Raise your hand if you’re a beach lover? I’m one through and through; I could live on a beach if given the opportunity. The pace of life, the relaxation and beautiful scenery just do it for me. So when I had the opportunity to travel to the Bahamas on a non-stop Bahamasair flight, and compile this Nassau Bahamas travel guide, I jumped at the opportunity!
Our long-weekend getaway to Nassau was just what this beach gal needed. But for me, when I travel to an island destination, I like to get there as quick and effortless as possible. Usually I think of flights to Bahamian paradise as both expensive and/or not non-stop. But Bahamasair has changed the game, with their latest non-stop flight from Houston (IAH) to the capital, Nassau, where you can be sipping mojitos and soaking up the island breeze by 11am. Need I say more?
Well, now that you know your airfare with Bahamasair will be a breeze, you can read along on this Nassau, Bahamas travel guide where I’ll share all the details, including where to stay, eat and what to do both as a tourist AND a local!
Places to stay
Baha Mar // Imagine a beautiful and pristine property that offers literally everything, features three different hotels AND multiple different pools and beach access. This is Baha Mar, the epitome of luxury and perfection in Nassau. Even more charming is the architecture and design; based on traditional Bahamian culture and colors, the property features colorful pastels and white clapboard shutters throughout. The Grand Hyatt serves as the anchor for the Baha Mar and sits central amongst the two other hotels. Featuring two high-rise buildings with over 1,800 guest rooms, a casino, multiple restaurants and pools on the property. I absolutely loved this hotel. I know, you’re thinking, “woah, 1800 rooms?” but here’s the thing, the property is SO spread out that it remains quiet and you’re definitely not fighting over lounge chair by the pool or beach.
Whether you’re a golfer, tennis player, gambler, or more Baha Mar has everything. There’s also a first-class spa, called ESPA, where I highly recommend a Swedish massage. Flanked by the new SLS Hotel, a younger, hipper spot perfect for bachelorette or birthday getaways and the Rosewood Hotel, an absolutely luxurious, and quieter portion of the hotel trios, Baha Mar truly offers everything. A few of my favorite things included: the amazing fountain show, a rival to that at the Bellagio in Vegas; The Current, Baha Mar’s one and only art studio, where we watched an in-house art class taught by a local Bahamian and open to locals and guests alike; and the delicious variety of restaurants – one truly doesn’t get sick of all the options even if you’re staying for a week, there’s so much to choose from!
Lastly, Baha Mar does not offer day passes for cruise ship passengers. To me, this is a major plus. Everyone on the property is staying at the hotels or using amenities like the spa, casino or eating at restaurants. The employees were so friendly and welcoming, and the accommodations were bright & airy. I love a hotel that embodies it’s surroundings, and properties at Baha Mar do just that. I cannot attest enough how much this makes a difference, as it eliminates a lot of the clientele that wouldn’t otherwise be on property and keeps it less busy and quiet! I know you’re probably thinking, this Nassau Bahamas travel guide only recommends one hotel… but truly, this property is top notch and worth the stay!
Where to eat in Nassau
Baha Mar restaurants // Personal favorites include: Cafe Madeline for morning Avocado toast and delicious lattes; El Jefe for a beachside lunch of delicious homemade tacos, all done in a darling pink-painted Airstream; Katsuya for fresh sushi and yummy drinks.
Cafe Matisse // Inside a historic downtown building, this spot features some of the best Italian food on the island. Think traditional dishes like pizza or pasta, but also fresh fish and seafood. The menu changes every 6 months, too!
Graycliff Restaurant // Nestled amongst a historical street in downtown Nassau, the Graycliff Restaurant, inside the Graycliff Hotel, is the island’s only 5-star restaurant. A mixture of Continental and Bahamian cuisine, the restaurant features four different dining rooms and an outdoor garden-area. During our tour, the host showed us the guest book where Jimmy Fallon had recently stopped in for dinner. They also feature afternoon tea, with a reservation. This restaurant is definitely at the top of my list when I return to Nassau.
La Caverna // An off the beaten path Italian restaurant that serves authentic and homemade pasta and pizza. Although it can be a bit pricey, this restaurant is definitely worth a stop. Call to make a reservation for brunch, lunch or dinner.
Poop Deck // A rooftop deck overlooking the island of Atlantis, this quaint little spot is perfect for a taste of true Bahamian eats and some of the freshest seafood on the island! Open-air with traditional Bahamian eats like Conch fritters and fish tacos, you won’t be disappointed with this spot after exploring the island.
To do in Nassau, Bahamas
Fish Fry // Located in Arawak Cay, this expansive street is lined with various vendors all selling authentic Bahamian cuisine, made to order. Stop by one of the many stalls to try fresh Conch salad, fried fish and more. Sunday night is when locals usually stop in.
Junkanoo // Three separate parades, on Boxing Day, New Years and during the summer. Junkanoo is the pride and joy of the Bahamian culture. Generally from 2am to 10am troupes of dancers, bands and throngs of Bahamians gather in the streets to celebrate and party it up in one of the world’s largest street carnivals!
National Art Gallery of the Bahamas // I must admit, stopping at an art gallery was not at the top of my list while visiting the Bahamas. However, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the National Art Gallery. Easily a 1-2 hour stop at most, you can learn a lot about the Bahamian culture, different artists who have left their mark on society and take in some expansive views of downtown and the harbor from the second floor of the property, historic Villa Doyle built in the 1860s.
People-to-People experience // If you’re like me, and enjoy learning about the people and cultures of where you travel to, then the People-to-People experience is a must. Definitely one of the most memorable parts of the trip. Our group was hosted by a Bahamian family at their home where we were served traditional Bahamian eats and given the opportunity to get to know what the real Bahamas, and its’ people, is like.
Queen’s Staircase // Definitely a really cool spot that we almost missed stopping at! It doesn’t look like much, but if you start at the top of the Queen’s Staircase and walk down, it’s a beautiful little jaunt in the midst of the city. A really cool photo-op along the staircase and at the bottom.
Straw Market // Need some gifts for friends or family? This is the spot to pick up those souvenirs. Albeit, the straw market is definitely the most touristy spot we stopped at during our island tour, but definitely a cool place to walk through. There are some darling hand-woven straw basket bags that you can get for any gal you might need a present for, and they’ll even monogram your desired name or initials by-hand on the spot.
Take a Tour // We did the art & dine, art walking tour with lunch and it was such a cool experience! For one, I had no ideas there was such a thriving art scene in Nassau. With our knowledgeable tour guide, we chatted all things art, architecture, history and more through downtown Nassau. I highly recommend one of these tours, as there’s so much more to learn about Bahamian culture by leaving the hotel!
Nassau, Bahamas travel guide… A few helpful tips
Lynden Pindling International Airport // When departing Nassau, I suggest arriving earlier than you normally would. Since you’re departing from an International airport, there can be lengthy lines for both check-in and security. One really cool part about departing from the Nassau airport, is you’ll go through U.S. Customs and Immigration enforcement on the Bahamian side. Meaning, no long lines or waiting at the Houston airport once you deplane!
Think about hiring a car service // We were transported around the island via a car service and it was definitely the way to go. If you’re from the U.S., you’re most likely not used to driving on the opposite side of the road or the traffic circles. I’d suggest forgoing a rental car and going with a car service instead!
If you’re not into super touristy areas… // Then I’d suggest avoiding Atlantis all together. We stopped over at Paradise Island and after a few minutes inside the famous Atlantis hotel, I couldn’t wait to leave! It was extremely busy and touristy. Cruise passengers can purchase day passes at the resort, so on any given day there may be an additional couple thousand people from a cruise ship, or two. We tried to walk around and check out the pools and property, but were told we could only walk in the designated areas for non-guests or paying customers. Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted this Nassau, Bahamas travel guide to help you experience the island as a local!
And if you’re looking for additional island travel guides, check out the comprehensive Maui, Hawaii travel guide on Adored by Alex!
This post is brought to you in partnership with Bahamasair, Baha Mar and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Adored by Alex possible.