New Providence, better known for the main city of Nassau, is the most populated island in the
Bahamas. Nassau became the prime city of the Bahamas because it had one of the best sheltered
natural small vessel harbours in the Caribbean. With its location about 160 miles from Miami, it is
not surprising that New Providence is a popular destination for cruise ships. Everything is made to
please US-American visitors, from stretch limousines to Las Vegas style casinos and big shopping
areas. As in the United States, everyone is expecting a big tip, but very often the service is
poor. Despite the big money that comes to Nassau, there are many districts with rotten buildings
and rats showing up during the day. If you don't like the "American Way of Life", stay away from
New Providence. Instead, take a ferry to one of the Outer Islands. There you will find the real Bahamas.
= STRIEWA =
Bahamas are an Archipelgo of about 700 islands and islets and more than
2000 small cays. The Bahamas are a major centre for offshore finance.
They have one of the world's largest open-registry shipping fleets.
Nassau is New Providence's main city and the capital of the Bahamas. It is named after William of
Orange-Nassau who became king of England in 1688. This old city has some colonial style
buildings, museums and art galleries, duty-free shopping, and the largest straw market in the
Caribbean. The best way to see some of Nassau's major public buildings is to take a walking tour.
Nassau's resort areas are Cable Beach to the West and Paradise Island to the north. Paradise
Island is connected to Nassau by two bridges. There is a tourist bus with the number 10, which is
passing historic forts, ocean vistas, well-to-do neighbourhoods, secluded coves, and strands of
Prince George Wharf
Located in the heart of town, near Rawson Square, this cruise ship port is the largest in the
Caribbean. The modern pier is only one block from famous Bay Street, the main shopping street of
The Supreme Court building was constructed 1920 in the neo-Georgian style. Like most government
buildings in Nassau, it is painted in pastel pink. Visitors are allowed to see the Bahamian
Supreme Court in action. Judges in the court wear long wigs and red robes, and lawyers wear long
black flowing robes, as in the days of the British Empire.
Since 1801 this has been the official residence of The Governor General of The Bahamas. A statue
of Christopher Columbus stands at the front of the pink-and-white building, which is
an excellent example of the fusion of Bahamian-British and American Colonial architecture.
The Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards takes place every other Saturday at Government House. The Royal
Bahamas Police Force Band performs a beautiful ceremony.
Government House Tea Party
There is a traditional tea party at the Government house every last Friday in the month.
Attending guests, mainly tourists, are greeted by the spouse of the Governor. A visit to this
unique cultural event is highly recommended.
Meet the Bahamians
If you are interested in the culture and the people of the Bahamas, there is People-to-People
Program, established by the Ministry of Tourism. Visitors can meet Bahamian volunteers of similar
ages and interests for a day or evening activity. The People-to-People Program has expanded
beyond New Providence to Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, the Exumas, the Abacos, the Biminis and San
Nassau Straw Market
On Bay Street, right downtown is one of Nassau's most popular
attractions. From early morning until evening, local vendors are
selling locally made crafts such as handbags, jewellery, seashell
creations & wood carvings. You can also get your hair braided. (The
Straw Market's original structure was destroyed in a fire in the month
of September, 2001. The vendors are operating out of a temporary
structure provided by the Ministry of Tourism. The white canvas
tent-like structure is located one block from the original site, right
next door to the British Colonial Hilton.)
The Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation is located on Bay Street near the British
Colonial Hotel, close to the Straw Market. This "Vendue House" is the original building where
African slaves were sold until the late 1800's. Vendue is a French word meaning sold. Artefacts
from the slavery era document the history of slavery, abolition and emancipation in the Bahamas.
The house was named for the slave Pompey who lived on Exuma Island.
Pirates of Nassau
The Bahamas were a favoured hunting ground of Pirates and Nassau was the base for the greatest
concentration of pirates in the Caribbean. The late 1600s through the early 1700s were the
notorious age of the pirates. This interactive museum informs, entertains and excites visitors of
all ages of the Golden Age of Piracy. Visitors are getting an impression of authentic Bahamian
history. It is perhaps the best pirate attraction in the world.
The Bahamas Historical Museum
The Bahamas Historical Museum has a small collection of artefacts ranging from the early Indians
to photographs of what early Nassau looked like. Lucayan-Taino-Arawak artefacts show the life
of the first inhabitants.
The Balcony House Museum
The Balcony House is a pink two-story house from the 18th century named for its overhanging
balcony. It is the oldest wooden residential structure in Nassau and a fine example of a tropical
colonial house. Balcony House was designed and constructed to keep cool, dry and termite free,
naturally. Inside the house there is a mahogany staircase, taken from a sailing ship during the
19th century. The interior has been restored using both period correct antiques and some objects
original to the house.
Christ Church Cathedral
About 1670 the first church in The Bahamas was built. The Gothic cathedral was built in 1837 and
is the fifths building on this site. The first church was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1684 and
a second one rebuilt in 1695. This was also destroyed by the Spaniards in 1703. A third church of
wood began in 1721. The fourth church made of stone was completed in 1754. The Church tower was
constructed in 1830. The building is made of locally quarried cut lime-stone blocks, which are
held together primarily by their size and the weight of gravity rather than by cement. The
interior has a beautiful set of stained glass windows, an impressive organ and a mahogany
ceiling. Memorial plaques from the 19th century document the life histories of local residents
and their deaths.
Potter's Cay is a native market beneath the Paradise Island Bridge. Fishing boats arrive early in
the morning from the Out Islands with the day's catch. Spiny lobster is the most expensive
seafood, but grouper reigns supreme along with fresh crab, jack, and mackerel. Vendors make the
freshest conch fritters, conch salad and conch chowder. If you see that vendors selling highly
endangered sea turtles, let them know that this is not acceptable. You can also see mail boats
leaving and coming to this quay.
Going Over the Hill
Nassau's most colourful area is called "Over-the-Hill", a poor residential district with
rainbow-hued houses, south of Blue Hill Road. It is the heart of Bahamian-African culture. The
area can be explored on foot, but only during the day, because most of Nassau's criminal
incidents happen in this part of town.
Graycliff Cigar Factory
A small staff of cigar rollers mainly from Cuba create several lines of cigars, each
distinguished by the colour of their bands. The professional line is their Blue Label, which is
made with an Indonesian wrapper and binder, and a blend of filler tobaccos from Brazil, Honduras,
and Nicaragua. The Graycliff cigar factory is part of the Graycliff hotel and restaurant resort,
and may be toured by visitors free of charge.
Junkanoo is the Bahamian equivalent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a unique Bahamian festival,
culminating in a colourful parade through the streets of Nassau held in the mornings of
December 26 and New Year’s Day. The museum on Prince George Wharf is dedicated to
Junkanoo. It has a fascinating collection of artistic creations from recent Junkanoo parades.
Paradise Island is connected to Nassau by two high bridges. Paradise Island is well known for its
beautiful beaches and professional golf course. The island was developed almost exclusively for
visitors, with resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, a golf course, an aquarium, and a casino
rounding out the amenities. The best known resort is the Las-Vegas-Style Atlantis, which houses a
huge aquarium with more than 50,000 marine animals and over 200 species.
The Nassau Queens Staircase is a set of 65 steps, linking Fort Fincastle to the Princess Margaret
Hospital. It was carved out of the coral-based sandstone wall by slaves at the end of the 18th
century. The Queens Staircase is 102 feet tall, and was so named in honour of Queen Victoria.
Originally, the Queens Staircase was built to provide British troops a protected route to Fort
Fincastle. Recently, a waterfall running from the top has been added. The top of the staircase
affords a nice view of Nassau and the Caribbean Sea.
Fort Fincastle, shaped like the bow of a ship, was built on the highest point of the island as a
lookout by the British captain Lord Dunmore in 1793. Located at the top of the Queen’s
Staircase, this fort boasts a spectacular view from its 126-foot water tower and
lighthouse. Its 126-foot water tower, which is more than 200 feet above sea level, is the highest
point on the island. The panoramic view of Nassau and its harbour is fantastic.
Fort Montagu is the oldest fort in the Bahamas. Built in1742, it faces the Montagu Bay at the
eastern entrance to Nassau's harbour. The small fort saw several actions. The eastern end of
Paradise Island was always under threat of a Spanish invasion during the British colonial era.
Within the fort there is a terraced cistern which contains 30 tons of ram water. There are
barracks for officers and soldiers, a guard room, and a storehouse for ammunition.
This military site is an imposing fort built in the late18th century by British colonial governor
Lord Dunmore after the end of the American Revolutionary war. It is named in honour of the wife of
King George III. This fort has never fired a shot in battle. It's an imposing structure of
massive stone blocks, a waterless moats drawbridges, ramparts, and dungeons. The fort is located
one mile west of central Nassau and offers a fine view of the Harbour.
The Retreat is a garden with about 200 species of exotic palm trees, cycads, native hardwoods and
flowering trees on the southern outskirts of downtown Nassau. The garden is home to the
administrative Headquarters of The Bahamas National Trust. The green-and-white building was
purchased by the National Trust in 1925. A gift shop sells books and memorabilia associated with
the National Trust. Many native fruit bearing trees provide home and habitat for native
birds including White Crowned Pigeon, Common Ground Dove, Bahama Woodstar, Bahama
Mockingbird, Bananaquite, Cuban Grassquit and Cape May Warbler.
This Garden on the eastern part of Paradise Island consists of seven terraces. Statues are placed
in various places in the garden, a 12th century statue of Hercules, a marble statue of Napoleon
and his wife Josephine and a bronze statue of "Mother and Child".
Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center
This attraction west of Fort Charlotte is an exotic tropical garden and a zoo with more than 300
birds, mammals and reptiles. In the zoo are endangered Bahamas parrots, jaguars, caimans and
capybaras. There are marching flamingo shows and Lory parrot feedings.
More than six hundred species of flowering trees and shrubs and a cactus garden are displayed in
the Botanic Garden, located west of Fort Charlotte.
Mail Boat Service
The traditional way of exploring the Bahamas is by mail boat and still favoured by locals. The
Bahamas government operates nineteen mail boats, which carry cargo and passengers between Nassau
and all the Out Islands. The boat trips vary from a few hours to most of a day. Many mail boats
are leaving late in the evening and run all night.
The Bahamas Fast Ferry runs from Nassau to Harbour Island and Central Eleuthera. The speedy
Bahamas SeaLink connects Nassau with Eleuthera and Andros.
Parad. Isl. Bridge