We had one day in Nassau to really make the most of our trip to the Bahamas. The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands, and Nassau is the capital of them all, on New Providence Island. Americans love to go on holiday here and given that it’s so close to Florida, it’s easy for them to hop over.
We were in the area thanks to our Carnival cruise, on the Carnival Sunrise. We docked at Nassau Port, aka Prince George Wharf at 8am, and had until 5pm to check out the island.
Of course, when you’re on a cruise there are always lots of options for shore excursions, but we found them to be too expensive, and we didn’t want to be stuck with lots of other people all on a bus, or trying to take pictures of the same thing, or waiting for everyone to get off and on again.
We wanted to spend our day in Nassau independently, and so this is what we did.
One day in Nassau
Prince George Wharf is right by the centre of Nassau, and so there are many options for things to do. We knew we wanted to get out and see the beaches, and so we rented a scooter from J & S Scooter ATV Rentals & Tours, who were in the cruise yard near the ship.
I was a bit dubious, of course, it’s always slightly nerve-racking hiring a vehicle in a foreign country. But, spoiler, it all worked out fine.
There was another couple also interested in renting a moped at the same time which gave us a bit of time to think about things and take it slow with the booking.
In the end we got it for $90 between us, until 3pm. And could use as much petrol as we wanted.
And we were off. Ben had never ridden a moped before, but I’ve rented them all over Asia, so I drove. He had a go later, in a safer space, but it was down to me to get us out of crazy Nassau centre.
It was bizzzzzzy.
Driving in Nassau
In Nassau they drive on the left, like us Brits, so the other American couple followed us out of the city. Within a few minutes the roads eased, and we were on track for fun, with the wind in our hair. Or not, as we had helmets on. Which you should definitely do, although the rental place told us not to worry about it.
We hadn’t done any research into what to do in a day on Nassau before, so we were free and easy. We drove until our bums started to hurt – about 30 minutes later – and ended up on Saunders Beach.
It was nice, and relaxing, but, we wanted to get on. We were eager to explore, so we left after a pic and a sit down.
New Orleans Coffee Shop
After days of crappy American filter coffee I was thrilled to see the New Orleans Coffee Shop on the side of the road, and pulled over immediately. We ordered two frappaccinos (at £7 each!) and sat out the front enjoying them and watching the waves roll in.
We relaxed, made the most of the Wi-Fi and then jumped back on. Or at least, eased our legs over while making groaning noises.
We scootered on, until we came across this beach. And given the freedom of the road, we stopped to admire.
More things to do in Nassau in a day
We basically drove round the coast of the east of the island, all the way to Coral Harbour Beach, lay down for a while, and then drove back again. We stopped at these various points along the way though.
One of the best things about having the scooter on Nassau was being able to just stop when we saw a pretty scene.
Clifton Heritage Park
Our highlight of the Clifton Heritage Park was the Goboony drink. Absolutely delicious and refreshing. Although I put it on my Instagram Stories, and someone messaged to say it wasn’t allowed in England because it had so many chemicals in it. Yum.
We didn’t have enough time to make paying to get into the Clifton Heritage Park ($10) worth it, but it sounded interesting. It covers Bahamian history from the days of Christopher Columbus through to how the slave trade affected the area, and onto today.
You can also go snorkelling and explore the sculpture park too.
As you may have guessed from the name, Jaws Beach features in Jaws, the Hollywood film that’s scared people off beaches for years. This particular beach was in The Revenge movie. No worries though, there are no sharks here!
If you want to see more of the waters of Nassau then how about getting a Bahamas boat rental? There are a range of catamarans to choose from, get all your mates in and they can turn out to be a decent price for a day of fun.
There are many, many beautiful beaches to explore in Nassau. You don’t have to go far to enjoy the sea and sands. Junkanoo Beach is one of the most popular in Nassau, especially as it’s right by the port.
I found this beach to be totally overdone and after 10 minutes I’d had enough. It was obviously the beach where some cruisers had decided to spend the whole day and there was a ‘fun’ boozey atmosphere. After three hours of driving, and a bit more to look forward to, I was not on their level.
If you’re looking for a chilled day on Nassau, not too far from the cruise port, then this could be the answer. Food, drink, music, beach – all that good stuff.
I wanted to explore though, which is when I got Ben to come and see Paradise Island with me.
Driving to Paradise Island
I reeeeeally wanted to go over the bridge, although by this point Ben had had enough. We still had an hour till the bikes had to be back and so I went for it. We paid xxx for the toll to get over and drove on in.
Unfortunately our arrival at ‘Paradise Beach’ coincided with the rain. Ben lay on the beach with our stuff, while I went and got in the sea. It was ferocious. I had my new sunnies on so wasn’t taking any risks, and got out a few minutes later.
As I stood on the edge, feet in, I felt I had to get involved in a mini domestic an adult woman was having with her mum about going in. The lady wanted to, she didn’t want her to, I told her not to. To be honest I probably saved her life – there were some crazy currents in there and I didn’t fancy going in to rescue her.
I’m sure it’s fine when the weather is better, but Paradise Island didn’t turn out to be the luxury experience I’d expected when I set out for it.
We gave up and went to drop the bike back at the cruise port.
All good, and our bums were relieved it was over.
Exploring Nassau city centre
As you’d expect from a Caribbean island city, with four huge cruise ships pulled in, the traffic in Nassau Centre is pretty crazy. There’s also a whole one way system to deal with too.
We found a rum cake shop and tried a few samples in there, before investing in one to bring home. Just to mark our great day on Nassau Island.
We didn’t actually eat on Nassau, just because we knew that we could eat as much as we want, when we’re back on the ship.
Tips for driving in Nassau
I found it really easy to drive in Nassau. The roads were wide and relatively empty, and you couldn’t really go wrong. Although, we did, once. And ended up doing a very long round trip.
So, yes, Nassau is not very well sign posted, but I don’t think that needs to put you off driving there. If I can do it, 97% of other people with a driving license can.
I really liked not having a plan for our day in Nassau, but then, at the same time, I think we could’ve benefited from a little more idea of what we were doing.
We hadn’t quite realised how far we’d gone, and so the journey back to the port was a long one and our bums hurt. If you’re not used to sitting on a scooter for so long, especially with two big adults on there, you might want to check the distance you’re covering.
We were probably on it for over three hours, more like four.
Make sure you’re wearing comfy clothes if you want to go and explore Nassau. I had a satiny top on which was really hot on the bike, especially with Bens arms round me (holding on for dear life) and the pressure of driving. Thankfully I’d put a cotton dress in my bag, for the beach, and so wore this over my shorts and felt a lot better about life. I was boiling.
And of course, top tip for your day in Nassau – get back to the ship in good time!