Nassau is located on New Providence, the eleventh largest island of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Paradise Island is located less than half a mile away. Nassau, the capital of the archipelago nation, and Paradise Island are connected by two 600-foot bridges. At Nassau Paradise Island, travelers can enjoy the islands’ famed white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, a myriad of accommodations to meet any budget or style, acclaimed restaurants, shopping, nightclubs and popular attractions. Nassau Paradise Island, where English is the spoken language and U.S. currency is accepted, offers guests the convenience and ease of any U.S. destination, while still maintaining a true Caribbean experience.
Located on one of the 700 islands that make up the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Nassau and Paradise Island are just 180 miles (55 minutes) off the coast of southern Florida. Flights from the East Coast average just under three hours.
The Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) lies just 10 miles from downtown Nassau and services more than 100 flights daily. AirTran Airlines, American Airlines, Bahamasair, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United and US Airways all provide non-stop service from many major cities in the U.S. to Nassau Paradise Island.
With a harbour that remained protected throughout history given its location between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Nassau Paradise Island has experienced interesting arrivals during its time, including religious dissenters, pirates and runaway lovers.
However, The Bahamas’ early history is probably best known for being Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the New World. Here, he encountered the island’s original inhabitants, the Lucayans. In 1629, when the Spaniards began settling much of the Caribbean, Charles I of England claimed the Carolinas and The Bahamas.
During the American Revolution that began in 1775, The Bahamas was firmly established as an English royal colony, with many Loyalists choosing to migrate to the island destination. During the American Civil War, England and Nassau kept close ties with the South, where trade between the two countries was strong.
The Bahamas continued to operate under England’s reign until the Progressive Liberal Party, headed by Lynden Pindling, led the nation to vote for independence from England. The Bahamas became an independent nation on July 10, 1973.
Today, The Bahamas has a parliamentary democracy, also known as a constitutional multi-party parliamentary democracy. Presently, there is no direct taxation, however there is an import tax.
The powder-white sand beaches of Nassau Paradise Island are said to be some of the most beautiful in the world, which comes as no surprise to locals and guests alike. The beaches of Nassau Paradise Island include:
- Cable Beach – A beautiful setting complete with impeccable sand and clear waters. A number of upscale resorts line this beach that went unnamed until 1907.
- Montagu Beach – Just east of Paradise Island is Montagu Beach. Located here is Fort Montagu that was constructed in the 18th century to guard the eastern entrance to Nassau Harbor.
- Paradise & Cove Beach – Located directly behind Atlantis and The Cove Atlantis, these beaches are not only beautiful, but also perfectly groomed.
- Cabbage Beach – This beach on Paradise Island is an instant favorite because of its powder white sand and crystal clear waters.
- Junkanoo Beach – Located near the British Colonial Hilton Nassau Hotel in downtown Nassau, this spot is a popular destination for cruise ship passengers in search of the closest beach to the port.
Nassau Paradise Island offers unforgettable activities on both land and sea for visitors of all ages, including:
- Arawak Cay — To get a true taste of paradise, head to Arawak Cay on West Bay Street in Nassau. Named after the original West Indian inhabitants of the island and known by the locals as “The Fish Fry,” Arawak Cay is home to a variety of authentic Bahamian restaurants, serving up island favorites like fried snapper and conch.
- Ardastra Gardens & Conservation Center — Known for being the first zoo in The Bahamas, Ardastra began as a garden in 1937 and now boasts many exotic plants and animals from around the world—and even has trained flamingos that will march on command.
- Golf and Tennis – Between plush greens and sunny courts there are plenty of ways to remain active while still relaxing in paradise. The Ocean Club Golf Course offers 18 holes with breathtaking views.
- Happy Trails Stables – Since 1977, the stables have been offering scenic horseback riding excursions for visitors from its location in Coral Harbour. Excursions take place six days a week and the location is about 10-15 miles from downtown Nassau. Pickup times from Paradise Island and Nassau hotels are available.
- John Watling’s Distillery – A tour of John Watling’s Distillery at the beautifully restored Buena Vista Estate is a must see for rum lovers and history buffs alike. It features complimentary tours of the estate and the distillery, and offers tastings of a variety of locally handcrafted premium rums.
- Nassau Botanical Garden – This luscious 18-acre tropical garden is filled with 600 species of trees and shrubs and hundreds of other scenic tropical plants, palms, fish and ponds.
- National Park – Known as The Retreat, this park serves as the headquarters of the Bahamas National Trust and is home to 170 exotic palms and is open to the public Monday through Friday.
- Aquaventure at Atlantis – Located in the center of Atlantis’ waterscape development, this 141-acre water-themed attraction is one of the largest in the world. Containing 20 million gallons of water, slides and rivers, Aquaventure at Atlantis provides the ultimate water wonderland.
- Boating and Sailing – With its clear waters and vast shorelines, Nassau Paradise Island is the perfect boating destination.
- Diving – The crystal clear waters provide divers with the unique opportunity to view coral reefs, blue holes, caves, shipwrecks and sharks.
- Dolphin Cay at Atlantis – This vast 14-acre dolphin habitat located at the Atlantis, Paradise Island is the largest of its kind and provides opportunities for up-close interaction with its friendly swimmers. Guests can share in their playful shallow water antics or experience their speed and agility first-hand in the deeper waters. The dolphins of Atlantis welcome all to share in their fun.
- Fishing – Whether experienced or a first-timer, bonefish or deep-sea, there is always an outfitter and charter captain available to assist anglers.
- Snorkeling – Enthusiasts can explore the region’s famed coral reefs, including: the Rose Island Reefs, the Gambier Deep Reef, Bobby Rock Channel and the Goulding Reef Cays.
- Water Sports – Fun is always in store as canoeing, kayaking and water trikes are available at beaches and resorts. There are also glass-bottom boats, sub-Bahamas sub-boat rides and power boat excursions.
Arts & Culture:
Given the island’s deep-rooted history and unique blend of English, African and Bahamian culture, it comes as no surprise that the destination is brimming with a variety of museums providing insight into the island nation’s early roots through to its present day. Top museums include:
- Bahamas Lighthouse Museum & Gift Shop — A historical and unique space dedicated to the preservation of the 10 lighthouses located within the Islands of the Bahamas. Visitors can view architectural drawings dating back to the 1800′s and 1900′s, buoy lanterns, navigational instruments, knot tying displays and more.
- Bahamas Historical Society Museum – This institution emphasizes the collection and preservation of historic, anthropological and archaeological Bahamian artifacts. It includes displays depicting Bahamian history from the days of Columbus to the present.
- Christ Church Cathedral – This stone cathedral is located just off of Bay Street and was built in 1670. In 1861, it was granted cathedral status and gave the settlement of Nassau the right to claim city status. The church continues to hold multiple services on Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
- Government House – The official residence of the Governor General of The Bahamas since 1801. This pink and white building boasts a commanding presence on Duke Street. Visitors can watch the changing of the guard ceremony every second and fourth Saturday of the month. The governor’s wife even welcomes visitors for tea on the last Friday of every month (January-November).
- National Art Gallery of the Bahamas – Located at the historic Villa Doyle, a 19th century mansion which has been recently restored, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas includes paintings, sculpture, works on paper, textiles, ceramics, photography and other mixed media works with notable pieces from Amos Ferguson including his painting Snowbirds.
- Pirates of Nassau – This world-famous pirate attraction located in the heart of downtown Nassau is an excellent way to experience history in an interactive, family-friendly environment.
Multiple times throughout the year, the destination showcases its culture and traditions through a series of music, art and food festivals that are ideal for the whole family, including:
- Bahamas International Film Festival – This world-renowned film festival attracts many Hollywood celebrities, as well as up-and-coming directors to showcase their films. The event is held in December and includes screenings, panel discussions and gala events.
- Boxing Day & New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parades – The celebration dates back to the days of slavery when slave owners gave their slaves these days off. The parade consists of elaborate handmade costumes similar to those worn in Carnivals, plus drumming on everything from goat-skin drums to cowbells. The parades are celebrated on December 26 and January 1 and cover several blocks on Bay Street and Shirley Street from 2:00 a.m. until about 9:00 a.m. Every weekend in June, visitors can also check out the Junkanoo in June Heritage Festival occurring at nearby Arawak Cay for continued Junkanoo celebrations.
- Festival Rum Bahamas – Featuring an enticing mixture of local, regional and international rum exhibitors, the three-day Festival Rum Bahamas includes product sampling, master classes on rum, bartending and cocktail competitions, as well as Caribbean music and food.
With a culture as rich as that of The Bahamas, one can be sure that there are culinary experiences to match. Though foods of every nation are available on the island, some of the delicious dishes are as unique as the island nation itself.
Seafood, of course, is a popular item. Tourists and locals both enjoy crawfish, conch, land crabs, and fish such as grouper, yellowtail and red snapper. For breakfast, boiled fish and grits are a favorite, as is homemade island bread. Other popular dishes include Bahamian stew fish (celery, onions, tomatoes, spices and fish), Bahamian crawfish, and peas n’ rice (pigeon peas with salt, pork or bacon, tomatoes, celery, rice, thyme and pepper) and Johnny cake (bread made with butter, milk, flour, sugar, salt and baking power).
Even epicureans will find indulgence in this region’s finest dining, from the Caribbean’s first five-diamond restaurant located at the Graycliff Hotel in Nassau, to celebrity-chef restaurants such as Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s Nobu, both located in Atlantis, Paradise Island.
Shoppers can spend an afternoon in the Nassau Paradise Island duty-free shops. Visitors will find what they’re looking for from cigars to handicrafts, perfume, crystal, jewelry and leather accessories.
- Bay Street – This populaThis popular upscale shopping district runs through the heart of downtown Nassau. Just a short walk from many popular hotels, Bay Street is lined with shops, cafes, local boutiques and high-end stores including Coach, Fendi and Cartier.
- Festival Place – This shopping destination is a village of brightly colored shops designed by award-winning Bahamian architect Jackson Burnside. Visitors can choose from a variety of local art, crafts, gifts and edibles. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the atmosphere is filled with live music.
- Marina Village – This 65,000 sq. ft. open-air market has three plazas designed to resemble a Bahamian settlement. The village contains five restaurants, 21 retail outlets, local entertainment and carts that showcase the artistry of The Bahamas.
- Straw Markets – Nassau Paradise Island has a rich heritage for straw markets. The largest market is located on Bay Street, providing visitors the opportunity to shop for homemade straw goods, jewelry, t-shirts, guava jelly and woodworking goods. There is also a smaller craft market on Paradise Island.
Nassau Paradise Island provides an excellent destination for all sizes of meetings and conventions with its state-of-the-art facilities, helpful hospitality professionals and beautiful venues. In addition, the government of the Bahamas has signed the Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the United States making it a tax-deductible destination for American companies. With six hotels offering a multitude of meeting space configurations and functions, there is a venue for organizations of any size. Meeting venues include:
- Atlantis, Paradise Island
- British Colonial Hilton Nassau
- Comfort Suites Paradise Island
- Meliá Nassau Beach All-Inclusive
- Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
Nassau Paradise Island offers various options for a restful night after an adventurous day. With 16 select hotels and resorts on Nassau Paradise Island, ranging from value hotels to ultra-exclusive suites, there is a vacation retreat for everyone, no matter their budget or style. Member hotels include:
Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas has long served as a tranquil getaway for travelers seeking respite and repose. To further enhance guests’ relaxation, Nassau Paradise Island offers a unique spa experience, ranging from Balinese-inspired services and holistic healing methods to individual sanctuaries and couples spa villas. A sampling of Nassau Paradise Island’s most indulgent spa retreats include:
Mandara at Atlantis Paradise Island
- Located at Atlantis on Paradise Island
- 30,000 square feet of spa space, including 32 treatment rooms
- Treatment rooms for singles and couples reflect a contemporary Balinese design and range from intimate sanctuaries to private spa villas and gardens
- Upper level relaxation lounge, warm and cold plunge pools, steam and sauna rooms, and full service salon
- Signature treatment: Mandara Hot Stone Therapy
- Elemis products used and available at the spa boutique
- Learn more about Mandara
One&Only Spa at One&Only Ocean Club
- Located at One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island
- Eight Balinese-style treatment villas, each with waterfall shower, day bed and whirlpool in a private, open air garden
- All treatments begin with a Floral Footbath and end with a Japanese Tea Ceremony
- Beauty treatments are available in two personalized salon rooms
- Signature treatment: Ocean Club Massage, with two therapists massaging simultaneously
- Elemis products used and available at the spa boutique
- Winner: Caribbean’s #17 Top Spa, Condé Nast Traveler’s 2010 Reader’s Poll: Top 240 Spas
- Learn more about the One&Only Spa
Red Lane® Spa at Sandals Royal Bahamian
- Located at Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau
- Main spa and day spa include 10 treatment rooms, five suites each for singles and couples
- Imported marbles classic mahogany millwork adorn the spa’s interior space
- Fresh, lemongrass scent permeates throughout the spa
- Eucalyptus steam room and sauna, hot and cold plunge pools
- Zen Garden on Sandals Cay private island offers four additional treatment rooms specifically designed for couples
- Signature treatment: West Indian Massage
- Dermalogica® products used and available at the spa boutique
- Learn more about the Red Lane® Spa
While the islands are best explored by foot, transportation can be provided in the form of rental cars, motor scooters, taxis, buses, ferries and private boats. In addition, there is bus service (known locally as jitneys) between the hotels in Nassau and to and from downtown/Cable Beach several times a day.