Nassau

Hotel reviews summary
5.0

Our guest rating from 10 reviews

Overview

 

Sun, sea and sand – the islands of the Bahamas have plenty of each. But in action-packed Nassau, you'll also find vibrant local culture, a cosmopolitan dining scene and a gracious lifestyle reflective of the country's colonial past.

Many of the most famous buccaneers once roamed these crystal-clear waters, though these days you're more likely to find giant cruise ships and sleek yachts than schooners sailing the Jolly Roger.


Nassau is located on little New Providence Island. This 207 sq. km island is a former coral reef, perched right in the middle of the Bahamas' 700 islands amid 260,000 sq. km of blue water.

In downtown Nassau, you can still see many of the 18th century fortresses, churches and elegant colonial homes painted in cheerful pastel shades of pink, yellow, green and blue. You can also see another aspect of the city's heritage in the Junkanoo celebrations that evolved from African traditions.

As the country's centre of government and home to a lucrative banking industry, Nassau attracts a long list of celebrity residents. The rich and famous are drawn by the tax- and duty-free bargains just as much as the cruise-ship passengers wandering through the jewelry and perfume shops along Bay Street.

Also a major draw – especially for families – are the grand resorts that line Cable Beach just west of Nassau and the over-the-top fantasy of the large Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, located across the bridge from Nassau Harbour. 

Nassau is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • snorkeling and diving
  • shopping and dining

Fly from Toronto for 4 luxurious nights in Nassau. WestJet Vacations shows you the very best accommodations and flights, and the package choice is yours.

Airport served by: NAS

Destination basics

The sun shines almost every day in Nassau. New Providence Island has a tropical maritime climate with gentle winds, warm temperatures, fairly high humidity and 300-plus days of sunshine a year.

Nassau has two seasons: a balmy, dry winter, which lasts from October through April with temperatures ranging from 15 C to 24 C and a rainier, more humid summer, which lasts from May through September, with temperatures ranging from 25 C to 32 C.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Nassau

African traditions infuse everything from the cuisine and the music to the great national celebrations in Nassau. The most colourful of these is Junkanoo.

Today, Junkanoo parades wind through Nassau in the early hours of December 26 and New Year's Day. Thousands of men and women in extravagant costumes dance rhythmically to the sound of bells, whistles, drums and clanging cowbells. Want to give it a try? Stop by the Educulture Bahamas Centre, where you can bang a drum, clank a cowbell and try making your own Junkanoo costume.

You can also discover the African influences in the braided baskets, carved wooden masks and other crafts at the Straw Market as well as in the poignant artwork at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

You can taste the cultural influences at local fish fries like the one at Arawak Cay. Here, you can rub shoulders with locals enjoying conch fritters and fried grouper. Then, wash down the local food with a cool, refreshing, Nassau-brewed Kalik beer.

Nassau also has a rich and fascinating pirate history. By 1713, some 1,000 pirates were said to be living in the city. The "pirate republic" ended a few years later when the English installed a governor who restored law to the crown colony.

Today, get your yo-ho-ho-hos out at the Pirate Museum in downtown Nassau or at a former pirate mansion, like the imposing Graycliff mansion (now the Graycliff Hotel), built in 1740 by the swashbuckling Captain John Howard Graysmith.

Nassau's protected waters and convenient location just off the US coast made this a key destination during the 18th and 19th centuries, right up until Prohibition in the 1920s, when many bootleggers made their fortunes here.

But the most important event in Nassau's history was a battle that happened in another country – the American War of Independence. After the war ended in 1776, thousands of British loyalists from America immigrated to the Bahamas. They brought with them an English culture that lives on, not just in government, but also in the way Bahamians drive (on the left side of the road) and take tea in the afternoon.

Since independence in 1973, the Bahamas has been a Commonwealth country and a parliamentary democracy.

The official currency is the Bahamian dollar and it is held on par with the U.S. dollar. Both currencies are accepted interchangeably throughout the islands. Travellers cheques and credit cards are widely accepted at most locations on Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama Island. You will find ATMs within many banks, grocery stores and at many of the hotels.

Nassau is located on New Providence Island, one of the most central of the commonwealth's 700 islands. Only 29 of these islands are populated, the busiest two being New Providence and Grand Bahama Island.

The rest are known as the Family Islands or the Out Islands. These idyllic isles are located just off the coast of Florida with the westernmost island, Bimini, being only 80 km from Miami. They're part of the same island chain as Cuba, Hispaniola and Turks and Caicos and cover some 260,000 sq. km.

The islands were created when coral reefs emerged from the ocean thousands of years ago, leaving in their wake soft white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

These islands were the first place Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas and for centuries were home to several of the Caribbean's most infamous pirates.

Although New Providence is among the smaller of the inhabited islands, most of the island's resorts, businesses and government offices are in Nassau, which locals call the Manhattan of the Bahamas.

Like all the islands, New Providence is flat and low-lying, with its highest geographical point 37 metres above sea level. Of course, you could always climb even higher to the top of the Water Tower at Fort Fincastle. Here you can view the city's vivid tropical flowers, swaying palm trees, historic colonial buildings and the towers of the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island.

If you have not already purchased transfers from WestJet Vacations, renting a vehicle, hiring a taxi or hotel shuttle will assist you in getting around. Be sure to remember that drivers in the Bahamas drive on the left hand side of the road! Taxis are available 24 hours a day by phone or outside most major hotels. The two most widely used taxi companies in Nassau are Radio Cab and Bahamas Taxi Union.

Connecting Nassau and Paradise Island are two bridges conveniently named Paradise Island Bridges. For a fantastic photo opportunity, take a walk across the bridge—but be sure to bring some water. The bridge spans a half-kilometre and can be quite strenuous due to the heat and humidity.

Buses (also known as jitneys) provide an inexpensive way to get around, ranging from C$1 to C$3 per fare and operating from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except on Sundays when service is reduced.

Arrival

During your inbound flight to Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport, you will receive a Bahamas immigration arrival card to complete for entrance into the country.

Upon arrival, you will be guided to the immigration hall where you’ll form a line to meet with a Bahamas immigration officer. This officer will ask you for required documentation and identification and may also ask you a few questions as to the purpose of your trip, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in the Bahamas. The officer will stamp your form and return the departure portion of it back to you. Keep this departure form in a safe place as you will be required to present this document when you depart the Bahamas.

After passing through immigration, you’ll collect your bags and proceed to customs. A customs officer will ask you about the contents of your bags and if you have anything that will remain in the country. Your baggage and its contents may be inspected.

If you have purchased transfers to and from your hotel with WestJet Vacations, you will be greeted outside of customs by a friendly Majestic Tours representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign. Majestic Tours representatives can be identified their navy blue pants and blue and white striped shirts with the Majestic Tours logo.

The airport is located on New Providence Island, about a 16 km trip to the city centre. To assist you with any banking or currency needs, look for the Royal Bank of Canada in Terminal A.

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at the check-in counters located in Concourse 2 of Terminal A, next to Air Jamaica.

There is limited shopping available throughout the airport, including gift shops, a news stand and a duty-free store. Cafeterias are situated in the departures area and a bar can be found at all three departure lounges. Kids (and kids at heart) might want to check out the video games available in the domestic departures lounge of Terminal A.

The Bahamas operates the same type of electrical outlets as in Canada and the US.

Nassau and its neighbour, Paradise Island, offer a unique combination of international glamour and an easygoing, laid-back, tropical lifestyle that appeals to almost any type of traveller, from beachgoers to newlyweds.

If you're looking for a beach vacation, Nassau has got you covered. Here, you can lounge quietly by the pool or party with the spring break crowd at Junkanoo Beach.

Visitors to Nassau are amazed by its stunning turquoise waters, kept crystal clear by the coral reefs that surround New Providence Island. It's those coral reefs you can thank for the soft, white sandy beaches, too.

Atlantis Resort might also catch your attention. Looming above Paradise Island, this massive, high-end resort has everything for families. Explore the "history" of Atlantis or take an inner tube ride down the lazy river winding through the property. Atlantis also has plenty to offer guests with more grown-up tastes: designer boutiques, casinos, golf courses and fine restaurants – several of them helmed by celebrity chefs.

But Nassau is more than beaches and the Atlantis. After all, it is a 300-year-old city with a fascinating history.

If you're seeking adventure, you can boat to one of the Out Islands or venture to Stuart's Cove for a day of snorkelling or scuba diving. Shoppers can hunt for tax-free bargains in the jewelry shops, perfume boutiques and other stores along busy Bay Street, or browse for crafts and souvenirs at the nearby Straw Market.

If you want to learn more about Nassau's fascinating culture, consider visiting the exhibitions at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas or the nearby Educulture Bahamas Centre. History buffs will love exploring the 18th century fortresses and the Pirates Museum in downtown Nassau.

Culinary travellers will also find plenty to tickle their taste buds. You can satisfy a craving for anything from burgers to Indian biryani at the many exceptional international restaurants that import flavours from every corner of the globe. Or, try authentic Bahamian cuisine, which is largely based on just-caught seafood such as conch, lobster, snapper and grouper, and influenced by the African heritage most Bahamians share.

For the most authentic experience, head to a fish fry and hang out with locals eating conch fritters and drinking Kalik beer. After all, it's not just the beaches, the culture, the shopping or the food that make Nassau such a welcoming destination for travellers. It's the genuine friendliness of the people, which is as warm as the city's tropical climate.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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