Better late than never, eh? This Destination “Friday” is about Nassau, a popular town in the Bahamas for all types of travellers.
Cruisin’: We’ve only visited Nassau once, and it was on a cruise ship (Carnival Valor). As one of the most popular ports of call for cruise ships sailing from Floriday, you can cruise in for the day on many lines. I highly recommend this option, but be prepared – the ocean between Florida and the Bahamas can be rough. Another word of advice – any cruise fewer than 5 nights is often referred to as a “booze cruise.” This is because a large number of the passengers are focused on partying instead of seeing the ports. If that sounds like your kind of thing, go for it! Also of note: There are some one day cruises to the Bahamas from Florida (though mainly to Freeport). One of my bffs and her dh did this, and they DO NOT recommend it. A big part of this is the seasickness potential. When they encountered rough seas, people were getting sick everywhere – and no one had a cabin with a private bathroom. Ugh!
Flyin’: You could also fly in to Nassau International Airport (NAS). From there to your hotel, your options are to catch a shuttle (your hotel may provide a free shuttle), taxi (~$35 to Paradise Island), bus ($24 to Paradise Island), or water taxi. If you’re heading to the Bahamas from Florida, you might want to check into flying in by seaplane or helicopter.
What to Do/See
Dolphins: At Blue Lagoon Island, people can enjoy dolphin encounters. There are a couple of options – Close Encounters for those who are a little nervous or Swim with the Dolphins for those hoping for more interaction. We adored swimming with the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium, so I would highly recommend considering this option during your visit.
Snorkeling/diving: There are many options for snorkeling in and around Nassau. Given more than just a few hours, I’d book a trip with Stuart Cove’s. Specifically, I’d do the half-day itinerary, which takes people to one or two reefs, possibly a shipwreck, and… SHARKS! Of note: their home base is where some of “Flipper” was filmed.
Stingrays: When we visited Nassau, we had very limited time, so we booked an excursion through the ship to Pearl Island for snorkeling and a stingray encounter. I was VERY nervous about the snorkeling part of our visit - it was beautiful (clear water, colorful fish), but the water was choppy. The stingray portion was fantastic. I was nervous, but the stingrays were not at all interested in stinging anyone. They just wanted to be fed, so they were friendly. It was a cool experience, and the teeny island was very pretty. I wouldn’t, however, recommend eating there. It’s just not worth it.
The Straw Market is THE place to go for souvenirs. You can find woodcarvings, straw-woven items, masks, statues, jewelry, etc. If you prefer to look for designer items, visit Bay Street.
Our friends enjoyed the Ardastra Gardens. This is home to the “world famous” flamingo show, so people who love flamingos should definitely check it out. There are some other fun animals and birds to see too.
The Atlantis Resort is another place to have fun near Nassau. Check out the slots, the pretty beach, and the largest man-mademarine habitat in the world. You might also check out The Dig, which explores the 11,000 year old history of the lost island of Atlantis. If you’re visiting or staying here, consider watching Into the Blue, After the Sunset, or Holiday in the Sun, all of which were at least partially filmed at Atlantis.
Where to Stay
My recommendation for accomodations should be readily apparent – Atlantis! They actually have several options with varying pricetags. Those on a budget should check out the Beach Tower or Coral Towers. Those with kids might prefer a villa at the Harborside Resort. If you have cash to burn, consider one of the special suites at the Cove.
If you want access to Atlantis at a cheaper rate and don’t mind the hassle of not actually staying there, consider the Comfort Suites Paradise Island. Guests there have full use of the Atlantis facilities (subject to certain restrictions, of course). Make sure you understand what you’re getting if you stay there, though.
My pics are here.