Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, is well-loved for many reasons. Chief among these is its charm and beauty. This city on the island of New Providence is home to some of the best all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas, making it a great place to stay if you’re looking to be near the best cultural and historical sites, shopping centers, nightclubs, and restaurants.
If you’re traveling to Nassau for a vacation, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the city and about The Bahamas as a whole beforehand. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular attractions, restaurants, and other great things to do in Nassau.
Good to know: Many of the most popular sites and attractions in Nassau, as well as the cruise port, are found in the Downtown area.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
You would never guess by looking around that the city of Nassau was once teeming with pirates! In fact, Nassau was one of the most popular pirate havens in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Henry Every, arguably one of the most successful pirates of all time, is credited with bringing the pirate business (and a shipful of stolen loot!) to Bahamian shores. Over time, other famous names like Charles Vane and Edward Teach (a.k.a Blackbeard) joined the throng of pirates and smugglers that flocked to Nassau’s harbors. The age of pirates was brought to an end when British captain Woodes Rogers declared war on all pirates and pursued the pillaging rogues under the slogan “Expulsis Piratis Restituta Commercia”, which translates to “pirates expelled, commerce restored”.
Nassau, the capital city, is one of the most popular places to stay in The Bahamas. It is also the most populated city in this tropical archipelago. The population of Nassau stands at around 274,400 (2016), which is just over 70% of the overall population of the Bahamas (391,000). Nassau is the hub for commerce, education, law, administration, and media in The Bahamas, and it's also a central point that provides access to most of the country’s other islands.
If you are traveling from the U.S., you will likely be arriving in Nassau via the Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS), which is the main airport of The Bahamas. It is just about 9.9 miles (16 km) west of downtown Nassau. There are daily flights from this airport to many major U.S. cities, so you’re likely to have lots of flight options as you plan your trip to The Bahamas.
Like the rest of The Bahamas, Nassau (named in honor of William III of England, Prince of Orange-Nassau) is beautiful to behold. There are many historical attractions, like the Queen’s Staircase and Parliament Square, that you can check out while you’re there - we’ll touch on that a little more later.
Insider tip: Nassau is an amazing area to stay in if you’re looking for romantic vacations for couples because there’s just so much to do and see in this capital city!
Cable Beach is one of the first recommendations that come up when searching for an amazing beach in Nassau. With clean shores, pristine sand, crystal clear waters, there’s no doubt that this beach lives up to the hype. In addition to being so beautifully convenient, this beach is also located near some of the most upscale resorts in The Bahamas, including Sandals Royal Bahamian.
The Bahamas is one of the most romantic places in the world, and a visit to Love Beach while there is a must! Couples will love the ambiance here, as well as the convenience (it’s just 20 minutes from downtown Nassau). Love Beach is also more private because it is away from the other popular beaches near downtown. Once you get there and secure a spot, you’ll feel like you’ve got a stretch of paradise all to yourself!
The name of this beach can sound a bit intimidating, but there’s no reason to fear. Jaws Beach was famously featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Jaws! In fact, this beach is so famous that people make a point of going there just to see what it’s like in real life. Fortunately, all the scary bits were reserved for the cameras. Off-screen, Jaws is just another sensational beach in The Bahamas.
Cabbage Beach is one of the most popular beaches in The Bahamas. Here you can enjoy just about any water activity that comes to mind including jet-skiing, water-skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, and more. There are also many bars, restaurants, and shops in this area that you can check out before or after finding a sunny spot to relax in for a few hours. The convenience of this location (near the Nassau Harbour) is a sure win.
If you missed out on Junkanoo in The Bahamas, the next best thing is spending some time on Junkanoo Beach! There’s always something going on at this beach, which means it’s probably not the best destination if peace and quiet are what you seek. If a lively beach experience with entertainment and food nearby appeals to you, then look no further than this.
The Queen’s Staircase has quite a story to tell - one that has been told for many years in The Bahamas. These stairs (commonly referred to as the 66 Steps) were carved out of solid limestone by slaves between 1793 and 1794 as a direct route to the city of Nassau from Fort Fincastle. It is said that Queen Victoria of Britain once walked here, so this historic staircase was named in her honor. You can come here to see the staircase in real life, and to take photos. The 66 Steps and its surrounding foliage provide quite a unique backdrop!
Fort Fincastle is probably the most striking of all of Nassau’s old forts! This fort was built in 1793 by a former governor of The Bahamas, Lord Dunmore, and can be found at the top of the Queen’s Staircase. The amazing view from Fort Fincastle (located on Bennett’s Hill, the highest point in Nassau) is one of the things that makes it a must-visit spot. The intricacy of its limestone design (it’s shaped like a paddle-wheel steamer!), the replica canons, and the magnitude of its walls standing at 126 feet high will be a sight to behold as well!
There are three popular historic forts in The Bahamas that often make the list of things you must see while there. That list includes Fort Charlotte, which was built in 1788. Set on 100 acres, the allure of this fort has everything to do with the dungeons, cannons, and tunnels you’ll get to see firsthand.
There’s also an impressive view of Paradise Island from the fort and lots of theatrical elements like actors dressed in 17th-century attire portraying moments in the fort’s history. Tours can be done here on select days of the week, but you may want to call The Ministry of Tourism to find out the schedule in advance (or find out through your resort).
Good to know: Paradise Island is connected to New Providence by a toll bridge. The cost of the toll is about $2 USD, and it takes less than 10 minutes to get there from Downtown Nassau by car or taxi.
You’ll hear a lot about Parliament Square while in The Bahamas. This is a popular location where you can find many of the island’s pink and white government buildings. Most of the buildings in this area have a rich history, and the Georgian Colonial architectural design that dates back to 1815 is certainly something to behold. Buildings in this area include the House of Assembly, the Senate, the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, and The Bahamas Supreme Court. There’s also a historic (and large!) statue of Queen Victoria erected in the square.
Visiting the Versailles Gardens is on the list of the most interesting things to do while in The Bahamas. Also known as the Paradise Island Cloisters, this attraction is frequently compared to the Versailles Gardens in Paris, which has a similar design. In addition to the vibrant flora and fauna, there’s a 13th-century monastery you can explore while here. Allow yourself to be fully present for this experience and take photos and mental notes for later!
Waterpark adventure calling? Look no further than the Aquaventure Water Park on Paradise Island. You’ll be able to make the most of the incredible Bahamian weather at this location which includes waterslides, a lazy river, and lots of pool time.
History, culture, and beauty collide at the Clifton Heritage Park in The Bahamas. This location is a good choice if you want to learn more about The Bahamas while experiencing some of the attributes that make it what it is firsthand. The landscape here is a mixture of wetlands, rocks, and white sand beaches. While at this national park, you can also see firsthand some of the ancient architecture of the Lucayan people, the first inhabitants of the islands of The Bahamas.
The Pompey Museum is located at Pompey Square in Downtown Nassau. This museum is on the small side, but it’s still loaded with information and lots of useful exhibits. Aside from what’s inside, there are usually cultural events happening in the vicinity of the museum, which promote a lively atmosphere.
The Primeval Forest will easily help you transition into a place of serenity from the moment you arrive. Away from the Nassau hustle and bustle, you can truly immerse yourself in nature at this site. With 7.5 hectares to explore, there are tropical plants of all kinds here, sinkholes, caverns, and lots of interesting limestone formations, which you’ll be able to explore during a guided tour (optional). By the time you leave here, you’ll be completely back to zen.
Nassau offers a myriad of opportunities for fun in the sun. Baha Bay is yet another waterpark you can enjoy while you’re staying on the island. This expansive beachfront facility offers fun amenities like a lazy river, surf simulator, wave pool, waterslides, kid and toddler pool areas, and an elite beach club.
If you’re speaking of the pirate history of The Bahamas (and boy is there a lot to talk about where that is concerned!), you simply must mention the Pirates of Nassau Museum. Did you know that there was once a time when The Bahamas had the largest crop of pirates in the entire Caribbean? Well, that was definitely the case, and it had a significant impact on island affairs. At the Pirates of Nassau Museum, there are lots of different exhibitions and displays that provide insight into this time. While there, you’ll have the option of a guided tour from an animated pirate, and access to a gift shop to pick up pirate-inspired souvenirs.
Got fashion in mind and not sure where to pick up something fun and stylish in Nassau? Head to Bahama Handprints where you can find something original to take back home with you. Aside from clothing, you can also get things like readymade napkins, interior-design fabric, placemats, accessories, and more here. Don’t forget to ask about a tour of the factory!
Your souvenir hunt in The Bahamas may just take you to Bahama Art & Handicrafts. That is if you really want to find something out of the ordinary to take home with you. Bahamian treasures abound here, and you can choose from things like handmade jewelry like glass stone bangles and conch charm necklaces, Junkanoo headpiece ornaments, paintings, driftwood sculptures, handmade baskets, traditional handicrafts, and other decorative items.
Enjoy a touch of class on an already exciting stay in Nassau by visiting the historic Graycliff. This romantic locale was once the estate of a famous pirate, but today it is one of the best places in Nassau to acquire unique, sophisticated souvenirs. At Graycliff, you can find delicious gourmet chocolates and truffles crafted at their own chocolate factory, which make a scrumptious gift for those back home. The site is also home to the Bahamas’ first winery, Bahamas Barrels, so it may be worth your time to scoop up a few bottles of locally blended wine to pair with your sweet treats.
You haven’t been to the Caribbean until you’ve tried some rum cake. You also won’t be able to adequately sell the experience to friends or family unless you bring some home with you once your vacation is over! Located in downtown Nassau, the Bahamas Rum Cake Factory makes it easy to take delicious rum cakes back home in flavors like amaretto, banana, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, and more. These rum cakes are recognized as the official rum cakes of The Bahamas, so you can be assured you’re making a good purchase!
A little way from Government House in Nassau, you’ll find the John Watling’s Distillery. The distillery offers a popular tour which provides an opportunity to sample barrel-aged rum and explore the Buena Vista Estate where it is located. Tasting tours can be done daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you’re looking to get the party started around lunchtime, Señor Frogs is the place to be. This is a high-energy, fun zone where you can have a refreshing drink and some good food. The location is convenient, very close to the historic city center, and in the vicinity of the cruise port. Look for a colorful entrance that’s hard to miss and get ready for some fun and laughs!
This off-the-beaten-path restaurant offers Mediterranean-influenced Caribbean cuisine in a casual waterfront setting. Sit out on the veranda and enjoy the cool breeze as you devour delicious cocktails and unique dishes like watermelon salad, roasted snapper, and hand-crafted pizzas.
Latitudes offers waterfront dining at its best, right at the Nassau Harbour Club. It could be the eye-catching menu that includes local and international cuisine or the views that keep people coming back; that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself when you get there!
Compass Point is the ideal place to go for good food with a lovely ocean view. There’s also live music on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10 p.m., which will really help you get in sync with the Caribbean rhythm of things that much quicker!
Venture into the western part of New Providence for an exotic lunch experience. Fitted with both indoor and outdoor dining areas, Aquafire gives you the opportunity to dine on Bahamian favorites like conch chowder, conch fritters, and grouper or try something a little different (think crispy octopus tacos, spicy coconut Thar red curry, and more!). Plus, there are quite a few delicious vegetarian options to enjoy.
Green Parrot is a restaurant with humble beginnings that’s gained popularity with locals and visitors to The Bahamas. This establishment offers Bahamian cuisine at its best in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Their location on East Bay Street overlooks the Nassau Harbour, which will add some sunny vibes to your meal.
A visit to Blue Sail is the beginning of a tasty Caribbean adventure. This restaurant overlooking the ocean serves up a variety of dishes, but their wood oven pizzas and Mediterranean dishes with a signature French touch are what really keep you coming back to this picturesque restaurant on Sandyport Beach.
Mogano keeps things simple, with a strategy that has helped them work their way to perfection over the years. At this restaurant, you’ll be able to enjoy flavors from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and more, either from the comfort of the main dining room, the intimate 8-seat sushi bar, or out on the terrace with romantic waterside views. There’s also Bar Shima, a lounge setting that overlooks a pool where you can take your pick of a host of creative cocktails or sip on a glass of wine. You’ll need reservations to dine here.
Café Matisse is an amazing dining spot that you could easily miss out on if you’re not in the know. It is one of the best places to get Italian food while in Nassau. If you’re looking for great options to try at this restaurant, consider the grilled lamb chops, pasta (of all kinds), or the over-roasted duck. There are so many delicious dishes that you really can’t go wrong!
The last thing you’d expect to find while exploring New Providence is a cozy French café and restaurant, but Island Brothers is just that! This little brasserie puts a tropical twist on a traditional experience and will be truly appreciated by foodies with a more refined taste. They also have a quite diverse cocktail menu that you will love as you indulge in this European dining experience in the Caribbean.
Appetizers like tuna tartare, conch, smoked salmon and other mouth-watering options lead the way to a high-end dining experience at Sapodilla. This Bahamian restaurant is known for its great food and excellent service. There’s also a bar called the Kamalame Bar, plush outdoor seating options, and a piano champagne lounge. Remember that reservations are needed for this restaurant, which is open from Tuesday to Saturday weekly.
A Greek and Latin fusion restaurant by description, Kyma Seafood and Grill has an extensive menu and upscale ambiance. Lovers of Mediterranean cuisine especially will love the food on offer here, as well as the possibility of live entertainment.
If you’re looking for a sushi option that’s sure to please your palate, then you might just be in luck at Sushi Rokkan. This restaurant has a wide selection of sushi dishes and an award-winning sake list. It is located at the Old Fort Bay Town Center and is open Monday to Saturday.
Best place to dine and have drinks on a budget.
You’ll have a great time at the Arawak Cay Fish Fry on West Bay Street! You can enjoy fresh-off-the-grill fish seasoned and cooked to perfection, along with a bit of music and dancing. Take the opportunity to try the most popular Bahamian dishes, such as conch salad, peas and rice, conch fritters, cracked conch, and grouper fingers, while all pair well with an ice-cold local beer like Sands or Kalik!
Best spot in Nassau for craft cocktails.
A coffee shop that doubles as a cocktail bar? That’s exactly what you’ll find at this locale, which pays attention to the art and history of the craft cocktail while serving up coffee, fresh teas, and pastries. A passion project of its creator, every detail of this space is carefully thought out, serving as a reminder to its patrons to live a luxurious life and live it well. By day, you’ll be able to enjoy a coffee shop experience here and at night, a craft cocktail bar.
Do you like the idea of unlimited cocktails? Drink as much as you want, as long as you want, at any of the bars (including swim-up bars) at the all-inclusive resort Sandals Royal Bahamian. A great way to start your afternoon!
Best spot in Nassau for wine drinkers.
If you’re interested in tasting great wines and spirits from around the world in a relaxing, zen environment, you’ve got to make a stop at 1er Cru (pronounced Premier Cru) while you’re in Nassau! This boutique and lounge will also give you the chance to learn more about the history and culture of the World of Wine as you sip and appreciate the fruit of the industry.
If you’re going to be dining at Sapodilla Restaurant, you could potentially get two experiences wrapped into one! Visit the Sunset Beach Club on the Sapodilla Estate if you’re in the mood for cocktails and food in a lively atmosphere. Prepare to be greeted by music as you enter (there is usually a DJ or live performer) and take a seat out on the terrace if you want to enjoy the views.
Frozen daiquiris are a Bahamian tradition! There’s no better place to wet your feet in the world of daiquiris than at the Daiquiri Shack. You’ll be amazed as the staff of this quaint venue turn fresh fruit into smooth, delicious frozen daiquiris right before your eyes. Choose between strawberry and pina colada (or a Miami Vice that combines the two), mango, or any number of other flavor combinations for a delicious, sweet treat that can be either rum-free or as potent as you wish!
Best spot in Nassau for craft beer.
The Bahamas has a pirate-filled history that will be fun to learn about while there. One of the places you can embark on your journey of discovery about that era is at the Pirate Republic Brewing Company. Whether you’re there for the historical notes or for the delicious craft beer, this will be one experience (may also include food, rum, and cocktails!) that will not disappoint.
Swank and elegant, you can really enjoy getting dressed up for a Bond Nightclub experience! Considering several Bond movies were filmed in The Bahamas, this is a great place to pay homage to that. So, kick back with a cocktail, and show off your best moves on the dance floor!
If you’re looking to enjoy a Caribbean clubbing experience, check out the Aura Nightclub while you are in Nassau. Aura is one of the best entertainment spots on the island, and it is luxurious enough to include a glass dance floor. This cashless venue has two bars, a VIP section, and food available for purchase.
Insider tip: Nassau is great for fun in the sun, and some resorts in this area like Sandals Royal Bahamian ensure guests always have something entertaining to do, including themed parties, live shows, reggae bands, and so much more!
Who doesn’t want to have a Caribbean rooftop lounge experience? Above the big city lights, you’ll be able to have a few hours of fun and thrills at the Skybar at Cable Beach, which is the only rooftop lounge on the island of New Providence. As you would expect from such an amazing location, the view is phenomenal, and so are the service and drinks.
A casino right in the heart of paradise can make room for a night of grandeur in The Bahamas. Whether you feel like spending some time at the card tables, hitting the slots, or putting up a wager on a sports game, you’ll be able to do just that at the Cable Beach Casino, which is another one of the biggest casinos in the Caribbean.
Fast paced and glamorous, you’ll appreciate the ambiance at the Paradise Island Casino, one of the Caribbean’s largest casinos. You don’t even have to be an avid gambler to get into this experience. All you’ll need is a winning attitude and a pocket full of luck. There are 85 table games at this location, more than 700 slot machines, and many other options all available 24/7.
There are many amazing places to stay in The Bahamas, and Sandals Royal Bahamian is at the top of that list. Newly renovated and all-inclusive in nature, this resort appeals to couples who are looking to add some magic to their relationship in a place where they can focus on just each other.
Sandals Royal Bahamian presents a signature Sandals luxury experience, mixed in with European elements and opportunities to spend time on a private offshore island. This resort includes two sky-sized colonnaded pools overlooking the ocean, 5-Star Global Gourmet™ dining at 10 specialty restaurants plus three unique themed fdsood trucks, eight all-inclusive bars including swim-up bars, an award-winning Red Lane® Spa, and free airport transfers (with the option of VIP transfers in a Rolls-Royce or Mercedes-Benz for butler guests in certain room categories).
If that isn’t the beginning of a luxurious vacation, we don’t know what is!
Insider tip: Diving is a must while in The Bahamas, whether snorkeling or scuba diving. Sandals guests get professional snorkeling and scuba equipment, and scuba is free for certified divers (up to 2 tanks per day)! Not PADI® certified? Here’s how you can get PADI® certified at Sandals in The Bahamas!
Hands down, swimming with the pigs in The Bahamas is one of the most hyped-up activities you’ll read about before getting there. Chances are you’re already signed up for this tour, and we can say you certainly won’t have any regrets. The famous swimming pigs of The Bahamas are a thrill to witness. They’ll fill your heart with joy with their antics, from swimming to your boat as you arrive on the island, to hanging around in hopes that you came bearing gifts (food!). This tour includes taking a powerboat from Nassau to the Exumas, which takes about an hour and a half each way, and then interacting with the pigs. You should also take the opportunity to experience some of the other things to do in Exuma while there.
Rose Island is considered one of the ‘Out Islands’ in The Bahamas. You’ll be able to access Rose Island from Nassau via speedboat. Rose Island is more or less a private island where many visitors go to spend the day. Some tours to the island include lunch and snorkeling, after a delicious welcome drink. There's also a beach bar here which adds to the chill vibe.
Expert tip: If the idea of staying on one island while exploring others appeals to you, check out our guide on island-hopping in The Bahamas to discover the best ways to experience multiple islands on your vacation!
Blue Lagoon is another private island that you can access from Nassau. This island is super eco-friendly and is known and loved for its immaculate beaches. So untouched is this island, which is located just about 3 miles from Nassau, that you’re likely to see dolphins or even turtles swimming off the coasts. Swimming with dolphins and interacting with sea lions is an absolute possibility on Blue Lagoon Island!
Let’s face it: while vacations can be amazing, the time spent in the dream destinations we choose to travel to passes by quickly. That’s why it’s important to learn all you can before you arrive about what you can do while there. Knowing this can also help you choose the best accommodation, which ideally would be near some of the things you want to do.
Dine around the world on this little island or enjoy local cuisine that’s sure to have you coming back for more! If you’re in the mood for dancing, grab a cocktail or craft beer and sway to the Caribbean beats under the moonlight. With so many amazing sights like colonial forts, cathedrals, and statues to see, there’s never a dull moment in the spectacular city of Nassau.