Mention the name The Bahamas and sparkling
blue water with pink or white sand beaches spring to mind. Conch fritters, Conch salad,
700 islands, duty free shopping and Junkanoo are all terms that are synonymous with the
Bahamas. This island nation has a total land area of 5,300 square miles and consists of
700 islands plus 2,500 cays (low banks or reefs). New Providence Island on which Nassau
(the capital) is located is 21 miles by 7 miles. Paradise Island, which is 5.5 miles long
by 2/3 of a mile wide is connected to Nassau by a short bridge. Thousands of tourists
visit Nassau every year to enjoy the clear water or place their bets at the gambling
tables on Paradise Island.
Nassau however has myriad outdoor recreational activities that are perfect for burning
off the pounds gained from eating all those conch fritters or adding some variety to your
holiday. For the business person who wants to catch some recreational activity on a
business trip or the individual who wants to get some fresh air after all the time at the
gambling tables, Nassaus outdoor recreation can be all day or just a few hours.
Those sparkling blue waters make Nassau an ideal location for snorkeling. Some of the
more popular snorkeling destinations for excursions leaving from Nassau include Rainbow
Reef, Blue Lagoon Island (home to Stingray City as well as other snorkeling venues),
Blackbeard's Cay, Pearl Island, and Rose Island Reef. Rainbow Reef is approximately 45
minutes from Nassau by catamaran or other high-speed boat. The water at Rainbow Reef is
about 15 feet deep throughout the viable swimming and snorkeling area. Blue Lagoon is a
circular island encircling water. A narrow opening in the land leads into a large pool of
water. A 15-minute walk through some of the most beautiful beaches and on bridges spanning
absolutely calm sparkling blue water leads to Stingray City. Another stingray encounter
can be had at Pearl Island which is a 30-minute boat ride from Nassau. Yellow tail
snapper, Grouper, and many other fish make Athol Island in Athol Island National Marine
Park at the eastern end of Nassau Harbor an outstanding snorkel site.
While in Nassau you can take an underwater cruise in your own submarine. It is perfect
for swimmers and non-swimmers alike, youll zoom effortlessly around the coral
gardens on your SUB (Scenic Underwater Bubble) submarine. It's a truly unique experience,
offering a memorable opportunity to interact with Nassau's colorful tropical fish and
Those staying in Nassau can also experience the outdoor underwater adventure that is
scuba diving amid feeding sharks. Here divers kneel on the ocean floor forming a
semi-circle around a professional shark feeder and get to see the behavior of sharks as
The sparkling blue waters also make Nassau a wonderful location for the sport
fisherman. Fishing charters are available for half day or full day with a choice of
deep-sea fishing or reef fishing. Wahoo are abundant between November to January and 100
pounders are frequent. Dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi) are found between April and June, while
Sailfish can be fought during April and May and again between October and November.
Barracuda and Marlin (Black, Blue and White) are found year round.
For the landlubber, there is off-road cycling, away from traffic and noise. On
all-terrain bicycles, you can enjoy a guided tour of shady woodland trails, open forest,
the seashore and mangrove creeks and visit the historic village of Adelaide. You can have
a relaxed, easy ride or a longer route. For the seasoned cyclist there are more
The Bahamas sits on the migration route for birds moving north and south on their
winter and spring migrations. As such there are two opportunities to see many northern
species. Of course, no visit to the Bahamas would be complete for a birder without viewing
the Bahama Pintail duck (also known as the White-cheeked Pintail). These inhabitants of
lagoons and mangrove swamps are widely distributed and the clear water of the mangroves
makes viewing them a pleasure. Other species that are generally seen include eurasian
collared doves, neotropic cormorants, american coot, great blue herons, snowy egrets,
great egrets, reddish egrets, green herons, white ibis, blue winged teal, northern
mockingbirds. Some of the locations for viewing various species include the Paradise
Island ponds, Clifton Heritage site and the Harold & Wilson ponds.
For those who want to be outdoors but simply want a walking pace, Nassau has retained
much of its older architecture and blended it with modern buildings so that it creates a
harmonious whole. 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 Secretarys 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.
If it is "action" and people watching you seek, Arawak Cay is not to be
missed. This lively gathering spot has a row of small wooden restaurants fronted by a
large park and backed by the sea. You can sit on the verandah of any of the restaurants or
in the open air and watch the parade of people as they stroll by. Have a Kalik (Bahamian
Beer) and enjoy the West Indian atmosphere and when hunger strikes you can have a conch
salad or conch fritters or fried fish prepared before your eyes.
So the next time you are in Nassau or if it is your first time remember there is an
interesting world to discover beyond the beach.
To learn more about the Bahamas, visit our other Bahamas Pages