Nassau, Bahamas is one of the most popular cruise ports of call from all major cruise lines, and even a homeport in summer 2021. Nassau offers travelers a variety of different attractions and popular sights to explore during their time ashore. To help you narrow down your choices, below are our Best Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas on a Cruise.
This capital city is the largest city among the 30 inhabited islands in the Bahamas. About 70 percent of all residents of the Bahamas live in Nassau, making it the economic center of this country. Once a colony of Great Britain, the Bahamas gained full independence in 1973. However, plenty of English influences can still be found in the culture, architecture, and everyday life.
Best Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas on a Cruise (2021)
Spend the Day at Atlantis Resort
Located on Paradise Island, the Atlantis Bahamas Resort is a world famous casino and resort that offers visitors a variety of attractions. You will need to purchase either an excursion through the cruise company or tickets at Atlantis as access to most sites are restricted. Staff are situated throughout the resort to ensure only paying guests are permitted in the designated areas.
The most popular attraction is the Aquaventure Water Park. Most excursions to the water park run about 6-8 hours, providing you with time to see the surrounding grounds as well.
If water parks aren’t your thing, many cruise lines also offer excursions that include self-guided tours of the grounds. These tours will give travelers access to explore the hotel and other sites like “The Dig” and Shark Encounters, as well as access to the lagoon and beaches at the resort.
If you are reluctant to book an excursion through the cruise line due to the hefty price tag, you might want to consider booking a room for the day at the Comfort Suites. Located within walking distance to Atlantis, rooms at this hotel include complimentary entrance to all the Atlantis facilities for up to 4 guests, and the cost to book a room is often cheaper than paying for the cruise-sponsored excursion for even just two adults. Of course, you will have to weigh the risk of itinerary changes with the hotel’s cancellation policies.
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Take a Trip to Blue Lagoon
Located a 40 minute boat ride away from Nassau is Blue Lagoon Island. This private island resort offers visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle. Even though it is only a short trip away, you will feel like you have been transported to your own secluded paradise.
Day long beach passes include access to facilities, a grilled lunch, an inflatable waterpark, and WiFi; additional non-motorized equipment can be rented while on the island as well.
Blue Lagoon also offers a variety of different marine experiences. If you want to get up close and personal with some marine life in their natural habitat, you can book a dolphin encounter, a sea lion encounter, stingray encounter, and even a shark encounter. Make sure to reserve these experiences early as space is limited for these one-of-a-kind encounters.
Visit Balmoral Island
Offering a similar experience, Balmoral Island is located an approximately 30 minute ferry ride away from Nassau. Here, you will have access to a pristine beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas, two swimming pools, complimentary WiFi, and even the opportunity to upgrade your experience to a luxury cabana.
Balmoral Island also offers non-motorized equipment rentals including snorkel gear and kayaks as well as dolphin and stingray encounters that can be booked in conjunction with admission for an additional cost. There are several bars for you to grab some frozen drinks throughout the day, the Market for some lunch, and even a Starbucks.
Relax at Pearl Island
If those beach escapes aren’t enough, you can also spend the day relaxing at Pearl Island, which is the closest private island to Nassau. A short ferry ride will transport you to this secluded tropical location. Pearl Island is home to two beaches, plentiful loungers, and amazing panoramic views from the top of its lighthouse.
You ticket to paradise also includes a traditional Bahamian lunch, a guided snorkeling adventure, and use of non-motorized equipment. If you want to upgrade your experience, you can book a private ocean view cabana, which comes complete with a personal server for the day.
A trip to any of these private locations is definitely a recipe for a day of fun in the sun! Which will you choose?
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Book an Island Tour
Soak up some of the British influence and history while exploring the city’s more memorable highlights during an organized tour of Nassau, Bahamas. Depending on whether you book through the cruise line or arrange a private tour directly with a local tour operator or third-party provider, your island tour could include a variety of stops.
Most tours will stop at Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase. Built out of coral rock, these 66 stairs were constructed using hammers and chisels during the late 18th century. Other popular forts include the largest fort, Fort Charlotte and the oldest fort, Fort Montagu.
Most arranged tours will also pass other popular public buildings such as the Parliament Building and the Government House, with a statue of Christopher Columbus adoring the entrance. Some tours do stop at Atlantis for a brief time mostly for photo ops, as you will need to purchase entrance to visit most attractions.
Of course, a visit to the Bahamas wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Bahamas Rum Cake Factory, the John Watling’s Distillery, or the Straw Market.
Visitors to Nassau, Bahamas can also create their own customized island tour by visiting other island attractions like Graycliff Restaurant, Hotel, and Chocolate Factory.
Graycliff is a historic hotel said to be built in 1740 by a famous pirate. Today, the building still serves as a hotel welcoming guests to the Bahamas. If you are just visiting Nassau for the day, Graycliff offers some unique experiences. You can escape to this 5-star hotel for the day to enjoy use of its pool and a delicious 3-course lunch. You can even take a cooking class with the hotel’s executive chef, along with a tour of the wine cellar.
Additionally, visitors can tour the Graycliff Cigar Company, book a cigar rolling lesson, or watch a cigar rolling demonstration alongside a rum tasting.
If that’s not enough, there’s the Graycliff Chocolatier. Here, guests can take a factory tour, learn how to make their own chocolates, or partake in the Chocolates and Spirits pairing.
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Best Beaches in Nassau
With so many beautiful beaches, a beach break is definitely one of the best things to do in Nassau, Bahamas on a cruise.
A cruiser favorite, Junkanoo Beach is within walking distance (15 minutes) from the cruise ship. Here, locals and travelers alike can enjoy the water at this free beach. This spot is popular, so get there early to stake your claim. Be sure to take advantage of the amenities available including food, beverages, and equipment rentals. The Tiki Hut is a popular spot for food and drinks.
A short cab ride from the port, Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island offers another free beach with plenty of white sand, picture worthy vistas of palm trees, and over a mile of coastline. While it is known for its soft sand and azure waters, the current can be strong. So, it may not be the best choice for families.
Be sure to bring cash (and your towel) if you want to rent beach chairs and umbrellas. The one downfall of this beach is that there are no public facilities. So, if you plan to spend the day, you might need to purchase a resort pass from nearby hotels such as Atlantis.
Considered one of the best beaches in the Bahamas, Cable Beach is a stretch of about four miles of mostly private beaches. Though, there are a couple public spots. This beach is also located a short cab ride away from the cruise terminal.
If you are okay spending a few bucks on your beach break, getting exclusive access is well worth the cost. Melia Nassau Beach Hotel, Breezes Resort, and Baha Mar are a few hotels on Cable Beach that offer such access. These resort for a day passes typically provide an “all-inclusive” experience. Again, if you do not pay for a pass to one of these resorts, facilities will be limited.
Jaws Beach is another popular beach in Nassau mostly because it is recognized from movies such as Jaws and James Bond films. Though, it is located the furthest from the cruise port. This beach is a favorite for those who like to snorkel and scuba. It is located within the Clifton Heritage Park which is worth exploring as well (and has a restroom). This beach is rather secluded so don’t expect to find vendors here.
Love Beach is another more secluded beach option in Nassau, located between Cable Beach and Jaws Beach. This beach is free to access, and you will be able to rent chairs and umbrellas from the bar onsite. The Nirvana Beach Bar also has restrooms and serves food and drinks. The water here is rather calm, so this beach is a good swimming choice for families. It is also a good location for snorkeling.
Day Pass to the British Colonial Hilton
Closer to the cruise pier, a popular spot to score a day pass for full access to resort facilities is the British Colonial Hilton. Located just a short 10-minute walk from the cruise pier in Downtown Nassau, you will have access to a private beach, pool, lounge chairs and umbrellas, and non-motorized watersports at this resort. In addition, guests receive a $40 food and beverage credit.
Explore Ardastra Gardens and Zoo
Looking for a wild time when visiting Nassau, Bahamas? We suggest taking a short 12 minute drive from the cruise port to Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservatory. What was started in the 1950’s as a garden and attempt to increase the flamingo population has grown into a full blown zoo and conservatory with over 200 animals. Hence, it is definitely one of the best things to do in Nassau, Bahamas on a cruise!
Yes, the now world-famous flamingos are still here. You can watch their daily shows while visiting the conservatory and get some great photos interacting with these majestic birds. Also, don’t miss the chance to feed a Rainbow Lorikeet parrot during one of the scheduled feeding times.
There are plenty of other great photo ops here too, from Australian Black Swans, Lemurs, and Iguanas to the threatened species, the Bahamian BOA Constrictor. While here, don’t forget to enjoy the gardens too which showcase native regional plants and flowers. Here are some of our favorite reasons to visit Ardastra Gardens.
Swim with the Pigs
The popular swimming with the pigs excursion is now offered by many cruise lines. There are a few different locations where you can partake in this instagram-worthy excursion. Regardless of the location though, you will get the chance to feed, swim, and interact with these famous creatures. Your tour will also include a ride through Nassau harbor to this attraction, often providing narration of city highlights along the way.
Rose Island is located only 25 minutes from Nassau, and it is home to a wildlife sanctuary including the beloved pigs. This island is much closer than the popular spot in Exuma (Pig Beach) making it a perfect cruise excursion.
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Taste the Local Flavor on a Tru Bahamian Food Tour
If you are a foodie who is looking for something a bit different during your visit to Nassau, we suggest booking a Tru Bahamian Food Tour. The popular Bites of Nassau Food & Cultural Tour is a 3-hour tour that runs multiple times daily.
This small group experience is a walking tour that visits 6 different tasting locations. Each location highlights unique Bahamian dishes, including conch, rum cake, and cocktails of course. During the tour, you will get to meet local chefs and small business owners, as well as hear a bit about the history and culture of the Bahamas.
Get Ready to See Nassau, Bahamas
Now that you know the best things to do in Nassau, Bahamas on a cruise, what are you waiting for? If you already have a cruise stopping in the Bahamas booked, now is the time to make definite plans to experience one or more of these activities during your trip.
Don’t have a cruise booked yet? Well, there is no better time than the present to find a ship and itinerary that stops at Nassau, Bahamas.
Have you visited Nassau, Bahamas on a cruise? What are your favorite things to do on the island? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences.