~ From Conch Fritters to Dancing in the Streets, Nassau Paradise Island Offers Visitors a Unique Cultural Experience~
NASSAU, Bahamas – 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.
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. Another important establishment is the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation, named in honor of a courageous slave, Pompey, who lived on the Rolle Plantation on Steventon, Exuma, Bahamas. Located at George Street in Downtown Nassau, Pompey Museum documents the impact of slavery in The Bahamas. Twice devastated by fire, in September 2001 and again in December 2011, the museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the experience of the enslaved throughout the ages, particularly transatlantic slavery and its aftermath in The Bahamas.
The building dates back to around the 1760s when the facility was used as a market, from which commodities of all kinds, including slaves were sold. 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. For visitors who want to learn more about the tradition during the rest of the year, the Educulture Junkanoo Museum in downtown Nassau. The exhibits depict an informative and interesting history of Junkanoo and The Bahamas, featuring costume pieces, traditional fabrics, music, and more. The Educulture Junkanoo Museum also offers a memorable interactive experience where guests can make colorful masks and dance to Bahamian music.
Find a Bargain
Nassau’s famous Straw Market 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
Organizations like Tru Bahamian Food Tours and Islandz Tours provide guided tours that give visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the destination through local food and culture. A great introduction to Nassau, the tours leave travelers with an appreciation for Bahamian culinary tradition and history.
To get a true taste of paradise, travelers can head to Arawak Cay on West Bay Street in Nassau. This popular place is home to a variety of authentic Bahamian restaurants, featuring traditional dishes from the Islands and ice-cold beverages with a local twist. Named after the original West Indian inhabitants of the island and known locally as “The Fish Fry,” Arawak Cay dates back to 1969 and features multiple restaurants serving classic Bahamian dishes, including lobster tails, fried snapper, grilled shrimp and of course, conch.
For more information on local sites, guided or walking tours, solo excursions and properties, visit www.NassauParadiseIsland.com.
About Nassau Paradise Island: Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas is known for having some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world, turquoise blue water, the Caribbean's best entertainment and a spectrum of resorts from ultra-exclusive to family-friendly. This convenient destination is serviced by several non-stop flights from most major U.S. cities. Less than an hour from South Florida and less than three hours from New York City, Nassau Paradise Island is so close, yet feels like it's a world away. Additional information about where to stay and incredible value-added packages may be found at NassauParadiseIsland.com.