I visited the Bahamas just a couple of weeks before Hurricane Dorian hit. I have struggled with when and how to post all of my Bahamas content, most of which was ready to publish just as Dorian made landfall. I didn’t want to seem insensitive, but I really wanted to share my love for this country and tell all of you how amazing it is.
After doing some research and consulting my parents, as any self-sustaining adult with their own business would do, I discovered: While there is still so much devastation on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, what the Bahamas really need now, is tourism. Without it, they won’t have the revenue to rebuild.
“More than ever we need you to come on vacation.”Dionisio J. D’Aguilar, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation
So if you have a trip booked already, keep it. If you’re looking to book a vacation, look into the Bahamas. Nassau and the other southern islands were not affected badly by the storm. Looking to do more? Here is a list of organizations collecting funds for the Bahamas. If you’re interested, while you are there, you can ask your hotel or resort if there are any volunteer opportunities to help those seeking shelter in Nassau and the other islands.
Below is the post I wrote before the storm hit. All of these activities on Nassau were unaffected by the storm.
11 Fun Things to do in the Bahamas
If you’re going to the Bahamas, chances are, you’ll have a good time. It would be really hard not to enjoy the sun, sand, and friendly Carribean locals. I’ve been to this Carribean country five times now, so I’ve definitely found some fun things to do by these clear waters. Below I’m outlining 11 fun things to do in the Bahamas. Adults and kids can take part, but in the Bahamas, most activities are served with rum punch, so adults definitely have more fun!
Spend the Day at the Beach
There is no shortage of gorgeous beaches in the Bahamas! On each of the islands, you can find white or pink sands looking out over crystal clear turquoise waters. If you are a guest of Atlantis or book a day-pass you can head to their private beaches where they have some chairs and umbrellas set up at no cost to you.
While many resorts have private beaches for their residents, there are also several public beaches you can enjoy! Cable beach is one of the most popular, we stayed there on my first trip to the Bahamas when I was just a toddler! There is also Cabbage beach, Junkanoo beach which is a great option for cruisers since it is close to downtown, Love beach which is typically for locals, Western Esplanade, and Saunders beach. Read more about the public beaches here.
Try Local Food and Drink
Conch is a local dish served in every way you can think of. It tastes similar to calamari, chewy, and mostly tastes like any sauce you dip it in. We have been to a few local restaurants on our trips, ask the locals, your cab driver, or your concierge for recommendations, they’ll usually steer you in the right direction! Our concierge recommended the Poop Deck, which we ate at on our previous trip as well!
Many of the restaurants both in and out of the resort had amazing mixed drinks and frozen cocktails on the menu. The most common ingredient? Rum! If you didn’t know, this island used to be flooded with pirates and privateers (essentially legalized pirates acting on behalf of Great Britain, so it’s no surprise rum is their spirit of choice!
Marine Life Encounter
In the Bahamas, there is no shortage of marine life encounters and excursions. On my few trips there, we’ve done several with dolphins and one with sea lions. We were also able to pet stingrays, sharks, and my personal favorite, a sea cucumber. If you stay at Atlantis, you can find many options on the property.
Swim With the Pigs
While not exactly on Paradise Island or Nassau, there are plenty of boats to take you to the swimming pigs. There are several different tours you can go on. One of the most popular tours is an all-day tour that takes you to Exuma, the original island with wild swimming pigs in addition to swimming with sharks and a stop to play with giant iguanas. There is also a half-day trip to Rose Island, which is only 3 miles off the coast of Nassau, a 25min boat ride, to see swimming pigs, snorkel, drink at the bar, and lay on the beach.
The largest difference between these two excursions are the pigs and the type of experience you want. The pigs on Exuma are natural inhabitants of the island and while they are used to people, they are still wild animals. On Rose Island, the animals were definitely domesticated and trained to sit, stay, and swim. I’m sure there are arguments for and against both of these trips, but I personally appreciated that we weren’t interrupting the pigs’ natural habitat.
Head to the Casino
The Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island is a marvel to walk through and play in. It is equipped with state of the art systems, gorgeous glass art sculptures, and even daily gaming lessons. If you’re staying at the resort, you can use your room key as you play to earn offers, free play, and complimentary offers. *The gambling age in the Bahamas is 18.
Visit the Straw Market
A local stop in Nassau is the straw market where local vendors sell their goods. As a child, many of the goods were made of straw as well as the building. Unfortunately the original burned down and the straw market moved to another building. They now sell souvenirs, bags, and braid hair, it’s definitely taken on a more touristy feel, than before, but there are still great local and handmade finds!
Take a Boat Ride
There are many tours and excursions you can book for boat tours around the island. I highly recommend booking one! It’s amazing to view the mansions on the coast of Nassau seeing homes and resorts mixed with the beautiful turquoise of the ocean passing by.
Think water parks are just for kids? Definitely not this one. Atlantis Aquaventure park is more than just a water park. While it does house seven waterslides, there are also two rivers, one lazy, and one rapid, as well as 11 pools and four private beaches. There are two towers with slides in them, the Mayan Temple Tower houses three large slides, two of which go through the shark tank at the end, and one challenger slide so you can race your friends and family. The Power Tower with four slides inside. The three with tubes which land you in the rapid river at the end and one body slide called the Abyss which drops you into a faux cenote at the end surrounded by prehistoric fish aquariums. The Serpent Slide and The Abyss were my favorites!
With the crystal clear waters, it’s difficult to resist the urge to get closer. In Nassau or Paradise Island, you’re right on the edge of one of the best reefs in Nassau. Only three miles from Rose Island, close to the surface, and home to schools of tropical fish and even two shipwrecks. While we were there, we even saw some live starfish! You can also snorkel in many of the public beaches, or book a tour to take you to the deeper, less easy to access places such as the Gambier Deep Reef, Goulding Cay Reef, Rose Island, Andros Barrier Reef, and the Exumas. Read more about snorkeling in Nassau here.
Have Dinner at Graycliff Restaurant
Originally built in 1740, the Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant was built on top of the ruins of the oldest church in the Bahamas which was built in 1694 and destroyed by the Spanish in 1703. The ruins were built into the Graycliff which was originally a mansion built by Captain John Howard Graysmith, a famous pirate of the Caribbean. In its 200+ year history the property has been owned by a pirate, commandeered by the American Navy, served as Nassau’s first Inn, became an officer’s mess for the British Army, re-opened during prohibition by Mrs. Polly Leach who was a close friend to Al Capone, turned into a home for a wealthy Canadian couple, then occupied by Lord and Lady Dudley, Third Earl of Staffordshire and finally purchased in 1973 by Enrico and Anna Maria Garzaroli and became the Hotel and Restaurant that it is today.
As you can see, the property has an incredible history, make sure you tour the property first to see the old church ruins, and you don’t want to miss the wine cellar! For special occasions, you can reserve the wine cellar and actually have dinner inside. The cellar holds over 250,000 from 5,000 vineyards in 20 countries. The bottles range from today’s most popular vintages to the world’s rarest including some of the rarest in the world. It’s hard to pass up a bottle with your 5-star dinner!
Tour a Rum Distillery
Sitting on the 225-year-old restored Buena Vista Estate (featured in Casino Royale), John Watling Distillery holds complimentary tours daily of the distillery and grounds where you can enjoy complimentary tastes of their liquid gold rum. While I haven’t been here yet, this spot in on my list for my next visit. The tour has great reviews and it’s a great adult activity! (FYI the drinking age in the Bahamas is 18.)