Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and its largest city on the 21 mile long island of New Providence. Today Nassau has a population of 260 000 people, nearly 80% of the whole population. It is a favorite destination for cruise ships with up to seven cruise ships able to dock at Prince George Wharf Cruise Terminal. Visitors will find Nassau a busy metropolitan hub which combines modern and colonial history together in a fascinating mix along with beaches and offshore coral reefs popular for diving and snorkeling.
Founded as Charles Town in 1670 by the British it was rebuilt as Nassau in 1695 and is a member of the British Commonwealth. Nassau has a history of sheltering pirates, freed slaves, blockade runners and rum smugglers for centuries. In fact, until 1718 Nassau's population was made up of pirates attracted by the Bahamas strategic location near trade routes. With piracy out of control the British government were forced to restore order and by 1720 most of the pirates had been killed or forced to flee.
Part of the charm of Nassau is the retained British colonial architecture typical of the time, for example, the pink-colored Government buildings. Graycliff Hotel is another colonial building dating back to 1700 when it was build by privateer John Howard Graysmith. In 1844 it was established as Nassau's first inn and has seen famous visitors such as British royalty, The Beatles, Jay Z and Beyonce, and Al Capone. Now it is home to Graycliff Restaurant the first five-star restaurant in the Caribbean and a wine cellar with over 250 000 bottles from over 400 vintners.
Popular activities in Nassau include .....
Shopping in the main shopping area of Bay Street where you will find a mix of expensive jewelry boutiques and souvenir shops. Here is a Port Shopping Guide courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Visit the Pirates of Nassau Museum and learn more about The Bahamas fascinating time as a pirate haven. Infamous Blackbeard (Edward Teach) at one stage declared himself Nassau's magistrate. Other resident pirates were Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonney and Mary Read.
Visit Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis Paradise Island. You will find 141 acres of water slides, swimming pools, rapids and waves. Trip Advisor has called this "One of the Top 25 Amusement Parks in the World".
Take a scenic catamaran ride to private Blue Lagoon Island and enjoy the dolphins and sea lions at Dolphin Encounters.
Visit John Watling's Rum Distillery located on the historic Buena Vista Estate.
Check out the more than 135 animal species at the Ardastra Zoo. You'll find peacocks, lemurs, iguanas, snakes and the flamingos performing at the Marching Flamingo Show.
Hike trails and walk on the white sandy beaches of Clifton Heritage National Park. You can see caves used by Lucayan Indians and the great house and slave quarters of an 18th century plantation. Get wet snorkeling the underwater sculpture gardens and shipwrecks.
Explore the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas located in the historic 1860's Villa Doyle. Here you will find work showcasing Bahamian history and culture.
Interesting facts about Nassau
The Bahamas first Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers expelled all pirates, restored order to the area and build Fort Nassau. For centuries Rogers' motto " Expulsis Piratis, Restituta Commercia' has been used in the Bahamas. This translates to "Pirates Expelled, Commerce Restored."
The first English settlers in The Bahamas were shipwrecked adventurers.
Shipwrecks were a source of livelihood for some settlers in Nassau. They were known to put lights on reefs to lure ships closer with the hope they would crash onto the reefs and they could plunder the cargo.
The Bahamas have starred in four James Bond movies.
Some scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed in the Caribbean.
Astronauts can see the turquoise waters of The Bahamas from space. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said about when asked about his views from the International Space Station “The most beautiful to me are The Bahamas, the vast glowing reefs of every shade of blue that exists.”
There are 100 000 square miles of clear blue waters surrounding The Bahamas. Google Earth has images showing the water colors range from crystal clear turquoise to all imaginable shades of blues including ultramarine, azure, cerulean, royal blue, sea green and even rich purples.
The average water temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round and sunshine 300 days a year.