Nassau is one of the places that first injected the Caribbean into the American popular consciousness (remember the song "Funky Nassau" in 1971?). Another influential factor was the Bahamas' tropical atmosphere and its splendid pink and white sand beaches, which still sparkle today--though you'll often find them obscured by the crowds of visitors who are attracted here for the sun, the fun, the good food and the many island activities, which include snorkeling, scuba diving and golfing.
Sand and Surf
Apart from the very occasional hurricane, Nassau enjoys fine weather most days of the year, ideal for relaxing at one of the many, many beaches. If you're looking for seclusion or good snorkeling, make your way to Love Beach, which is outside of town and usually empty.
Many vacationing families steer toward Cable Beach, which has powdery white sand and calm waters welcoming to swimmers of all ages. Kids can build sandcastles or ride the big floats, while adults can cool off in the water by swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing or parasailing.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, swim with the friendly dolphins (or sea lions) at Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island. Kids are welcome.
Shopping and Dining
In Nassau's downtown proper, bustling Straw Market is a popular draw for visitors looking for local crafts, nifty souvenirs (and lots of things made of straw, like hats and dolls). While you're there, stop and watch one of the free shows at the street theater. There are plenty more shops and galleries located up and down Bay Street, including some that specialize in designer items and branded goods.
For affordable but delicious meals, check out the row of colored huts in Arawak Cay. This is where the locals eat and the food is cheap and delicious. Try the fish fry or other Bahamian specialties with a cold beer. Children will like the conch fritters, a popular street food, and the many different fresh tropical fruits sold here.
Minutes from downtown Nassau is where you'll find some the most interesting tourist sites. The Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Center is a 5-acre zoo that's home some 300 exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, many of them indigenous and endangered inhabitants of the Bahamas. Watching a performance by the marching flamingos is a must.
Not far from Ardastra is Fort Charlotte, an 18th-century English outpost. Don't forget to bring your camera for shots of the gloomy dungeons and the brilliant views of Nassau Harbor. Admission is free but to get the best of your visit join a guided tour for a minimal fee. Another attraction near downtown is Nassau's most-visited site, the Queen's Staircase. It's a staircase carved from solid limestone by slaves in the 18th century.
Paradise Island Drive
By Paradise Harbour Club & Marina