We have been to Nassau several times, and enjoyed walking around town to see the Colonial architecture, seeing the Queen's staircase, visiting the Straw Market for souvenirs, and visiting the Pirates museum. We have also taken excursions to Atlantis, which is a standard, expensive resort. This trip, we took a snorkel tour, which due to the weather was only just OK. I prefer ports with more wildlife, nature or adventure type tours. I always find myself searching for something to do at this port of call.
Plenty to do here, whether you like active excursions, dining and shopping, or beaching.
We decided to enjoy a day on Orient Beach. It is extraordinarily easy to find the cabs going where you want to go because there is a pavilion with all the destinations marked on it. The price is pretty much stated up front (may have even been written on the signs) and most cabs are 7- 12 pax vans, so they will usually wait a moment until they have enough parties to more or less fill the van. The price to Orient Beach was $7 per person with a full van.
We were dropped off at Village D'Orient, which is a little shopping area/ mall with a dirt turn around right near the Bikini Beach Club. This is in the middle of Orient Beach, so you can take you pick and walk South (right when facing the water) and head to the busier/nudier part of the beach or go North (left when facing the water to the less crowded/more conservative part of the beach.
We chose Coco, because it's an old favorite of ours, which was about a 1/4 mile walk. They charge $20 for two padded plastic loungers and an umbrella; you will pay less- around $7-9 per chair at the more crowded clubs further South, they may not have an umbrella, but usually include your first beer free. DH and I decide to run a tab and as it turns out, because we had lunch there and a couple of drinks and they didn't charge us for the $20 for the chairs after all.
Everything is charged in Euros, they take US credit cards, but be aware you may be charged a foreign transaction fee. They may take US dollars, but usually at an unfavorable rate to you. Best advice is to use a credit card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee or if you travel frequently or are from Europe, and already have them, use Euros; but it's probably not worth changing money for one afternoon. The cabs take US dollars.
We were very impressed by the Water island Bike excursion. This is one of the best ship excursions we have taken. It was a touch bigger at about 25 hearty soles, than we (and the tour operator) would have liked, but as they mentioned, this is what happens when the tour is offered to 6000 people; the same tiny percentage will take the trip, but it will just be a larger number of people!
The folks on our excursion were great, friendly, active folks from all over the world. We met the guide, its run by Water Island Adventures, and I'm sure you can take the trip as a non RCI excursion, but it's a small operation, so I'm not sure you'd get put in a different group. The folks who run it are Water Island resident retirees who are making a living on Water Island running these tours.
We were led on foot to a dock/mall area, be sure to check out the camouflaged iguanas sunning on the rocks, on the way there. At the edge of the mall there is a dock for the Water Island Water taxi. We took this just across the bay (maybe 15 minutes!) and docked at Water Island.
This island was at one time full of beautiful resorts, then the US military took it over to use for strategic purposes, they removed most of the tourist infra structure and then realizing it was not needed militarily, they turned the island back over the USVI, and invested a whole bunch of money to try to rebuild the tourist infrastructure. Unfortunately, a hurricane came and swamped the island with seawater, and all the fresh water ponds became brackish. This meant that developing tourist infrastructure was more or less abandoned and all the locals use cisterns to collect rainwater or have a water truck sent over from St Thomas at great expense!
Once on Water Island we rode on a little safari bus to Honeymoon Beach to use the facilities before our ride, then up the hill to where our wheels awaited. The operators had 4 folks helping with fittings and made sure everyone was outfitted safely and comfortably before we went off. The biking itself was not hard, as much of it was down hill, but slow because some on dirt and even mud tracks. But the views were phenomenal and we stopped many times to collect everyone and take in the views and the stories of Water Island.
I would describe this as one of the most "authentic" tours I have taken from a cruise ship. This was led by locals who shared not only island history but also a little about island life. There was very little vehicle traffic, but several times a golf cart would stop and it's driver would chat with one of our guides in that small town way " do you want me to drop that thing off today?" was one quote. You just got a real feel for the Island-ness of the place, so very different from the bustle of St Thomas!
As far as difficulty, I would say if you ride a bike regularly, even just to town for the paper, you could do this ride. The guides were all for anyone who wanted to get a workout going faster, but encouraged people to keep their own pace. We had a follow van and a few folks who maybe weren't as comfortable in the muddy areas, or struggled on the few hills, hopped aboard at one point. Water was provided, as was any other thing your bike might need while on the approximately 8 mile route. We felt we got a pretty decent workout even though we were not going fast because it was very warm and the surfaces were uneven, requiring a bit more pedaling even on the straights.
After riding back to Honeymoon Beach, we all turned in our gear and then had about 2 hours to enjoy on one of the prettiest beaches we have been on in the Caribbean. Again, not a lot of infrastructure here, a snack shack and cash bar, a bare bones little rest room, a few palapas, and a little shade pavilion. There are no beach chairs, but most of our group headed for the calm warm waters after a slightly gritty ride! There was another "tour group" there, it appeared to be an excursion, but the principal activity for this one seemed to be the open bar! But there was plenty of room for all and it was not crowded or loud, truly a romantic beach.
The trip operators offered tee shirts, sketches they had drawn and encouraged everyone to give positive reviews if they had a good time...which we all agreed we did, but there was no hard sell and they kept and eye on things in the pavilion for you if you were floating in the water. When time was up, we took the safari bus up the hill and down the road to the ferry, and back to the mall/dock. The operators stayed on Water Island figuring most of us could find our way from their to Oasis.