12 hours in Nassau, The Bahamas: what to do and what not to do in the capital
The Bahamas is stunning.
Of course it is, it's The Bahamas.
It's a place that we're all more than familiar with, but that we generally don't visit, because it's far away, and also because it takes quite a while to get there from Ireland.
I was lucky enough to spend a day in Nassau, the country's capital this month. It was hot, it was pretty, and there were many cocktails.
Nassau was the surprise of the trip. Having (obviously) never been to The Bahamas before and (clearly) not knowing what to expect, I was simultaneously charmed by the gorgeous almost exclusively pink colonial architecture and surprised by the visible age of the the island's other structures.
It's a place with a lot of history and even more tourists.
Here's 8 things you should definitely do and, by extension, a load of things you shouldn't.
1. Plan your day
No, honestly do.
We arrived to Nassau early on a Wednesday morning and incorrectly presumed that we could just wander around for the day and see everything we vaguely wanted to see without planning the logistics of any of it.
Spoilers, we could not.
We arrived to Nassau by ship, and so we weren't exactly placed in the bustling hub of activity where each tourist site is conveniently positioned a mere few steps away from the next one.
Getting from place to place requires a bit of walking or, indeed, public transport, so make sure you've got a concrete plan before you set off lest you end up wasting a bit of time wandering the streets expecting to stumble across something sooner or later.
Or, you know, just use a map. Whichever suits.
2. Walk around the Straw Market
Did you even visit a country's capital if you didn't spend a solid 1.5 hours wandering around their local market?
They've got everything you could possibly want from an enclosed space in a place you've never been to - food, clothes, and items that cost significantly more than they would have done if you'd have just bought them in a regular old shop.
But hey, it's all about the experience.
You won't be able to walk through Nassau's Straw Market without having at least seven conversations with vendors all hoping to show off their carvings, souvenirs, and baseball caps with 'THE BAHAMAS' written on them in jewels.
It's your typical flea market, and it's definitely worth seeing.
3. Visit the Queen's Staircase
A site I regretfully did not get to visit during my time in Nassau due to poor Google Maps connectivity and even poorer time management.
The Queen's Staircase is a 66 steps structure that looks like 65 steps because one of them is entirely buried beneath some asphalt.
The stairs were built between 1793 and 1794 by slaves and were later named after Queen Victoria. They were said to offer one of the only direct routes from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City back in the day.
Decent Instagram shout, in fairness.
4. Take some time to look at the buildings
If you do one whole thing in Nassau, let it be this.
Honestly, just get some food, grab your sun cream, and maybe three bottles of water and park yourself in front of some of the stunning colonial architecture.
Most of the structures you'll see are pink, with a few other pastel colours dotted about the place. They're all very pretty.
Go look at them. Take some pics. They're great.
5. Visit the pirate museum
It is genuinely good.
Listen lads, if you thought you knew anything about pirates think again because you absolutely do not.
They did not bury their treasure, they did not use an 'X' to mark the spot, and they definitely did not make anybody walk the plank (except for that one time that something deathly happened and they decided to not ever do it again).
The above and more excellent pirate facts you will learn from the museum that'll only set you back a cool $13 for entry.
There's even an escape room attached, if you're any way that inclined.
6. Admire the beautiful Atlantis... from a far
Do not attempt to walk the 45 minutes from the port to the resort. Do not mount the bridge between Nassau and Paradise Island on foot in the blistering sun.
Do not stop for Margaritas under the bridge thinking that it will quench your thirst because when you're that warm, you should really just be drinking water.
Do view Atlantis in all its breathtaking beauty though, because it really is a site to behold.
If you feel like splashing out and treating yourself to a stunning, luxury night stay in the resort, by all means go for it.
It looks incredible and you're sure to have an absolutely delicious time, but if you're only in Nassau for the day and not actually staying the night, you won't be able to experience its fully glory.
Still pretty to look at from across the water, though.
7. Take the ferry across to Paradise Island
The ferry is a great way to see Nassau from a different perspective and also to stop walking.
It'll cost you $3 one way or $6 return which is really worth every penny considering you're on a boat which is always a bit of a novelty, let's be honest.
The ferry leaves every half an hour or so too, and while you're waiting you can take in some of those glorious pastel coloured building views.
Always worth a 'gram.
8. Down a cocktail in Señor Frog's
Do you like sugary drinks? Do you like flashy bright lights at 2pm? Do you like balloon animals, inherently spicy foods, and doing shots at midday?
If you answered 'yes' to even one of the above, then you'll absolutely be landing into Señor Frogs for one while you're in Nassau. Or in Orlando. Or in Vegas, or wherever you happen to stumble across one.
It's entirely tacky, but it'd be a shame not to.
The writer was invited by Royal Caribbean on a four day sailing in exchange for a fair and honest review.
You can find out more about the Perfect Day at CocoCay package, including pricing and availability, here.