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Fabulous Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas Information
Contributed by
Nancy Norris

Language and Currency
What is Nassau Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Nassau Port Reviews

Language and Currency

English is the official language in Nassau and the Bahamian Dollar (equivalent to a US Dollar) is the currency.

What is Nassau like?

Downtown Nassau taken from the MSC LIrica Pool Deck

New Providence Island, just one of the 700 islands that comprise the Bahamas, is home to Nassau, the Bahamian nation’s capital. Located a mere 185 miles southeast of Miami, the scenery is very similar to mainland Florida, flat with not much diversity. Victorian mansions, 18th century fortresses, pink and white Parliament buildings, and uniformed “bobbies” all provide a British colonial charm to this 21 X 7 mile island. Add the expanse of wonderful beaches and duty-free shopping, Nassau provides a taste of the tropics. Cable Beach lined with first-class resorts, casinos and all-inclusives is seven miles from downtown. A toll bridge in the center of town connects Nassau to Paradise Island. What was once known as Hog Island, Paradise Island has been transformed into a chic, up-scale resort area with the sprawling, spectacular Atlantis Resort as its focal point.

What is the weather like?

Nassau enjoys a subtropical climate with mild winters, seldom dipping below 60°F. Average temperatures range in the low to upper 80’s; with water temperature never below 72°. With that said, however, just like Florida, these are averages and during winter months be prepared for an occasional cold front to cause drastic temperature drops.

Ships docked at the Nassau Pier (Taken from the Straw Market)

Where does the ship dock?

Cruise ships dock at Prince George Wharf in the heart of downtown Nassau. Once you leave the pier, you will walk directly into Rawson Square, which is the center of town. Metered taxis are readily available, but most charge a flat fee to popular destinations. The 5 minute taxi ride to Atlantis on Paradise Island will cost $2-3 per person.

Nassau Water Taxi Takes off for Paradise Island

A water taxi, located at the pier, also provides transportation to Paradise Island for about the same price. This can be an enjoyable alternative to a cab ride, but be aware that the ride takes about 15 minutes and the ferry does not leave the dock until it has a full passenger load (I mean packed!). On my last visit there was a jerk named "Bobbi" who yelled at the top of his lungs that he was a tour guide and then proceeded to point out a couple of houses along the way that may have belonged to movie/rock stars. He was obnoxious and crude, not to mention insulting. He ended his diatribe with the explanation that he didn't work for the ferry, but made his income from tips. He threatened to confront every passenger one-on-one to pay for his services and then did so.

It was hard for me to believe that some people actually fell for this sort of shake-down. Folks, the guy works for the boat and he is using you to increase the revenue from the water taxi ride. Unless you enjoy being ripped off, don't pay him and when he presents his hat, let him know you don't appreciate his cheap scam. If others pay, let them know that they are just prolonging the pain for subsequent visitors. Give your money to someone more deserving on the island, rather than being ripped off if you feel the need to contribute. It is embarrassing to me that this kind of scam can exist.

Entrance to Nassau's Famous Straw Market

Where is the shopping?

Bay Street in the heart of downtown is the main shopping area. In this duty-free shopping area you will find rows of designer stores like Bvlgari, Gucci and Cartier as well as tacky t-shirt and souvenir shops.

Nassau's Straw Market

A visit to the Straw Market, also downtown, is an opportunity to barter with the locals. The original Straw Market burned down but a smaller, temporary market has taken its place. There are also numerous shops in the Atlantis Resort that are quite willing to help you part with your money.

What is there to buy?

Liquor, perfume, jewelry, watches, clocks, china, crystal and linens are all available at duty-free prices. If you will not be visiting other islands in the Caribbean, such as St. Maarten or one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, then do your duty-free shopping here, otherwise wait, as the bargains are even greater in other parts of the Caribbean.

Atlantis on Paradise Island Taken from the MSC Lirica at Dock

What is there to do?

Pulling into Prince George Wharf you cannot miss the sight of Atlantis, on Paradise Island.

Atlantis on Paradise Island

Take a trip to Paradise Island to tour this mega-resort.

Atlantis Water Slide
(Note: The slide continues underneath the water in an underwater
tube surrounded by sharks, rays and fish)

Although only hotel guests can actually use the pools, water-slides, etc. strolling the grounds, visiting the casino, spending time at the beach, or taking a tour of “The Dig”, to explore the underground aquariums and archaeological dig that reveals what life might have been like on the lost continent can be enjoyed by everyone.

Sharks and Rays in the Atlantis Aquarium

A Water Fall at Atlantis Resort

The Ticket Booth in the Atlantis Casino

You can purchase tickets for the aquarium and “The Dig” at the hotel's ticket booth in the casino. Look for the structure pictured above.

Atlantis' Lagoon Beach

Note that the tickets are a whopping $29.00 per person and you are only allowed to visit the grounds of Atlantis. If you have children with you, they will want to ride the slides, float the river, swim in the pools, navigate the lagoons in boats and generally have as much fun as the kids staying at the hotel with those privileges. The entire outing might turn into a disaster. I would advise passing on visiting Atlantis and waiting until you got somewhere near a Sea World to expose your kids to the ocean's life. Just my opinion, however.

Atlantis Shopping Mall

The Atlantis does offer some world-class shopping for those that are looking for designer clothes and other fine items. Simply enter the Atlantis Resort and look for the shopping mall.

The Atlantis Marina

Of course, one of the world's most amazing resorts would have to have a marina to accommodate their clients with yachts and Atlantis is no exception. Take a few moments to stroll the marina to see some incredible yachts and weatth.

The Paradise Island Ferry Terminal

Catch one of the scheduled ferries from the Paradise Island Marina/Ferry Terminal to Blue Lagoon Island to enjoy one of the 7 marvelous beaches. Here you can swim with the dolphins, snorkel with stingray, parasail, kayak, enjoy a luncheon buffet, or lounge in a hammock. The island also has a children’s playground and changing facilities. If you are interested in swimming with the dolphins or snorkeling with the stingrays, reservations should be made before you leave home, or take the ship’s excursions. These activities are very popular and space is usually sold out in advance. Find a spot on Cable Beach, Paradise Beach, or Cabbage Beach and people-watch as you soak up the sun. Jet ski rental and parasailing are available on all these beaches.

Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island

These popular beaches can get very crowded, but if you wander to the northwest end of Cabbage Beach it is a bit quieter.

Cabbage Beach Entrance

To find the entrance to Cabbage Beach, simply continue walking along the main road from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal away from the Atlantis Resort until you pass the last hotel (the Riu) and then walk up the cleared area where you see the sign pictured above. In short order, you will be delivered to Cabbage Beach and a wonderful day in the sun.

One of my favorite activities is a catamaran trip to Rose Island for some excellent snorkeling. There are numerous catamaran operators located at the ferry terminal on Paradise Island that offer snorkeling trips or sunset excursions. A walking tour of Nassau will provide the opportunity to visit Fort Charlotte complete with moat, dungeons and a view of the harbor, and then take the 66 steps of the unique Queen’s Staircase to Bennett’s Hill and Fort Fincastle. Admire the Georgian and neo-Georgian architecture of the government buildings in Parliament Square, either on your walking tour, or by a horse-drawn carriage ride. Visit the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo, just outside the downtown area. A trip to this 5 acre botanical garden is worth it just to see the 50 trained marching flamingos that “obey” drill commands. If you still have energy left, Nassau has a colorful nightlife. You can get information on all these activities, as well as great maps, at the tourist office in Rawson Square.

Is there anything of “Don’t Miss” quality?

I couldn't, in all good conscious, give this rating to anything in Nassau. Perhaps you know of something? We used to give Atlantis a head's up, but $29 with limited access? I am sorry, that is over the top.

Are there any great restaurants or bars?

Three restaurants stand out in my mind as excellent. If you are looking for a fun atmosphere with great Bahamian seafood, head for the Poop Deck. Their conch chowder, conch salad and grouper fingers are great choices, as is the Bahamian lobster. If you are in search of a more up-scale, intimate dining experience, I suggest Columbus Tavern at the Paradise Harbor Marina on Paradise Island. Awesome views overlooking the harbor, excellent food and outstanding service make for a memorable meal.

Senior Frog's in Nassau

Senior Frogs (of Mexico fame) also has a fine establishment in Nassau. Located near the pier and on the waterfront, Senior Frog's is a very popular spot for partying.

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