Updated: Nov 20
Nassau, Bahamas is one of the most frequently visited weekend destinations for cruisers from Florida. A three night cruise sets sail Friday evenings and lets you linger only miles offshore from the Florida coastline for a weekend of "something different". But the shame is, most of these cruisers have no idea what to do when they get to Nassau. Many people step off the boat, see the grungy, crowded port area, and get right back on the boat, missing all the treasures that can be found on foot just minutes away.
Seriously, just about everyone I talk to thinks it's not worth getting off the ship in Nassau. Those who do will buy into the tours like visiting Atlantis, swimming with dolphins, or other marine activities, and that's cool - but not a good way to experience Nassau's cruise port at its heart. Below you'll find a walking route that will take you past the grit of the port and into foodie heaven. Trust me, with this walking route you'll be sure to share my opinion that it is definitely worth getting off the ship for!
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You might notice on this journey that the majority of these places are part of Graycliff. Enjoy bouncing around the little street of options!
Get Off The Ship For: Colonial Era Vibes and Coffee
Walking time from the ship: 10 minutes
Time spent: 25 minutes
What to do there: Someone will greet you at the front door. Ask if you can sit in the lobby for a coffee.
Tour options: Feeling fancy? Opt in for an afternoon tea instead of coffee.
Enjoy jovial service from a tuxedoed butler while sipping cappuccino or espresso.
Soak in the cool air wafting in the windows and vibes spinning off the vintage vinyl records.
Set your eyes around the colonial era parlor including a piano and wraparound dining deck and transport yourself to times past, when they were under British rule
Nice clean bathrooms here too!
Pro Tip: Prepare to pay for very expensive coffee and a large tip. They work hard for it!
Get Off the Ship For: Handmade Chocolate
Walking time from stop 1: 3 minutes
Time spent: 10 minutes
What to do there: you can pay for a chocolate factory tour, or just try a free sample in the shop. Create your own chocolate box with mix and match pricing. Try the spicy chocolates - mmm!
Tour options: Make your own chocolate with this cool hands-on tour!
Get Off The Ship For: Handmade Cigars in Action
Walking time from stop 2: 2 minutes
Time spent: 5 minutes
What to do there: A little awkward to watch the ladies while they work, you'll want to quickly shuffle into the 'viewing room', snap some pics, and leave to the parlor area where you can choose to purchase and/or smoke a cigar or have a cocktail. It's a smoky place, so we decided to move on without staying longer. Cool to see the handiwork in motion though!
Tour options: try this tour where you get to do the cigar rolling!
Get Off The Ship For: Sampling Bahamian Wine
Walking time from stop 3: 2 minutes
Time spent: 30 minutes
What to do there: For a small fee you can have a tasting flight, or sample a couple for free. Surprisingly, the wines were fun and flavorful ranging from fruit flavored Bahamian wines to dry Italian grape wines. Bottles are cheap souvenirs to bring back on the ship!
Tour options: Become a wine maker for a day with this cool tour.
Pro Tip: Save the chocolates you bought across the street - great for pairing with your red tastings!
Get Off The Ship For: A Free Rum Tour
Walking time from stop 4: 5 minutes
Time spent: 30 minutes
What to do there: Greeted with a free rum cocktail sample, expect a quick introduction to the distillery history before a visit to the onsite distillation facility. The tour is free and only takes about 10 minutes, but you will be tempted to join the long line of other tourists buying up the goods - this is the only place you can purchase their rum! While your friends wait in line, you can purchase a rum sample flight at the bar in the gift shop, or if you fancy a cocktail you can wash that down alongside a food truck offering up grub in the front lawn of the estate.
Get Off The Ship For: A National Art Museum
Walking time from stop 5: 2 minutes
Time spent: 40 minutes
What to do there: Admission is $5-10. Enjoy the wraparound deck views and the rotating exhibits on display. This air conditioned spot has a nice gift shop and beautiful local artistry. Worth a pause from the drinking!
Get Off The Ship For: Fresh Seafood at Potter's Cay Docks
How to Get There: I do not recommend walking. A bunch of taxis drive past the Bay Street area down the hill towards the port. Keep walking til you find a taxi! Ask to go to Potter's KEY (cay is pronounced key!)
A 10 minute taxi will run you $20 USD CASH (there is no meter, they will just give you a price) and there are no return taxis once you get there.
Pro Tip: Ask the same driver to pick you up (set a time) - he will be there and expect to pay the same amount in return to the ship.
Time spent: 1-2 hours, expect slow service. You are on island time. Don't miss your ship!
What do do there:
Eat conch. Conch fritters, conch salad (a must), and if you see "lobster snack" on the menu? You want that. Any of the vendors are good and all sell the same stuff. Only a few vendors were open when I went, so just pick one.
Enjoy crystal clear water views from your table of the sea life including sting rays and other fish.
Bring home a conch shell, from a local vendor (I paid $7 for mine and got to strike up a good conversation with a local while he cleaned it). Just keep in mind it will stink up your stateroom!
Try the local beer - Kalik!
Pro Tip: There are good clean bathrooms here, but they are at the far end of the docks. They are free but some coins for the cleaning lady never hurts.
Not One For DIY? Take These Tours Instead!
Dying to swim with pigs? With this tour, you can swim with pigs and enjoy a private tiki boat complete with drinks and lunch!
This tour offers up rum cakes, fish frys and ATV rides. Can't beat that for a port day.
Pirates and a private jeep tour for three hours? Yes, please.
Most of the things on this list are on this great tour, which also includes a beach stop and reggae throughout to get the party vibes pumping.
This conch focused beverages and bites tour is a great sampling of everything Nassau has to offer.
Get some rum and food in your belly on this popular tour.
With nearly 2500 reviewers, this likely to sell out tour hits all the top food tasting spots. Check it out!
The Verdict: Is it worth getting off the ship in Nassau Bahamas' Cruise Port?
I think so! Don't be dissuaded by the run down looking 'main drag'. Just a few minutes walk from there you'll find plenty of great and fun options off the beaten path. This is an enjoyable itinerary for old and young and doesn't involve too much walking. It's a very safe walk - just use your google maps to get you around on foot.
I got onboard the ship with a bottle of wine, rum and a stinky fresh conch shell, so I think you'll be fine whatever you buy on shore. Bring plenty of US cash, but I believe most options take credit cards. Enjoy!