Life the way it was meant to be… Picture an absolutely idyllic place and chances are Nassau will outdo your imagination. Its perfect white sand beaches stretch on forever with gracefully swaying coconut palms offering oases of shade. Crystal clear waters reveal the secrets of incredible multi-colored marine life. The water is warm. But not as warm as the people. Chances are you’ll leave this happy place in the Bahamas with lots of beautiful memories, mementos and duty-free gifts.
With its blend of influences from West Africa to England and from Haiti to the United States, Nassau is one of the most popular cruise ports in the Caribbean and Bahamas. The capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, it is located on the 21-mile-long-island of New Providence and is connected, via bridge, to Paradise Island, another famous Bahamian destination.
The city of Nassau itself features tropical, tree-lined streets, filled with horse-drawn surreys, ruled by policemen in white starched jackets and colorful pith helmets. You’ll find soft-sanded beaches for kicking back and catching ocean breezes, as well as lavish, Vegas-type casinos and a decent range of duty-free shopping stops.
But, as much as this vibrant town center is a cruise visitor’s first impression, most head out on beach adventures at massive hotel and resort complexes like Atlantis or on boating adventures that range from dolphin encounters to booze cruises.
At the Port…
Passengers must pass through Festival Place to exit the port facility, and it’s one of the more impressive we’ve seen in any port of call. There are counters staffed by tourism folks, who will provide maps and answer questions, as well as by companies that offer boat trips, over-land tours and taxi services. There’s also a small Internet cafe. Beyond that is a small, but colorful, shopping mall that specializes in artisan boutiques. There’s a steel-pan band that offers a musical welcome, as well as a food court, complete with stalls that sell the local conch.
Car Rentals: There are a handful of car-rental companies, such as Dollar Car Rental, Avis, Thrifty Car Rental and Budget at Prince George Wharf, as well as on Paradise Island and at the airport. But, they’re pretty expensive, ranging in price from $55 to $110 for the day. There’s also that pesky left-side-of-the-road driving to deal with.
Taxis: Taxis are plentiful and can be hailed everywhere, be it right by your ship or at all the hotels and restaurants. Count on sharing the taxi with other tourists and locals. Rates are fixed by law. Typical fares to Paradise Island are $4 per person, plus a 15 percent gratuity.
Jitney buses: These run between the downtown area to Cable Beach and Paradise Island from early morning until about 7 p.m. at 30-minute intervals. Fares vary (though they’re generally about $1.25 per person, each way), depending on the route. Exact change is required.
The Nassau Water Taxi departs every 30 minutes from behind the Festival Market to Paradise Island, operating daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The roundtrip cost is $6. Notes: Though the trip takes just 10 minutes, the water taxi may not depart on time. Since the operators tend to give you a bit of a “tour” along the way, expect to be approached for a gratuity.
Horse-drawn surreys can be found around Rawson Square and sometimes along Bay Street. They run about $15 per person for 25 minutes, but the price is usually negotiable. Note: From May to October, the horses rest from the sun from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.