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Nassau is compact and easy to see in a day, which is quite convenient considering many visitors (coming off cruise ships) only have that long to see it.  This would also be a great walking tour for those staying at Atlantis or other hotels on Paradise Island, as that is the starting location.

For my last day in the Bahamas, I vowed to tackle as many Nassau highlights as I could. Here’s what I got up to.

1. Potter’s Cay

Under the bridge from Atlantis you will find Potter’s Cay, one of my favorite spots in all of Nassau.

Potter’s Cay is a shipping dock and hub of activity located beneath the bridges going to and from Paradise Island. The bars lining the entrance are a great place to grab a cheap Kalik local beer, try super fresh conch and rub shoulders with the locals. If you walk through early in the morning bars won’t yet be open, but there will be plenty of activity further beneath the bridge.

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

You’ll find islanders unloading their wares in the market section, selling everything from shriveled dead fish to creaking live crabs.

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

Pushing even further back under the bridge you’ll find barges and small fishing boats, colorful graffiti and amazing murals.

Bahamas Nassau

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

Bahamas Nassau

Bahamas Nassau

At the far end of Potter’s Cay you can see over the top of that barges straight across the bridges through to Atlantis. I marvel at the fact that such an amazing place with such strong local flavor can exist side by side with such a megalith manufactured resort (one that brought us great riches not too long ago!) What a poignant image.

Potter's Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

2. A Bit of History and Hospitality

Walking in towards Nassau town on Bay Street, you will pass a grand church on your left at the aptly named Church Street. It wasn’t listed in my guidebooks or any maps but I was able to identify it as St. Matthews with a bit of google sleuthing.

Bahamas Nassau

Bahamas Nassau

While we wandered around the grounds of this church, we encountered the caretaker who approached us kindly, asking how we were enjoying our stay in the Bahamas. His eyes lit up when we told him about our trip through the outer islands and he offered us a tour of the grounds of what he then informed us was the oldest church in the Bahamas. Speaking with him was one of the highlights of the day!

Bahamas Nassau

Bahamas Nassau

It’s a beautiful building and worth nosing around to look for. Even more impressive was the hospitality of the caretaker, just another reminder of the kindness of the Bahamian people.

Bahamas Nassau

Bahamas Nassau

3. Cruise Mania

About 3/4ths of a mile past Potter’s Cay you will reach the cruise ship terminal. I actually went here looking for the Junkanoo Expo, which was very poorly marked on maps and I never did find. But there were some floats and costumes in the terminal from Junkanoo (the Bahamas biggest festival) so it wasn’t a total loss.

Bahamas Nassau

Bahamas Nassau

Nassau, Bahamas Cruise Ship Terminal

4. Rawson Square

Rawson Square is a filled with benches in which to hide in the shade and get some respite from the hot Bahamas sun. Across the street is the grand pink parliament building, where lawmakers still wear full white wigs!

Rawson Square, Nassau, Bahamas

4. Junkanoo Beach

Junkanoo Beach is a beautiful and conveniently located stretch of sand. On my way into the Bahamas from the airport, my taxi driver informed me that not long ago it was only a local’s spot and he marveled that tourists now use this beach as well. I can see why they do, and its somewhere between the white sand and glassy blue water. Looking off in one direction you are treated to the sight of a charming lighthouse, and in the other direction, the giants of Bahamas tourism: Atlantis and the cruise ship. There is also some great graffiti to check out.

Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

5. The Pirate Museum

What could possibly top a repository of pirate memorabilia and a chance to take cheesy photos with an extra from The Black Pearl? Say arrrrgh!

When you approach Pirates of Nassau, prepare to be hassled by costumed ticket takers who are surprisingly convincing and only break character to ask you what model SLR camera you are carrying.

Pirates of Nassau, Bahamas

Upon entering the building you will be greeted by a life-size recreation of a pirate ship. Along with the accompanying soundtrack and and light show, it really does feel like you were in Nassau harbor as it was being pillaged by pirates. Well, you know, if Nassau harbour had drop ceilings and halogen lights. Moving into the ship, we encountered life size dioramas and fact filled and educational signage.

Pirates of Nassau, Bahamas

I was surprised how big the building was, and I actually did learn about the original “true” pirates, including my liveaboard boat’s namesake, Blackbeard. In the last room there were genuine artifacts and antiques, as well as more information about Nassau’s deep connection to the pirate world. It lent an authentic air to the whole affair.

Pirates of Nassau Bahamas

My favorite part? I think its obvious: the photo ops. I would pay the admission price — $12 — to play with these backdrops alone. Don’t forget to come armed with your camera specs for the guys holding a fake gun to your head.

Bahamas Nassau

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6. Balcony House

The 18th century Balcony House is the oldest residential structure in Nassau. There are tours available, but we were just walking by as the house is right around the corner from the Pirate Museum.

Balcony House, Nassau, Bahamas

7. Nassau Public Library and Museum

I love libraries. This one would be interesting even to non-bibliophiles for its unusual octagonal shape and the fact that it used to be Nassau’s jail. The cells are now lined with books and historic prints.

The second floor was sadly closed for repairs when we stopped by, but it seemed like the views would be great.

Nassau, Bahamas

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8. Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Art

While walking around Nassau I kept noticing interesting art works shown in public. Some of them were really fun and I couldn’t wait to look up the website on the accompanying signs (you can see the sign above in the top left corner).

Coca Cola Downtown Art Experience

It turned out to be a public arts project aimed at sprucing up Nassau sponsored by Coca Cola, using all art from local artists. There is a map of all the pieces, from murals to sculptures on the website. I wish I had known about this beforehand because it would make for a really fun day walking around trying to see them all. Here are a few of my favorites. Points for art, for supporting the local arts movement, and for urban beautification!

Coca Cola Downtown Art Experience

Want to do it yourself? View and print my Walking Tour of Nassau, Bahamas on Google Maps! Enjoy!

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18 Comments...
  • John Baackes
    March 8 2011

    Great pictures Al. Too bad in our two trips to Atlantis we never the left the grounds to check this all out.

    • Alex
      March 8 2011

      Two trips? I was only invited on one! 🙂

  • I loved this travel narrative! I’m just about to start writing about my time in Nassau too. It’s like my 2nd home, so I always love reading about it. Great pics!!!

    • Alex
      March 8 2011

      I was hoping you would write about that trip! Looking forward to it 🙂

  • Nice post! And great photos..
    I’m in Nassau, enjoying the local, the food, the beaches, everything!

    • Alex
      January 17 2014

      Glad you’re having a great trip Kate! Happy travels!

  • Miles of Happiness
    December 20 2014

    That’s so colourful! It’s beautiful there. Coming from Hong Kong I really dream watching those pics…

    • Alex
      December 22 2014

      Nassau really is gorgeous. Definitely take time to explore it if you make that Bahamas trip happen 🙂

  • Erin
    January 10 2015

    How long did it take you to do this walk?

    • Alex
      January 11 2015

      Hey Erin, I’m so sorry but it’s been years since I was in the Bahamas and I don’t quite remember anymore! I’d set aside most of the day to be able to enjoy it 🙂 Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  • Riquelle
    October 30 2015

    Hey Alex! I’ve been looking through all your Caribbean posts and I was hoping you could give me your opinion on something. My sister and I are taking our parents on a trip next summer and we can’t decide between the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Since you’ve been to all three what do you think would be better if we’re trying to keep the costs low but still have a good time? Thanks!

    • Alex
      November 2 2015

      The Bahamas definitely has the most room for affordability, out of the three — Bermuda and Cayman are incredibly upscale. You can flash a lot of cash in the Bahamas too but there are also other options 🙂 And the people there are insanely friendly, too. Hope that helps! I love the Caribbean.

  • Ebony
    September 15 2016

    The Nassau Public Library was originally built as an auction house for slaves. Later it was converted to a jail and now it is used as a library.

    • Alex
      September 17 2016

      Wow, quite the history for one little building. Thanks for sharing, Ebony.

  • Sara Cayouette
    January 7 2017

    I will be going to Nassau, Bahamas in a few months. All this information will be greatly beneficial for me when I get to experience the Caribbean culture!

    • Alex
      January 14 2017

      Awesome Sara! I can’t think of a better way to kick off a trip to Nassau than with this little tour! Enjoy!

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