One Day In Nassau BahamasCaribbean Cruise Travel || Tags: Bahamas, cruise ||
A popular stop on many cruises from the USA, Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas. Although it is one of the smallest of the Bahamian islands, it is the most populated. Nassau is a beautiful city, perfect for photographing the pastel coloured buildings. With so much to do in one day, I’ll share some of my favorites so you can decide what to do with your one day in Nassau!
Also stopping at Grand Bahama Island? Check out what to do with one day in Freeport!
Nassau Know Before You Go
The currency in the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which is always a 1:1 conversion with the US dollar. For this reason most businesses will take American money, however be aware that you may get Bahamian coins for change! I recommend keeping small bills on you for paying to minimize the need for change when purchasing something.
There is currently a travel advisory for the Bahamas due to high rates of crimes like mugging, fraud and assault. Use common sense when traveling, and keep things like your passport well secured and don’t travel with expensive jewelry or large sums of cash. It is not recommended to walk alone at night and stay aware of your surroundings.
The official language in the Bahamas is English.
Getting Around Nassau
There are plenty of things to do within walking distance of the cruise port, but if you decide to go further, you may need to take a taxi. Always ask the price before you get into a taxi, as they may try to charge you too much if you wait until you’ve arrived at your destination. Make sure to get into a marked taxi and don’t take drives from locals offering.
Cars drive on the left in the Bahamas, so you may not want to rent a car for this reason. Also be careful when crossing the streets!
Unfortunately there is no Uber or Lyft on the island.
Nassau Cruise Port
When you get off the cruise you’ll walk down a boardwalk into Festival Place. It is a gated area with some local vendors selling their crafts and other items. There are also a few food stands to grab something to eat. It’s not a big area, but it has some bathrooms, and also an information booth. You will have to show ID to get back into the gated area after exploring Nassau, and also to leave Festival Place to get back to the boardwalk that leads to the ship.
Things To Do In Nassau
So much to do, so little time! You might not be able to tackle all these things in one day, depending on how much time you spend at each spot. We personally booked an excursion through our cruise ship, and then spent some time exploring on our own.
Ardastra Zoo and Gardens
Open daily 9-5, last entrance at 4pm. Cost is $18.75 for adults, $9.50 for children 4-12 and free for those 3 and under.
The Ardastra Zoo and Gardens is the only zoo in the Bahamas! It is about a 10 minute drive from the cruise port. The most exciting thing to see here is the flamingos! Flamingos are the national bird of the Bahamas, and here at Ardastra zoo, they are trained to put on a little show for you. They also have peacocks, parrots, many reptiles, and some domesticated animals like pigs and goats. It’s a great place for kids to see some animals they might never see at home.
$5 for adults, $2 for children under 12
Fort Charlotte was built in 1789 by the British, although it has never been used in battle. You can walk around the fort, and on Wednesday and Friday, starting a 11:30am there will be actors dressed in period costumes to give you an idea of what life would have been like living in the fort. Cannons will be fired off at 12 noon! There is also a small market before you enter the fort area, if you need to pick up a souvenir. It is a bit too far to walk from the cruise terminal, so you’ll likely have to take a taxi, but it is close to the Ardastra Zoo if you’ve just visited there.
Junkanoo beach, also known as the Western Esplanade Beach is the only beach that you can walk to from the cruise port. It takes approximately 15 minutes to walk there. Although the beach is small and can be crowded, they are many places to rent chairs from, and a few shacks to get food and drinks. The water is safe for swimming as well. Not the prettiest beach in the Bahamas, but it’s a good place to spend an hour or two relaxing before going on to the next thing.
Shopping on Bay Street
Bay Street is the main shopping street in Nassau, it won’t be too hard to find! It is just outside the gated Festival Place area. If you’re shopping for jewelry this is the place to do it! There are also many souvenir stores, clothing stores, restaurants and cafes. Be sure to stop in somewhere to buy some Tortuga rum cake to take home!
The Straw Market has an entrance on Bay Street, and it is the only place where you can negotiate the price. It is stuffed to the rafters with handmade items such as straw purses and hats, wood carvings, conch shell jewelry, and so much more.
Pirates of Nassau Museum
Monday – Saturday 8:30am – 5:30pm
Sunday 9am – 2pm
$13.50 for adults, $6.75 ages 4-17
The Pirates of Nassau museum gives you a look inside the real pirates of the Caribbean, including the infamous Blackbeard. You can learn about the “Golden Age of Piracy” through this interactive museum. It is a bit on the smaller side but that just means more time to spend at the next place you visit. It is close to the cruise port, less than a 10 minute walk.
The Queen’s Staircase is located inside Fort Fincastle. It was hand carved out of limestone by slaves in 1793-1794, they were later named in honor of Queen Victoria. It is commonly referred to as 66 steps, however only 65 remain now. Fort Fincastle is free, but donations are appreciated. There are guided tours daily between 9am and 4pm. The Queen’s Staircase is about a 15 minute walk from the cruise port.
If you’re interested in colonial architecture, you don’t want to miss Parliament Square! Built in 1815 by the Loyalists, these flamingo pink buildings are the House of Assembly, the Senate and the Supreme Court, as well as some offices. Located on Bay Street, it is not hard to find when walking by.
UpstateNYer [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do when visiting Nassau for one day on your cruise! This doesn’t even include visiting things like Blue Lagoon Island and the Atlantis resort! If you’ve visited Nassau, let me know in the comments what you did.