Since our cruise ship didn’t offer much in the way of shore excursions, Nick and I decide to wing it and explore on our own to see what this capitol city offers.
When we woke up we were still pulling into port so Nick and I decided go eat breakfast while we were waiting to embark. As we come up on the massive windows I was greeted by the Paradise Island (Hog Island) lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1817 and remains an aid to navigation. It isn’t open to the public but it looked like you could walk out and enjoy it from Atlantis. But you get great views from the cruise ships and from the Ski doo tours that go by.
After a nice breakfast we disembark and make our way into the city. We stroll through the visitor’s center and grab a couple of sodas. When we arrive outside a gentleman offers to take us on an island tour for $20 for 2 hours. Seeing as we didn’t have anything else and included a stop at the Atlantis casino, we handed over our $40 and climbed in the mini van. Since we were the last 2 guests, Richard shut the door and off we went. Nick put me by the window so I could take pictures. We would be driven all through town with stops in Atlantis and at Ft. Fincastle.
We go through the main part of town enjoying the sites and listing to Richard giving us a history of this beautiful island. We pass by historical buildings, gardens, surrey carriages, colorful buildings, and we pass by the oldest cotton tree on the island which is now protected and is over 100 years old. Then we arrive at the Ft. Fincastle area. We pile out of the van and are given 30 minutes to enjoy the area. Nick goes and purchases our tickets and we go and enjoy exploring.
The castle was built on Bennet Hill overlooking the island in 1793. Built by Lord Dunsmore It was named after his second title, Viscount Fincastle. Today guests can get breathtaking views of the island and the cruise ships docked in the harbor. Nick and I check out the prisons and get our picture taken behind bars. Then we climb up top so I can get some great shots of the island. In 1928 a concentrate water tower was added. You can take an elevator to the top for an amazing view (thought I did not know that at the time!). It is an aid to navigation but more for airplanes than ships.
Afterwards Nick goes and grabs us a couple more sodas and gets some t-shirts from one of the vendors that are in the area. Then we head back down the hill and pass by the Queens Staircase. Richard offers to stop if anyone is interested, but nobody takes him up on his offer. I wanted to but didn’t want everyone waiting on me.
We pass by more colorful houses and we see the houses that represent the lower, middle, and upper classes. There is a beautiful vibrate pink house that belongs to a lawyer. I love all the beautiful flowers outside the houses. Then we make a quick stop at a harbor and enjoy the views. I get out and take several pictures. We pass by churches and then we head up the bridge headed towards Atlantis resort. We have 45 minutes here to enjoy some shopping, the casino, or dining.
The resort was built in 1998 by South African hotel magnet Sol Kerzner. The hotel features on of the worlds most expensive suits at $25,000 a night! Just about every cruise line out there offers an excursion to Atlantis which usually includes their water park. At one time you could purchase a pass to the water park, but that is no longer available. The folks at Atlantis will gladly let you visit anywhere you can spend money. So restaurants, concert venues, shopping, and the casino are always open to the public.
We get out of the van and have our pictures taken in front of the beautiful statue located at the font of the resort. We enjoy the walk to the casino and stop along the way and enjoy the sites and take pictures. We walk into the casino and when we get to the entrance of the casino we head towards the left for the bathrooms and to pick up some snacks. We come back and take pictures of the statue in the hallway. Then Nick goes towards the blackjack table while I roam the casino enjoying the art and enjoying the Chihuly instillations (separate journal on that). Nick end up winning $80 so that paid for our tour and tickets to the gardens.!
Then we are in the van headed back towards the visitor’s center and our tour ends. We thank Richard, give him a nice tip, and say by to our fellow tour mates. The taxis (which are mini vans) line up at the visitors center and you can always find someone who will take you on a tour of this lovely island.
After our tour we head back into town to do some souvenir shopping. Then we go into a local café where we grab a couple of dessert and Nick gets a Bahamian beer. After my little incident in Arizonian with the empty booze bottles, I now take label removers in my purse. I pull mine out and remove the label as our bartender watches me and then laughs as I am the first patron to do such!
We finish our desserts and drinks and go grab a cab and head to the Ardastra Garden (separate review on that as well). After enjoying our time in the gardens we head back towards our ship. Just another day in paradise.
English is the official language here and US$ are accepted everywhere.
www.nassauparadiseisland.com is the official website of Nassau.
They are on Facebook and Twitter.