Nassau Top Attractions
and things to do in Nassau cruise port

Photo by IQCruising of the Atlantis resort a top highlight of Nassau cruise port

Main highlights in Nassau for cruise passengers: Atlantis, Cabbage and Junkanoo Beaches, Paradise Island, John Watling's Distillery

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Cruise passengers on a ship calling at the port of Nassau have many cruise excursions offered onboard. Most tours visit the highlights of this island in The Bahamas. But you may also choose to enjoy the top attractions on your own.

On a tour or on Your Own

Some of these excursions include the most interesting attractions or the top things to do see and do in Nassau but many others are left out and can be explored on your own. On this page you find a selection of the Editor's top picks such as the Cabbage Beach, the John Watling's Distillery, the Junkanoo Beach, the Balcony House, the Fort Fincastle, the Graycliff Hotel, the National Art Gallery or the Pompey Museum.

Editor's Favorite Highlights

Bay Street

The main street of Nassau is a must see (walk) for all cruise ship passengers. It is the heart of Nassau lined with the best shops and boutiques and a few restaurants.

Photo of Bay Street in Nassau.

Bay Street - Nassau

Photo ©

The main stretch of Bay Street starts at the junction of Rawson and Parliament Squares - just 2-minute walk from the pier - ending at Pompey Square. To the east you will find a Gucci boutique and the Bacardi shop but little else.

What:Shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes.
When:All day - Everyday
Look For:The best shops in Nassau
Nearby:Rawson, Pompey and Parliament Square

Paradise Island

Connected with Nassau by two bridges, Paradise Island is located just off the shore of the New Providence island. Here you will find the famous Atlantis Resort (one the main attractions of Nassau) but also Cabbage Beach - a free and very popular public beach - the Bahama Craft Center, and a couple of restaurants.

Photo of Paradise Island Beach Access in Nassau.

Paradise Island Beach Access

Photo ©

Next to the Atlantis Resort, the main attraction of the island is Cabbage Beach. Viola's, Green Parrot and Margaritaville are the best places to have lunch out of the Atlantis Resort - see Restaurants Page.

Getting there: By taxi or ferry boat. Next to the Cruise Terminal, on Woodes Rodgers Walk, you will find a Ferry Boat that will take you on a short cruise through the harbor ending at the dock under the main bridge on Paradise Island. From here you are within walking distance to Atlantis and Cabbage Beach.

Where: Off the Coast - 2 miles from downtown Nassau
What:Island with a number of attractions
When:All day - Everyday
Look For:Atlantis, Cabbage Beach, Versailles Gardens, The Cloister, Bahamcraft Center.

Atlantis Resort

Atlantis is undoubtedly the main highlight for any cruise ship passenger visiting Nassau. In this renowned resort, you will find everything you can think of that a Caribbean resort has to offer. The beaches and an amazing water park are perfect for those looking for adventures on water slides, a 1-mile long river, 20 swimming areas, a 7-acre snorkeling lagoon and white sand beaches.

Photo of Atlantis Resort in Nassau

Atlantis Resort - Nassau

Photo ©

Scuba, Snuba, encounters with sharks, dolphins and sea lions are some of the many other thrills you can enjoy at Atlantis. For land thrills, the 11 rock-climbing surface is a must. You will also find some of the best shops in Nassau, restaurants and coffee shops. And, of course, the Atlantis Casino is there for those that cannot stay off gambling when your cruise ship is in port.

Where:Paradise Island
When:All day - Everyday
Look For: Shopping, Activities, Restaurants and Coffee shops on Marina Village reviewed below.
Nearby:Cabbage Beach, Bahamcraft Center, Versailles Gardens, The Cloister
Notes:All cruise lines offer tours to Atlantis with different activity packages - See the Tour Page.

Marina Village

Photo of Atlantis, Marina Village in Nassau.

Marina Village - Nassau

Photo ©

Part of Atlantis, the Marina Village is a wonderful public (free) area close to the entrance of the resort when walking from the Ferry Boat Dock under the main bridge connecting Nassau to Paradise Island. Paved pedestrian streets are shaded by palm trees and lined with colorful buildings where the cruise ship passenger will find shops, kiosks, cafes, and restaurants. Starbucks, Johny Rockets, Ben & Jerry’s and Café’ Martinique are featured along with shopping brands as diverse as Pirana Joe, Tortuga Rum Cakes, Columbian Emerald or John Bull.

Where:Atlantis Resort - Paradise Island
When:All day - Everyday
Look For:Shops, Boutiques and Cafes
Nearby: Cabbage Beach, Bahama Craft Center, Versailles Gardens, The Cloister

Cabbage Beach

Photo of Cabbage Beach in Nassau.

Cabbage Beach - Nassau

Photo ©

One of the most beautiful beaches in The Bahamas, it is also one of the most popular, as it is free and with easy access from the cruise terminal. Located on Paradise Island, just next to the Atlantis Resort and stretching all along the north coast, Cabbage Beach is ideal for those looking for a day out on a pristine beach with a wonderfully shaded area.

Getting there: There are two ways of getting to Cabbage Beach: on a Ferry Boat (mentioned on the Paradise Island review above) or by taxi (on offer at the Cruise Terminal). From the ferry dock on Paradise Island a 10-minute walk trough the Marina Village of the Atlantis Resort will take you to Cabbage Beach.

Where:Paradise Island
What: Beach and beach activities - para-sailing, wave runner rentals and banana boat rides and even massage on the beach.
When:Morning and afternoon - Everyday
Nearby:Atlantis, Versailles Gardens, The Cloister, Bahamcraft Center.

Junkanoo Beach

Photo of Junkanoo Beach in Nassau.

Junkanoo Beach - Nassau

Photo ©

One of closest beaches to the Cruise Terminal, Junkanoo is at the start of the Western Esplanade - the stretch of sand between the British Colonial Hotel and Arawak Cay. A 10-minute walk along Bay Street and Marlborough Street will take you to this wonderful spot with a couple of beach bars renting lounge chairs, umbrellas, hammocks or lockers- it also has shower facilities.

Where:West of Downtown - 1/2 mile
What:Beach with bars, activities, shower.
When:Morning and afternoon - Everyday
Look For:Relaxing day
Nearby:Fat Tuesday, Colonial Hilton Hotel
Notes:Junkanoo Beach is seldom mentioned onboard cruise ships

Adastra Gardens
Zoo and Conservation Centre

If the cruise passenger has great expectations of finding something comparable to the best zoos in the World, the Ardastra is not on that league, but you will see birds (Peacocks, Parrots, and Flamingos), mammals (mainly domestic ones) and reptiles (Iguanas, Tortoises and Bahamian boa constrictors).

Photo of the Adastra Gardens Entrance in Nassau.

Adastra Gardens - Nassau

Photo ©

Although the Editor has walked there, it is quite a long and not particularly interesting walk from downtown. A taxi is advisable.

WHERE1.5 mile west of downtown
WhatTropical Gardens and Zoo
Admission$18.00 (Adults); $9.00 (Children 4 - 12); FREE (Children 3 and under)
Open:Every day between 9:00am and 5:00pm (last entrance at 4:00pm)
ClosedDecember 25 and 26; January 1
Address:West Bay Street - behind Fort Charlotte

John Watling's Distillery

A 10-minute walk south of Bay Street, the John Watling's Distillery is located on a stunning estate with two acres of a lush tropical garden where the cruise traveler can take a free self-guided tour.

Photo of John Watling's Distillery in Nassau.

Watling's Distillery - Nassau

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This includes the historical house showcasing the rich heritage of The Bahamas and the storehouse where different rums are bottled. And, naturally, you can also taste the best rum of the distillery.

Where:Southwest of Bay Street
What:Lush Gardens, Colonial House with Rum Distillery
When:Open everyday from 10:00 AM. to 6:00 PM
Look For:Rum Tasting, Free Tour of Estate
Nearby:National Art Gallery, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Graycliff Hotel
Where:Very few cruise lines offer a tour of the John Watling's Distillery by itself although it may be included on excursions of the Highlights of Nassau.

Arawak Cay - Fish Fry

Opposite Fort Charlotte, the Arawak Cay was artificially built from the sand dredged out of the harbor when it was built (1969). A fish market was developed on the 'cay' and naturally, a number of restaurants were established offering fresh fried fish, conch salads and many other Bahamian delicacies. It is a very lively spot for locals at night but a quiet off-track spot for cruise ship passengers to taste typical Bahamian food at lunch time.

Photo of Arawak Cay restaurants in Nassau

Arawak Cay in Nassau

Photo ©

Where:A bit over 2 miles west of Downtown.
What:Restaurants and Grills
Look For:Local Recipes

Notes: Be aware that the walk to Arawak Cat is quite a stretch.

Nassau has quite a few very interesting landmarks that deserve to be highlighted such as the Forts Fincastle and Charlotte or the famous Queens Staircase. These sites are reviewed, (with all other major landmarks) in the Landmarks Page. Click Here to Explore all Major Landmarks in Nassau.

Balcony House

Dating back to the 1780's, this is probably the oldest residential house in Nassau, which was restored and opened as a museum in 1994. Josephine Bryce, an American heiress, was the last resident (between the 1930s – 1980s) and most of her furnishings can still be seen along with a stunning mahogany staircase and the front balcony.

Photo of Balcony House in Nassau

Balcony House in Nassau

Photo ©

Address:Market Street (Downtown - off Bay Street)
Open:Monday-Friday 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM | Thursdays 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM | Closed: Weekends and Holidays

Pompey Museum

Named after Pompey - a slave that lead a revolt on the island of Exuma - this museum is a living study of slavery in The Bahamas. It is housed in Vendue House, which dates back to the 1760's and was once used as a market of all sorts of merchandise including human beings. The disturbing exhibition is a must-see museum in Nassau.

Photo of Pompey Museum in Nassau

Pompey Museum

Photo ©

Address:Bay Street, West end side,in front of George Street
When:Monday to Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM | Thursday 9:30 AM - 1:00 PM | Closed Sundays & Holidays
Entrance Fee:$3.00 (adults) - $1.00 (Children 6-12)

National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Housed on Villa Doyle (a 19th-century historical house) this is the best Art Gallery of the Bahamas displaying works by Bahamian artists.

Photo of National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in Nassau

National Art Gallery

Photo ©

Where:Downtown Nassau
Address:corner of West Street and West Hill Street
Open:Tuesday to Saturday: 10AM — 5PM | Sunday 12PM — 5PM | Closed: Monday

Pirates of Nassau Museum

Nassau was the main city where the Golden Age of Piracy thrived between 1690 and 1720 when it all comes to an end (in Nassau) with the intervention of Woodes Rodgers (a former privateer). During 30 years the city was a safe haven for the most famous and terrifying pirates - a historical period that can be revisited in this interactive museum dedicated to those characters and their lives.

Photo of Pirates of Nassau Museum in Nassau

Pirates of Nassau Museum

Photo ©

Address: King & George Streets
Entrance Fee:$13.00 (adults) - $6.50 (age 4 - 17)
When:Monday to Saturday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM | Sunday 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Straw Market

Close to the West end of Bay Street and Woodes Rodgers Walk, the Straw Market is a large building housing a good number of stall and shops with handcrafts by artisans from all over The Bahamas.

Photo of the Straw Market in Nassau.

Straw Market - Nassau

Photo ©

This is the place to go if looking for local souvenirs, but be prepared for pushy almost harassing vendors ready for lots of haggling.

What:Craft Market
When:Everyday - Morning and Afternoon
Be aware:Not everyone's taste. Can be crowded.
Nearby:Pompey Square, Pompey Museum, Bay Street Shops and the Woodes Roger Walk.

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