Go Beyond the Beach and Explore Bahamian Culture in Nassau Paradise Island
NASSAU, BAHAMAS, June 22, 2012 – With its sugar white beaches and crystal clear waters, Nassau Paradise Island is well-known as a relaxing tropical getaway, but the island offers more than just sun, sand and sea. Nassau Paradise Island has a rich history with Spanish, West African and British influences that have created a unique blend of island culture. From dining like a local to celebrating the Junkanoo festival, visitors can experience a variety of cultural offerings that provide insight into the island’s deep-rooted history.
Nassau Paradise Island beckons couples of all ages, interests and budgets to its shores every year. A wide selection of wedding and honeymoon offerings can be found at resorts throughout Nassau Paradise Island, which include:
Explore Island History Long before it was a vacation destination, Nassau Paradise Island was a playground for pirates, explorers and entrepreneurs whose cultures mixed with those of the native Bahamian people. One of Nassau’s most visited historical attractions is the Queen’s Staircase, made of 65 steps that were hand carved from limestone by slaves in the 18th century. One of the oldest structures on the island is Christ Church Cathedral, which was built in 1754 after three previous church buildings were destroyed and replaced, and continues to hold services today. Christ Church Cathedral is made of locally sourced limestone blocks, which are held together primarily by their size and the force of gravity. History buffs can also visit the Bahamas Historical Museum, Fort Charlotte, the largest of three forts on the island, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, or Balcony House, the oldest wooden residence still standing in Nassau.
Party in the Streets Similar to Mardi Gras and Carnival, Junkanoo is a massive celebration that features brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic music of cowbells, drums, horns and whistles. Junkanoo is a highly spirited parade that traditionally takes place in the early morning hours of Boxing Day, celebrated on December 26, and New Year’s Day. Though the celebration is carefree and fun, the festivities are also competitive, with awards going out for best performance, costume, dancing and music.
Find a Bargain Nassau’s famous Straw Market recently reopened with a new $12 million building, which is designed to accommodate approximately 400 vendors selling everything from straw craft souvenirs to hand carved goods. Just a short walk from the high-end shops on Bay Street, it is the largest straw market in the world, and is the perfect place to bargain with vendors for authentic handmade Bahamian crafts.
Taste Native Cuisine Though foods of every nation are available on the island, some of the delicious dishes are as unique as the island itself. Tourists and locals alike enjoy seafood including crawfish, land crabs, grouper, yellowtail and red snapper. Conch is also a local favorite and is prepared in a variety of ways, including conch fritters, conch salad, conch burgers and more.
Where to Stay Visitors to Nassau Paradise Island can find culture not just in museums and shops, but in hotels as well. The all-inclusive Sandals Royal Bahamian recently unveiled the newly renovated and renamed Balmoral Tower, a nod to a time when the block of rooms was part of the Balmoral Club. The Balmoral Club was famous in the 1940s for hosting society’s elite, and also once hosted the Beatles. The Fab Four stayed at the Balmoral Club in 1965 while shooting their feature film, “Help!,” and even filmed scenes on Balmoral Island, now called Sandals Cay. Visitors today will enjoy the refined Tower, with all new rooms, suites with oversized balconies, an updated stylish lobby and more.
Music lovers will also enjoy the Marley Resort & Spa, a luxury boutique resort that is owned and operated by the family of Bob Marley. The resort features 16 themed suites which center around Bob Marley’s music, with room names like “Jammin’,” “Satisfy My Soul” and “One Love.” The resort’s Natural Mystic Spa uses traditional Caribbean rituals which add to the unique island experience of the property.