Ooooh, I Wanna Take You to Bermuda, Bahama, Come on WanderMama!
Food, shopping, and excursions galore – Nassau is an enormous port with an even larger portfolio of entertainment to offer you and your family.
Unlike some other Caribbean ports, when you stop in Nassau you aren’t just visiting a smaller island or cruise resort; you’re visiting an entire city, the capital of The Bahamas to be exact. This is exciting! Larger cities offer such a diversity of activities to choose from and this gives you and your family the chance to do something truly unique and memorable.
Nassau’s cruise terminal is located on the northeast coast of the island. Nassau is a DOCKED port (for more information on what this means, see my Tender Ports vs. Docked Ports page). After docking and exiting the ship, you’ll enter the Cruise Welcome Center, a quaint tourist area with music, food, and straw market vendors set up for shopping. I do recommend venturing further into downtown but if you’re short on time, you’ll be satisfied with the Nassau-at-a-glance offered in The Cruise Welcome Center.
If you do forge ahead, directly in front of the Cruise Welcome Center is Bay Street, the heart of downtown and main tourist thoroughfare in Nassau. Bay Street is the starting point for the parade of shops and restaurants you’ll find throughout downtown. From American food to authentic Bahamian cuisine and everything else in between, you will NOT go hungry in Nassau. I promise.
You also won’t have a hard time finding a place to spend all your money. Nassau is a shopper’s paradise! From designer boutiques, to souvenir shops (I’ve seriously never seen so many souvenir shops), to straw market vendors, Nassau could easily be the one-stop shopping destination on your entire trip. Don’t let Nassau fool you though, one of the things I love about this port is its versatility. In addition to ample shops and restaurants, the Bay Street area also offers a handful of museums and other landmarks to explore with your family if you want a break from the sand and sun.
Okay mamas, I’m going to be completely honest. If you have younger kids, they’re likely going to ride the struggle bus spending ALL day in downtown Nassau. There’s only so much shopping littles can take before they get hangry and bored and tired of seeing the same souvenirs, and the museums are interesting but only for a little bit unless you’re a tween or teen.
If you can swing it financially, book an excursion in Nassau to keep the whole family happy, especially if you plan on being off the ship for the majority of the day. The good news is Nassau is THE PLACE to book an excursion. Nassau offers some incredible opportunities you may not find in other ports: swimming with marine life, scuba diving, jet boat and jeep adventures, activities at the Atlantis resort, parasailing, scavenger hunts, and lots of relaxing beach time. An excursion will give you enough time to shop and explore downtown Nassau but will also give you an out before the kids (and you) start to get antsy.
It’s important to know there is NO direct beach access from the port in downtown Nassau. If you want to get to the beach you’ll have to book an excursion through your cruise line or find your own way there. Due to safety concerns and travel alerts, it’s not recommended that you travel or take a taxi independently to find a beach or other activity to do unless you’re familiar with the island. Nassau is very safe, but with vendors who are thoroughly vetted and regulated by the government. With any excursion you book in Nassau, whether it’s a beach day or something more adventurous, it’s safest to book directly through your cruise line.
Extra excursions cost extra money and if this isn’t an option for you, fear not! Nassau can still be a fun, memorable stop for you and the family.
I recommend shopping and exploring downtown Nassau for the morning and early afternoon. Yes, there are lots of souvenir shops but there are also lots of ICE CREAM shops and ice cream makes everyone happy. There’s also plenty of affordable restaurants to grab lunch while you’re downtown, but since Nassau is a docked port you could also walk back to the ship for free lunch onboard. You can venture back out into town after lunch or you could stay on the ship and enjoy the amenities. Most passengers will still be off the ship so this could be a great time for the kids to have the pool to themselves and for you to hit up the hot tub without the crowds. The kids might really enjoy the break…and you might really NEED it.
Nassau has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, you’ll find it waiting for you in this beautiful, bustling Bahamian paradise.