Nassau, New Providence Island / Paradise Island
Part international glamour. Part tropical ease. Nassau, our capital city, is found on New Providence Island and two bridges conveniently link neighboring Paradise Island and its 685 acres of extraordinary beauty. This bustling island pair offers a mixture of attractions, fine dining, fresh fish markets, water sports and boutique shopping. Nassau/Paradise Island gives you the freedom to do as much or as little as you want.
The capital city of The Islands of The Bahamas is found on 21-mile-long New Providence, our 11th largest island. The fine harbour of Nassau is protected by tiny Paradise Island for a three-mile stretch. This sheltered harbour attracted settlers from the early days. When British colonists discovered the harbour in the late 1600s, some left the island of Eleuthera to live on New Providence. Nassau’s history can be traced back to days of the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Its sheltered harbor, mansions, cathedrals and 18th-century fortresses have been beautifully preserved.
Approximately 172,000 people live in the Nassau/Paradise Island area, with the majority of them residing in the capital city of Nassau. A native of Nassau is called a Nassuvian.
Once known as Hogg Island, Paradise Island is 685 acres of pure bliss connected to Nassau by two 600-foot bridges. The island was developed almost exclusively to delight and accommodate visitors, with resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, a golf course, an aquarium, and a casino rounding out the amenities. Very few private residences exist on the island.
Shops, pubs and cafes line Nassau’s historic Bay Street. Considered the city’s “Main Street”, it has maintained its historic feel while offering all the amenities our visitors’ desire.
Blue Lagoon Island
A relaxing 20-minute sail from Nassau, Blue Lagoon Island has several programs that allow visitors to interact with dolphins. Meet these loving mammals from the edge of the water or get up close and personal right next to them in the ocean.
Looking for some sand? Look no further than a few miles west of Nassau. There sits a two-and-a-half mile stretch of beach and beach life. Cable Beach is also home to the Crystal Palace Resort as well as several other luxury resorts, and the Cable Beach golf course.
In 1670, King Charles II of England granted The Islands Of The Bahamas to six British noblemen called the Proprietors. These men brought British settlers from Bermuda to the island of New Providence. There they built a fort and a city, which they called Charlestown, in honor of King Charles II. The town was burnt to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, but later rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695 to honor King William III (formerly Prince of Orange-Nassau) and successor to the throne of England.
Although some of the religious farmers from Eleuthera lived in Nassau, most of its population were pirates, privateers or wreckers (those who lured ships to the reefs and then plundered the cargo from the resulting shipwrecks). In an attempt to stop the plundering, Spanish and French fleets attacked and destroyed Nassau periodically over the following years. However, the lawless citizens always returned and rebuilt the port city.
In 1718, Great Britain declared The Islands Of The Bahamas a crown colony and named former privateer Woodes Rogers as its first Royal Governor. Rogers flushed out the pirates from Nassau, restored law and order and built Fort Nassau.
After accomplishing his mission, Rogers left the islands, but returned in 1729 at the request of the Bahamians. He opened the first House of Assembly in The Bahamas and presided over the colony until his death. The assembly adopted Rogers’ official motto, “Expulsis Piratis, Restituta Commercia,” which means “Pirates Expelled, Commerce Restored.”
During the Revolutionary War, British Loyalists fleeing America in the 1770s settled in Nassau. They added to the town’s architecture, population and prosperity. During the American Civil War and Prohibition, Nassau grew and prospered as it was ideally situated for shipping blockaded goods to the United States.
Since Nassau is the capital city of The Islands Of The Bahamas and has always contained most of the country’s population, its history is intricately woven into the country’s history.
Things to Do On Water
Beaches: The beaches that surround Nassau/Paradise Island are not only beautiful, they also offer as much or as little activity as you would like to have. At local hot-spots you can purchase Bahamian delicacies, spring break destinations provide entertainment, fun and games, plus some have recreational facilities for kids and jogging tracks for adults to work out.
Boating and Sailing: In Nassau/Paradise Island our marinas have fully-functioning slips, most equipped with electric and water hook-ups and fuel. Some even have cable and Internet. You will find a wide range of charters, excursions and rentals available: fully crewed and catered sailing trips, “bareboat” rentals for experienced sailors, small sailboats, motorboats, and jet-skis. Some operators also offer day cruises and powerboat trips to nearby islands and outlying cays.
Family Fun: Nassau/Paradise Island offers fun on the water for kids of all ages. There are beautiful beaches to explore, numerous underwater delights to discover while snorkeling, boating excursions to Blackbeard’s Cay, catamaran cruises and glass-bottom boat rides around the harbour, day sailing trips and a powerboat adventure to the beautiful Exuma Cays, plus interactions with Dolphins at Atlantis and Blue Lagoon Island.
Fishing: Whether you’re a first-timer trying out casting from a pier, an experienced fly-fisherman looking to challenge the wily bonefish, or a deep-sea fanatic hoping to beat one of the 50 world records set in the waters of The Bahamas, you’ll find all types of fishing here. Our outfitters and charter captains can assist you as much or as little as you desire.
Water Sports: In Nassau/Paradise Island, you can explore our crystal-blue waters one sport at a time. Options include snorkeling at a variety of popular spots, like Rose Island Reefs, the Gambier Deep Reef, Booby Rock Channel and the Goulding Reef Cays, with equipment for rent at most hotels and on tours. There is also canoeing on Lake Nancy, jet skiing, kayaking, kite-boarding, para-sailing and water-skiing.
Things to Do On Land
Attractions: There are a number of must-see landmarks in Nassau, including Rawson Square, which is directly across from Prince George Wharf, the cruise dock. There you’ll find historic government buildings and the old goal, now reborn as a public library and museum. Other places of interest are The Queen’s Staircase, The Water Tower, The Forts, Gregory Arch and The Caves.
Birding: Waterfowl and wading birds are dominant throughout Nassau and Paradise Island. You’ll also likely encounter egrets and herons, Bahama pintails, ruddy ducks and Caribbean coots. And, if you keep an eye on the sky, you might see beautiful ospreys and belted kingfishers. But, for a more up-close encounter, watch the flamingos march at the Ardastra Gardens.
Dining: The restaurants of Nassau/Paradise Island offer virtually every type of cuisine, from simple dishes to exotic Bahamian and international menus. If you’re looking for local specialties, the fish fry at Arawak Cay provides excellent outdoor dining and offers Bahamian delicacies like conch salad and fried fish, while the stalls at Potter’s Cay dock serve up scorched conch – all made before your eyes. Whatever it is you’re craving, you’ll find it here.
Entertainment: Once the sun goes down, the fun continues on Nassau/Paradise Island. Keep yourself entertained well into the evening with a variety of local talent, native shows, etc.
Golf: There is no season to limit play in Nassau/Paradise Island, just year-round blue skies and warm weather. Beautiful settings abound, framing tee boxes and fairways with picture-perfect backdrops for your best shot. So whatever your handicap, you’ll be able to find the right course here with two spectacular options to choose from.
Shopping: Bahamians continue the tradition of the early Lucayan and Taino Indians by producing distinctive arts and crafts that reflect the skill and artistry of our heritage. Bahamians utilize local resources to create unique foods, spices, ceramics, crafts, art and music. Visit the world-famous Straw Market on Bay Street, where you will experience Bahamian life close-up and can polish your bartering skills while sampling the work of some of the local artisans. (Authentically Bahamian — Browse through booths at the craft centers, displaying Bahamian arts and crafts from the various islands created from indigenous products. Items include paintings, sea treasures, blown glass, conch shell jewelry, Junkanoo art, clothing, driftwood paintings, straw work, ceramics, pine seed dolls and more. Duty-Free — Effective January 1, 1992, the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas abolished all import duties on these items: perfumes and fragrances, crystal, leather goods, jewelry, fine linens and tablecloths, watches and clocks, photographic equipment, china, binoculars, and telescopes. To know if a store is a duty-free shop, simply look for the duty-free logo: DFS. Savings on these items are significantly below U.S. prices, so it’s easy to see why many visitors return from The Islands of The Bahamas with more than nice tans.)
Spa/Wellness: Relax your mind and your body during your stay here in the islands.
Sports: With weather like ours, we make the most of it. And while we may be laid-back by nature, we never shy away from friendly competition. Some of the most popular sports enjoyed by Bahamians are football, cricket, baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, squash, bowling, racquetball, rugby and soccer. Arrange the match-up of your choice by contacting one of our sporting associations before you arrive.
Tours: Whether you choose a tour by air, taxi or aboard a colorful, horse-drawn surrey, chances are you’ll be enjoying the company of one of our most experienced guides and learn much about our history as part of the bargain. A walking tour is another alternative, where you can take a leisurely stroll around Nassau on your own or with a government-certified guide. Check in Rawson Square to sign up. Some host tour groups of 50 persons or more.
Worship: Join the parishioners of Annunciation Greek Orthodox (Christian) Church (located at 11 West St., Nassau, Bahamas) for a time of reflection and worship!