Known for its warm breezes, sunny skies, and white beaches, Nassau's turbulent past is quite different from the serenity its imagery brings to mind. The capital of the Bahamas and the largest city, part of Nassau's allure comes from its notorious inhabitants of old. Once a lair and refuge for pirates, Nassau was home to famous plunderers such as Blackbeard. However, by 1720 most of the pirates were ultimately killed or driven out by the British. In the following years, Nassau would burn to the ground three times at the hands of the Spanish.
Today, the island's close proximity to the US gives Nassau a distinctly American flavour. This bustling hub of a city is a delightful and colourful blend of old world and colonial architecture juxtaposed with a busy, modern port.
Nassau draws attracts visitors with its beautifully preserved Victorian buildings, 18th-century fortresses, and the Queen's Staircase, the 66 steps of which lead to the most breathtaking view over the whole of Nassau - a must for any visitor.
Plant enthusiasts should visit the Royal Victorian Garden, which has more than 300 species of tropical plants and exotic creatures. Enthusiastic shoppers, on the other hand, would be well-advised to look out for great bargains at the Straw Market on Bay Street.
Alternatively, visitors can relax by spending an idle afternoon watching a cricket game at one of the many local sports grounds. After dark, Nassau comes alive with a rowdy bar and club scene, and the scent of fresh seafood permeates the air in the Fish Fry district.
This stunning city can also add at least four famous supporting roles in the movies to its resume, as the setting in three James Bond pictures, as well as the Beatles film 'Help!'. With the bright lights of casinos, upmarket resort hotels, and cruise liners, Nassau is overflowing with variety, colour and entertainment. A favourite holiday destination for active adventurers and beach bums alike, Nassau has something to offer everyone.
Aquaventure, in the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, is one of the Caribbean's largest waterparks, featuring dozens of thrilling water slides and a mile-long river ride with rapids and special effects. The 97 acre park has a network of interconnected rides which means guests can go from one attraction to the next on rivers and water escalators without ever leaving their inner-tubes.
Some of the rides include the Leap of Faith, a nearly vertical 60 foot drop through a clear tube that runs under a shark-filled lagoon; the Abyss, a 58 foot near-vertical drop through darkness followed by many twists and turns; and the Surge, an inner-tube ride that mimics a flash flood. For young children, there is the Jungle Slide, a simple twisting slide featuring jungle-like scenery, and the Splashers, a Mayan-themed set of pools and water-based playgrounds. When visitors get tired of the water, there are other activities available like rock climbing, with instructors present to guide and teach. The park is accessible to guests of the Atlantis resort as part of their resort fees, and guests of the adjacent Comfort Inn have access as well.
Nassau enjoys a tropical climate with summer temperatures rarely exceeding 92ºF (33ºC), while the winter months see daytime temperatures reaching between 68ºF (20ºC) and 80ºF (26ºC) with minimums rarely dropping below 50°F (10°C). The peak holiday season falls between December and April, when the weather is at its best and Nassau becomes very crowded. The rainiest months are July through October.
Nassau's sightseeing opportunities are as eclectic as its history, and travellers to the capital of the Bahamas may find themselves indecisive in the face of so many opportunities. For pure sensory overload, a trip to Paradise Island should be high on any visitor's list.
This long cay (small island) forms Nassau's prosperous port and is ringed by powdery white beaches, turquoise waters, and some of the Bahamas' grandest resorts. Chief of these spectacles is Atlantis: a themed resort with 200 feet tall water slides, aquariums, and fine restaurants.
However, travellers to Nassau will miss out on the truly captivating local culture if they choose not to venture from the resorts. A good place to start is with food, and locals will tell you that Arawak Cay (also known as 'Fish Fry') is the best place to experience Bahamian cuisine. Dine on fresh conch and snapper and wash it down with a glass of sky juice, made from coconut water, condensed milk, and gin. If visitors hope to see their food caught fresh, a trip to the Potter's Cay seafood market is sure to delight the senses.
Undoubtedly Nassau's biggest drawcard is the vibrant energy of a city juxtaposed with the tranquillity of tropical beach. For equal parts convenience and beauty, travellers should head straight to Cable Bay and enjoy a few hours of sunny relaxation.