With over 3.5 million cruise passengers a year stopping at this cruise port, Nassau has become a very popular destination for cruise ships in the Bahamas. It’s also become a perfect port of call for shore excursions.
Looking for things to do in Nassau, Bahamas? You’re in luck! There are plenty of activities in Nassau to give you reasons to get off the ship. Whether you want a relaxing beach, fun water sport activity, boat tour, shopping day, historical museum, or wildlife excursion you can find something for everyone in your group.
Even if you’ve been to Nassau before you can always find new and exiting excursions you probably didn’t even know existed. There’s more to this cruise port than meets the eye. So, look beyond the port itself and see what this popular port has to offer.
New Providence Island is only 21 miles long and 11 miles wide and yet is full of things to do.
Let’s check out some of the best things to do in Nassau, Bahamas on your next cruise.
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1. Visit the Best Beaches of Nassau
Some of the clearest, most beautiful water in the world can be found at Nassau, Bahamas. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or a fun-filled day at the beach there is a white-sandy place for you.
Many believe that some of the best beaches in all of the Bahamas are located on Paradise Island, which is just offshore from the island of New Providence. It’s still close to the cruise port, so don’t miss this opportunity.
Here are some of the best beaches to visit:
- Cable Beach – Home to some luxury all-inclusive resorts, Cable Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Nassau. There are over 2 miles of coastline with perfectly clear waters and soft sand. There is an assortment of restaurants and shops nearby.
- Cabbage Beach – Located just a bridge away on Paradise Island, Cabbage Beach is probably the most beautiful beach you will find around the island. There are resorts close by, and the beach can be more crowded on the western side during peak season. It’s a great place for walking along the beach and sunbathing. You will fall in love with this beach if you’re a beach-lover.
- Love Beach — Further to the west from the cruise port, Love Beach is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Nassau. It’s well worth the drive if you ask me. It is a quiet, pristine beach that has some amazing coral reefs for snorkeling. After all it is right near 40 acres of protected coral. If you want a beach away from the bustle, this might be a great option.
- Cove Beach – Another relaxing beach location, Cove Beach is located on Paradise Island. Palm trees and white sands welcome visitors to this tranquil destination. It’s also right near The Cove Atlantis if you’d like a relaxing place to spend the day in port.
- Junkanoo Beach – Although not one of my favorite beaches, it is popular with cruisers as it is just a 15-minute walk away from the pier and does have beautiful clear water. You can get some great views and pictures of your ship from here. The beach has a more casual atmosphere. You will often see some beach volleyball being played and some other beach games. There are places to grab a bite or drink close by. This is a great beach if you just want to pop in, have some beach time, and hit some shops on the way back to the ship.
Want to see more beaches in Nassau? Check out our post on the best beaches in Nassau here.
2. Enjoy Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis
There are tons of things to do at Atlantis, Paradise Island. We will mention a few in the other points of this post, but one of the most exciting things you can do is spend the day at Aquaventure. This is a 141-acre water park that is a flat-out blast for kids and adults alike.
Being the largest water park in the Caribbean is only part of the park’s claim to fame. There are 11 pools, high-speed water slides, lazy rivers, kiddie splash zones, and even a mile-long river-ride with intense rapids along the way.
The Power Tower offers 4 water slides from its heights, including a 200-foot long body slide and a 50-foot near vertical drop. The Mayan Temple has 5 water slides, and one of them drops you 60-feet before plunging you into a clear tunnel underneath a shark-filled lagoon.
3. Walk Around Atlantis on Your Own
Let’s say you just want to see what Atlantis is all about before paying for the Aquapark or other activities on the premises. You can simply take an inexpensive water taxi from the cruise port to Paradise Island. On the way, a tour guide will point out some interesting facts and stories about Nassau.
Once on the other side it’s a short walk to Atlantis where you can walk around the incredible architecture. From the stunning lobby of the hotel you can see part of the aquarium and then walk outside to check out the beautiful facilities. Waterfalls, lagoons, and marine life provide a peaceful setting for a leisurely walk.
There are high-end shops and restaurants around the resort as well. Not to mention the infamous casino.
4. Shop at the Straw Market
If unique, hand-crafted odds and ends made by local Bahamians are on your shopping list, you won’t be very far from a place that has it all once you get off the ship.
The Nassau Straw Market is right in the middle of Bay Street, just a 2-minute walk from the pier. Once you walk out of the terminal take a right and you will see the market along the street.
You will find treasures like hand-woven straw hats, bags, and trinkets along with some of the most beautiful and interesting wood-carvings you’ve ever seen.
Be ready to utilize your negotiation skills and find a bargain. You can use either U.S. or Bahamian cash.
Note: There are plenty of other shops and stores along Bay Street as well that sell t-shirts, sunglasses, souvenirs and other touristy items.
5. Climb the Queen’s Staircase
Carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the late 1700’s, the Queen’s Staircase consists of 66 steps that lead to the highest point of the island, Fort Fincastle. The stairs were named after Queen Victoria for her part in abolishing slavery in the Bahamas.
Fort Fincastle overlooks the city of Nassau and the front of it is shaped like the bow of a ship. It’s a great historical tour that allows you to see the cannons and fortifications of a different era.
Some of the Nassau tours will take you to this iconic location on the island (you can book such a tour here). I have actually walked there from the port as well, although it’s a fairly long walk.
6. Visit Blue Lagoon Island
One of the most popular side trips from Nassau is the 3-mile boat ride to Blue Lagoon Island. Also known as Salt Cay (since it was a salt marsh in the late 1800’s), the island is dotted by coconut palms and is surrounded by clear turquoise waters. The hidden lagoon in the center of the island is perfect for swimming and relaxing on its sandy beaches.
The Dolphin Encounter on the island (more on this below) allows guests to get an up-close experience with both dolphins and sea lions. This family-owned habitat is educational and fun for the whole family.
If watersports are your thing there are plenty of rentals made available as well. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, and inflatables. For a more relaxing experience there are hammocks all over the island as well.
Blue Lagoon Island has a rich history, which you can learn about on a Segway tour or walking tour. From a pirate rest-stop to a WWII testing facility, the island has some very interesting roots.
See more information on a Blue Lagoon Island beach day excursion here.
7. See the Pirates of Nassau Museum
Exploring a full-size replica of the pirate ship Revenge is just part of the Pirates of Nassau Museum. This is an interactive experience that lets visitors peer into the life of a pirate in 1716.
Some of the fun exhibits include walking through a shanty town at twilight, learning about female pirates, facing the infamous Black Beard, understanding what happened to the most famous pirates, and being able to see flintlock pistols, cutlasses, and other artifacts from the pirate era.
The museum is located in the heart of Nassau, an easy walk from the cruise port, and admission costs $13.50 for adults and $6.75 for children 4-17.
Nassau was at the very center of Caribbean pirate activity, so this is a fun way to learn some history while keeping the kids entertained. The stocks out front provide a great photo op as well.
8. Enjoy a Dolphin Excursion (Several Locations)
If you want to have a magical experience with these fascinating mammals there are plenty of places to choose from in Nassau. Keep in mind there is a difference between swimming with dolphins and dolphin encounters. Encounters are usually cheaper and in more shallow water. Swimming with dolphins can involve deeper water and life vests.
Get a picture of a dolphin giving you a kiss, shake the dolphin’s fin, and even enjoy a foot-push across the water, also known as dolphin water-skiing.
Here are some places that offer dolphin excursions around Nassau. All of the below places have both “swims” and “encounters” with dolphins.
- Atlantis Bahamas – Atlantis offers all kinds of activities with dolphins at Dolphin Cay, one of the world’s largest open-air marine mammal habitats. The 11-acre lagoon provides dolphin excursions for kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, or even just sitting on a beach and enjoying being close to the dolphins. Atlantis offers a great educational experience as well, and you can spend time with sea lions in addition to dolphins.
- Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encounter – We already mentioned Blue Lagoon Island, and this is another popular place for dolphin excursions. A local family runs the dolphin habitat, and the entire island is an excursion itself. This is one of the highest-rated dolphin experiences for cruisers in Nassau. There are sea lions on Blue Lagoon as well.
- Balmoral Island – The ferry ride to Balmoral Island is about 30 minutes from Nassau. After your excursion with the dolphins you can enjoy white sandy beaches, 2 pools, the use of noodles and innertubes, and even free WiFi. There are plenty of loungers by the beach to relax after your time with the dolphins. There is also a stingray encounter on Balmoral Island.
9. Dive with Sharks
You read that right. Located on the south western side of New Providence Island, Stuarts Cove provides a very unique experience for thrill seekers. Get up close and personal with Caribbean reef sharks on a 3.5 hour 2 tank-dive. You will be within touching distance of 5-6 foot wild sharks. How cool is that? A Divemaster will feed the sharks with a pole, and it’s an electric experience.
There are 2 parts of the dive. The first dive is a free swim near the Shark Wall where the sharks may follow you around. They have been trained by the “dinner bell”. The 2nd dive is where you will actually feed the sharks and get to see these amazing creatures in a surreal way. Don’t worry, the sharks want the bait more than you, but it’s still a great activity for adrenaline junkies.
Keep in mind that you must have your dive certification in order to book this excursion. See more information on this shark dive in Nassau here.
10. Visit Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Center
Made famous for the marching flamingos (a spectacular show to watch), this was the first zoo in the Bahamas. It is now home to over 200 animals on 4 acres of tropical gardens.
Any animal lover will absolutely love this place. Visitors can hand feed the colorful Lory Parrots, check out the peacocks, play with the friendly domesticated pigs, and even spot a few lemurs.
The location is less than 2 miles from the cruise port. The cost is $18.75 for adults and $9.50 for children 4-12.
11. Visit Clifton Heritage National Park
Located on the western most side of the Island and near Jaw’s Beach, Clifton Heritage National Park offers hiking trails, ruins, snorkeling, and beaches. There are actually 5 national parks on the island. This one is relatively new, opening in 2009.
There are 208 acres for the public to enjoy. The park is jam-packed with a diverse eco-system that consists of cliffs, wetlands, dunes, coral reefs, and a variety of bird life. It’s a great place for snorkeling the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden. But many like it for just getting away from the busyness of downtown Nassau. Outdoor enthusiast will enjoy the walking trails and a more relaxed environment.
The historical aspect of the park allows visitors to learn about the first inhabitants of the Bahamas, the Lucayan people. Several buildings on the property are replicas, showing how these people lived.
12. Go Swimming with Pigs
Sure, it sounds weird, but there’s a reason swimming with pigs near Nassau is such a popular activity. The location of this excursion is actually in The Exumas which is an hour boat ride from Nassau. Just the trip through The Exuma Cays is worth the trip, as you can soak in the stunningly pristine and turquoise waters around the islands. It might be some of the clearest water you will ever see.
The cute little piggies are excellent swimmers and there are over 20 of them on Pig Beach. Get your selfie with the piglets and swim around with them in a tropical paradise. Kids love it, and it’s an unforgettable experience.
Some say the pigs got to the islands by surviving a ship wreck. Others say that sailors left them there with the intent of coming back to cook them up later. What’s the real story? Take a visit and find out for yourself.
13. Play with Stingrays
Don’t let any misconceptions scare you away from swimming with some stingrays. The Southern Rays of the Caribbean are docile creatures that are more puppy-like than anything else. Stingray City is a short boat ride from Nassau and is a natural habitat for these creatures. These stingrays do not have barbed tails and are perfectly safe to touch and feed. Get your camera ready for a photo-op because these rays will swim right up to you and might even ask for a kiss.
14. Satisfy Your Taste Buds at the Fish Fry (Arawak Cay)
If you want great food that is truly authentic, eat where the locals eat. Arawak Cay was built with sand that was dredged from Nassau Harbour in 1969. Today it is known as the Fish Fry and is full of amazing restaurants offering authentic Bahamian food.
Restaurants as Goldies (Conch House at the Fish Fry) and Twin Brothers are some of the most popular eateries. But there are plenty of places to tantalize your taste buds in this area.
Right off West Bay Street in Nassau the Fish Fry is only a short 1.3 mile walk from the cruise terminal. So, you can hit some shops on the way back to the ship. Whether you’re in the mood for shrimp, lobster, or even conch, any foodie will love the selections available at this location.
15. Take a Culinary Walk Through Nassau’s History
Still on the topic of food, you can enjoy some delicious local food while learning about Nassau’s past on an Intimate Old Nassau Dining Walk.
This 2-hour historical adventure begins at Pompey Square and then leads to Christ Church Cathedral. There you can appreciate the 1670 architecture of the first Bahamian church. There are 3 tastings throughout the tour and you will see other sites like the Pirate Museum, the Towne Hotel, Government House, Graycliff Hotel, a cigar factory, and Bahama Barrels. The walks between shops are short, so it’s easy walking for anyone. You will learn a lot about Nassau’s rich history, all while making sure your stomach stays happy.
16. Experience Nassau’s Chocolate Factory
Graycliff Hotel is home to the best chocolatier on the island. Not only will you have a chance to tour the factory and see how cacao beans are turned into chocolate masterpieces, but you will also have the chance to indulge your senses with some chocolate tasting of your own.
In fact, you can create your own chocolate using some unique ingredients like mango, lime, sweet-tomato basil, and bacon. Who can turn that down? An easy walk from the cruise port, this is a tour for the whole family. And at the end you can shop for some truffles and treats at the boutique.
17. Tour Around Parliament Square
Want to see some history on your own? You can’t miss these pink, colonial style buildings that make up Parliament Square. You can really get a feel for the British heritage Nassau carries when seeing the square that was built in 1815.
The House of Assembly, the Supreme Court, and the offices of the Leader of the Opposition are the buildings that make up the square. Visitors can actually see the government in action and watch a lively debate by lawmakers when the House of Assembly is in session. Judges and lawyers still dress in traditional British wigs and robes.
18. Visit Fort Charlotte
Although it was never used in battle, Fort Charlotte is one of a few English forts on the Island and is one of the most impressive. It is in fact the largest, at over 100 acres. An easy walk to the west from downtown Nassau, this fort was built out of limestone in 1789.
The fort boasts a moat, dungeons, underground passageways, and 42 cannons that overlook the far west end of the harbor. You can get tours of Fort Charlotte and learn more about life in the 18th century. If you happen to be in Nassau on a Wednesday or Friday, you can experience something special. Characters dress up in period costumes and some of the cannons are fired off around noon.
19. Ride a Bahama Jet Boat
Another activity for thrill-seekers, a ride on a Bahama Jet Boat is an incredibly fun experience. You will see Nassau’s coastline in an ultra-fast ride full of twists and turns. The 24-passenger boat will provide an hour of safe, fun, and exciting site seeing while zipping through the pristine waters of the Bahamas. These things are fast, but the captains are well trained. Get your heart racing, and try it out if you want an excursion in Nassau that will get your adrenaline pumping.
20. Take a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour
Want a more leisurely boat ride in Nassau? This glass-bottom boat tour takes you to the Sea Garden where you can both feed and admire the fish and marine life. Sitting 5-feet below the waves the vessel allows you to see clearly into the beautiful waters at this underwater world. The boat will stay at the Sea Garden for an hour. On the way to and from this location the tour guide will point out where several celebrities live on Paradise Island. Some of the celebrities include Oprah, Jay Z and Beyonce, Mick Jagger and Bill Gates.
21. Take an Underwater Scooter to Explore the Ocean
A SUB underwater scooter is a very cool way to really appreciate the marine life of Nassau. You can take your own personal submarine into the water without ever getting your hair wet and have perfect visibility of the vibrant coral and fish. It’s a 6-hour excursion in your Scenic Underwater Bubble, and it’s safe for any level of experience as long as you are at least 12-years-old. The scooters go to 15-foot depths and travel at 2 knots. The time underwater us only about 30-minutes, and that’s been the biggest complaint about this activity.
22. Take a Catamaran Sail and Snorkel Cruise
Sure, you just got off a ship, but there’s nothing like sailing away on a catamaran to check out the very best places around Nassau to snorkel. You will see lush coral reefs on this excursion. Just the short sail to the snorkeling spot is very relaxing and enjoyable. Upon arrival you will snorkel from the boat itself. Flotation vests are required as the water may be fairly deep.
It is about a 45-minute sail to the snorkel location, and you will spend an hour snorkeling. The captain will use the sail on the boat in most cases. But the boat does have a motor if needed. It’s a very cool experience sailing through the waters of the Bahamas.
Check out this Catamaran sail and snorkel excursion here.
23. Take a Marley Resort Beach Day
Want to get away from the crowds but still enjoy a great beach with plenty of food around? This might be the option for you. This is an adult-only excursion that allows you to spend the day at a home used by Bob and Rita Marley when vacationing in Nassau. It’s about a 30-minute car ride to Cable Beach where you will be let off.
You can tour the home and see memorabilia from Bob Marley’s life and then enjoy the private haven. The private beach, pools, and hot tub are all included and lunch is provided around noon. The food selection is based on the tastes of Bob Marley himself. Check out this Marley Resort Beach Day excursion here.
24. Enjoy Some Bahamian Art
The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is located in the historic colonial house of Villa Doyle built in 1860. Any art enthusiast will appreciate the life and work of these Bahamian artists as their struggle and fight for independence can be seen in their works. Each room has a theme that is reflected in the paintings and murals throughout. It will take a good hour to explore the art inside the building and there are sculptures outside as well. Admission is $10 for adults and children under 12 are free.
25. Take a James Bond Adventure
This is the perfect excursion for you if you’re a fan of classic James Bond films. The 4-hour tour and adventure will let you explore James Bond film locations through downtown Nassau. You will then play the part of either a 007 agent or a rogue villain. Missions (games) will be played throughout the tour. As part of the tour a bus will take you along the northern shore and will let you off at a beach in Western New Providence. This is where you will have an included lunch.
If you just want to get a basic tour of all the highlights of Nassau as a tour guide takes you around the island in an air conditioned vehicle you can book a Nassau Day Tour like this one.
What would you add?
What do you like to do when your cruise ships makes a stop in Nassau? We want to hear from you. Did we leave out your favorite activity or shore excursion? Kindly rip us a new one in the comments below.