This is an odd one. The island is long and skinny and the smallest of the Turks and Caicos chain (that’s civilized and populated). You dock on the far south and it’s really just a carnival spot. A margaritaville with a big pool, a dozen or so shops and then lots and lots of beach chairs. We took a taxi for $5pp into “downtown” but this was the smallest downtown we’d ever been to. We kept asking where is the real downtown, but that was it. About 8-10 nearly shacks and a tiny flea market was it. We managed a Turk’s head beer for $2.75 and a meat patty for $3 before we caught another cab back into town. We could have stayed in the taxi (it was a 16 passenger van) for an island tour for $20 each but didn’t seem worth it considering the size of the island. That side trip was kind of a waste of $20.
After that we went to Jack’s shack on the beach, just out of the carnival area. You go out and to the beach on the left and then walk to almost the next pier. Nice bar, inside free WiFi, full toilets and lots of beach chairs with sun shades. They have a full kitchen as well, but we waited too long to order and ours kept getting back-burnered in favor of all the locals. After 20 minutes, we just gave up on it. But otherwise it was a great place to be and their $4 beers were certainly better than the margaritaville $8 beers.
Unfortunately this was something like an afterthought. We were the first ship to leave port at 4pm and Nassau’s not that far away, why are we here at 7am? Better yet, do we really need to leave at 2pm? Next stop is St. Thomas and it’s our furthest destination, but how about going to grand Turk first if a whole day of sailing won’t get you there. After the excitement of just getting on the ship and finding your groove, it’s a bit tough to be ready to go at 7-8am to see Nassau.
If you’ve never been, there are things worth doing/seeing. Atlantis is great for a first timer, though we’d been there and they won’t let you see the aquarium anymore for free which is a downer. But the downtown has really cleaned up and there plenty of people picking and removing trash. A quick walk to the queen’s steps and the fort next to it was a start along with a few other sites as we made our way back towards the British Hilton. A quick trip inside to see the huge entryway then out to their beautiful beach. Since it was before 10a and we were doing this, we didn’t get any kind of hassle, but I’d imagine later in the day you might not be able to walk through the Hilton and be on their beach.
From there we walked just a short distance to junkanoo beach. This was a nice public beach with full facilities from toilets/showers to lots of food and chairs to rent. Either because of our early arrival or the locals have abandoned it, the beach was all cruisers. Calm water and plenty of beach. Only downside is the sand is full of lots of coral so were constantly stepping bits of coral. Nothing sharp, but if your feet aren’t used it, best to keep some sort of shoe on all the time. Good to know – the McDonalds is just 100 yards from the beach and has free WiFi. So you can stop on your way in and/or out, to catch up.
Other options here are the shopping on the main road to junkanoo beach, which is 100% typical Caribbean stuff, or keep going past junkanoo beach to another even larger beach. This one is a bit further from the road so it’s not constant noise of cars, but there are no facilities. If you want isolation and a nice beach, this is a good place.
Go even further and you’ll find the semi-famous fish fry. Evidently the seafood doesn’t get any fresher than this and same for the variety. Judging by the looks of it, bottles and cups and other “party” litter, it must be a fun place. But at 1030 Monday morning, it was still asleep. If we had more time in port, we would defiantly come back and have some food.
Our second time in Nassau was fun, but a bit too short. There were three ships in port that day so things got a bit crowded. we made it back to the cruise-only shops and its free WiFi to check in one last time. Only other thing worth mentioning, the three cruisers who kept us 45 minutes late because all the drinks at senor frogs made them completely forget the time. Don’t let that be you!
We’d not been here for nearly 10 years so we were excited about seeing it again. Unfortunately it was raining and had been for nearly 3 days. Original plan was to walk to the forts and then the shops on the way back to the ship. The rain put us into a tour van outside the port. That ended up pretty good. Only $10pp and nearly 1.5 hours with a tour to part of the beaches, both forts, the government house and some info on the shopping. We got off in the middle of old town instead of the ship. We used the facilities at the convent hotel because they let us and it’s a beautiful place. Worth stopping just to look. That street will also take you straight to the walk that goes along the bottom of the city’s wall.
This is a great walk and it’s recently been totally redone to fix a broken sidewalk and erosion of the wall. It’s now super wide, lit for night walks and littered with cats. I’m not talking the Roman coliseum 10 years ago, but if someone doesn’t step in and start sterilizing them, it will be. There were a lot of cats and they were getting shelter, food and water as well. We saw a sign for adapt-a-gato, but I don’t think that’s going to do it. They really should do something though as most of the cats are very nice and will gladly come up to you for some scratching. These are certainly domestic cats, not feral cats.
Other than the concern for the cats, this is an incredible walk. It’s not all that long (though not many seem to know it’s a dead end). We were lucky and by noon the rain decided to stop. That made for great views and had all the iguanas out on the wall sunning. And there were a lot of those as well, some nearly two feet long.
After the walk it was time to visit the convent’s facilities again and look for lunch. I really wanted some authentic Puerto Rican food, but we weren’t having a lot of luck and ended up at a place that had a nice lunch special featuring Mexican food. It hit the spot but wasn’t super. A slow walk back the ship and that was the end of our first visit to san Juan nearly 10 years. Nothing exciting but we enjoyed it.
This was either our 5th or 6th time here so really didn’t have anything planned. But at the last minute I thought maybe we could catch a catamaran snorkel trip. That’s a big no. two things made it impossible. The first is that it’s a US territory so either the cruise lines own the catamaran companies or the contracts they have them are truly “binding” because not a one would do anything with you if you said you were with a ship. Add to that, three ships in port and it wasn’t happening. They’re is one ship, just one, the Fury, that does trips for non-ship people but even he was overbooked because there were three ships in port. Hard to believe there is this much demand and so little supply.
We ended up going to emerald beach. Nice enough, plenty of chairs they didn’t charge us for and calm water but no fish. It was fun to watch the jets take off right in front of you though. For some reason the water was fairly cold (on all the islands) so we didn’t do much in the water. We stocked up on some sodas and energy drinks at the pueblo grocery store plus a couple of beers and wandered the shops for 30 minutes.