Whether you’re in Nassau for a few hours on a cruise excursion or you’re lucky enough to enjoy a longer stay, know that there’s plenty to do and see beyond Bay Street or your resort’s beach. We’ve rounded up a few singular experiences that leave no doubt that it’s “better in the Bahamas.” Here’s our edit of the top fun Things to Do in Nassau and Paradise Island. CJ Travel Editor Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon has the scoop.
Release Your Inner Wonka You’re probably familiar with Graycliff, the 18th-century Nassau mansion that’s the city’s oldest hotel and restaurant. But did you know that they also have an on-site chocolatier? The store sells an array of tropical-flavored chocolate treats (think mango, seagrape and guinep) but an even sweeter proposition is to join one of their hour-long $50 chocolate tours. You’ll see how chocolate is made; enjoy generous samples along the way; and even make your own bar or truffles. It’s all part of a push that has made Graycliff the top destination in all of downtown Nassau, whether you want to visit its cigar factory or bustling historic village.
Discover a Lost City You don’t have to be a guest at Atlantis to enjoy the myriad pleasures of the 3,400-room marine-themed megaresort. Depending on occupancy, the Paradise Island playground makes a limited number of day passes available so that walk-ins can experience its 13 pools; 40 restaurants and bars; 141-acre water park; the Bahamas’ largest casino; and a vast waterscape of lagoons, aquariums and waterfalls for themselves, no room key required. (Day passes are available at the Discover Atlantis desk in the Coral Towers.)
Find Serenity Not to be confused with those in New York, The Cloisters on Paradise Island is collection of classical statuary that was built by French Augustinian monks, then dismantled and imported by William Randolph Hearst to the Bahamas. (Side note: Since none of the parts were labeled it took two years to reassemble!) It was later purchased by A&P heir Huntington Hartford, and is now part of Versailles Gardens at the hotel he established, now known as the One & Only Ocean Club. Wandering through the statue garden (across the main road from the hotel) is a perfect opportunity to consider the workmanship that went into the project and to appreciate the beauty of New Providence on the opposite side of the bay.
Get Centered Taking a yoga class likely isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind when you’re vacationing in this corner of the Caribbean, but here’s why you should. Classes at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island last 90 mind-clearing minutes; are taught by experienced licensed teachers on a breezy beachfront deck or waterfront pavilion; and cost just $10. An even better deal: The day pass, which includes two classes, two meals and two satsangs (chanting and meditation sessions) for just $45.
Taste The Town One of the best ways to experience the true flavor of a destination is by tasting it. And the best way to taste the Bahamas is on Tru Bahamian Food Tours’ Bites of Nassau tour. On three-hour walking tour Nassau’s history and culture is revealed through its authentic eats, sampled at a half-dozen of the city’s best eateries. Bring on the conch!
Buy Bahamian Finding duty-free deals on imported luxury and designer goods in Nassau is easy. Finding handmade locally crafted souvenirs: not so much. At least not unless you’ve been clued in to Craft Cottage, where, five minutes’ drive east of Bay Street (next door to the must-see Doongalik Art Gallery) you’ll find everything from earrings to clothing, sculpture and straw sneakers, much of it crafted by co-owner and artist Nadine Ramphal and her hand-picked team of local artisans.