We have had the privilege of visiting Nassau, Bahamas several times. Nassau is on the island of New Providence. Each time was as exciting and fun filled as the last. You should never get tired of visiting this vivacious city which is a combination of a modern city as well as the center of Bahamian culture. Most cruise ships to the Bahamas pull into Nassau Harbor, the capitol city, and disembark. From here you are on your own. Nassau is a shopper’s paradise. There are many name brand stores in downtown Nassau. Duty free shops are all over the island. Jewelers in downtown Nassau are all aglow with beautiful rings with an array of sparkly gems from diamonds, emeralds, and on and on. Gold chains, bracelets and famous watches are there for your enjoyment and choosing. Aside from jewelry, there are other well known stores and merchandise for your pleasure. Art studios as well as stores sell local island music discs. Local book stores offer copies of “Insight Guides of The Bahamas”, “This Sweet Place, Island Living and Other Adventures” and even a book devoted only to “The Rums of the Eastern Caribbean” by Edward Hamilton.
Nassau is a vibrant city with many ethnic restaurants as well as international cuisine… There are many historical sites to see and explore and, of course, there is theever present straw market which is now indoors. I liked it much better when it was outdoors and you could easily walk from stall to stall. However, a fire changed all that. Baskets, hats, native jewelry abound. Several years ago I bought hand made straw place mats which I still have and use. One note of caution regarding buying gems here. Make sure that you know enough about what a real emerald is, for example. Don’t think for one minute that Nassau is an island city. It is a very cosmopolitan city. If you like the hustle and excitement of city life, then you will love Nassau.
Nassau Harbor is very large and can accommodate many vessels. For those who do not wish to anchor, there are several marinas. One of the more popular marinas is Nassau Harbor Club which has docks and a laundromat with several washers and dryers for your convenience. As an added attraction it is near a supermarket and liquor store.
If you prefer, you can anchor in the huge area of Nassau Harbor. If you are just arriving, you must call Nassau Harbor Control on your VHF and announce your vessel’s name. They will reply and ask you for your vessel’s name and your intentions. All you need to say is that you’re “sailing vessel or power vessel so and so and askpermission to enter the harbor. They may ask you how long you to intend to stay and where you will be berthed. If you intend to anchor you will reply so. If you are intending to enter a marina, give the name of the marina or tell them that has not been determined and you will call them when you are settled. If you plan to anchor in the harbor, you will tell them that you will remain on anchor for the duration of your stay. Check your guide books for the names of marinas and calling channels. We have usually anchored or if we stayed at a marina we have always been pleased with Nassau Harbor Club. The only problem for me personally staying at the Harbor Club, is that the docks are not floating docks, and I have a little trouble getting on and off at low tide.
Once you are settled in you can begin to think about the many things that you and your companion or crew could do now in Nassau. I really do not know where to begin when talking about sites and historical places to visit and photograph. One of the more striking buildings is the Government House. It is a delightful pink building, very British looking and very colorful. Cannons of Fort Charlotte, overlooking the harbor, once guarded theHarbor. There are gardens galore all over this lovely island. I really cannot do justice to all of Nassau’s charm in a brief article. You must see it for yourself!
Now that I have tried to extol the beauty of this most alluring island, I must say that all is always not safe in paradise. You must be ever so vigilant for those that think of you as a candidate for a free lunch. Always be on the alert for anything that just doesn’t look right to you. Secondly, please, be polite and courteous to the citizens of your host country. This applies to anywhere you go in the Caribbean.
Nassau is a very cosmopolitan city not unlike any of our large cities. It is to be treated with respect, but you must also always be diligent as to where you are, where you are intending to go and who is around you. With that caveat, I must say and I mean it, enjoy your stay. Do not be reluctant to talk with the locals. Do not act superior to any of the local people whom you meet. This is true for Nassau and any of the other much poorer cities that I will write about in the future.
Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.