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Bahamas

Nassau Beach Vacations: Tips, Hotels and Attractions

Atlantis Nassau
Atlantis is a popular tourist attraction in Nassau. Copyright: Bahamas Tourism Board

Hotel and resort visitors to Nassau in the Bahamas will discover the busiest city in this chain of more than 700 islands.

Nassau on New Providence is the most popular hotel island because it has the largest city and the largest cruise port at Nassau.

About 1.5 million people visit the Bahamas every year for hotel and resort stays, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. But 4.8 million people visit the islands by cruise ship. The Bahama islands attract more tourists than any other destination in the Caribbean region.

They are an overwhelming first among all cruise destinations and sixth among overnight vacations after Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Cancun and Puerto Rico.

Anyone looking for travel advice about the Bahamas should know that it is a convenient stop on the way to other Caribbean destinations. Nassau has a large shopping and dining district that will fill an afternoon.

Where is Nassau?

The Bahamas lie just to the north of the Caribbean Sea. Nassau is only 193 miles south-southwest of Miami, FL, which makes it a quick visit for anyone flying from the southeast United States.

Hotel visitors find the shorter and sometimes direct flights to the islands are attractive as short-term vacations. Getting there is much quicker—and usually cheaper—than flying an extra 1,000 miles more south to an island such as Aruba.

Hotel and Resort Tips

Nassau Hotel Map

Hotel and resort visitors most likely will fly into Lynden Pindling International Airport on the western half of New Providence Island. It’s a 10-minute drive or less from the airport to the north coast beaches where many of the hotels are located.

The average hotel usually costs about $200 to $300 a night during the high season and less during the low and value seasons. The largest and most famous is Atlantis on Paradise Island, which is connected by bridge to Nassau on New Providence. Atlantis, which is more expensive because of its tourist attractions, has about a half dozen all inclusive resorts.

Nassau Tourist Attractions

Nassau has a large shopping and dining district that will fill an afternoon. Nassau and Providence Island have more attractions than any other Bahama islands.

Atlantis Water Park is one of the most famous attractions in Nassau. Atlantis is a massive hotel, dining and waterpark complex that is easily visible from the cruise docks. It has 11 swimming areas, 11 water slides, a beach, marine habitats, two lazy rivers and a lagoon among other attractions.

Nassau has plenty to see for anyone who is willing to walk around a bit. Major attractions include Fort Charlotte, Fort Fincastle, Queen’s Staircase, Pirates of Nassau and Nassau Botanical Gardens. Fort Charlotte is by the botanical gardens; they are a good combination in a single trip. The lesser known Fort Fincastle and Queen’s Staircase are also next to each other and may be best for a separate walking tour.

Shoppers will find plenty to browse at the famous Nassau Straw Market on West Bay Street in the tourist district. Golf courses include Cable Beach Resorts Golf Club and South Ocean Golf and Beach Resort.

Vacation Weather

Bahamas monthly temperatures
Nassau monthly temperatures. © 2020 Scott S. Bateman

The average daytime temperature from September to May is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit or the low 20s Celsius, while the average from June to August is 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit or high 20s Celsius.

Beach lovers will find that summers are the best time for warm ocean waters. They usually get too cool for swimming from late fall through early spring.

The climate is tropical marine and moderated by warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Hurricanes and other tropical storms cause extensive flood and wind damage.

Like most Caribbean destinations, the most popular time to visit is March followed by April. July is a close third.  The least popular time to visit is September followed by October because of the risk of heavy rains during the annual Caribbean hurricane season.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes

The local currency is the Bahamian Dollar, which is roughly equal in value to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands, especially in Nassau.

Most hotels add a service charge. Prepare to offer 15 percent at restaurants and to taxi drivers. There is a 12 percent hotel tax. Bellboys and porters usually receive $1 per bag.

Passports / Entry Requirements

Bahamas hotel tourism
Bahamas hotel tourism by month. © 2020 Scott S. Bateman

U.S. citizens do not need to obtain visas to visit the Bahamas. But a passport is required to re-enter the U.S.

Before leaving the U.S., sea travelers must have a valid U.S. passport or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID.

Canadian citizens require either a passport, official birth certificate or original naturalization / citizenship certificate along with a return ticket and proof of funds to support the visit. Stays for Canadian visitors cannot exceed 21 days.

Culture / Geography

English is the official language with Creole spoken among Haitian immigrants.

The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking.

The geography consists of long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills.

Sources / More information

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
August 31, 2021