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Nassau is the capital and the heart of the Islands of the Bahamas. It is ideally located in a sheltered harbour and the city contains beautiful colonial mansions, cathedrals and 18th century fortresses. Just 180 m northeast of Nassau is Paradise Island which is connected to the city by two bridges. On it, you will find many resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, a golf course and a casino. The nearby Cable Beach is home for most resorts where you can play in the crystalline waters or simply sunbathe the day away. A great place to meet the friendly local and get acquainted with their handicraft is at the Straw Market. When night comes you can try your luck at the casinos or dance till dawn at one of the many hip nightclubs.
Cable Beach, just west of the capital, is home to many luxury resorts, a golf course and an array of entertainment. It offers 4 kilometres of white sand and crystal clear waters to play in.
Cabbage Beach, located on Paradise Island, is a very popular and crowded beach since most resorts, restaurants and water sport rentals are situated on the tiny island.
South Beach, on the south east shore of Nassau, has kilometres of white sand. Climate The subtropical climate, ranging from 25° C to 32° C degrees with cooling trade winds, makes Nassau a great year round destination. The rainy season lasts from May through November. Night time temperatures are generally cooler in the winter months so bring a light sweater along. The annual water temperature oscillates around 24° C degrees.
Nassau is on the New Providence Island, located in the north western end of the Bahamas Archipelago. Its shores bathe in the Atlantic Ocean. Many resorts are also located on Paradise Island which is connected to Nassau by two bridges. The main street of Nassau, Bay Street, follows the seashore. Nassau is the capital and is the commercial and cultural centre of the Bahamas with a population of around 180,000. The Water Tower is the highest point on the island at 85 m above sea level. History Nassau's modern history began in the 1600s with the arrival of British immigrants, followed by Puritans them from the communities on Eleuthera and other settlers from Bermuda. With time, Nassau, originally named Charlestown, became a strong commercial port surrounded by rich farmland. Pirates, such as the infamous Blackbeard, and privateers were a constant threat to the colonies and several forts were built to help defend the city.
Slaves from Africa and America were brought to work the plantations and within 150 years the slaves outnumbered owners. Slavery was banned by the British in 1834 and many freed slaves from other islands were brought to Nassau. By 1860 almost 6,000 Africans settled on New Providence.
The Bahamas had a wave of immigration when entrepreneurs brought cheaper skilled labourers from China, Greece, Lebanon and the West Indies during the 19th and 20th centuries. Also, in the 1950s, a large number of Haitians found refuge here from the turmoil of their homeland.
Tourism started during the 1950s with the opening of new resorts at Cable Beach. Paradise Island was later developed as a tourist mecca in the 1970s with newly built hotels and bridges. Nature The Retreat is a huge 11-acre garden, owned by the Bahamas National Trust, and counts one hundred and seventy six rare and exotic palms as well as a variety of native orchids.
The Nassau Botanical Gardens offers 18 acres of plant life like tropical palms, sea grape trees with the occasional sighting of curly tailed lizards, and banaquit birds.
The best way to visit the surrounding cays is by participating in a sailing or boating adventure tour. Many tours also offer snorkelling packages and a great lunch is usually included. Other tours focus on bird watching or swimming with the dolphins. Unique To Here The People-to-People Encounter Program matches travelers and Bahamians together for an evening of cultural exchange. This program is run by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism in Nassau and a unique opportunity that brings visitors and Bahamian residents together on a one-to-one basis. The screened volunteers act as personal hosts to visitors to the Bahamas. Personnel of the Tourism Board do their best to match visitors and volunteers according to their ages, hobbies, interests and occupations.
Nassau International AirportAirport Tax : The departure tax and security fee of around US $18 per person must be paid when leaving the islands.Distance from Airport : 15 to 30 minutes depending on hotel location.Tourist Office : Market Plaza, Bay Street, Nassau. Tel: 242 322 7500Tourist Season : December through MayFestivals & Events October - Great Bahamas Seafood and Heritage Festival showcases authentic Bahamian cuisine, traditional music and storytelling.
November - One Bahamas Music and Heritage Festival, is a three-day celebration of national pride and patriotism.
December - Bahamas International Film Festival
December 26th and January 1st - Festival of Junkanoo. This celebration is reminiscent of Mardi Gras Carnival but with a definite Bahamian twist with all night celebrations, parades and costumes. Transportation Frequent flights with charter carriers between the various islands are easy and affordable. Marinas abound as well for boaters and several ferry companies offer service to and from the islands of the Caribbean.
Most taxis are metered or can be hired by the hour. You will find them at the airport, hotels and downtown Nassau. A fun alternative is the local bus calledJitneys. They run throughout the day and are inexpensive. Rental cars, motorcycles, mopeds or bikes make it ideal for those want to explore on their own. Remember, when you take to the road Bahamians drive on the LEFT side.
Activities & Sports
The marinas, beaches and resorts offer a wide range of water sports like sailing trips, day cruises, motorboats, jet skis, or windsurfing. Lake Nancy offers canoe rentals to explore its sparkling waters, native tilapias and an array of wild life.
Scuba Diving and snorkelling is a must in the world famous warm, crystal clear waters and drop offs. Many unusual dive sites filled with amazing marine life can be explored, as well as a few shipwrecks.
Fishing is a popular activity, whether from the pier or on a deep sea expedition boat. Another fun boating excursion is the glass bottom boats. It's the only and best way to see the gorgeous reefs and sea gardens of Athol Island without getting wet.
Golfers will be thrilled with all two championship golf courses found on the island: the Cable Beach Golf Course and the Ocean Club Golf Course. Picturesque tropical views make your game even more exciting. Archaeology Bahamas Historical Society Museum This museum will introduce you to the History of the island starting from pre-Columbus times all the way to the present. Several Lucayan (Arawak) artefacts are on display. Attractions & Sights Bay Street is the city's main street in Nassau and it is lined with broad brick sidewalks. Hundreds of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants are located here for you enjoyment. Nassau's many historic buildings testify to it's early times.
The Balcony House is an 18th century architectural gem and is the oldest wooden residential structure in Nassau. Today the Balcony House is a museum for visitors to enjoy. The Government House, near Blue Hill Rd and Duke Street has been the official residence of the Governor General of the Bahamas for 200 years. A statue of Christopher Columbus stands at the front of this building. The Queen's Staircase invites you to climb all 65 steps carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the late 18th century. The Nassau Public Library was originally the city jail. The Water Tower is the highest point on the island and offers a panoramic view of New Providence Island. The Vendue House hosted the slave auctions in the 18th century. Today it houses thePompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation with exhibits portraying slavery and post-emancipation eras of the Bahamas.
Fort Montague, Fort Charlotte and Fort Fincastle were all built to protect the city against the pirates and privateers. The Pirates of Nassau lets you experience the true story of pirates in an amazing, historically accurate and interactive environment.
Of course the British influence can be felt on alternate Saturdays with the Changing of the Guards at Government House, accompanied by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. Nightlife Bahamas is famous for it's nightlife with dazzling clubs and friendly joints. Jazz, calypso, or Bahamas' own rake 'n' scrape and Goombay are sure make you dance the night away. Popular places are Club 601 and The Zoo Nightclub.
If gambling is more to your liking then the casinos will offer you hours of fun at with blackjack, slot machines, craps and baccarat. Try the Atlantis, Paradise Island Casino or the Crystal Palace Casino.
There is a variety of floorshows as well, like the King Eric's Native Calypso Show, Catch a show at the Centre for the performing arts. Side Trips A visit to the Bahamas would not be complete without seeing a couple of the other 700 islands and cays. Here is a brief description of the most popular ones to see:
The Abacos' boomerang-shaped chain with its many colonial towns makes it a favourite place for yachtsmen and tourists alike.
Over forty kinds of wild orchids, rare and endemic birds, wild boar and huge iguanas all call the Acklins and Crooked Island home.
The Biminis and Berry Islands offer seclusion and privacy. They also boast about spectacular diving, snorkelling and championship sports fishing.
Cat Island, considered by many as one of the most beautiful islands, has very little tourist traffic which makes it quite inexpensive.
Settled by English Adventurers in search of religious freedom, Eleuthera (the Greek word for freedom) is known as the birthplace of the Bahamas.
The Exumas archipelago presents a peaceful setting with its white deserted beaches that are lapped by aquamarine and jade hued water.
The Inaguas is an eco-touristic delight with the Inagua National Park. More than 80,000 flamingos and exotic birds, such as the Bahama parrots and pintail ducks reside here.
Picturesque Long Island is bordered by two very different coasts; one with high rocky cliffs and the other with broad beaches.
Mayaguana is home to the endemic Bahama hutia. This animal resembles a cross between a rat and a rabbit and was once believed to be extinct.
San Salvador Island is home to many monuments, ruins, and shipwreck sites that directly reflect its rich history. The clear waters offer scuba divers visibility of up to 45 m.
The main concentration of hotels is located in two areas. The first is the Cable Beach with its first-class or luxury resorts with all the services and amenities one can possibly desire. The second resort location is on Paradise Island. The whole concept of the island is geared to tourist with hotels, restaurants, casinos and entertainment. The island is linked to Nassau by two bridges.
For those who prefer a more personal and quiet environment, there are lovely small hotels or villas that promise a taste of true Bahamian hospitality. Eating Out Native cuisine consists mostly of seafood and fish, the most traditional one being Conch, a tasty shellfish. Conch specialties include chowder, salads and fritters or simply served with a dash of lime juice. Other wonderful dishes are made with the local ingredients like sugarplum, coco plum, sapodilla and sea grapes. Staples also include Grouper fingers, peas 'n' rice, johnnycakes and guava duff for dessert. Rum cocktails abound like the rum punchmade with Bahamian rum.
For those less inclined to Bahamian cuisine, all the international restaurants can be found on the island such as European, American, Greek, Chinese and Mexican. Shopping The famous Nassau Straw Market on Bay Street is one of the largest in the world and is open all week long. This is a great opportunity to meet the local people and to purchase all you souvenirs and mementos. Popular items are the handmade mats, hats and baskets along with fabrics, jewellery, woodcarvings, and guava jellies. And make sure to bring your bargaining skills along.
The Bahama Craft Centre is also a great place to shop if you are looking for true Bahamian arts and crafts such as paintings, sea treasures, blown glass, conch shell jewellery, ceramics or Junkanoo art.
The Bahamas has offered duty free shopping since 1992 on the following categories of items: perfumes, crystal, leather, jewellery, linens and tablecloths, watches and clocks, photographic equipment, china, binoculars, and telescopes.
Capital of Bahamas
Hilly Nassau is the capital and largest city of the Bahamas. It lies on the island of New Providence, with neighboring Paradise Island accessible via Nassau Harbor bridges. A popular cruise-ship stop, it’s known for its beaches and coral reefs, destinations for diving and snorkeling. It retains many of its characteristic pastel-colored British colonial buildings, including pink-hued Government House.
Area: 79.92 mi²
Weather: 82°F (28°C), Wind SE at 0 mph (0 km/h), 79% Humidity
Hotels: 3-star averaging $250, 5-star averaging $2650. View hotels
Getting there: 3 h 10 min flight, around $395. View flights
Local time: Thursday 10:36 PM
Population: 244,400 (2009) UNdata
Number of airports: 1
Colleges and Universities: College of The Bahamas, The Assemblies of God Bible College, Nassau, NP, Bahamas
BAHAMIAN RHAPSODY Island Hopping for Swingers
Water, water everywhere could be the slogan at the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island. Tom Weiskopf’s brilliant 7, 159-yard, par-72 layout takes full advantage of the lush Bahamian landscape, challenging crosswinds and cerulean sea. I made my first offering to Neptune on the par-five Harbour View (#2) where a wetlands area runs down the right side of the fairway and the tiny green is almost surrounded by surf. My favourite hole, Pintail Crossing (# 17), winds completely around a super scenic cove. The 281-yard fairway runs parallel to the ocean and dares the heavy hitters to take a shortcut over the beach with aspirations of an eagle putt.
The risk, of course, is watching your drive dive into the deep blue. But that’s OK. Just brag to your golfing buddies that you lost your Pro V in Paradise. Shark Warning With six signature holes hugging the ocean, Sandal’s Emerald Reef Golf Club on Great Exuma has been dubbed “the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean.” Greg Norman’s design plays just over 7,000 yards from the championship tees and the Caribbean trade winds are always a key factor. Golf Travel & Leisure magazine rated Norman’s triumph third best in the Caribbean.
The back nine is a visual showstopper Starting at the eleventh, six consecutive holes play on a narrow peninsula atop the sea. From the tiny par-3, 13th to the long par-5 15th (which can be reached in two if you take a risk shot over the sea), the water is so clear you can see down to the bottom. Along with turtle eggs, you might spot a few errant Titleists, including a couple of mine. Life’s a beach on #17 with its island green set in a sea of powdery Exuma sand. Even though the back nine is eye candy, Norman himself favors the opening holes that are routed through mangroves. He is especially proud of the fourth, a drivable par-4 that plays along an inland lake to the left side. Warning: do not enter the protected area. You will sink!