How to Spend a Day in the Bahamas
It can be tempting to spend your entire Bahamas vacation soaking up sun and sipping cocktails on the beach at an all-inclusive resort. But there are plenty of reasons to explore beyond your hotel. Here are my picks for top Bahamas attractions after a recent vacation to New Providence Island:
- Scuba diving: Diving was my main inspiration for visiting the Bahamas, and I wasn’t disappointed by the marine life and extensive visibility. The island is one of the few places where you can dive with reef sharks in their natural environment. I joined a dive with Stuart’s Cove for a scenic dive along Runway Wall. We then headed to Shark Arena, where a diver in chain mail fed the swarming sharks bait from a spear. For those without scuba certification, there are plenty of snorkeling excursions available (proximity to sharks optional).
- Explore the capital city of Nassau: The main attractions are easily walkable in an afternoon. See the town courthouse, library and the Queen's Staircase, which was carved out of limestone in the late 18th century. Walk up the 65 steps commemorating the years of Queen Victoria's reign to visit Fort Nassau at the top. Pick up souvenirs at the Straw Market near the cruise port.
- Spend a day at Atlantis: From Nassau, it’s an easy and cheap ($6 roundtrip) ferry ride to Paradise Island. You can also cab over the bridge, but then you’ll miss the entertaining commentary from the ferry tour guide, who tells jokes and points out celebrity houses along the shoreline. Pack a day bag with your swimsuit and towel to take advantage of the pristine beaches and extensive pool complex of the Atlantis resort. An all-access day pass is $120 for adults, including lunch (subject to availability; prices may increase in peak season).
- Tour the island by local bus: Mini buses called jitneys run throughout the day until 8 p.m. and only cost $1 to ride. Just flag one down at the designated stops and tell the driver your destination. This is an easy and cost-effective way to circumnavigate the tiny island and search out secluded beaches away from the main tourist areas.
- Sample local fare: Take the aforementioned bus or a cab to Arawak Village (aka Fish Fry) near Nassau for a plethora of dining options. The local dish to try is cracked conch, a deep-fried mollusk. The texture is similar to calamari but less chewy, and the taste is mild and delicious. Wash it down with some thick daiquiris.
Getting there: This week the Top 20 featured discounted flights to the Bahamas from a dozen cities plus a sale from Atlantis with the lowest prices of the season, with nights starting at $130 including $500 in extras as well as an airfare credit.