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An afternoon, a day or a week

There’s lots to do in Nassau

An afternoon, a day or a week
There’s lots to do in Nassau

Whether you’re here for a quick visit, a full day or a week or two, there are lots of interesting things to see and do in Nassau, along with some unique ways to enjoy yourself and build a memorable holiday.

There are, for instance, marching flamingos, performing dolphins and friendly sea lions to amuse and astound you, whether you’re three or 93.

You can go big-game fishing if you’ve a mind to, catch a ride on a go-fast boat, go kayaking or horseback riding, play golf or tennis, dance until the wee hours at a club, belt out your favourite song at a karaoke bar, learn to scuba or how to dance the soca.

If all that sounds a bit too exhausting, you can choose instead a leisurely sailboat excursion to an idyllic private island, enjoy jazz renditions by local musicians and partake of local foods. Another choice is to simply kick back on a nearby beach, or catch some rays while sipping a cocktail by the pool.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll be interested to know Nassau was once a haven for pirates, including such rogues as Blackbeard, John “Calico Jack” Rackham and the bloodthirsty Anne Bonny. Pirates ruled Nassau until the turn of the 19th century when the British finally ran them out of town.

Spain and England took turns ruling The Bahamas during the days of Empire, leaving three formidable forts to explore.

There are several historic buildings to visit. They include Christ Church Cathedral and the eight-sided Public Library–once the city’s jail. Also worth visiting is 220-year-old Balcony House Museum on Market St, said to be the oldest wooden residential building in The Bahamas. Still another must-see is nearby Parliament Square with its stately statue of Queen Victoria.

And then there’s duty-free shopping to enjoy up and down Bay St and in the narrow side streets and quaint plazas off the main drag. Here you can find everything from T-shirts and inexpensive souvenirs to top-of-the-line watches, perfumes, clothing and designer jewellery that won’t leave a big bruise on your purse or wallet.
What you can do here depends on your preferences and the time you have available. If you’re here basically for an afternoon, you’ll have to leave that excursion to the beautiful Exuma islands for your next visit.

First things first: Find yourself a copy of Bahamas Trailblazer Maps, available free all over town. These maps will not only help you get around, they make a nice souvenir to show off to friends back home.

hours to spare
Part-day visitors will find that a horse-drawn surrey ride through downtown streets is a lot of fun and educational too. These short tours are especially good for families with children. You’ll find the quaint surreys lined up on Woodes Rogers Walk where cruise ship passengers disembark. Drivers will point out prominent buildings and features and give you a quick rundown on the city’s history.

Even if you are here for only a few hours, a visit to Nassau’s world famous Straw Market shouldn’t be missed. It’s located in the handsome new building on the north side of Bay St, a short distance from the British Colonial Hilton hotel. Inside, you’ll find straw work, souvenirs, shawls, hats, bags, shell crafts, wood sculptures, art work and lots more.

A longer stay
If you’re here for a week, of course, you can enjoy all the things just mentioned. But you also have the time to enjoy many more activities.

Full-day visitors may wish to visit the locally popular and colourful Fish Fry on Arawak Cay–within walking distance from downtown–where you can enjoy a Bahamian snack and mingle with friendly locals.

These brightly painted restaurants serve such favourites as conch salad and fritters, peas ‘n rice and crawfish. Enjoy your choice with an ice-cold locally brewed beer.

Nearby is the Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Centre where you can check out flamingos who march to the orders of a human drill sergeant, along with more than 300 exotic birds, reptiles and mammals from all over the world. Ardastra is open 9am to 5pm daily; located off West Bay St on Chippingham.

Alternatively, you could visit Fort Charlotte, the oldest and most imposing of Nassau’s three 18th- century forts, which overlooks Arawak Cay and has a great view of Nassau Harbour. It includes a dry moat, drawbridge, ramparts and dungeons. Tours are conducted every day, 8am to 3pm.

If you’re here for a day or more, you can choose from a number of half-day excursions that include snorkelling over amazing reefs, a tasty lunch and time on a gorgeous private beach.

A week in paradise
Staying for a week or two? Now your options really open up. For starters, you may want to take a morning or afternoon, rent a scooter and explore Nassau and its environs on your own. Please remember that you drive on the left in The Bahamas. A tip for pedestrians: look first to the right, not the left, when you step off the curb to cross a street.

With a week in hand, you have time to learn how to scuba–not as difficult as you may think. If you already know how, there are many exciting dives to enjoy: shipwrecks, blue holes, shark-feeding and the awe-inspiring walls of the mile-deep Tongue of the Ocean.

Dolphins and sea lions: smart, cute, friendly and available for up-close and personal encounters. For an amazing adventure that’s nothing like you’ve imagined, try Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island. You can choose from four programmes or just enjoy an island beach day.

Another popular experience is a full-day of fun with Island World Adventures, whose 45-ft­­­ turbo-charged speedboats take you to private, tropical Saddleback Cay, about 40 miles away. Here, you can snorkel, take in beach time and enjoy a delicious Bahamian-style lunch.

If sailing is your passion check out The Flying Cloud, a 57 ft catamaran that will take you to a gorgeous secluded beach for a half-day of snorkelling. Flying Cloud also offers evening sunset cruises and a five-hour Sunday cruise that includes a delicious buffet. Children love this adventure as much as adults.

In fact there are scores of activities for kids of all ages in and around Nassau. For a list of all the excursions, eco-adventures and water sports, check out the Activities section, beginning on page 63.

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