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Nassau (Bahamas)

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Travel Guide Caribbean Bahamas New Providence Nassau

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Introduction

Nassau

Nassau

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Nassau, situated on the northeastern edge of New Providence Island, is the capital of the Bahamas and home to the majority of its population. Even so, with a population of around 260,000 it is still a relatively laid-back place. Nassau is also the transport hub of the Bahamas, home to its international airport and with good connections to major cities in the USA, Canada, UK and the Caribbean. While most visitors will likely be visiting on the way to a beach, the city has some attractions of its own to offer while you are in town.

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Events and Festivals

Junkanoo

This fun, cultural event is on par with Carnival in Rio, with lots of costumes and parades in the streets. It takes place in Nassau, on New Providence Island, between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with the latter having the best of it. Expect lots of color and noise (Junkanoo music), African customs, and gaudy outfits. There is also a smaller Junkanoo festival in June/July.

International Beer Festival

Fancy swilling the best of Bahamian and some international beers? The Olde Town Mall in Sandyport (at the western end of Cable Beach, Nassau) has many beers available from the UK, America, and Asia, as well as from the Bahamas. It takes place over a weekend towards the end of September, but the downer is it only runs from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m..

Bahamas Film Festival

Movies, documentaries, and animation by Bahamian film producers are shown at Nassau’s Galleria Cinemas during the Bahamas Film Festival. It takes place over a few days in early December and can be a cultural experience featuring educational programs and open and closing galas.

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Weather

Nassau has a pleasantly warm but humid climate. Compared to Caribbean cities more to the south, there are some differences regarding temperatures, mainly because it is somewhat colder during the wintermonths of November to April. Generally though, temperatures are high, with summer maximum temperatures averaging around 30 °C and minimum temperatures around 24 °C. During the wintermonths temperatures are about 5 °C lower. The rainy season lasts from May to October, with September and October being the wettest months. This is also the time (especially from August to October) when hurricanes are a possibility.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max25.6 °C25.7 °C26.7 °C27.9 °C29.6 °C31.1 °C32 °C32.1 °C31.5 °C30 °C28 °C26.4 °C
Avg Min17.1 °C17.3 °C17.9 °C19.3 °C21.1 °C23 °C23.7 °C23.8 °C23.5 °C22.3 °C20.5 °C18.4 °C
Rainfall47.2 mm49 mm54.4 mm69.3 mm104.9 mm218.9 mm160.5 mm235.5 mm163.1 mm163.1 mm80.5 mm50 mm
Rain Days8676101517191715108

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Getting There

By Plane

Bahamasair is the national airline of the Bahamas and is based at Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) near the capital Nassau. It doesn't have that many international services, but at least Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Providenciales and Havana are served. Several airlines offer flights mainly to the United States and Canada as well as several islands in the Caribbean. British Airways has flights to and from London, as well as the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands. Other airlines serving the airport are Air Canada (Toronto and Montreal), American Airlines (Dallas), Cubana (Havana), Copa Airlines (Panama City), and Air Jamaica (Kingston).

Bahamsair and several smaller airlines serve many domestic destinations, including Marsh Harbour, Abraham's Bay, Arthur's Town, Cockburn Town, Colonel Hill, Deadman's Cay, Freeport, George Town, Governor's Harbour, Matthew Town, North Eleuthera, Rock Sound, Spring Point, The Bight, Treasure Cay, Great Harbour Cay, Rum Cay, Black Point, Farmer's Car, Staniel Cay, Chub Cay, Colonel Hill, Deadman's Cay, Stella Maris, Andros Town, Bimini, Congo Town, Mangrove Cay and San Andros.

By Boat

Bahamas Ferries has car and passenger services from the capital Nassau to destinations on Eleuthera, Exumas, Andros and Abacos. Fast daily ferry services travel between Nassau and most of the main islands. The main connections are:

  • Nassau to Abacos - about 4 hours between Sandy Point, Great Abaco and Nassau
  • Nassau to Eleuthera - two-hour run from Potter’s Cay in Nassau to Harbour Island. It also runs a ferry from Potter’s Cay to Governor’s Harbour
  • Nassau to Exumas - Departs the Bahamas Ferriesdock at Potter’s Cay for the overnight journey to the Exumas. The scheduled 12-hour trip can stretch closer to 14 depending on the weather.
  • Nassau to Andros - There’s a two-hour ferry run by Bahamas Ferries from Nassau to Fresh Creek on Andros

Other services with Bahamas Ferries include Cat Island - Nassau, Driggs Hill - Nassau, Current - Nassau, George Town - Nassau and Spanish Wells - Nassau. The latter leaves Nassau at 8:00am and arrives in Spanish Wells around 10:00am, and is often advertised as a possible daytrip as well.

To add, there are watertaxis between Nassau and Paradise Island regularly making the crossings. Several other offshore islands and their neighboring cays are served by private water taxis. Also, there are about 20 mailboats serving many islands, including the Outer Islands further away to the south and southeast. Although less comfortable, they are a great but slow alternative to the normal ferries and watertaxis.

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis, often minivans and always identifiable by their yellow license plates and little Gothic blackletter "Taxi" lettering, roam the streets of Nassau. They're equipped with meters but will usually refuse to use them, so agree on the fare in advance. Expect to pay $15-$20 for even the shortest of trips from downtown to Cable beach.

By Public Transport

Minibuses (locally known as jitneys) act as the bus system of Nassau city and New Providence island. Jitneys are found on and near Bay Street. The famous #10 Jitney to Cable Beach loads passengers on George & Bay Streets (in front of McDonalds, across from the British Colonial Hilton). Other jitneys are located on Charlotte & Bay Streets. A bus will typically wait until it's full before departing. Understanding the various routes can be complex. Many have destinations painted on the bus, but there is no standard as they are run by multiple companies and individuals. Ask around for your destination. Note that there is no jitney that goes to Paradise Island (Atlantis Resort).

Journeys cost $1.25 per person, per ride. A round trip, even if not getting off the bus (ie: sightseeing), is counted as two rides. Payment is received by the driver when disembarking. No change is given, and there is no transfer credit for changing busses.

The Jitney is definitely a very inexpensive way to enjoy the local culture. Be aware that the jitneys stop operating between 6:00 and 7:00pm. The only way back to downtown after 7:00pm is by taxi which can be quite expensive. The buses (also called Jitneys) are 32-seaters and travel to many parts of the Island. They operate from 6:30am to 6:00pm daily, except on Sundays when there is limited service. The basic fare is $1 per person and $2 for areas on the outskirts of town. Exact fare is required. The schedule is as follows:

  • From Bay Street (opposite Parliament Street) to the Eastern end of the Island (including foot of the bridge to Paradise Island) and return -- Bus Numbers: 1, 9, 9A, 9B, 19, 21, 21A, 23
  • From Bay Street (opposite Market Street) to the Marathon Mall and return - Bus Numbers: 1, 1A, 3, 19, 21
  • From Frederick Street (Bay Street) to Town Center Mall and return - Bus Numbers: 4, 4A, 5, 5A, 6, 6A, 11A, 12, 15, 15A
  • From Bay Street (George Street) to Cable Beach and return - Bus Numbers: 10, 10A

By Foot

Within downtown Nassau, you could walk around. Distances are very short and a walking tour is a pleasant way of exploring downtown Nassau.

By Bike

Bicycle rental is not popular and not recommended as traffic is bad, there are many blind corners in the old streets of Nassau, and cars drive recklessly and on the left side of the road, which you may not be used to.

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Eat

Get out of the hotel and try real Bahamaian fare. You can get greasy fish, sides and desserts at one of the holes-in-the-wall in downtown Nassau for around $8. On the upscale side, there's no shortage of waterside seafood restaurants where it would be easy to part with $50 for an excellent piece of lobster. Sbarros, McDonalds and Chinese restaurants are mixed in to satisfy the budget diner or someone who has had enough conch.

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Drink

Nassau isn't a spring break mecca for nothing. The club scene is nightly and rowdy.
Drinks in clubs can get expensive, depending on the club and its location. Many locals "drink up" before going out, to defray this cost. Otherwise they may be found in the parking lots with a cooler. Expect to pay at least $4 for a beer and $5 for a cocktail. The one exception is rum, which is cheap and plentiful. Cocktails with rum at a club will be strong.

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Sleep

Many of Nassau's hotels are located outside the city core on Paradise Island or Cable Beach.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
The Towne Hotel40 George St Po Box No. 4808Hotel85

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are not common on the islands, but in Nassau you can try Cybercafe, in the Mall at Marathon. On the Outer Islands, your hotel may have a computer with Internet access for guest use. If you're traveling with your own computer, internet access via Wi-Fi hot spots is increasingly common at hotels, even in the Out Islands. Some restaurants, cafes and foodchains like McDonald's offer free wifi most of the times as well.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to The Bahamas is: 1-242. To make an international call from The Bahamas, the code is: 011

If you bring your own cell phone, be sure to switch off roaming to avoid high internet costs. It's also better for lower call rates to buy a local SIM card (make sure your phone is unlocked), and internet charges are much lower in that case as well. Sim cards and airtime credit for topping up can be purchased online at Ezminutes.com or at the local shops. To apply the phone card credit, dial *44 followed buy pin number.

Another option would be to buy a simple local phone which usually comes with some value on the card for calling and internet as well. Rates are between $0.15-$0.33 per minute for local calls and incoming calls and about a dollar more for outgoing calls within North America, more for Europe and other areas.

Post

The Bahamas Postal Service provides services in the country. Most of the kiosks selling postcards also sell the stamps you'll need to mail them, so you probably won't need to visit the post office. If you do need a post offices, general opening times are 9:00am to 5:00pm, though sometimes shorter hours are kept o the Outer Islands. If you want to send a package, it's better to use companies like UPS, DHL or FedEx, as they are fast and reliable.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 25.066127
  • Longitude: -77.339025

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This is version 24. Last edited at 13:14 on May 9, 17 by Utrecht. 11 articles link to this page.

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