8 Best Things to Do in Nassau, The Bahamas

nassau bahamas what to do cruise
You can follow the crowds to the most popular beaches, but it's worth seeking a quieter one. - Photo by Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

With 1 million cruise ship passengers visiting each year, the Nassau is an immensely crowded place. It’s close to East Coast departure points, and an easy first stop on many sailings. The result: unavoidable crowds in the winter high season, and as many as seven ships in the port at a time.

Still, the tourism industry is a well-oiled machine here. Nassau's vendors are ready for the throngs of visitors, and the British-bred manners keep the hard sell to a minimum. Best of all, if you’re willing to look past the touristy shops and restaurants that cluster around the port, you’ll find plenty of treasures worth seeking on the other side.


english breakfast sausage nassau bahamas

Start the day with English breakfast at the Cricket Club.
Photo by ShutterStock

Breakfast: The Cricket Club Restaurant & Pub – This institution, an easy 10-minute taxi ride from Nassau's cruise port, serves traditional English breakfast (eggs with baked beans, sausages, and fried tomatoes) all day. You can also order what the Bahamians tend to prefer: tuna fish with grits, or sheep tongue souse — a form of pickled meat. Sports fans will be happy to see the plethora of flat-screen TVs showing both American sports and live cricket matches.

Lunch: Tony’s Seafood – Potter’s Cay, a row of seafood shacks under the Paradise Island Bridge is the spot for fresh conch. You’ll find locals as well as in-the-know tourists queuing in front of their favorite stall looking for a quick lunch. Of all the seafood on offer, Tony’s is our favorite stop, and the conch salad is the top draw — the mollusk is cracked right in front of you and chopped up with tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and your requested amount of spice. (Many locals like it hot, but you don’t have to ask for it that way.)

Dinner: Anchorage Market & Restaurant – If you choose a cruise that stays late or overnights in Nassau (Carnival does, FYI), you’ll be able to dine at this oceanfront hot spot in the popular Arawak Cay Fish Fry area, which is a pleasant 20-minute walk from the port. Couples flock to the upper balcony tables, a most romantic place to catch the sunset while sipping on a rum drink and savoring grilled grouper and spiny lobster.

Dessert: Bahamas Rum Cake Factory – Plenty of islands have rum cakes, but the bundt-style goodies from this shop on East Bay Street come with a tiny jug of rum syrup to pour over the cake for added kick. The cakes are made with Don Lorenzo Rum, distilled in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, and come in a variety of flavors, including piña colada, banana, and chocolate.


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festival place in nassau bahamas

Shop at Festival Palace before returning to the ship.
Photo by Walter Bibikow / 

For Everyone: The Pirates Museum – You’ll learn all about the island’s history of hosting famous swashbucklers, including Blackbeard and Anne Bonny, at this museum on the corner of Marlborough and George Streets. Visit the museum on your own, or sign up with your cruise line for a full island tour that details local lore and begins at the gangway of your ship.

For Couples: Breezes Bahamas Resort – It’s hard to ignore the allure of Atlantis — Paradise Island’s biggest resort, which has several hotel towers, a casino, and many restaurants and activities. Most cruise lines offer a package with a day pass, which (for about $100 per person) includes transfers and use of the beach facilities. But you’ll get more bang for your buck — and avoid the throngs of children — by heading to this adult-only, all-inclusive resort, where $65 per person buys all you can eat, drink, and play. Call ahead and reserve your pass, and then take a taxi from the port.

For Families: Educulture museum – This West Street museum is dedicated to the Mardi Gras-like Junkanoo parade, which takes place every December 26. Here, you can learn year-round about the history of the event and try on elaborate costumes and masks. Call ahead for an appointment, and you’ll be taken to the large shacks where floats are built — and learn about the islandwide competition to make the best one.

For the Adventurous: Stuart Cove's – The bravehearted can sign up here for a two-tank dive that takes you to see reef sharks up close. This underwater tour outfitter, which has been in operation in 1978, also offers snorkeling and underwater scooter tours. Bonus: They’ll pick you up from the cruise port. 

Insider Tip

Bypass the Straw Market on Bay Street and instead peruse the artisanal vendors right inside the Festival Place cruise terminal at Prince George Wharf, which you have to pass through anyway to return to the gangway. You’ll find only authentic Bahamian goods rather than mass-market items that are often made in China; we especially like the conch shell jewelry at Andeana Designs


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Join the discussion

What do you like to do in Nassau?

Posted by bahamianforlife

junnkanoo is nothing like mardi gras for one it is family friendly and you don't see a bunch of drunk pople running around so I would appreciate it if you did not compare the two thanks

Posted by JDUBYA

Going to Nassau and Freeport in May. Where are some good and affordable private beaches? I'm looking for something that is all inclusive( food, drinks).

Posted by SimonCommunity

Hi JDUBYA, There aren't a lot of all-inclusive private beaches in Nassau. Try Resorts for a Day for some Beach Day options Hope that helps!

Posted by MrChocoholic

On our last cruise aboard Norwegian "Sky," our self-led Nassau tour was perfect for those who have limited time and don't want to go to the beach. Since the Straw Market is...well, right THERE, we did go in and buy a couple of things that we were assured were "made in the Bahamas." If you don't have a hat, now's a good time. Then, on to a drive through Parliament Square, passing the Governor's House. Fort Fincastle is a great site, complete with cannons aimed at your cruise ship. The rough-finished stonework and commanding view are memorable. Nearby is the Queen's Staircase, an original Nassau landmark and one of its oldest. Gorgeous photo-op here if your camera has a shutter speed that can freeze water. Hungry? Grab a cab out to Arawak Cay where Fish Fry is located, then find "Frankie Gone Bananas" for the best conch salad and other Bahamian delights. Colorful, fun, tasty and notoriously slow service. One oft-underappreciated tourist trap is Ardastra Gardens, home of the famous "Marching Flamingos." The ones you see now are descendants of the originals that populated the place back in the 50s when EVERYONE stayed at the British Colonial.

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