In this issue, we will be visiting Nassau, the capital city on the island of New Providence. Approximately 70-80% of the less than half a million population for the entire country resides here. During the early 1700’s this was a pirate haven and you can learn about it at the Pirates of Nassau Museum. Here you have the opportunity to see all sides of pirate life from the simple campsite settlements, artifacts of the era, boarding parties, and torture devices. There is even a recreated ship you can walk through to get a sense of the “sweet” life.
The end of the pirate days was swift as the British sought to regain control of the islands and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers as Royal governor in 1718. He successfully clamped down on the pirates, reformed the civil administration and restored commerce.
While visiting Nassau, tour the three forts that were built to protect the wonderful natural harbor. The main fort was Charlotte, which was large and housed troops. It even had a well dug inside in the event of a siege. The eastern entrance was protected by the small Fort Montagu, which housed several cannons and was manned only during assaults. The final fort built was Fincastle and is situated on top of a hill overlooking the harbor. All three of these forts are open to visitors.
Paradise Across the Harbor
Just a stone’s throw away, you will find Paradise Island with several resorts. The best known is the mega resort Atlantis. This resort is amazing in size and available recreational activities. The most popular is the water park with close to a dozen different water slides.
The other popular attraction is The Dig. This is an aquarium housing many wonderful sea creatures and is decorated as an archeological dig site that discovered the lost city of Atlantis. I found the surroundings to be almost as captivating as the rays, fish, sharks, and other sea creatures. All activities are included with a stay in the hotel or dockage in the marina.
On the way to or from Atlantis you should stop at the fish fry under the bridge. Here you can have many varieties of fish and of course conch. Speaking of which, did you know 1 out of 10,000 conchs produce a pearl like an oyster? Stop by a jewelry store and see this gorgeous pink rarity.
Even though Nassau is the most urban setting you will find in the Bahamas you can still find nice beaches on Paradise Island and reefs off of Rose Island, which is about five miles to the east and is a quick way to get away from the hustle of town.
Party Like A Bahamian!
One thing I wanted to do in the Bahamas is participate in the Junkanoo festival in Nassau. It is held during the night, the day after Christmas and again on New Year’s Eve. It is a street parade and feels like a combination of Mardi Gras and a marching band competition. There are several levels of competitors with the Valley Boys and Saxon being the biggest groups. Junkanoo has been featured in the movies Thunderball, After The Sunset, and Jaws The Revenge.
Visiting Nassau during Junkanoo is a real treat. If you get the chance, go for it. Even if not, a few days in this capital can be enjoyable before heading to the out islands, of which we are going to Eleuthera over the next two issues.