Our Favorite Spots in Nassau, Bahamas
Leave Your Cruise Ship and Enjoy the History, Culture, and Sea
More cruise ships and passengers visit Nassau, Bahamas than any other port in the world. Many passengers never leave their ship, though. This is regrettable.
Atlantis Resort, with a water park, casinos, and marine-life exhibit dominate shore excursions. Others choose a day at a private beach or enjoying water sports. Some choose to play golf.
With most 3 and 4 day cruises out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Port Canaveral docking in Nassau, repeat cruisers have usually already visited Nassau. If you have seen it once, then you have seen it all; right? Maybe not.
I find the town of Nassau colorful and interesting. Leave your cruise ship and discover Nassau. The following are my favorite spots, each easily reached from the docks.
Stepping right off your ship onto Prince George Wharf, you find Rawson Square. Then, crossing Bay Street lies Parliament Square. Grand, pink, colonial style buildings line the squares. Many of the buildings date back to the 1700 and 1800s.
The octagonal library with the cupola roof was my personal favorite.
Parliament Square makes a great place to people watch. This is the heart of Nassau. All varieties of locals and tourists pass through here.
Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle
The site that I most wanted to see in Nassau was the Queen’s Staircase. During the late 1700s, the British wanted an overlook in Nassau against pirates and those pesky Americans. In 1793 – 1794, 600 slaves quarried a path through stone to enable access to Fort Fincastle. The path ends in 66 steps leading to the fort.
It’s hard to imagine the work that went into this. The name honors Queen Victoria, who in 1833 signed the act that freed slaves throughout the British Empire.
On top of the history, the site is strikingly beautiful. The sheer stone walls keep the area cool and shaded. The trees along the path and the foliage at the rim provide color to the stark grey walls. A small waterfall trickles next to the stairs.
Upon completing your climb up the Queen’s Staircase, the paddle-wheel shaped Fort Fincastle greets you.
Although not as dramatic, the views are amazing. You can see the harbor, Parliament Square, and Atlantis on Paradise Island.
Local merchants sell souvenirs next to the fort.
This is my favorite part of Nassau.
If you are taking a cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, then you will find multiple shore excursions listed for Graycliff. This Colonial Manor, built in the 1720s now houses a luxury hotel, fine dining, a wine cellar, a cigar shop, a small chocolate factory, a museum, and artist’s studios.
Graycliff is my second favorite section of Nassau. The area is colorful, bright, and beautiful. With so much to do in a compact area, you should not miss it.
You do not need an excursion to visit. A moderate walk takes you there and you could spend hours.
On Duke Street, a long set of stairs leads to a pink mansion, the Government House. The Queen of England’s representative to the Bahamas lives here. A statue of Christopher Columbus perches on the stairs.
National Art Gallery
Just past Graycliff, at the end of West Hill Street, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas makes another interesting stop. It was still closed when I came. The exterior and the art on the grounds still made for worthwhile visit.
It is housed in Villa Doyle, a mansion built in the 1860s. Inside, four galleries document the art the art and history of the Bahamas.
Cruise passengers can easily access Junkanoo Beach. It is just a short 10 minute walk here. From the docks, you pass the Straw Market, Pirates of Nassau Museum, and Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation; each worthy of a look.
While Junkanoo Beach is not the best beach that I’ve seen, ease of access and culture make a must see. Reggae thumps through the air. Little booths line the beach selling food, drink, and souvenirs. Waiters roam the sand taking orders. Parasols and lounge chairs are ready to be rented. It is lively and becomes more crowded as the day progresses.
Nassau, Bahamas offers more than just Atlantis Resort. Even if you have visited it multiple times before, step off your ship and take another look. My favorites sites, Parliament Square, Queen’s Staircase, Graycliff, and Junkanoo Beach can all be reached on foot. Get out and explore and discover the history and culture of Nassau, Bahamas.