Festival Place ~ A Great Beginning
The recently built Festival Place has been a great addition for tourists. Located on Prince George Wharf, the colorful 2-story building of British Colonial architecture is a welcoming sight and houses an all important information desk, sells tickets for the water taxi to Paradise Island, and has many boutiques and kiosks selling Bahamian arts & crafts, souvenirs, food, etc. There always seems to be some living steel drum musicians or guitarist strolling about.
It's a lively place and a great beginning point from which to explore all that "downtown" has to offer. Pick up maps, directions, get general information, book excursions, or walk to the other side for horse & buggy tours. See in the accompanying pictures the shuttle bus stopping by Festival Place. They have really done a particularly nice job of trying to help tourists arriving by cruise ship, but Festival Place has a lot to offer any newly arrived tourist. Don't forget --- pay for your water taxi tickets at the Festival Place info. desk here.
Across the street from here is an Christ church dating back to the 1600's a nice stop ,with memorials inside to those who once worshipped here, interesting stone architecture too.This is actually the 5th Christ Church built in Nassau and is of Gothic architecture. It is made of locally quarried cut lime-stone blocks. I remember visiting here in the 1980's with my mother so when I saw it across the way from the Pirate Museum I just had to go in . Although simple by world standards its a welcoming and peaceful church and it holds special memories of my previous and long ago visit.Related to:
- Religious Travel
Visiting the Home of Graycliff Cigars
During our latest visit to Nassau, our son requested that we visit the "Graycliff Hotel" as it is also the home of the "Graycliff Cigar Company." We didn't mind accommodating his request at all because we by all accounts the Graycliff Hotel is quite unique and beautiful and my husband was also interested in the cigar company and I didn't mind it either.
First of all, the hotel is exquisite! We were guided through the main building and then outside by an azure pool, beautiful gardens, and into another building where not only the cigar company is located, but a cigar lounge and lovely dining room. When we entered, several cigar makers were at work rolling cigars and explaining to guests how a cigar is constructed. At that visit, guests were offered the chance to do this as well. They were so willing to give advice and tips on anything related to cigar making as well as their own experiences in the industry. These people are called "torcedores" and they are professional cigar rollers. In many Caribbean countries, the cigar industry employes many women cigar rollers and they are "torcedora."
There are several packages which can be booked: Consider combining your visit here with a fine meal at the Churrascaria "Humidor" (a traditional Brazilian Rodizio barbecue restaurant with a Bahamian flair); cigar rolling lessons including a free cigar; or cigar and rum tastings. For the ultimate gift to the cigar afficionado in your life, "The Graycliff Hotel Cigar" package is the ultimate experience.
Interesting History of Graycliff Cigars
Graycliff Cigar Company has a short but interesting history. The hotel originally offered hotel guests the chance to purchase cigars from a single person rolling cigars at the entrance to their restaurant. Since January, 1997, this foray into the world of cigar making has expanded to an award winning boutique Cigar Company with 16 master rollers or torcedores, each an expert in their various format. "The Graycliff Cigar Company was founded by the Garzaroli Family when Enrico Garzaroli fell in love with cigars but was unable to find that “perfect” cigar to complement what Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant has always been known for: excellent cuisine, fine wines and luxurious accommodations."
Even more interesting facts for a cigar afficionado: "Graycliff Cigar Company’s original blend – The Graycliff – was blended by Master Torcedore Avelino Lara. Once Fidel Castro’s personal roller, Lara is famous for his creations at the El Laguito Factory outside of Havana, where he created blends for Cohiba, Davidoff and among others." Graycliff Cigars have won numerous awards.
Pictures to follow.
Graycliff Hotel, Restaurant & Cigar Company
On our most recent visit to Nassau we made a point of visiting the Graycliff Hotel, Restaurant & Cigar Company. Though not a normal tourist destination, the Graycliff may appeal to certain people for several reasons. Not only does the Graycliff have quite a colorful and historic past, it is an exclusive hotel which produces fine cigars on site, has a renowned extensive wine cellar, and has the only 5-star restaurant in the Caribbean. It embodies the quintessential ambiance of Caribbean charm with British Colonial style. It was our son's interest in the Graycliff Cigars which prompted our visit to Graycliff initially, but thankfully introduced us to its history and many charms.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Graycliff mansion (now hotel) was built in the 1700's by John Howard Graysmith, famous Caribbean pirate and Captain of the famous pirate ship, "Graywolf." While home to pirates, Graycliff was also the site of the first Anglican Church in Nassau, was once owned by a paramour of Al Capone's, was owned for a time by British Royalty and hosted celebrated personalities as Sir Winston Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Graycliff became Nassau's first inn in 1844 and for a majority of the time has served a a splendid place of retreat for well-heeled travelers such as it is today. (Call only for prices!)
The mansion-style hotel still possesses and displays many of the beautiful furnishings and antiques (fine carpets and chandeliers too) from previous owners, and each space seems to dazzle the eyes with its splendid architectural finery. A beautiful, stately Christmas tree with twinkling lights was displayed in the center hall when we visited. The estate is enclosed by marvelous, lush gardens with statuary and serene, private pools. We came upon one guest painting a water color picture just near one particularly lovely spot close to a colored-tile pool in a hidden garden.
Although I believe the hotel does not conduct tours of its grounds, day guests can enjoy an exquisite meal, visit the wine cellars (over 250,000 bottles), watch as Graycliff cigars are being hand-rolled and enjoy other sofisticated delights the hotel has to offer. For a special experience, reserve space at one of Graycliff's "Wine Luncheons" where "Guests are welcomed with a glass of champagne and led by Graycliff's Master Sommeliers for a tasting and a tour of the hotel and restaurant's acclaimed wine collection. This is followed by a delightful gourmet repast, featuring 3 courses, each carefully paired with the appropriate wines." Reservations are absolutely necessary and you must call for dates and prices!
One photo I missed getting was one the dining rooms which had been all ready set and decorated for New Year's Eve Dinner and Party later that evening. The elegant green walls made splendid backdrop for the rich, dark wood of the beautiful furnishings. White china and silver place settings surrounded centers pieces of white flowers, and elegant white feathers---the room was elegant beyond imagination! I'm sure Junkanoo was also celebrated somewhere on the grounds too!Related to:
- Wine Tasting
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
The Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation
One of the places I anticipated visiting while in Nassau was the Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emanicipation. Unfortunately for me, my family had other ideas and I did not get to see it; however, I think it is worth it is worth a mention here for others interested.
The museum is housed in a building that has its own historic past. The Vendue House, an original single storey arcaded building is thought to have been built in the 1760s and has served several functions during its lifetime. However, its most significant history linking it to its present day use was when Vendue House, then called the Nassau Market or bourse, was the building from which commodities of all kinds, including human beings in the form of African slaves, were sold.
In the early 20th century, it later housed the telegraph and telephone department, and later the electricity department. In 1992, the Bahamian government appropriately chose the Vendue House for use as a public museum to tell the social history of the Bahamas. Also important is that the museum is named for Pompey, a slave who raised a revolt against unfair conditions on the Rolle Plantation on the island of Exuma.
The museum opened with a classic exhibition on Slavery in The Bahamas. But in 2004, it hosted an important traveling exhibit featuring the recovered, "Henrietta Marie", a 300 year-old slave ship discovered in the waters off Key West by the famous, Mel Fisher. The Pompey Museum is said to have recreated the interior of the slave ship to "demonstrate the inhumane conditions experienced by Africans shackled and stacked during the 'middle passage' from West Africa to Barbados, where over half the people died during the 4 weeks at sea." The museum which is dedicated to the study of slavery, also once hosted the UNESCO/ Schomburg commemorative exhibition, "Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery. "
The Pompey Museum is still distinguishable by the pair of Corinthian columns in front, along with its traditional colonial pink paint color.
Hours: Mon. - Wed., Fri - Sat. 9:30am til 4:30pm; Thurs. 9:30am - 1:00pm; closed Sundays & Holidays
Adults: $3; Seniors & Locals: $2; Children 6-12 $1; under 5, free.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Take a Tour with 'Nassau Transportation Services'
After we got on the cruise ship our group consulted and decided we wanted to take a group tour in Nassau. since we hadn't already arranged it, we called someone back home to investigate and find a tour for us. We had picked a three hour taste of Nassau tour we'd seen advertised, but that was no longer available, so we chose a four hour private tour that would allow us to have input on where we would go and the kinds of things the tour would focus on. We could also set a time for the tour, so we decided to start at 10 am. We were directed to meet at the fountain across from the port building at that time.
The owner of this small family run company (Joe) was our tour guide and met us with a nice new 30 passenger air-conditioned bus. With only six of us, everyone got a window seat! The cost for the tour was $40 per person, which we thought was reasonable for the amount of time and the flexibility we had along with the personal attention. Our group had pretty diverse interests, so it was good to have a little more time to meet everyone's varied agendas. Joe later explained that he had gone to a local university to learn to operate a tour company and be a licensed tour operator. His wide knowledge of things Bahama and professional handling of the tour were evident throughout our time with him. We found him to be pleasant and accommodating, and really enjoyed all the things we learned and saw over the four hours.
Some of the things we saw were: Government buildings and the American Embassy, Fort Fincastle, The Queen's Staircase, Paradise Island, Atlantis Resort, neighborhoods at all economic strata, the prime minister's home, a local place by the bridge to Paradise Island for eateries, produce stalls and fresh conch stands where we saw how they opened the conchs. Joe bought the ingredients at a nearby produce stand for the fisherman to prepare a dish of fresh conch for us on the spot. Three of us tried it, and with Joe, happily slurped it all up-Yum!
Joe told us a lot of interesting things about local culture, politics and economics and answered all the questions that generated. He was also knowledgeable about local flora and fauna, and we were interested to see so many different kinds of trees and flowers and learn more about them.
We were all well satisfied with the value we got for our time and money with Joe's Nassau Transportation Services, and recommend him to anyone who wants to have a personalized experience with Nassau.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Public Beach Near the Cruise port
In the afternoon of our day in Nassau after we were done with our tour and a little shopping at the port market, my brother and I decided to stay on shore after the rest of our group went back aboard ship and see if we could get onto what looked like a public beach that we passed as we returned from the tour. We walked along as close to the water as we could for about a block away from the fort building and soon came upon a reasonable public beach, called Junkanoo Beach.
There is a nice view from there of the harbor and the light house at the end of it. There are public restrooms and concessions for food, lounge chairs and so on. Bulkheads divided off sections of the beach as you walk along it. Because it's a harbor, there's not much in the way of waves. We saw quite a few locals there, but no one approached us or tried to sell us anything. They seemed to be there to enjoy the beach as well. We did find that we needed to be a little nervous about wading barefooted when we saw some broken glass in the sand.
The tide was on its way out and any tourists had moved on, so we were putting the first footprints of the afternoon on the sand. I was surprised and pleased to find several small shells of a couple of kinds up near the bulkheads. There is also quite a bit of nubs of white coral mixed into the sand.
I'd say if someone just wanted a little inexpensive beach time without hiring transportation, this is not a bad way to do it.Related to:
National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
For Bahamian artwork, the best place to go is without a doubt the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. It is housed in the former home of chief justice William Henry Doyle (hence the name of the building, "Villa Doyle"). Amos Ferguson and Antonius Roberts are two of the more prominent artists whose works are displayed here.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Children under 12 get in free. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Seaworld Explorer cruise
There are countless water excursions offered in Nassau. The Seaworld Explorer semi-submarine cruise is one of the most original, taking you on a 45-minute cruise where you watch the sea life through its glass bottom.
The guide aboard the submarine was especially interesting and enthusiastic. In fact, when he got started on fish, he was hard to stop! There are many photo opportunities along the way, as the Seaworld Explorer makes three stops in places where fish are abundant. Just make sure you choose a clean window! I didn't, but my girlfriend did, so she was the one who took most of the pictures.
If you don't book ahead of time through the Internet, you can do like we did and ask/look around Prince George Wharf for the Seaworld Explorer stand and ask when their next available tour is. Cost is around $45/adult and $25/child. Aside from the 45-minute underwater cruise, the tour also includes ferry transportation between Prince George Wharf and the Seaworld Explorer, which is anchored some 20 minutes away in the water. On your way to the submarine, a guide will entertain you with descriptions of your surroundings in Nassau and on Paradise Island -- you may tip him if you enjoy his commentary.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Water Sports
Nassau Botanical Gardens and Zoo
We had half a day during our Cruise thru the Caribbean in Nassau, and I really did not need to do any shopping so we decided to go see the Botanical Gardens, not too far from where our ship was docked. This is a fairly institutionalized garden, with trails through flowers and trees with cages spread around every now and then holding a pretty bird or a monkey---the trail ends in a more zoo-like area with some very pretty Flamingos, but then there is a section with some cats (cheetah, etc) where they are just mindlessly pacing the cage. This is not (in my opinion) the way to showcase animals in zoos. They should have more area to roam and more areas to hide from the crowds. Anyways, This was a fairly fun way to spend a couple of hours if you are tired of shopping.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Stop and see the giant conch shell
So just make you way by and stop for a quick photo. Located near the airport. You can actually climb inside of the shell, but its very dirty and when I went in I was greeted by a hornets nest! The shell is a great representation of the Bahamas and what it stands for and is worth the quick stop!
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If you are in Nassua take the time and go diving. I dove with Stuarts Cove. They have morning and and afternoon dives. Stuarts Cove also has a shark dives you can do.
Here are the prices for the 2 tank dives. Shark dives are about 50$ more.
2 tank dive
Departure From Docks 9:00 am
Est. Return To Docks 12:00 noon
Departure From Docks 1:00 pm
Est. Return To Docks 4:00 pm
Equipment Included Tanks, Weights, & Weight Belt
Additional Required Equipment Rental Equipment Available on Site
Pre-Requisite For Participation - Certified Diver
They have a bus that will go and get you from your hotel and bring you to there shop.
7:15 am to 8:20 am Morning Pick-Ups From All Hotels & Cruise Ships 7:15 am East End / Harbour Club
7:30 am Paradise Island
7:45 am Downtown & Cruise Ships
8:00 am Cable Beach
8:10 am Orange Hill
8:20 am Lyford Cay
11:15 am to 12:20 pm Afternoon Pick-Ups From All Hotels & Cruise Ships
11:15 am East End / Harbour Club
11:30 am Paradise Island
11:45 am Downtown & Cruise Ships
12:00 noon Cable Beach
12:10 pm Orange Hill
12:20 pm Lyford Cay
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A fitting reminder that the Bahamas were once a Crown Colony of Britain, a lovely sculpture of a young Queen Victoria dressed in the robes of state, with sceptre and orb occupies a central spot just in front of pink-hued Senate Building and the closeby British Colonial architecture of the Bahamas Parliamentary buildings dating from 1805-1816.
Made of Carrara marble, the Queen Victoria sculpture is the work of John Adams-Acton. In a newsworthy ceremony documented by the "Nassau Guardian," the sculpture was unveiled on Empire Day, May, 27, 1905. His Excellency Sir William Grey-Wilson, Governor of the Bahamas from 1904-1912, performed the honors. The sculpture of course honored Queen Victoria who had died in 1901 after 64 on the throne of England.
Discovered by Christopher Columbus during his voyage of 1492, the islands were variously ruled by both the Spanish and British. The Bahamas became a British Crown Colony in 1717, and gained self-governance in 1964. Though the Bahamas gained full independence from Britain on July 10, 1973, the strong British influence in culture, architecture, language and form of government obviously remain today though its Caribbean identity is certainly evident. The Bahamas seem to be one of the most well-governed, and prosperous Caribbean nations today. It is one of my favorite ports in the Caribbean.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Blackbeard's Cay Beach/Stingray Excursion
We booked our trip through the Carnival Excursions, but you can also book directly through the Blackbeard's Cay website.
You board a boat for a 20 minute ride out to the island. There is gorgeous white sand, clear water, eating area, and friendly stingray area. You can snorkle in the water with them and also get squid from one of the guides to feed them. They also offer photos.
It was a great day, however, the only neg was all the broken beach chairs.Related to:
- Family Travel
Spend a beach day at one of the hotels
Normally I wouldn't contribute a dime to Paris Hilton's family, but beach/pool access here at the Hilton was only $20, which was a great deal compared to the other hotels. And you certainly got a good deal...the beach is beautiful and your towel and chair is included, there were plenty of sun spots and shaded spots available, pool was big and plenty of chairs, waiters came around to take your drink order, lunch type area, clean bathrooms, and a garden area with hammocks. The staff was super friendly as well.Related to:
- Spa and Resort
We spent our honeymoon here in August 2006. This is an adult, couples-only, all-inclusive resort,...more
I stopped off at the Compass Point restaurant for lunch on 10/4/2011 and ordered the grilled fish of...more
Was very disappointed when we arrived. The resort looked nothing like the pictures on the internet....more
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