Nice and Easy in Nassau
It’s hard to be stressed out in Nassau, where the pace is best described as easy-going. The capital city of The Bahamas, Nassau is located on New Providence Island and offers a unique blend of British and African customs and traditions with an international flair. And in two-and-a-half hours (non-stop from Charlotte), your family can be there.
Unless you’re accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, you’ll want to hire a taxi upon arrival. We hired Romeo as our driver of choice, a fun-loving Bahamian with stories to tell and songs to sing. He picked us up whenever we called and even helped my son crack a coconut on the roadside. Having a familiar driver made the trips more enjoyable.
Though you’ll want to spend time enjoying the beach, don’t forgo Nassau’s family-friendly attractions. The Pirates of Nassau Museum, in the heart of downtown, is a short diversion for aspiring pirates. Climb on board a replica of "Revenge," a pirate ship once home to bloodthirsty, scheming pirates and experience a pirate’s life in 1716 Nassau. Though it’s not a thrill-a-minute ride, equal to a theme park, it is fascinating and filled with trivia. Once outside the exhibit, there is a stockade and a pirate or two walking around for some memory-making family photo ops.
If you’ve never stood amid a flock of flamingos, then you simply must visit Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center, only minutes from downtown and Cable Beach; this small zoo is worthy of a visit for the world famous marching flamingo performance. A Bahamian drill sergeant marches these flamboyant pink birds through their paces with military perfection, for a show you won’t want to miss.
A short boat ride away is Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island, a habitat owned by a local family, that promotes marine conservation and education. The 3-acre island is home to bottlenose dolphins Jake and McGyver, from the 1995 movie, "Flipper" and many others, plus a few rescued sea lions. If you go for a "dolphin swim," you’ll find yourself in the water receiving dolphin hugs, kisses and even a "push" across the lagoon. Being propelled through the water by a dolphin is the experience of a lifetime. If you’ve got the urge to splurge, this is the activity!
Need to relax? There’s plenty for the kids to do on the 3,000-foot stretch of sand known as Cable Beach. The recently renovated Sheraton proudly stands overlooking acres of spectacular pools, waterscapes and white sands to marvel beaches anywhere in the world. A beach volleyball court and water toys, including giant wheeled water-bikes, are only a few of the kid-friendly distractions.
Poolside games and activities keep the lively feeling going all day. Nearby, a winding pool with water cascading over rock formations sits next to the newly built Kids Clubhouse. And for the parents, a swim-up bar is nearby.
Seafood is the specialty here. For dinner, take a 15-minute taxi ride to Paradise Island to take in the street life at Marina Village at Atlantis where you’ll find Bimini Road — a Caribbean cafe with choices for everyone. Stay for the Junkanoo parade — a traditional, colorful procession that snakes through the street inviting guests to join the fun.
Avoiding the Bahamas during high season, mid-December to mid-April, will save your family a bundle (sometimes 20-60 percent). Hurricanes are infrequent here, so traveling during the hurricane season, officially June-November, is a great way to avoid the crowds and high prices. Find out all you need to know online and make a plan to escape to paradise with your family.
Where to Stay
Sheraton Cable Beach Resort
West Bay Street, Nassau, Bahamas
Romeos Executive Limo & Taxi
What to Do
Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center
Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island
The Pirates of Nassau Museum
King and George St.
Find Out More
Eve White is the Editor of Charlotte Parent magazine