The Bahamian nation consists of 700 islands spread out across 100,000 square miles. While there is a specific allure to each of these outer islands, we recommend you resist the temptation to swim with pigs, in favor of booking an authentic cultural experience in the Bahamian city of Nassau.
Located on the island of New Providence, Nassau is the political and cultural capital of the island chain. We recommend staying there for your first trip to the Bahamas—and for at least a few days during each trip after that, as it is the most exciting region in the Bahamas for its unique heritage, festivals, culinary scene, and nightlife. Read on for how to spend the best 48 hours in Nassau.
Day One: Morning
10 a.m.: Though there’s no shortage of luxury resorts in Nassau, we recommend opting for a more authentically Bahamian experience by checking into the Compass Point Beach Resort. The colorful Junkanoo-inspired architecture encompasses the vibrant energy of the capital city itself, while the luxuriously bohemian accommodations have served as creative inspiration for none other than Mick Jagger.
11 a.m.: Continue your culturally immersive Bahamian experience by reserving a ride for the weekend with Romeo’s Limo Service—hopefully, you will luck out and be treated to the gift of having Romeo himself as your personal driver. He has a wealth of information about the nation's history and is the perfect guide for your weekend in Nassau. Head to the beaches on Nassau’s Paradise Island to best appreciate the crystal, turquoise waters for which the Bahamas is world-famous. Indeed, the very name Bahamas comes from the Spanish term “Baja Mar,” which translates to clear waters.
So, you’d be remiss not to schedule some quality beach-time to enjoy the tropical, oceanic environment.
Day One: Afternoon
3 p.m.: After some much-needed time at the beach, head into town to attend the Tea Party at Government House, which is hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and occurs on the last Friday of each month. If your trip doesn't fall on the last Friday don't worry, there are plenty of special events happening in the Bahamas year-round. Keep an eye out for festivals that are occurring at particular times of the year. The High Rock Sea Fest is a culinary event showcasing endless amounts of seafood, live music, and a Junkanoo Rush-out in Grand Bahama, while The Bernie Butler Swim Race (with an accompanying beach party) is an annual fundraiser for the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association.
5 p.m.: Take advantage of a free afternoon with either a brew from the Pirate Republic Brewery or a Rum Dum from the John Watling's Distillery. The world is your oyster because, if you're visiting in the summer or fall, expect to encounter a downtown scene that is refreshingly free of crowds. The peak tourist season in the Bahamas is around Christmas Time and Spring Break when the weather is colder up North. Thanks to the trade-winds, however, the climate in the Bahamas is temperate all year-round.
Day One: Evening
6 p.m.: Our biggest recommendation for dinnertime the first evening you arrive in the Bahamas? A home-cooked meal hosted by a local family in Nassau, of course. Wondering how, exactly, you can make that happen? You're in luck. The Bahamas Tourism Bureau spearheads a People to People experience that allows visitors to meet Bahamian locals, form friendships, and enjoy a Caribbean, home-cooked, Caribbean meal. A must-do when visiting Nassau—winter, spring, summer, or fall.
8 p.m.: Another no-brainer evening activity when you’re looking to spend a jam-packed 48 hours in Nassau? The fish fry, of course. This Caribbean tradition flourishes in Arawak Cay, with a live music scene and flowing rum punches. Try to save room for more conch fritters at the local’s favorite establishment, Frankie Gone Bananas. But even if you’re arriving in town only for cocktails, it’s well worth a nightcap.
Day Two: Morning & Afternoon
10:15 a.m.: Learn more about Bahamian history and culture during a food tour with Tru Bahamian Food Tours. You’ll leave in the afternoon with a thorough appreciation of the Bahamian culinary tradition—not to mention a greater understanding of the nation’s history. Walking through downtown Nassau, you can’t help but observe that the vividly-hued street art and design is reminiscent of your accommodations at Compass Point. This, too, traces back to the founding of the Bahamas as a sovereign nation, as it is also influenced by the Junkanoo celebrations.
The Junkanoo is a distinctly Bahamian tradition that traces back to the 17th century, when enslaved Bahamians would celebrate their right to happiness and self-expression twice a year, on Christmas and Boxing Day.
1:30 p.m.: Tour historic sites including the Queen’s staircase on a Bahamas Bowcar tour. The breeze from the open-air vehicle is a refreshing counterbalance to the tropical heat, while the informative guides (who double as Nascar-worthy drivers navigating the busy Bahamian roads) will leave you with an indelible knowledge of the island’s history.
Day Two: Evening
5 p.m.: Embark on a two-hour sunset sail with Sea Horse Sailing Adventures and appreciate the island chain as it was first navigated—by pirates, of course. Additionally, the water in the Bahamas is perfect for swimming year-round. So regardless of when you're there you can go fishing, diving, sailing, and all manner of boating. You will get a sense of the number of islands in the archipelago, as well. While the majority of Bahamians reside in the city of Nassau, there are plenty of additional activities and sites to explore in the Out Islands of the Bahama, as well—in Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, Abaco, and Exuma.
Less-populated than the country’s capital, many of these out islands (also known as "family islands") have more pristine wilderness than is found in the city of Nassau. Though, currently, the most famed activity is probably the swimming pigs of Exuma—thanks to Instagram, of course.
7:30 p.m.: Finally, a trip to Nassau isn’t complete without sampling the cigars, chocolate, pizza, and wine—a truly iconic combination of offerings—on display at Graycliff Manor. Enjoy cocktails in the evening and experience the lounge, tropical atmosphere of a sophisticated night out. But try not to over-indulge: You must return across the street the next morning to check out the Bahamian Heritage Museum before boarding your flight home.