should make sure to visit during the most ideal time. There’s no point making major plans and heading off to the Bahamas if the rainy season is ruling the lands!
So the best time to visit would be the end of November to mid-April which happens to be the peak season for tourism. Ideal climatic conditions for a beach vacation prevail during this period.
If you want a great time, avoid visiting between June and the beginning of November since it’s hurricane season.
How To Best Spend A Day In Nassau?
1. Nassau Beach Hopping – It’s All About The Sun & Sea!
Beach hopping! It’s something you have to do when in Nassau. There’s no shortage of beaches for you to hop to, but there is a shortage of time. Practically one day can’t cover all the beautiful beaches Nassau has to offer. So for the sake of not letting you get overwhelmed by the choices, here are the top three beaches you definitely should visit –especially if it’s your first trip here.
1. Junkanoo Beach
Take a 15-20 minute walk from the Port Cruise – it’s quite literally the closest beach to the Nassau Cruise Port. Junkanoo Beach is perfect for all ages of beach lovers. During Spring, surprisingly, the beach doesn’t get overly crowded, so it’s serene.
Apart from enjoying the bright shades of turquoise waters and the soft sandy stretch, you can also go kayaking here and have some super flavour-filled Bahamian beach snacks from the beach cafes around – when you are hungry!
2. Cove Beach
Get ready to get beach-struck by the exquisiteness of Cove beach. There’s a reason why it’s one of the top beaches to visit in Nassau. The waters are crystal blue, clean and shallow. You can go snorkelling and observe the beautiful coral reefs and colourful marine life. It’s an opportunity to discover a different world beneath the waves
3. Cabbage Beach
The waters here can be rough at times, but honestly, it is absolutely shockingly blue and mesmerising. Journey for 20-minutes from the main city area to plunge into these paradise waters. You can also engage in some insanely fun water activities like jet skiing and parasailing. But if that’s not your thing, you could always go for a long and relaxing dip.
2. Visit Festival Place – The Never-Ending Festival!
This colourful beach village is full of things to explore.
It’s located at the entrance to the ship port. You will find cute stalls where you can purchase gifts, edibles and arts and crafts. But the prices are not the cheapest – still, there is so much to explore.
You can try different types of delicious Bahamian treats, and enjoy the local music that flows into the open air through the small footpaths and the fascinating stalls on either side. Maybe even get your hair braided by a certified hair braider – yes! That is a real thing. It’s a great way to taste and experience Bahamian culture.
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3. Nassau Downtown City Tour – The Picturesque Cityscapes!
The city of Nassau is one beautiful place. It’s a hotspot for some of the most richly coloured buildings and Instagram-able landmarks that carry some major historical significance! Start with the Bay Street Downtown. It’s filled with many popping coloured historical buildings, local restaurants, bars and luxury-brand selling boutique shops.
Make sure to stop by to try some of the best multi-flavoured rum cakes in town! Visit the strikingly pink-coloured Parliament Square – an architectural design that reflects the perfect marriage between colonial and Bahamian architecture. Drop by the Christ Church Cathedral, the Nassau Public Museum and more.
4. Visit The Abandoned Lighthouse – A Relic From The Past
Thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean saga (and the handsome Johnny Depp), pirates have always fascinated us quite a bit. If you are the same, then the Bahamas offer plenty of spots where you can explore the old pirate hubs and more! The abandoned lighthouse nestled at the tip of the Northeast coast of Nassau is such a remnant.
While it’s a retired lighthouse, it still draws plenty of tourists and is treated as a monumental landmark. Worth checking out? Yes.
5. Atlantis Aquaventure – Redefining Water Park Fun!
The Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park is a must-visit if you are planning on splashing around in places other than the beach. Go spend some time in this Atlantic-themed water park wonderland in Nassau. We are talking high-speed waterslides, lazy river slides, to other incredible marine adventures!
But that’s not all! Atlantis water park also offers visitors the opportunity to go on a 30-minute snorkelling adventure! You can swim around the Ruins Lagoon next to sleek sharks and other vibrant-looking tropical marine life.
Swim amidst the sunken ruins of the enchanting submerged city and experience an exploration unlike any you’ve experienced! How cool is that?
6. Tour The John Watling’s Distillery – A Tour That Ends With Tipsiness!
Want to taste the best rum in the Caribbean? Then you are heading to the famous John Watling’s distillery. No matter what you fail to do in Nassau, missing a tour here is a big no-no! Just 10 – minutes from the ship port, you will find the Buena Vista Estate, where the Rum Factory is.
Tour around the beautiful grounds of this 300-year-old estate. It overlooks the stunning Bahamian Ocean and offers visitors incredible views of the city as well. This estate tour is more of a self-guided one, so you can take as much time or little as you want.
Enjoy watching the hand bottling and labelling process, and even make a visit to the white-oak barrels, where they ferment molasses.
You can also enjoy different samples of rum and go learn all about the history of the distillery while trying to ignore the increasing tipsiness! (no judgment)
7. Plane Tours To The Pig Beach – Make Friends With A Pig
Pigs on a beach. If you know the Bahamas, then you probably know about Pig Beach. Some travellers visit by boat/ferry, others take a plane to this beach.
The ferry ride can be exciting, but it would take quite a bit of time, probably 4 – 6 hours – depending on the weather conditions. By flight, it takes just 30-minutes, so you are not wasting too much time just getting there.
The island is more or less about a mile. As you step onto this island you will mostly find adorably looking Exuma pigs, a few strays and even some goats. Take some time to explore the island –there’s not much to see. You can then begin your interactions with the main attraction. Maybe swim with cute piglets and enjoy the beautiful beach views. It’s a super unique experience.
8. Pirates Of Nassau Museum – The Capital For All Things Pirate and Awesome!
All Hand Hoy! (Pirate terms for getting on deck!)
Here’s a major cool place to visit. (Especially if you fell in love with the universe of pirates watching the thrilling saga of the Pirates of the Caribbean).
Are you ready to immerse in a completely interactive pirate experience? Step into the times of the pirates, go treasure hunting, listen to the sound of waves lapping as you stand on deck, and travel back in time when pirates like the legendary Blackbeard ruled the ocean!
Yes, this place is an absolute dream. It has many exhibits and incredibly immersive, interactive activities to get you feeling excited about – well pirates, no matter what age you are!
9. Visit The Local Straw Market – Enjoy The Local Craft!
The luxury branded boutique shops in downtown Nassau are nice. But the Local Straw Market is a whole different kind of nice. Despite being an easy-on-the-wallet kind of place, the Local Straw Market downtown grabs quite the attention of locals to travellers.
They may not sell Gucci purses or Channel perfume, but you might find some seriously cool findings here. As the name applies, this bustling market is full of nearly 500 vendors selling products made from straw. From handmade jewellery to other accessories, to bags and different kinds of ornaments.
They have some pretty and funky items you can purchase, to style up your Bahamas holiday look. Or it can easily be something to take back home to remember the Bahamas – and your one-day tour in Nassau.
Here is the best bit, you can negotiate the price and get something good!
10. Explore The Fort Fincastle – A Walk Through History
This high-walled stone fort looks a little intimidating from afar. Then as you get closer – the intimidation triples up. Nestled in a very rigid manner, on top of Bennet Hill – this fort was built on the highest point of Nassau. It would have been useful since its sole purpose was to ensure Nassau was well protected from scurvy dog pirates and their invasions!
When the fort ceased to be used as a point of defence, it was used to guide ships that were entering the waters of New Providence, Bahamas. Explore the fort premises – after paying a very modest price, you can examine inside the fort. On a sunny day, it can still look quite lovely, especially the views it offers of Nassau!
Once you are all done, taking in the chirpy weather and the enchanting views of Nassau and the Bahamian beaches, you can continue your explorations to the famous Queens Staircase (a.k.a. 66 steps).
Is A Day Really Enough?
So there’s much to do in Nassau, with incredible places to see and things to do – making your day trip to Nassau full of memorable experiences and epic Instagram captures! But from a practical standpoint, ticking off all the above places from your Nassau bucket list would be a near impossible task.
So our advice to you is to go through the above list of places and prioritize the experiences that align with your needs and tastes. Create yourself a route to follow, without going back and forth a couple of times.
The goal is not to cover as many places or experiences as possible but to truly immerse in at least a few incredible experiences while in Nassau!