So Much to See… So Little Time…
When you step off a cruise ship it can seem like you don’t have enough time to really experience everything that a destination has to offer. Nassau is ranked as one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations and we can imagine how overwhelming it can be for visitors hoping to get a taste of the island in a mere 2 hours!
With the time-pressed traveller in mind, we’ve put together some great suggestions aimed at helping you discover some of the amazing things to see and do in Nassau.
You can get a peek into Bahamian culture and history through the work of our talented visual artists. Some of the best spots to submerge yourself into the local art scene include The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, The D’Aguilar Art Foundation, Hillside House or Graycliff Art Studios among others. Of course, who can visit Nassau and not take a trip to our very own Pirate Museum? Don’t just take our word for it, check out TripAdvisor’s listing of the Top 10 Museums in Nassau, take your pick and then get ready for a colourful journey into the Bahamas’ past.
A Taste Of The Pirate Life
Did you know that The Bahamas was once known as The Pirate Republic? These swarthy renegades of the sea have inspired a number of books and movies and visiting the city they made famous can give you a glimpse into what once was.
In the Golden Age of Piracy, when legends like Blackbeard roamed the seas, rum played an integral role in the life of any pirate. Places like John Watling’s Distillery, do a marvellous job of paying tribute to this spirited pursuit. At John Watling’s you can enjoy a museum-like tour complete with shopping and signature Bahamian cocktails served with a flourish at its Red Turtle Tavern. The distillery is just walking distance from the cruise ship port in Downtown Nassau, leaving you with ample time for other exploits.
On Woodes Rogers Walk, between Charlotte and Frederick streets, you’ll find a pirate-themed watering hole – the Pirate Republic Brewing Co. At the island’s only craft brewery, you can order up a pint of their classic American IPA, a full bodied stout, or a crisp and refreshing pilsner straight off the tap.
Two hours will give you more than sufficient time to pick up a little piece of The Bahamas to take home. Nassau is filled with varied boutiques, duty free shops and craft shops that makes finding that one of a kind Bahamian memento a breeze.
The Nassau Straw Market is the place to go to get items made by local artisans. At the market, you’ll be able to purchase Bahamian woven bags, mats, dolls as well as conch shell jewellery and wood carvings. You’ll need to have cash on you though since many of the vendors don’t take credit/debit cards or traveller’s checks.
If you’re looking for something a bit more high end, you’ll find stores selling haute couture fashion labels, accessories and duty-free liquor and fragrances on Bay Street, Nassau’s main thoroughfare. We recommend My Ocean for bath and beauty products and Pasion Tea for rum-vanilla teas, both can be found in the cruise ship shopping area if you plan on staying in the port. Biggity Souvenirs are great for their assorted candles and local, Bahamian grown teas by Naturally Bahamian. John Bull offers jewellery crafted by local designers like Nadia Irena and watches by Lu Cairi.
Willing to venture out of the downtown area? A taxi to the east side will bring you to the Craft Cottage Bahamas at #20 Village Road, Bahama Art & Handicraft on Shirley St, or Bahama Handprints on Okra Hill for an incredible selection of handmade souvenirs from Bahamian Batik fabrics to hand-painted glassware.
(Photo source: BHP242 on Facebook)
If you’re only in Nassau for a short time, one of the best ways to experience what makes The Bahamas beautiful, is the food. Bahamians love conch. It’s a local delicacy that you have to try whether you have two hours to spend in Nassau or two minutes.
From American, and Italian to Greek and authentic Bahamian, there’s a place that caters to every palette. Via Caffe, on Parliament Street, is a chic little spot offering Italian cuisine. You’ll find paninis, salads, gelatos and freshly brewed, authentic Italian coffee on the menu. On Bay Street, you can slip into a seat at The Aqua, in the British Colonial Hilton, and order up something scrumptious from their menu featuring international cuisine. The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay is a short taxi ride away from a delicious sea food spread. You can order a fresh conch salad, flavoured with local herbs, fish – fried, steamed, grilled or ‘cracked,’ and can pick your dish from over 30 stalls. Don’t forget to order a cold Kalik to wash it all down!
(Photo courtesy Global Blue)
For dessert, you’ll have to try The Bahamas’ signature treat: rum cake. After one slice, you’ll be planning your next trip to the Bahamas. We guarantee it. The most popular cakes are those offered by the Rum Cake Factory, Tortuga Rum Cakes and Bacardi (check out our rum cake blog for more tasty tips). They come in various sizes depending on your craving, and you’ll have your pick from several rummy flavours like chocolate, amaretto, pina colada and coconut. Securing your very own flavourful souvenir is easy as a trip to Bay Street Station (Tortuga Rum Cakes) or Lifestylez bar (Bacardi Rum Cakes).
With Limited Hours, Plan Ahead
You may not have enough time to see every island in the Bahamian archipelago but with two hours you’ll be able to see and taste a lot of what makes The Bahamas special. The trick to making this happen lies all in the planning. Read up on your destination, find out about the history and the culture so you get an idea of what you’ll find and what you want to explore. You’re sure to find blogs like this one (visit our blog for tips on how to navigate Nassau), TripAdvisor reviews and other great resources that provide free advice, tips and recommendations on what to do and where to go.
Most of all, remember that great vacation memories aren’t measured by the hours spent but by the experiences you savour along the way.