8 Hours in Nassau

You’ve only got one day in port. Here’s how to make the most of your time and explore the best of what The Bahamas has to offer.
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From unwinding on gorgeous beaches and indulging in world-class food, to embarking on thrilling underwater adventures, there’s something for everyone in Nassau. Let Royal Caribbean take you there.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

With more than 700 islands in The Bahamas, the capital of Nassau—which was thankfully unaffected by Hurricane Dorian—continues to be one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations thanks to its incredible shopping, dining and adventure.

Nassau was in fact Royal Caribbean’s first port of call 50 years ago, and today the city welcomes a number of our ships each week: You can get there on the newly reimagined Navigator and Mariner of the Seas, and, starting in May 2020, the amplified Oasis of the Seas will call there when she sails from New York. Nassau offers guests a glimpse of the picture-perfect paradise that was once a pirate’s haven, including historical streets that bootleggers traveled, local cuisine that reflects Spanish, West African and British influences and crystal-clear waters where guests can swim with dolphins, stingrays and more.

We’ve mapped out an ideal eight hours in Nassau, narrowed down to the must-dos along with a healthy dose of powdery sand and Bahamian blue waters. Read on for how to make the most of your port day in this special place.

Known for dishes like Conch salad, local Bahamian cuisine combines the flavors of Spain, West Africa and Great Britain to create a culinary experience unlike anything you’ve ever tried.

Credit: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

If you’re a foodie:

Taste the Best of the Best of Graycliff

Time it takes: 1-hour excursion.

Combine a chocolate tasting and cigar-rolling demonstration with a museum visit at the renowned Graycliff property, an 18th-century mansion (built by a pirate!) turned hotel in the heart of Nassau. From learning about the chocolate factory’s fair trade and organic farming practices, to watching master torcedores (highly skilled and specifically trained cigar rollers) roll finely made cigars, this excursion encompasses the best of this famous hotel.

Tru Bahamian Food Tours

Time it takes:  3-hour excursion; wear walking shoes.

Eat like a local with this off the beaten path tasting tour that takes guests through Nassau’s vibrant downtown neighborhood. Try local delicacies like conch fritters and rum cake, while exploring the colorful streets of colonial Nassau and mingling with local chefs, artisans and business owners.

The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay

Time it takes: 25-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride from the port.

Nassau’s famous Fish Fry isn’t just one restaurant, it’s a group of restaurants and bars serving up traditional, fresh Bahamian food, including the signature ingredient, conch. Try conch salad, conch fritters or stewed conch, and make sure to finish your meal with guava duff, a dough spread with guava, then rolled, steamed and served with a vanilla sauce.

John Watlings Distillery

Time it takes: 17-minute walk or 7-minute taxi ride from the port.

The distillery is located on the famed and hallowed grounds of the 1789 Buena Vista Estate in historic downtown, serving guests a taste of the “Spirit of The Bahamas,” handcrafted by Bahamians, using local ingredients and traditional English rum-making methods.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Pearl Island, a private beach getaway just 30 minutes from Nassau.

Credit: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

If you’re a beach bum:

Junkanoo Beach

Time it takes: 15-minute walk or 8-minute taxi ride from the port.

This free, public beach (with affordable lounge-chair and umbrella rentals) is an easy 15-minute walk from the cruise port, and offers a taste of the Bahamas’ famous blue waters and soft sand with a hint of local flavor. Both residents and visitors gather here to sip a few Bahama Mamas while enjoying their day under the sun.

Pearl Island Escape Day with Lunch

Time it takes: 5-hour excursion.

Just a short harbor cruise away from Nassau, guests can enjoy a beach escape, featuring shaded decks and white sand beaches, plus a range of aquatic activities, including kayaks, stand up paddleboards and beach and board games. Pro tip: pay attention on the harbor cruise to-and-from Pearl Island for fun facts about Nassau’s colonial architecture and culture.

Nassau’s crystal-clear waters make it an ideal destination for water sports, including snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Credit: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

If you’re a thrill-seeker: 

Atlantis Aquaventure

Time it takes: 5-hour excursion.

Truth time: You can’t talk about Nassau without talking about Atlantis, the unrivaled (and huge!) luxury resort and water park on Paradise Island. During a day at Atlantis, you can shoot down intense water slides—including one that goes straight through a shark tank—take a dip in 20 swimming areas, explore fascinating marine life exhibits and jet through the rapids river on an inner tube. Need a break? Pull up a chair on Atlantis’s private beach.

Adventure Yacht Turtle and Reef Snorkel

Time it takes: 3-hour excursion.

Travelers will take a scenic cruise of Nassau Harbor before grabbing a mask, snorkel, fins and vest to test the waters and snorkel with turtles. Afterwards, relax at the beach at Green Cay, a long narrow island known for its New England-style architecture.

Certified Scuba Dive

Time it takes: 5-hour excursion.

Nassau’s turquoise waters welcome certified scuba divers to take stock of the capital’s underwater adventure and enjoy a two-tank dive of the colorful reefs. Check out tropical fish, sea turtles and even reef sharks up close.

Fort Montagu is the oldest fort still standing on the island of New Providence, located at the eastern end of Nassau Harbour. The fort was originally built to defend against Spanish invaders in 1741.

Credit: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

If you’re a history buff:

Pirate Museum

Time it takes: 8-minute walk from the port.

Explore the seedier side of Bahamian history at the Pirates of Nassau Museum, where costumed staffers answer questions and pose for photos as you browse the exhibits and learn about the days when pirates ruled the Caribbean waters. Learn the Pirate’s Code of Conduct (including which offenses could get you “marooned”!) and see replicas of a pirate ship’s galley and mates cabin.

Nassau Highlights

Time it takes: 2-hour excursion.

Spend some time getting to know the history of the destination with a tour of the city’s landmarks, including Rawson and Parliament Squares, The Queen’s Staircase, Government House and more. Once acquainted, guests can use the remainder of the day to explore on their own and revisit the sights like the Queen’s Staircase, located in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex and named in honor of Britain’s Queen Victoria.

Whatever adventure you choose, there’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with the views and the people of The Bahamas. Ready to start your vacation with Royal Caribbean? Explore more of Nassau here.