WRITTEN BY: KRISTINE HANSEN
Bahamas Excursion Guide: See the Best of the Bahamas
You’re off the ship and free to roam the sun-dappled Bahamas. Now what? This island nation is filled with things to do that capture the pirate nostalgia as well as water sports (from kayaking in a bioluminescent bay to swimming at Blue Lagoon Island). Bahamas excursions range from foodie to fashion, arts to adrenaline. Nassau—the capital city of the Bahamas—is on the island of New Providence and home to most of the major attractions although part of the allure of the Bahamas is its staggering number of islands (around 700). While only 30 are populated, they each carry their own identity and welcome you to explore. Other islands to experience include Paradise Island (adjacent to Nassau), Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands (including Bimini).
Here are our top things to do in the Bahamas:
1. Swim or kayak at Blue Lagoon Island
Located three miles off the coast of downtown Nassau, Blue Lagoon Island—also called Salt Cay—is home to dolphins and sea lions. Most visitors like to enjoy the clear blue waters either by swimming or renting gear that could include clear-bottom kayaks (taking full advantage of the water’s glass-like surface), snorkeling gear (fins and masks) or stand-up paddle boards. Consider the Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day, for a relaxing day of lounging, laughing and lunching.
2. Shop at the Straw Market
Those straw totes linked with Bahamian culture—along with bowls, hats, dolls and mats—are sold at the famed Straw Market in Nassau, along Bay Street. Crafting items from straw isn’t a new business in Nassau: this artistic pursuit has been in practice here, as a commercial business, since the 1940s. The initial plaiting, braiding and weaving of straw was to make baskets to store fishing traps and fresh fruit but it’s since evolved into fashion, too. Nassau From Sea To Shore includes a stop at the heart of Nassau’s shopping district.
3. Swim with the Pigs
4. Experience a Fish Fry
Arawak Cay in Nassau is where you’ll find most of the fish fries, which are a tradition for Bahamians. Imagine colorful, hand-painted wooden shacks (plus a few food trucks) lined up on Western Esplanade Beach, serving up conch (a local specialty), fried fish and conch salad. Enjoy soul-warming Bahamian classics on the Tasting Nassau – Food & Cultural Walking Tour.
5. Climb Queen's Staircase
With all the island’s decadent food—much of it either fried or sweet—a little workout may be in order. The Pedal Your Way Through Nassau’s History Tour includes a stop at Queen’s Staircase, where you will hear the story of its architecture and climb the 66 steps to see the iconic Water Tower. Find it at the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau, which was built during the 1790s and the steps are named for Queen Victoria (1837-1901 reign).
6. Kayak in a Bioluminescent Bay
A bioluminescent bay is a body of water that features a blue glow (a result of creatures like plankton who live beneath the water’s surface) at sunrise or sunset, which can make your average kayak ride turn spiritual. Fortunately, there are a few in the Bahamas’ waters to explore. This is truly a natural wonder and one you’re not going to find on every Caribbean island (others are near Puerto Rico and Jamaica).
7. Sail and Snorkel
The Bahamas is a popular sailing destination. On Nassau, sail aboard a luxury yacht and then enjoy a private snorkeling adventure with expert instruction. This 4-hour excursion includes beverages and light snacks. Enjoy the ultimate in island relaxation.