Things to do in Nassau, Bahamas
This is a list of things to do in Nassau, Bahamas when in port on a cruise that can be done for little to no cost and without prior planning or reservations.
Nassau Walking Tour
Nassau is a relatively small city and the main points of interest are mostly focused around the port area. This makes it easy to do a walking tour on your own for little to no cost. This allows flexibility to see the things you want to see and do and to not waste time on the areas you are not interested in. It allows you to see more of the local culture, find a local place to eat and go at your own pace. The area is mostly safe and can get relatively crowded on days when multiple ships are docked in port. Plan your tour ahead with information on Fun Ashore to make sure you make the most of your time in port.
The Queen's Staircase is is 66 very steep steps the were carved out of a coral based sandstone at the end of the 18th century. Slaves carved the staircase to honor the Queen in her help to abolish slavery. It provides access to Fort Fincastle atop Bennett's Hill located close to the current day Nassau water tower from Elizabeth Street. It It is a 15-20 minute walk from the port and downtown area, take Bay Street to East Street and then Elizabeth Street to the staircase.
Fort Fincastle is a small boat shaped fort located on Bennett's Hill in the center of the city. It was built in 1793 by Lord Dunmore to protect the island. The fort has never seen been in battle and the cannons were never fired. This is the highest point of the island and offers a great panoramic view of the island and surrounding ocean. It costs $5.00 to enter the fort and is a quick walk around tour. There are locals that are either unofficial custodians or makeshift tour guides that will give you a brief guided tour and expect a tip in return. They will rush you around as fast as possible to try to maximize their tips for the day. We recommend you take your time and explore on your own. The water tower is right behind Fort Fincastle for a frame of direction and distance from the port. It is a 15-20 minute walk from the port and downtown area. Take East Street from Bay Street to get there and the easiest way to get up to the fort is by climbing the Queen's Staircase from Elizabeth Street.
Fort Charlotte overlooks the harbor of Nassau. It is a short walk west of downtown Nassau and the cruise ship terminal. This fort was built in 1787 by Lord Dunmore and has never seen a battle. It costs $5.00 to enter the fort and is significant walk around tour. There are locals that are either unofficial custodians or makeshift tour guides that will give you a brief guided tour and expect a tip in return. They will rush you around as fast as possible to try to maximize their tips for the day. We recommend you take your time and explore on your own. The fort is located between a youth soccer field and a Cricket field which also offer views of the daily culture of the locals.
Rum. Enough said. The distillery is home to John Watling's Rum which is the "Spirit of the Bahamas". This is where the Bahamians make their hand-crafted small batch rums. They offer both production and museum-like complimentary tours with free samples of their rum at the Distillery's home, the Buena Vista Estate. It is a beautiful estate with well manicured grounds surrounding it. They also offer shopping and serve signature Bahamian rum cocktails in their Red Turtle Tavern. It is a short walk west from the cruise port on Delancy Street. Take Bay Street west to Cumberland (L), Cumberland to Marlborough(R), Marlborough to West(L), West to Delancy(R). Open 10:00am - 6:00pm daily and on Fridays until 9:00pm.
Graycliff Hotel is a multi-faceted experience settled in a historic Colonial Mansion. It was originally built in 1740 by then famous pirate Captain John Howard Graysmith and incorporated segments of the ruins of the First Anglican Church of Graycliff which was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1703 . Over the years it has served as a barracks for the American Navy (1776), a traveler's inn, a hideout for blockade runners during the American Civil War, personal residences to royalty and the rich and famous (or infamous). In the 1920's it was owned by a close and personal friend of Al Capone. Today it serves as a small 20-room hotel and several cottage suites. It also offers a restaurant, Cigar company, and a Chocolatier factory and store. They offer tours of the cigar company (appointment needed), cigar and rum tastings and a rolling lesson where you get a detailed cigar experience and get to keep a complimentary cutter and what you roll (pre-booking required). At the Graycliff Chocolatier Factory, experience tours for adults and children are a unique opportunity for participants to become the artists behind their masterpieces. They'll get hands-on with ingredients from the freshest Bahamian fruit: mango, lime, coconut, sea grapes and genips; to the most savoury and unlikely: sweet tomato-basil and bacon.
Parliament Square is a popular attraction in downtown Nassau. Pink colonial-style government buildings past Rawson Square with a marble statue of Queen Victoria enthroned out front. Originally built in the late 1700s and early 1800s by Loyalists who came from North and South Carolina to the Bahamas. These are the current Government buildings of the Bahamas. They include the House of Assembly, Senate, and the office if the Governor-General (formerly the Queen), the Supreme Court and the Nassau Public Library and Museum.
Government House dates back to 1737 when it was originally built as a home for Governor Richard Fitzwilliam. A new building was constructed in 1806, although the entire house was destroyed in 1929. A new mansion was then built and completed in 1932. Today, the brilliantly colored pink-and-white Government House is the official residence of the Governor General of The Bahamas and is renowned for its beautiful views of Nassau Harbour. The interior remains the same as when it was redecorated by the Duchess of Windsor, following the Duke of Windsor’s arrival in Nassau as Governor (1940-1945).
The island's oldest wooden structure. One of the scenic spots on the island is from the balcony. Make sure to see the mahogany staircase which is said to have been salvaged from a mid-1800's shipwreck. They keep the windows shuttered even though the house is open to the public for free tours (donations accepted).
Hours: Mon-Wed. and Fri. 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Thurs. 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.)
The house was restored in 1994 and opened to the public. Balcony House was owned by Josephine Bryce, an American heiress who furnished the house with antique furniture from around the world. The House served as her in-town cottage from the 1930s – 1980s. When restored the interior was recreated by interior designer, Annie Ralston, who incorporated Mrs. Bryce’s furnishings. It is timber-built in a style influenced by the southeast United States. The most remarkable feature of the house is the free-standing front balcony which is partly supported by wooden knee brackets. The fine mahogany interior staircase is said to have been salvaged from a ship. There is a detached stone kitchen at the rear.
Atlantis Resort & Casino
Tropical resort and hotel featuring a large marine habitat, marina, some water attractions, a spa, a casino, and a large conference center. There are a few casinos in Nassau, but none that rival the Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island. You can use the casinos, shop in the high end stores, view a small portion of the aquarium and roam around the Marina Village for free. You can see the entire aquarium for $45pp. (this does NOT allow you access to the pools, slides, beach or even a chaise lounge). It is rumored that if you are there after 6pm access to the aquarium is free or uncontrolled (unverified).