Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Nassau and Paradise Island Tour

Bahamas photo
Nassau Straw Market; © Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
Any vacation to the Bahamas starts with Nassau on a short list of places to stay or simply to see.

It also happens to be one of the most -- if not the most -- popular cruise ports in the Caribbean region.

Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and located on New Providence Island. Major hotels and resorts are mostly concentrated at Cable Beach and the more expensive Paradise Island, a second small island of 685 acres that is connected to New Providence by two bridges.

Cable Beach is more than two miles long and has five top-rated hotels or resorts. It also has a golf course, nightlife and the largest casino in The Bahamas.

Paradise Island is located at the northeast coast of New Providence. It is the well-developed complex of hotel and resort properties including Atlantis Paradise Island Resort & Casino, which has a water park, the world's largest open air marina, a massive hotel property and, of course, a large casino to go with it.

Cruise Port Visitors

Cruise visitors will arrive at the Prince George Wharf right by downtown Nassau and with a full view of Paradise Island, the location of some of the top resorts in Nassau.

The wharf can accommodate up to seven ships, which means some days Nassau will be packed with visitors and other days it may be quiet.

Visitors will take a short walk on the docks, through the terminal and right into the downtown area. The terminal, known as Festival Place, has 45 artisans and shops along with tour information, a post office, communications center, phone cards, Internet access and information on taxis and ferry boats.

Once through the terminal, go one block south (in the opposite direction of the wharf) to reach Bay Street, the center of Nassau's tourism activity.

Shopping and Dining

Nassau has plenty of duty-free shopping. Popular shopping destinations include the straw markets, which showcase local arts and crafts, and Bay Street, which is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.

Paradise Island has shops concentrated at Marina Village, Crystal Court (inside Atlantis Royal Towers) and The Craft Centre, which features local artisans.

Nassau's Bay Street is easily accessible from the cruise docks and runs parallel to the waterfront. Festival Place shopping is located right by the docks, and Straw Market is nearby on Bay Street.

Numerous restaurants are heavily concentrated at Paradise Island, downtown Nassau and Cable Beach, which lies west of downtown and the cruise docks.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Bahamas photo
Fort Fincastle; photo courtesy Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
Paradise Island is among the most popular attractions because of the Atlantis resort marine habitat, Dolphin Cay and the Predator Lagoon.

Other nearby attractions include Blue Lagoon Island, which is 20 minutes away by sailboat and has beaches, snorkeling, diving and swimming with the dolphins.

Nassau golf courses include Cable Beach Resorts Golf Club and South Ocean Golf & Beach Resort. The Nassau Botanical Gardens and Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre will appeal to nature lovers.

Anyone with an interest in history will want to tour the local forts, especially Fort Charlotte, which is the largest on the islands, or forts Montagu or Fincastle. Located at Fort Fincastle is the Queen's Staircase of Sixty Six Steps, a popular tourist attraction that was hand carved out of solid rock.

Three beaches lie parallel to Bay Street. They are Saunders and West Esplanade on the west side and Montagu on the east side. Paradise Island beaches include Colonial, Casuarina, Arawak and Smugglers. Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island has been called one of the best in the Caribbean.

Getting There

Visitors commonly arrive by cruise or air via Lynden Pindling International Airport. Another option is taking a five-hour ferry from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The best time to visit the Bahamas for a long-term stay is in the spring, especially March, April or May. Cooler temperatures make the ocean water uncomfortable for swimming in January and February.

Rainfall historically hits a high point in June and August, while July, September and October tend to have heavier rain as well.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Tours   

October 08, 2015
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