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Birds of a Feather: The Flamingos of Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre

Animal Lover's Guide to Nassau Paradise Island

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Nassau Paradise Island is known for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and Bahamian culture. It’s also home to a wonderful array of wildlife! If you’re an animal lover in search of a one-of-a-kind wildlife encounter, It’s Better in The Bahamas!

From swimming with dolphins and diving with sharks to feeding wild pigs and admiring the famous Caribbean flamingos, take your island getaway to the next level with these once-in-a-lifetime animal experiences.

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Four acres of lush tropical gardens in the heart of Nassau. A collection of 135 animals. The famous marching Caribbean flamingos. It doesn’t get better than the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Centre for wildlife enthusiasts. Originally created as a nature preserve in the 1950s, Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Centre has become a tropical garden, conservation center, and the first—and only—zoo in The Bahamas. Complete with a petting zoo, secret garden, and flamingo arena, the Zoo at Ardastra is the perfect place to enjoy a variety of wildlife.

While there, take in a free wildlife lecture, feed playful parrots, and, of course, watch the marching flamingos take center stage.

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The extraordinary 14-acre environment of Dolphin Cay at Atlantis, Paradise Island is an experience you’ll never forget. It’s one of the largest and most sophisticated marine habitats and animal rescue-rehabilitation facilities in the world. It’s a magical place where you can interact with marine life like never before! Come face to face with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins during a shallow water interaction or deep water swim. Have a hands-on encounter with Cownose stingrays. Snorkel the ruins of Atlantis alongside brightly colored tropical fish and an assortment of marine life. Or for the ultimate Dolphin Cay experience, join the trainer-for-a-day program.

If you’re looking for a more relaxing interaction, all you need is a day pass to Dolphin Cay’s private beach. There you can simply lounge while dolphins jump and play just a few feet from you.

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Those truly wild about wildlife won’t want to miss the Shark Dive from Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas. This two-tank dive trip takes visitors on an underwater encounter with Caribbean Reef Sharks. On the first dive, divers participate in a free swim with the sharks, while on the second dive, a professional shark feeder enters the water with a box of bait. Be prepared to be in shock and awe as the waters fill with sharks!

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For animal enthusiasts, riding horseback in The Bahamas is a treat. Happy Trails Stables, the only trail-riding facility in Nassau, offers a 90-minute trail ride every morning, six days a week. Riders are picked up at their Nassau Paradise Island resort and brought to the stables in Coral Harbour, about 25 minutes from downtown Nassau, and taught basic riding techniques. Then it’s happy trails through the woods and onto a beautiful unspoiled Bahamas beach!

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Visitors who want to interact with dolphins, sea lions, and sting rays in their natural habitat choose Dolphin Encounters. This aquatic experience starts with a 20-minute scenic boat ride through historic Nassau Harbour to Blue Lagoon Island. Once there, guests have the chance to get up close and personal with these marine animals. Whether watching from the observation deck, getting a closer look with a waist-deep wildlife encounter, diving in for a dolphin swim, or acting as a trainer for the day, it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget! To explore the island and see even more animals, join an Eco-Nature Walking Tour or Segway “Safari” Tour.

Guests who participate in the animal programs also enjoy free access to Blue Lagoon Beach, with optional upgrades to include lunch and use of water toys.

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The Bahamas is home to a variety of wildlife, but none more unique than the swimming pigs at Big Major Cay, known aptly as Pig Island. This day excursion trip, offered by Exuma Escapes and Harbour Safaris, is the farthest offshore excursion to operate out of Nassau—but it’s well worth the trip. As you arrive, these seafaring swine will happily swim out to greet you. And in case that’s not enough wildlife interaction for one day, your tour also includes feeding rock iguanas and swimming with nurse sharks.

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The crystal-clear, turquoise waters of The Bahamas are teeming with marine life, making snorkeling and scuba diving an ideal activity for animal lovers. So, grab your gear and dive into an underwater adventure! We promise, there’s absolutely nothing like swimming alongside tropical fish and marine animals in their natural habitat. Check out our Snorkeling 101 and Scuba 101 for everything you need to know.


Planning a trip to Paradise? Don’t miss your chance to experience the island’s wildlife! Here’s our animal lover’s map of Nassau Paradise Island.

Animal Lover’s Map of Nassau Paradise Island