Let’s Escape to Nassau Bahamas!
After several months of backpacking and travelling extensively throughout the Caribbean and Central America and parts of North America (pre-covid) the Backpacking Husband and I decided to take a flight from New Orleans and escape to The Bahamas for a fabulous month-long stay in Nassau.
And, in this post, I want to share with you our fabulous month-long experience and My Top 5 Tips for Nassau Bahamas! I also want to show you exactly how you too can escape to Nassau Bahamas and have a whole lot of fun on a comparatively small vacation budget in a dreamy and relaxing tropical location and throw in some occasionally incredible (and affordable) five-star Bahamian lifestyle experiences in the mix!
Where are The Bahamas?
In the northeastern Caribbean Sea, there’s an archipelago of around 700 beautiful tropical islands, atolls and islets – including around 2,000 small ‘cays’ – surrounded by a coral reef and spread over an area of 500 square miles. Many of these islands are privately owned and about 30 of the islands are inhabited.
With clear azure blue waters filled with exotic marine life, these islands are an idyllic tropical travel destination. They are a haven for those who love fishing, boating, diving, snorkelling, sailing and scuba diving. For beach-lovers there are over 2,000 sun-soaked white sand beaches – although some are pink – and colourful gardens with swaying palm trees and exotic tropical flora and fauna.
The islands I’m describing to you are known as The Bahamas.
Doesn’t this sound to you like the perfect place to kick back and escape for a month or so?
Nassau is the capital city of The Bahamas and is located on an island called New Providence.
Let’s Escape To Nassau Bahamas!
Where to stay in The Bahamas?
Accommodation is plentiful and hotel options are extensive throughout The Bahamas and Nassau and you might want to consider staying across the bridge from Nassau on the smaller neighbouring Paradise Island with the original ocean-themed Atlantis Resort. I recommend you research and book your accommodation online.
We wanted to stay in Nassau for a whole month. So, as with anywhere else in the world where we decide to stay longer than a week or so – with respect to our travel budget – we looked to try and find affordable rental accommodation.
We were incredibly lucky to find a fabulous private home listing on Airbnb offering a private annexe apartment rental. The annexe was part of a gorgeous colonial-style clapperboard house and in a location just across the street from the world-famous Cable Beach.
Cable Beach is a fabulous two-and-a-half-mile long soft sandy beach that is flanked with luxury properties and five-star hotel resorts including, for example, Sandals Royal Bahamian (once the elegant Balmoral Club in the 1940s) with its own offshore private island.
Our accommodation – opposite the very same famous beach and at a fraction of the price of the surrounding accommodations – offered us a double bedroom, a bathroom, a small kitchen and a conservatory-style sitting room.
It was gorgeous and, importantly, it was more affordable than a hotel!
Our Airbnb host kindly offered to meet us at the airport and to drive us back to his home. We spotted him at arrivals holding up a sign with ‘welcome… and our name’ and he was immediately friendly and helpful and introduced himself to us as Stuart – a retired teacher. We also discovered our host was from the UK – Wales – and had lived in Nassau for 25 years.
On route back to his property via the scenic and coastal West Bay Street, we chatted and he pointed out to us all the incredibly expensive homes that we passed along Cable Beach and told us which music star or TV celebrity or famous actor lived in them. He also pointed out the amazingly luxurious 5-star hotels.
Stuart was a generous host and a great guide on the area. He also stopped off at the supermarket to give us the opportunity to go shopping to fill our fridge with food and drinks. We really appreciated this as we intended to mostly cook for ourselves during our stay. We certainly wanted to enjoy all that The Bahamas had to offer but we also wanted to relax and experience living like locals – hence wanting to find an apartment for rent. We also believed that using public transport rather than hiring a car would help to stretch our budget and perhaps allow for a few Bahamian adventures.
Stuart gave us lots of information on places to go and insider tips on how to best get around.
Getting Around Nassau Bahamas.
Our host also told us about the colourful local transport known as the Jitney Bus, which would get us from Cable Beach to Nassau town and back again (#10). The Jitney bus is an affordable and popular way (at about $1.50 a ticket and you’ll need cash in Bahamian dollars) to get around Nassau but it’s worth knowing they don’t run after 6.30 pm in the evening. It’s also a really fun way to get around as the iconic minibuses are usually driven by colourful local characters blasting out reggae music and, as the driver’s earnings are dependent on how many fares they take, they are always very accommodating and will often stop to pick you up between stops if you wave them down.
Nassau Bahamas Weather.
The Bahamas is in the tropics and so has tropical weather patterns. Throughout the year, the temperatures fall between a balmy 25 and 32 degrees Celsius (77-90° Fahrenheit). May to October is the rainy season. The hurricane season lasts from the 1st of June to the 30th of November when there is a higher chance the islands could be hit by tropical storms.
July and August are the hottest months with temperatures around 32° C (90°F). During December, January, and February, the average temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius (77° F).
We were in Nassau during the month of June, and for our first few days, it rained heavily. We didn’t mind staying inside our cosy new home listening to the tropical rain falling, as we desperately needed to catch up on lost sleep and to get some rest before we had the energy for more fun and adventure.
I guess we really needed a month-long vacation from our nomadic backpacking lifestyle!
And, during these first wonderful few days of rest and rejuvenation, I picked up a coffee table book on The Bahamas and discovered that the islands boast a rich and interesting history.
The islands were originally inhabited by Lucayans – a subgroup of Arawak Indians – until Christopher Columbus arrived in October 1492. Then slavery, disease, and other sordid hardships wiped out the entire Lucayan tribe within 25 years. The British arrived in 1647 and the Bahamas officially became a British colony in 1717 and again in 1783. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, The Bahamas were home to the real Pirates of the Caribbean. The pirates, based at Nassau, (then called Charles Town) attacked French and Spanish ships during a time when piracy flourished because of the island’s proximity to important shipping lanes and trade routes under the leadership of the infamous Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. You can get a real idea of what life was like back in those swashbuckling and rum-soaked golden days of pirating at the Pirates of Nassau Museum which offers visitors an interactive pirate experience and features a moonlit replica of Nassau’s harbourfront as it looked in 1716!
What Country Owns The Bahamas?
Some people mistakenly assume that The Bahamas belongs to the United States of America – as the closest island in the archipelago is only 45 miles from the coast of Florida – but after 325 years of British rule the Bahamas became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1973. July 10th is Bahamian Independence Day.
Exploring Nassau Bahamas.
On our 4th day in Nassau the sun came out and so we headed downtown on a Jitney bus. We hopped onto the crowded #10 and rode into town on the distinctive white with a blue strip minibus bus driven by a colourful Rastafarian. Everyone on the bus, including us, sang along to Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ blasting from the sound system.
We rode past the famous all-day Fish Fry at Arawak Cay – a strip of beachside seafood restaurants and street food stalls offering local foods that are a famous tourist attraction – and made a note to ourselves to go there soon to sample the local cuisine like Johnny cakes and famous Bahamian fish stew and conch salad.
Downtown Nassau is filled with narrow streets around twenty square blocks of centuries-old buildings and magnificent architecture and modern murals by local artists. Those with an appreciation of colonial architecture should visit the Bahamian Parliament Building. Built in 1815 it overlooks a white statue of Queen Victoria in Parliament Square.
A walking tour will include The Queen’s Staircase of 66 steps that were painstakingly carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794 to create an escape route from the fort above and are a major landmark of Nassau. There are restaurants and cafés and museums and luxury shops aplenty. The famous Straw Market is a great place to find authentic locally made hats and handicrafts and trinkets made from seashells. Don’t forget to haggle.
Is Nassau Bahamas Safe?
The Bahamas (particularly the Outer Islands) are a relatively safe place for tourists and there is a strong police presence in touristy areas like Nassau but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay vigilant. On the UK Foreign Travel Advice website it states there have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. I’ve heard that the most serious crime is in the local “Over the Hill” area south of Shirley Street, Nassau, which should be avoided.
The advice is not to walk alone away from the main hotels, tourist areas, beaches and downtown Nassau, particularly after dark. Take care if travelling on local bus services after dusk on routes away from the main tourist areas. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Don’t resist in the event of an attempted robbery.
I actually had a scary experience in Nassau, when we inadvertently found ourselves in a notoriously dangerous part of town at midnight and during a power blackout. It happened after we’d been in the Bahamas for a few weeks, when one evening, my husband and I had travelled into town on a Jitney Bus to meet with a couple of new tourist friends we’d met earlier that day.
We’d arranged to meet for dinner and drinks at the famous Arawak Fish Fry area. We ended up staying out much longer than we’d intended. We were having fun and had found a bar with a nice vibe. When the bar closed, just around midnight, we were the last to leave.
We decided that we’d all share a taxi back up the road so we went out into the street to look for a taxi but found the street empty and quiet. We’d all had quite a few drinks, but I suddenly felt quite sober on realising we might have put ourselves in a precarious situation. We’d been warned that this part of Nassau was a potentially dangerous place for tourists late at night.
And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, we were plunged into complete darkness.
There were no lights on anywhere and we soon realised this was a power cut situation. We just stood there in the dark not knowing what to do. There were no taxis on the street. There was nowhere open. The bar we’d been in was locked up.
We used our phones as torches but realised that we didn’t have any taxi numbers.
Suddenly a big truck appeared out of the darkness and stopped right beside us. I was scared.
The four of us were caught in its headlights and must have looked like frightened rabbits in a spotlight. Luckily for us, the driver wasn’t about to rob us or kidnap or murder us. He simply wanted to offer his assistance. His exact words were “What the heck are you guys doin’ down here?”
He saw we were tourists and he knew we shouldn’t have been there. He told us this wasn’t a good place for us to be so late at night and he offered us a ride back to the area where we were staying.
Seeing that he had lots of pots and pans and cooking paraphernalia in the back of his truck and that he was obviously a street food vendor at the fish fry, we gratefully accepted.
As he dropped us off on the road where we were staying, his passing comment and instruction as we thanked him profusely for his kindness (and offered him some cash for his fuel and inconvenience that he refused to accept) was to suggest to us that if we ever saw him lost and in the wrong place in our country, that we would also stop to help him out.
Lesson learned: Take responsibility for your own safety but also know that not everyone is out to get you. There are good people everywhere in the world, and in my experience, the kindness of strangers is more widespread than you might expect.
You can read about a few more of my scary experiences while travelling (you can listen to this as a podcast Episode 15) and in my post entitled 10 Scary Travel Horror Situations And How To Avoid Them and by clicking on the image below.
MY TOP 5 TRAVEL TIPS FOR NASSAU BAHAMAS
(1) Riding a Jitney Bus and (2) visiting the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay and (3) exploring Downtown Nassau are three travel tips that I’ve already mention to you. BUT did you know that you can buy a VISITOR DAY PASS for entry into many of the fabulous 5-star hotel resorts along Cable Beach like The Royal Bahamian Sandals Resort and also the Atlantis Waterpark on Paradise Island?!
Day Passes: We went into The Royal Bahamian Sandals Resort several times during our stay. We took a Jitney bus along the street and turned up at 9.30 am and in time for a champagne breakfast. Then we enjoyed sunbathing on the luxury loungers and using the fabulous swimming pool, we drank cocktails at the swim-up bar, ate at the restaurants and snack bars and made sure to make the most of all the premium all-inclusive facilities. We even took a boat launch for lunch (with a bottle of excellent wine) on the private island.
As a bonus while at Sandals, we met some lovely people with whom we’ve remained close friends.
Taking a day ticket was an incredible and affordable way to have a five-star premium all-inclusive resort experience that I can recommend to you. Well, until 6 pm, anyway!
I believe there might only be a limited amount of day tickets available per day so do get there early.
Experience Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. We actually booked a whole weekend stay at Atlantis Resort because not only did we want to spend a whole day in their famous ocean-themed waterpark but we also wanted to see the ‘once in a lifetime live performance of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett in concert and staying overnight was the only way to get tickets.
We had a truly fantastic time and it was well worth splashing out on the entire weekend! The Atlantis Day Pass allows you to enjoy Aquaventure – a one-of-a-kind water park with thrill slides and refreshing pools and miles of white sandy beaches.
Explore marine habitats and marine exhibits; dine al fresco and choose from a variety of fine dining and casual experiences; try your luck in the Atlantis Casino, stroll our Marina Village and check out the new arrivals at the Crystal Court Shops. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my photos and reading about my own escape to Nassau Bahamas.
I do hope my tips for having lots of fun and adventure are useful to you.
Perhaps you’ve also been to The Bahamas?
If so, what was your favourite thing to do there?
Or are you still planning an escape to these fabulous islands!
Are The Bahamas on your travel bucket list?
Let me know!
Leave a comment below or message me on my contact page.
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