Nassau, Bahamas Guide: How to Plan the Perfect Trip

With direct flights from most major US cities (39 daily nonstop flights to be exact), crystal clear water that rivals the Maldives, and dozens of incredible resorts to choose from, there is truly no better place for a beachy weekend getaway than the Bahamas. Nassau, the capital, has more going on now than ever before (particularly with the recent addition of Baha Mar) and just over the bridge in Paradise Island, you’ll find buzzy casinos, newly renovated resorts, and more restaurant options than you’ll have time for in a single trip. Below is an in-depth overview to help you plan your trip including:

things to do in nassau paradise island

The Best Time to Go to the Bahamas

Technically, the best time to go to the Bahamas is during the high season, from November to mid-April.

However, I’ve been to the Bahamas in May and June several times, and aside from a few mid-afternoon rainstorms that lasted 20-30 minutes, we had perfectly clear skies and sunny weather for five straight days.

Of course, as you get closer to the summer, you run the risk of dicey weather since the islands fall within the hurricane belt. Summers in the Bahamas tend to be warm and rainy, with temperatures occasionally reaching as high as 95 degrees.

Avoid traveling during Hurricane season, which runs from July to October.

The Best Things to Do in Nassau Paradise Island

Photo via @bahamarresorts

1. Take a tour. One of the best tours in Nassau is the Bites of Nassau Food Tasting and Cultural Tour.

2. Learn to cook. Try a cooking class for a taste of local cuisine at Goombay House.

3. Play a round of golf. Hit the links at the Royal Blue Golf Club, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.

4. Water sports. You’ll find snorkeling, jet skiing, fishing charters etc. all on Cabbage Beach in Nassau. Check with your hotel concierge for their preferred vendors.

5. Gamble (or just people watch). Head to Baha Mar‘s casino, the largest casino in the Caribbean.

6. Visit a waterpark. Check out the 141-acre Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis Paradise Island (complete with a lazy river and high speed water slides).

7. Hang out with a handful of pretty pink flamingos. Baha Mar offers guests a twice daily flamingo walk at 9:30am and 3:30pm, starting at Flamingo Cay next to El Jefe Airstream.

8. Head to the market. Pay a visit to the Straw Market in Downtown Nassau for chic handwoven bags, local crafts, and more.

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The Best Luxury Hotels and Resorts in Nassau Paradise Island

The $4.2 billion development along Cable Beach consists of three resorts, a casino, multiple restaurants, a nightclub, bars, and a golf course. It opened in 2018. Each of the three hotels within Baha Mar is fantastic, but the one you choose depends on the type of trip you’re after.

Rosewood Baha Mar
This is where I stayed and I can’t recommend it enough. Price point is steep, but you get what you pay for. The service is among the best I’ve ever had in the Bahamas. It feels like it’s own oasis when you’re here, but you’re also just a stone’s throw from the rest of Baha Mar if you decide to venture out. Nothing is more than a 10 minute walk. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a splurge-worthy experience—particularly couples, honeymooners, babymooners, or honeymooners.

SLS Baha Mar
A great option for bachelor/bachelorette parties or young couples looking to be in the heart of the action. The hotel is home to a handful of swanky restaurants, two incredible bars, and a nightclub.

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Although the Grand Hyatt is technically the cheapest out of all three Baha Mar hotels, in many ways it still feels like a luxury resort. I think it’s a great value for the price, and a fabulous option for families, couples, or anyone on a budget that wants a luxe experience. It’s also a solid way to redeem Hyatt points if you have them—or, if you open a Chase Sapphire Reserve, the 50,000 bonus points you’ll receive after sign up can be transferred to Hyatt for two free nights. (Redemptions start at 20,000 points per night.)

The Cove at Atlantis
The Cove is Atlantis’ most luxurious offering, and while families with children can stay at the hotel, the guests are primarily adults. Fun fact: since The Cove is part of Marriott, you could use points for free nights. I actually just got the Marriott Bonvoy Amex, which comes with a 75,000 point sign-up bonus—rooms at The Cove are 60,000 points/per night, so you could technically get a free night just by opening the card and meeting the minimum spend.  I’ve stayed here twice and really enjoyed my experience both times. On my second visit, I had the chance to experience one of the newly renovated Sapphire Suites and it was absolutely incredible. These rooms are definitely a splurge but if you have the means—or if it’s a special occasion—I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. Sapphire Suite guests get a dedicated butler and access to the Club Lounge (which includes free breakfast, drinks, light bites during the day, and dessert in the evening.)

Four Seasons Ocean Club
Another great luxury option. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here, and I think the on-property bar and restaurant Dune is one of the most spectacular places to enjoy a sunset cocktail in all of the Bahamas. Unlike Atlantis and Baha Mar, the Four Seasons is not part of a larger complex, so you’re somewhat limited to the restaurants at the hotel—however, there is a free shuttle that takes guests to nearby Atlantis if you want to venture out.

All of the aforementioned properties are expansive resorts, but if you prefer a more boutique experience, two boutique hotels worth checking out are Graycliff (in downtown Nassau) and The Island House (near Lyford Cay).

 The Best Restaurants in Nassau Paradise Island

Below you’ll find a list of top restaurants in the Bahamas—some are located within resorts, while others are outside of the hotels. And if you’re wondering where the locals eat in Nassau? We’ve got that too.

Costa restaurant Rosewood Baha Mar
Costa Restaurant at Rosewood Baha Mar

Cocoplum Bistro
Location:  near Lyford Cay in Nassau
Cuisine:  French & Mediterranean, with an island twist

Wild Thyme
Location:  Downtown Nassau
Cuisine:  Bahamian

Location:  Rosewood Baha Mar
Cuisine:  Latin American

Downtown Nassau
Cuisine:  International cuisine with local flavors

Location:  Downtown Nassau
Cuisine:  Bahamian & European
**Iconic spot with a wine cellar and namesake cigars; dress code for dinner

Location:  Atlantis
Cuisine:  Sushi

Café Matisse
Downtown Nassau
Cuisine:  Italian

Shima at Island House
Island House Hotel near Lyford Cay
Cuisine:  Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian

Lobster quesadilla at SipSip
Lobster quesadilla at SipSip

Location:  SLS Baha Mar
Cuisine:  Steak

Cafe Martinique
Location:  Atlantis (on the marina)
Cuisine:  Seasonal, plant-forward menu

Katsuya Baha Mar
Baha Mar
Cuisine:  Sushi

Location:  Atlantis The Cove
Cuisine:  “Caribterranean”

Cleo Mediterraneo Baha Mar
SLS Baha Mar
Cuisine:  Mediterranean

Shuang Ba 
Location:  Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Cuisine:  Upscale Chinese

Social House Sushi & Grill
Downtown Nassau
Cuisine:  Sushi, grill, small plates

Old Fort in Nassau
Cuisine: Sushi
Go at night when the owner is behind the sushi counter

The Best Places for Cocktails in Nassau, Bahamas

Skybar at SLS

Bon Vivants

Monkey Bar at SLS Baha Mar

Manor Bar at Rosewood Baha Mar

Dune at the Four Seasons Ocean Club

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What to Pack for the Bahamas

Outfits for the Bahamas are fairly casual—you’ll want to pack swimsuits (of course), lightweight clothing, sun dresses, cover-ups, shorts, t-shirts, etc.

However, if you decide to go to one of the swankier restaurants, bars, or casinos in the evening, I’d recommend dressing “resort casual.” Most restaurants allow shorts for men, but if you’re headed somewhere fancy, like Graycliff, there’s a dress code.

Check out my “Beach Vacation Packing Checklist” blog post for a full guide to everything you should bring with you on your vacation.

Below, I’ve included some Bahamas outfit inspo based on things I wore on my trip.

what to pack for the bahamas
what to pack for the bahamas
what to pack for the bahamas
what to pack for the bahamas

As always, if you have questions about my trip, feel free to drop them in the comments below!

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1 Comment

  • CharterLux of Bahamas
    November 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Great guide on planning a vacation in the Bahamas. Spot on with Baha Mar Resort! So amazing there! One thing to add (and if you ever come back down this way, let us know:) is a yacht rental or yacht charter. The water is beautiful and it really makes for a memorable trip. Anyways, great article and I will be sending our clients to this page to help them plan for their Bahamas vacation. Good stuff!


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