Initially, you might think that you’ll spend your Nassau vacation lazing around the hotel pool and the beach, catching up on the rest and relaxation you so desperately need. But chances are good that you will feel rejuvenated within a day or two and will be looking for something to do. Well, we’ve got you covered with our Top Ten Things To Do in Nassau, Bahamas.
Aquaventure at Atlantis
Whether you have had the pleasure of staying there or not, most everyone these days is familiar with Atlantis Resort and it’s many amenities given that the Pink Palace graces so many calendars, travel websites, and even desktop wallpapers. However, few know that you don’t have to be a guest of the upscale resort and its many hotels and lodging facilities in order to enjoy the Aquaventure park. You simply need to buy a day pass in order to have fun among 20 million gallons of water, 20 swimming areas, 11 pools including three kids’ pools, a mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids and wave surges, and water slides that include the six-story Mayan Temple where you plummet down into a shark-filled lagoon. Slow things down at the Royal Baths or a zero-entry pool, all of which offer access to the white sands of Paradise Beach. It’s a great way to spend the day.
Day Trips to Exuma to Swim with the Pigs
Although this side trip is on the pricey side, mainly due to the distance involved in traveling from Nassau to Exuma’s Big Major Cay (approx. 89 miles), it is nonetheless wildly popular and worth it if you have a soft spot for wildlife. You’ll be greeted with warm, sandy beaches littered with indigenous iguanas, nurse sharks around the Cay and, of course, the celebrated swimming pigs, which have become a must-see attraction. Brown and pink, big and little, and piglets too, all waiting to be fussed over and fed. It’s quite a unique sight given that most of us are used to seeing pigs on a farm. Watching them frolic and swim in the crystal waters of the Caribbean makes a ‘pig adventure’ seem so much more exciting.
Between the animals and their surroundings, Exuma is undoubtedly a picture taker’s paradise. Nassau offers a few different companies that boast Exuma excursions so be sure to do your research and choose the one that’s right for you.
If you’re partial to SCUBA Diving, Nassau offers plenty of options, from explorations of coral reefs and friendly marine life to investigating one or more of the many hauntingly beautiful shipwrecks in the area.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie and need to kick your dive experience up a notch or ten, some SCUBA facilities in Nassau offer Extreme Adventures that introduce divers to sharks for an up close and personal look. These dives can also include shark feeding if you dare.
Just remember that this particular activity isn’t one that you can rush into. SCUBA diving requires extensive instruction and certification so plan wisely.
SNUBA is for those who want to take their snorkeling experience to the next level. The fact is, SNUBA is designed to mimic the SCUBA experience except that no certification or prior experience is required. Equipment includes a mask, snorkel, fins, weight belt, breathing regulator and harness just as SCUBA diving does. However, the SCUBA tank that provides fresh breathing air remains on a raft on the surface of the water and is monitored by a guide. The only thing participants have to contend with is a long line that connects to the tank, making the experience feel more like snorkeling.
SNUBA is offered at more than one outlet in Nassau so travelers have options. At the dive center of your choice, certified and PADI trained dive masters will go over all of the equipment, safety instructions, and information with you before you climb aboard the boat that will take you to the dive location. The only skills required are basic swimming and a desire to have fun.
Glass Bottom Boat Ride
If you are hesitant to SCUBA or SNUBA but still want a glimpse of the wonderment that takes place under the sea, especially around a coral reef, there is an easy and safe way to see it without having to gear up. Simply, climb aboard a glass bottom boat. It’s the perfect little sightseeing side trip that will bring you an up-close view of colorful coral, tropical fish, turtles, rays, eels, and occasionally, even a shark.
The Caribbean Islands are rife with such tours and Nassau is no different. For our experience, we opted for Sunshine Cruises. They offer the glass bottom boat experience as well as snorkeling tours, and both come with a tour of Nassau’s harbor with an emphasis on historical highlights as well as the homes of the rich and famous.
Though we didn’t see a shark during our particular tour, we did see a turtle and a ray.
SUB Mini Submarine
An underwater SUB (the acronym for Scenic Underwater Bubble) is a personal self-propelled submarine. It’s a popular activity that allows participants to cruise around 15 feet underwater while enjoying coral reefs and marine life without even getting your hair wet. The SUB runs at speeds of up to 2 knots an hour, and underwater guides accompany participants to help lead the way and prevent any mishaps. Several outlets in Nassau provide this experience with round-trip transportation from your hotel. However, it’s wise to research the parameters of this adventure before rushing into it because there are some restrictions, including age, height, and select medical problems.
Dolphin and Sea Lion Encounters
Some controversy surrounds this type of attraction, with animal activists wanting to stop the practice and others insisting that the marine life is well cared for and happy in their environment in addition to the attraction providing an educational experience for tourists. No matter what your view is, the fact is that there are plenty of opportunities for interactive experiences with dolphins and sea lions if you are so inclined. Dolphin Cay at Atlantis, Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island, and Island Routes Caribbean Adventures are just three of several offered in Nassau, all of which tout the experience as including hugs and kisses, foot pushes and swimming with dolphins. Pricing is competitive no matter which outlet you choose and the personal contact will surely leave you with memories to last a lifetime. For our experience, we opted for Dolphin Cay at Atlantis – read our review HERE.
Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Centre
Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Centre is home to nearly 300 animals, including Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, Madagascar lemurs, monkeys, jaguars, reptiles and a vast array of birds. Some of these might be inclined to share the pathways with you as you walk through the serene park. Although just a few miles from downtown Nassau, this place feels worlds away from the busy casinos and fast-paced nightlife of the islands. Try to time your visit so you can see the flock of trained flamingos, the national bird of the Bahamas, as they march in unison. The zoo also schedules feeding times for its lorikeets, and guests are allowed to enter the screened aviary to hand feed the colorful birds. Nassau Botanic Gardens is located directly across the street so it’s possible to combine your visits and see both on the same day. The zoo is open daily from 9:00am until 5:00pm.
Named as one of the best beaches in the world, Paradise Island’s Cabbage Beach hosts several of the big hotels including Atlantis, Hotel Riu Palace, and One&Only Ocean Club. Public access is on Casino Drive next to Riu Palace. The beach itself is a beautiful, wide stretch of soft white sand spanning about two miles of coastline. Palms, sea grapes, and Australian pines line the stretch along tame, clear, aquamarine waters. Small tiki structures provide shade. There are several places to rent water sports equipment, from jet skis to floats. Not surprisingly, it tends to be crowded, more so at the western end.
With just 65 steps spanning 102 feet, this is a steep ascent from Elizabeth Avenue to Fort Fincastle and the Water Tower. Carved out of a limestone wall by 18th century slaves, the steps once afforded soldiers protected passage from the fort to the town. Lush vegetation flanks the stairway and water cascades into a pool below. Named to honor the 66 years of Queen Victoria’s reign (there were originally 66 steps), this is one of the most popular stops in Nassau and is on the agenda of most cruise ship shore excursions. Residents and fitness buffs also use the steps regularly, so they can get quite crowded at times.
So there you have it – ten exciting and amazing things to do during your next vacation in Nassau, Bahamas, all designed to make your holiday an unforgettable one. You’re welcome!