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Bahamas Places of Interest

 

 

 

 

 

The Bahamas has myriad places of interest and things for visitors to see and do. Each island has unique attractions. There are historic sites, scenic locations, national parks, nature trails and gardens and all of these places of interest provide interesting things to see and do when on a vacation. Below are some of the places to visit in the Bahamas.

bulletNassau
bulletGrand Bahama Island
bulletSan Salvador
bulletCat Island
bulletAbacos
bulletAndros
bulletEleuthera
bulletLong Island
bulletThe Exumas

 

Nassau

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center

At Ardastra Gardens more than 300 birds, mammals and reptiles from the Islands of the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Latin America and around the world are on display among acres of lush tropical gardens. Created in 1937, the gardens have matured into a contemplative setting bursting with color. The 5 acres of gardens are populated by exotic fruit trees, coconut palms, bromeliads, orchids and hibiscus blossoms. A nature reserve, a place to beat the stress of daily life, Ardastra Gardens attracts wild birds of all species, some on a migratory path, others just being neighbourly and searching for the same pleasure the visitors seek - a feeling of peace, of being one with nature in a setting that is as quiet as it is colorful. In addition the gardens host daily shows of the world famous marching Flamingos. The zoo invites visitors to take time out to stroll along the winding garden pathways, watch the tropical birds fly overhead or sit back on a limestone bench to enjoy the scenery.

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Colonial Architecture

Nassau has retained much of its older architecture and blended it with modern buildings so that it creates a harmonious whole with several places of interest. The original part of the city is small enough that you can wander along and see much of the historic architecture. Parliament Square with the Houses of Parliament, the Old Colonial Secretary’s office, the Supreme Court and the Statue of Queen Victoria is definitely worth a visit. Nearby at Parliament and Shirley Streets is the Nassau Public Library that was originally a prison. Not far away at Shirley and Elizabeth Streets is the Bahamas Historical Society with numerous exhibits.

Fort Charlotte
One of the historic places of interest in Nassau is Fort Charlotte which is the biggest British-built fort in the Bahamas. The fort was constructed between 1787 and 1790 for the purpose of defending Nassau Harbour’s westerly entrance. Visitors can take free tours of the fort given by guides in period costume during which they will get to see the moat and drawbridge, the dungeon and the ramparts. Fort Charlotte is the largest of three forts located in the capital city of Nassau.

Fort Montagu

Built in 1741 of local limestone, Fort Montagu is the oldest fort still standing on the island of New Providence. It is at the eastern end of Nassau harbour along the waterfront.

Villa Doyle, National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

The building housing the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is a historic place of interest. It was built around the 1860's and the owner was Chief Justice Williams Henry Doyle. It was acquired by the government of The Bahamas and restored as The National Art Gallery. The gallery focuses primarily on the work of contemporary Bahamian artists. The collection of ceramics, paintings, sculptures, photography and textiles also includes work by such notable Bahamian artists as Amos Ferguson, Maxwell Taylor and Antonius Roberts. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Gregory Arch

Another historic place of interest is Gregory Arch. When you pass through this stone arch on Market Street, you cross the line that divides downtown Nassau from the rest of the city. Built in 1852, the tunnel leads to the community known as Over-The-Hill and the old settlements of Grants Town and Bain Town.

Pirates of Nassau Museum
In the 18th century, Nassau was the home of pirates and the Pirates of Nassau Museum allow visitors to revisit the time when pirates ruled the roost. This interactive museum allows visitors to become stowaways aboard a replica pirate ship and learn what life was like at sea, visit Nassau's former shanty town, find out how infamous pirates met their end, and see astonishing artifacts left over from the Golden Age. The Pirates of Nassau Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 6 PM and Sunday from 9 AM to noon.

Queen's Staircase
Created by slaves between the years 1793 and 1794, the Queen's Staircase is one of Nassau's most popular architectural attractions. The steps were carved from a solid limestone wall and designed as an escape route from neighboring Fort Fincastle. They also served as a lookout for invading marauders and pirates. Later, the 65 steps were named the Queen's Staircase in honor of Queen Victoria's 65 years of reign. The Queen's Staircase is a gateway to many of the city's major attractions including the Straw Market, Christ Church Cathedral and Pompey Museum.

The Pompey Museum at Vendue House

Vendue House or the Bourse as it was also known, was built sometime before 1796 and continued to function as a market place where African Slaves and various commodities were sold until the late 1800's. "Vendue" is a French word meaning sold. In 1992 the Bacardi Corporation provided a generous grant to restore this historic building to its 19th century architectural charm and make it into a museum. The Museum is named after a slave, Pompey, who lived at Steventon, Exuma: one of five estates owned by Lord Rolle in Exuma. Pompey's generation, as part of their resistance, claimed the land and set up their own commonage. Located on historic Bay Street, the Pompey Museum features a permanent collection of articles, photos and artifacts that chronicle the slave trade, daily conditions for slaves, the abolition movement and emancipation in 1834. Visitors to the Pompey Museum should also take time out to visit the art gallery on the second floor, where they will find an impressive collection of work by renowned local Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson.

The Pompey Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM.

Straw Market
Straw is the name given to dried palm leaves and sisal plant leaves which Bahamian women use to make hats, bags, baskets and dolls. The straw market on Nassau's Bay Street is one of the world's largest straw markets and is one of the most popular attractions in Nassau. In addition to straw items visitors can also obtain jewelry and wood carvings. The Straw Market is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Most vendors only accept cash as payment.

Versailles Garden and French Cloister
An attraction that is just 15 minutes walk from Atlantis Resort is the Versailles Garden and French Cloister. Visitors can wander through manicured lawns fringed with flowering plants and adorned with statues of historical and mythological figures. At the top of the garden is a reconstructed French monastery. There is a lovely gazebo that overlooks Nassau Harbour. The grounds are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Admission is free.

The Caves

The Lucayans, the former residents who lived on The Islands Of The Bahamas from around the 10th century to Christopher Columbusí time, once used these caves. They are located a little west of Cable Beach.

Bahamas Lighthouse Museum

Situated at the corner of Bay and East Streets is the Bahamas Lighthouse Museum. Open Monday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, there is a charge for admission to the Museum by adults but children are free.

Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island
Blue Lagoon island (Salt Cay) is just three miles northeast of Paradise Island and is a secluded three-mile-long islet with powdery white sands, a meandering lagoon, palm trees and tropical birds. The island is home to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions and visitors can interact with these amazing sea creatures. You can participate at the Dolphin Swim or the Dolphin Encounter or join in the Sea Lion Encounter.

 

Places of Interest on Grand Bahama Island

Fragrance of the Bahamas Perfume Factory
At the Fragrance of the Bahamas Perfume Factory visitors can take a tour of the factory and see the process by which perfume is made. Located in a replica of a 19th century Bahamian Mansion, visitors can also take part in the hand mixing process and bottle their own special blend. Tours of the Fragrance of the Bahamas Perfume Factory run Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM and Saturday from 11 AM to 3 PM. Tours are free.

 

Pinetree Stables Eco Tour
Visitors can uncover the beauty of Grand Bahama Island on an exhilarating horseback adventure with the Pinetree Stables Eco Tour. Located between the International Market and Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport, Pinetree Stables offers two-hour excursions with experienced tour horses and friendly guides. A unique and fun way to see Grand Bahama, the tour takes riders along winding wooded trails past historic sites such as Cooper's Castle, through the Hardwood Coppice, over dunes and onto a secluded beach. To top off the tour, riders take an unforgettable splash through the pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea atop their horses.

Pinetree Stables Eco Tours run daily at 9 AM and 11:30 AM. Minimum rider age is 8 years old. Reservations are required. Riders should wear long pants and plan on getting wet.

Pinder's Point Lighthouse

During the late 1700’s the point of entry to Grand Bahama island was an inlet surrounded by treacherous shoals. To warn ships of the shoals, a lighthouse was built just west of the settlement of Pinder’s Point.

Fern Gully & Josie Trail Tour

Utilized by residents in the Holmes Rock community to escape hurricanes in the early centuries, this unique cave sits behind a local night club. It is over 200 yards in diameter and produces fresh water at low tide and salt water at high tide. The nature trails leading to and from the caves are fertile with native vegetation which produces a variety of herbal cures referred to as "bush medicine," in addition to flowering plants, wild berries and plums that have been historically popular with the native residents in the area.

Eight Mile Rock Boiling Hole

The Boiling Hole is well known for its occasional swirling movement of water in the cave-area, which flows beneath the roadway. Experimental studies have confirmed that the hole is the entry way to an underground cavernous connection across the island of Grand Bahama. This is also one of the sites explored by Jacque Cousteau.

Lucayan National Park

At the Lucayan National Park there are nature trails and boardwalks that lead to a variety of ecosystems. Within the park is one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world and there are two large caves that are open to the public. Swimming in the caves is prohibited; diving requires a special permit. Picnic tables are located on the beach.

Peterson Cay National Park

One mile offshore of Grand Bahama Island is the Peterson Cay National Park. Active coral reefs surrounding the cay provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling or diving. The cay is also perfect for picnics and relaxation.

Garden of The Groves

One of the most visited places of interest on Grand Bahama is The Garden of the Groves which has more than 10,000 species of flowers, shrubs, trees, and exotic plant life. The garden attracts many birds and butterflies. Along its shaded, winding paths are several waterfalls and an old-fashioned chapel on the hill is a favorite place for weddings, prayer or meditation.

 

Places of Interest on San Salvador

A place of historic interest because of the belief that it was Columbus’ first Bahamian discovery, San Salvador is a small island with a correspondingly small population (about 1,000 permanent residents). The island offers places of interest such as the Catedral Metropolitana, where Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, is buried and Puerta del Diablo (Devil’s Port), from where fantastic panoramic views over the city and the mountains are possible.

Dixon Hill Lighthouse, San Salvador
Located on a former plantation owned by John Dixon, this old lighthouse operates the old fashioned way. Constructed in 1887 by the Imperial Lighthouse Service, this lighthouse is fuelled by kerosene that is pumped to the top to light the "mantle". This hand-operated, kerosene lit lighthouse (400,000 candles) is the last of its kind in the Bahamas. You can climb to the top of the 160 foot structure and see the machinery plus get great island views.

Landfall Park, San Salvador
This park is a historic site because on 12 October 1492, Christopher Columbus landed at Fernandez Bay (Long Bay) on San Salvador. There is a large white cross to commemorate the landing of Columbus. In fact it is Columbus who gave the island its present name calling it San Salvador (Holy Saviour) in thanks to God for carrying him safely across the ocean.


New World Museum, San Salvador
Located at Cockburn Town, this museum, founded in 1958 by Ruth Durlacher Wolper, houses paintings of Columbus' landfall, artifacts from an original Arawak settlement, and Lucayan pottery. 

Watling's Castle San Salvador

In the 17th century British Pirate Captain George Watling took over the island, making it his headquarters and named it Watling Island, after himself. The island retained this name until 1925 when it reverted to the name given by Columbus. This old pirate palace is now a visitor attraction that is located 85 feet above sea level. It is a short climb up the hill to see the ruins of the house and slave quarters plus there are great views from the hilltop.

Farquharson Plantation
Known locally as "Blackbeard's Castle" because he may once have held court here, these are the most famous plantation ruins in The Bahamas. They include what might have been a great house, a prison and a kitchen. There is also a cattle trough cut out of solid rock.


Fortune Hill Plantation, San Salvador
This former plantation lies at the edge of Starrs Lake at the midpoint of San Salvador’s eastern coast. It was established by Burton Williams, who when the soils gave out, left The Bahamas sometime in the early l800s for Trinidad, taking a number of his two hundred slaves with him. Many of the plantation buildings still exist today. One of these buildings is the library which is a polygonal building with an excellent view. The native stone walls appear as solid today as they were almost two hundred years ago. An exploration of this area opens a window on a bygone age which helped to form the economic, sociological and demographic patterns of the Bahamas and much of the Caribbean.

 

Cat Island

Cat Island - Hermitage on Mt. Alvernia

The highest point in the Bahamas stands at 203 feet and is called Mount Alvernia. Atop Mount Alvernia stands The Hermitage, a medieval monastery that was built by a Roman Catholic priest in 1939. Monsignor John Hawes, known by Cat Islanders as Father Jerome, was a skilled architect and sculptor.

 

Places of Interest in the Abacos

Hope Town Lighthouse

The Hope Town Lighthouse is located on Elbow Cay, which is just off of Great Abaco Island. This lighthouse is a unique attraction for several reasons. Firstly it is one of the few remaining lighthouses in the Caribbean that is still man-operated. Constructed in 1863, the lighthouse uses pirate cannon balls as the powering weights in a grandfather clock type chain mechanism. This lighthouse is also a unique visitor attraction because it is one of the three remaining kerosene powered lighthouses in the world. To climb to the top of this 120 foot lighthouse, there are 101 steps but once at the top you have a breathtaking view of the outlying Parrot Cays and Elbow Cay's enclosed harbor. In addition this red and white striped lighthouse makes the harbour seem picture postcard perfect.

Wyannie Malone Museum

The Wyannie Malone Museum, in one of the oldest houses in Hope Town on Elbow Cay, is named after the settlement's founder. Filled with simple treasures donated by island residents, the museum traces the history of Hope Town through photos, documents, and maps, as well as china, quilts, and other heirlooms. At the Wyannie Malone Museum, you will also find exhibitions on Lucayan Indians and Loyalist settlers are on display.

Cetacean Museum
The Cetacean Museum in Hope Town is dedicated to whaling and has whale bones, old whaling charts and maps. Admission is free.

Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden

The Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden on Green Turtle Cay is laid out in a Union Jack pattern and was set up to commemorate the Abacos residents who have made important contributions to the history of the island. Within the garden there are stone plaques and sculptures. Admission is free.

Albert Lowe Museum

The Albert Lowe Museum is another of the places of interest in the Abacos. Located on the southern end of Green Turtle Cay in the village of New Plymouth the museum has artifacts, displays and paintings depicting the life of the British Loyalists who fled from America to the Bahamas.

Other Green Turtle Cay Places of Interest

Other Green Turtle Cay Places of Interest include its 200+ year old cemetery, the island's original jail, a rather amazing model schooner crafting shop.

Manjack Cay Nature Walk

On the Southeastern side of Manjack Cay in the Abacos, which is a small island just off of Great Abaco Island there is a to a well-marked and clearly identified Nature Trail. Apart from giving the visitor an exposure to the flora of the islands, the trail leads to the Manjack look-out tower. The tower provides extraordinary vistas of the island's Atlantic side and its miles-long beach.

Abaco - Wild Horses

On the island of Abaco are wild horses that are genetically pure Spanish Barbs. Bred to survive long sea journeys and harsh conditions, they have survived over the centuries. The Government of Abaco has established a preserve for the horses. Some walking usually needed to reach the horses but on a visit to the preserve you can spend as much time as you like. You can hike the old logging roads and the lovely fenceline trail. There is great bird watching plus you can bring lunch and swim in the serene Blue Hole.

 

Places of Interest on Andros

Native Colony Ruins

About a half-mile south of Pleasant Harbour, on the inland side, are eight stone buildings dating back to the 1930s that represent the old Bahamian style of architecture. They are open for exploration and are excellently preserved.

Morgan's Bluff
During the 1700's pirates occupied the island of Andros and legend has it that the famous pirate, Henry Morgan, buried his treasure in this area.
 
Bird Rock Lighthouse

This striking white lighthouse on Andros is named after the ospreys that nest there.

 

Places of Interest on Eleuthera

Spanish Wells Museum

For a peek into the island's history and culture, be sure to visit the exhibits at the Spanish Wells Museum, open from 10:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Glass Window - Eleuthera

The Glass Window on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas is an attraction that shows the work of the sea on the coral. This geological formation is the narrowest point on Eleuthera with the distance from the ocean to the bay being less than 100 feet. There are some other natural attractions that are quite close to the Glass Window, one of these is known as the Queen's Baths and the other is called the Boiling Hole. The Queen's Bath is best visited at low tide while the Boiling Hole is best seen at High Tide.

Devils Backbone

The Devil's Backbone is a reef that runs parallel to the beach at Harbour Island and is just a few yards offshore so that it is an easy swim to access the reef. The reef earned its name because of the many ship wrecks that it has caused and it is these shipwrecks along with its natural beauty that have made it a place of interest. Scattered around the Devil's Backbone are an unbelievable collection of shipwrecks that are visited by scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. One of the unique attractions on the reef is the "train wreck"--a steam locomotive that sank (along with the barge carrying it) in 1865 while heading to Cuba. The "Cienfuegos", a 200-foot steamer, lies in pieces along the ocean floor nearby, along with other freighters like the "Vanaheim" and the "Carnarvon." The reef also has an amazing diversity of underwater life with elkhorn-shaped coral and lacy sea fans plus bulbous brain coral along with schools of rainbow-colored fish.

Preacher's Cave

The Preacher's Cave is a historic place of interest in the Bahamas. Given its name because this large cave on northern Eleuthera resembles a church, this cave was also used as a church by the early European settlers to Eleuthera who were shipwrecked on the Devil's Backbone. The Preacher's Cave is also the site of the first discovery in the Bahamas of an intact burial of a Lucayan, complete in all but her skull and feet. It is believed that the skull and feet were destroyed in the 1600's when a grave was dug to bury a settler as the cave was also used as a cemetery by the European settlers in the 17th century. Within the cave has also been found artefacts from the 17th century. Outside the cave is a beautiful pink sand beach.

Hatchet Bay Cave
Located in the countryside of Eleuthera, this beautifully vaulted, mile long, three level cave is made of limestone and populated with bats, and a water room. Explorers used the tar weeping from the rocks to write on the walls. Beautiful stalagmites and stalactites can be seen throughout the cave. This cave was purported to have been used by pirates to hide their treasures.

 

Places of Interest on Long Island

Columbus Point

On the northern most tip of Long Island, there is a 15 ft tall stone obelisk memorial erected to Christopher Columbus. Getting to the spot is a bit of a trek with a slight climb but well worth the effort as it is a scenic lookout point offering spectacular panoramic views of the coast. The area also has great snorkelling and scuba diving with an amazing combination of hard and soft corals.

Crooked Island Caves, Long Island
These dark, mysterious caves offer spectacular views of oddly-shaped rock formations.

Deadman's Cay Caves
This cave is so extensive, it hasn't all been mapped yet.

Hamilton's Cave
One of the Bahamas largest cave systems is located at Hamilton's on Long Island. This cave is a historic place of interest as artifacts and prehistoric cave drawings from the Lucayan Indian tribe—the first known settlers in The Bahamas—were discovered in Hamilton’s Cave on Long Island. Visitors can explore the ancient cave system, view historical cavern drawings, and see the remains and relics of the early history of The Bahamas.

Mortimers Cave,
In this cave 3 Lucayan ceremonial stools were discovered n 1988, you can go on a guided tour and learn about the discovery.

Dunmore's Cave,
This cave has two tunnels with one tunnel leading to the ocean. On the walls of the cave are old Lucayan Indian drawings.

 

Places of Interest on the Exumas

Rolle Town Tombs

Here, in the middle of a secluded clearing, lay three tombs--one small, one medium and one large. The biggest is shaped like a double bed with a headboard and footboard.

 

Thunderball Grotto - Great Exuma

Thunderball Grotto on Great Exuma was one of the sites used in the filming of two James Bond movies, Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. This is a fantastic underwater cave that snorkellers are sure to enjoy. Visiting the cave is done at low tide when you can truly enjoy many varieties of colorful fish, corals, sponges and other sea life. You can swim through the grotto's many entrances and passageways. While in the grotto if you gaze skyward you will see light streaming through the roof where rainfall erosion has created natural skylights.

 

To learn more about the outdoor adventure in the Bahamas, visit our other pages:

bulletAn introduction to the Bahamas
bulletOutdoor Recreation around Nassau
bulletOutdoor recreation on Grand Bahama island
bulletOutdoor recreation on the other islands of the Bahamas
bulletBahamas Fishing
bulletBahamas Beaches
bulletInfo on Other Islands in the Bahamas

 

 

 

 

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Last modified: April 15, 2009