8 Hours in Nassau

From historic hotspots to local delicacies and incredible beaches, here's how to make the most of your time in The Bahamas' capital.
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From gorgeous beaches to world-class food and underwater adventures, there’s something for everyone in Nassau.

Credit: iStock

While The Bahamas boasts over 700 islands, the capital of Nassau continues to be one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations—thanks to its incredible culture, dining, shopping and adventure.

In fact, did you know that Nassau was Royal Caribbean’s first port of call more than 50 years ago? Today, Royal Caribbean visits around 260 destinations around the world.

The city offers travelers plenty to explore; this picture-perfect paradise was once a pirate’s haven and features historical streets that bootleggers once traveled. There’s also local cuisine that reflects Spanish, West African and British influences, and crystal-clear waters in which guests can observe marine life such as dolphins and stingrays.

We’ve mapped the best ways to spend eight hours in Nassau, so here’s how to make the most of your day in this special place:

Known for delicious local dishes, Bahamian cuisine combines flavors from many nations for a unique culinary experience.

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

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. You’ll learn about its chocolate factory’s organic farming practices and marvel at the cigar skills of master torcedores.


Take a Tru Bahamian Food Tour

Time it takes: 3 hours

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 spiny lobster and rum cake while exploring the colorful streets of colonial Nassau and mingling with local chefs, artisans and business owners.


Visit John Watling’s Distillery

Time it takes: 3 hours

The distillery is located on the famed, hallowed grounds of the 1789 Buena Vista Estate in historic downtown. Here, guests are served 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…

Check Out 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 close to the cruise port and offers a taste of the island nation’s famous blue waters and soft sand. Both residents and visitors gather here to sip a few Bahama Mamas or other tropical cocktails while enjoying their day under the sun.


Take a Day Trip to Pearl Island

Time it takes: 5 hours

Just a short harbor cruise away from Nassau, guests can enjoy a beach escape featuring beach cabanas, shaded decks and white-sand beaches, plus a range of aquatic activities, including kayaking and standup paddleboarding.

Pro tip: Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island, is home to the first overwater cabanas in The Bahamas, which include a private cabana attendant.


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

Credit: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

If you’re a thrill-seeker…

Have an Atlantis Aquaventure

Time it takes: 5 hours

You can’t talk about Nassau without talking about Atlantis, the popular (and huge!) luxury resort and water park on Paradise Island. There, you can shoot down intense waterslides—including one that goes through a shark tank—swim in 20 different areas, explore fascinating marine life exhibits and tube through the rapids river. Need a break? Pull up a chair on the private beach.

Pro tip: Want more waterslides? Icon of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, is home to Category 6, the largest waterpark at sea with six record-breaking slides.


Go Snorkelling

Time it takes: 3 hours

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


Try Scuba Diving

Time it takes: 5 hours

Nassau’s turquoise waters welcome certified scuba divers to take stock of the capital’s many underwater adventures and 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, originally built to defend against Spanish invaders in 1741.

Credit: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

If you’re a history buff…

Explore Nassau’s Historical Highlights

Time it takes: 2 hours

Spend some time getting to know the history of Nassau with a tour of the city’s landmarks, including Rawson and Parliament Squares, Government House and more. Once acquainted, use the remainder of the day to explore on your own and revisit sites 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 beauty and the people of The Bahamas. Ready to plan your vacation with Royal Caribbean? Explore more of Nassau here.