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Nassau

11 Best Nassau, Bahamas Excursions Cruisers Should Try

Nassau
Contributor
Carolina Pirola

Last updated
Apr 3, 2024

Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is popular with cruise lines, offering a bit of island sun and bargain shopping close to Florida. But with such a popular cruise port, it may be difficult to choose between the many Nassau, Bahamas excursions available, whether they are ship-sponsored or independent excursions.

Booking Nassau excursions through your cruise line or independently is the most convenient way to explore the island. From walking, cycling and e-scooter tours to afternoon tea experiences and glass-bottom boat excursions, there are so many options that picking one is never easy.

Not to worry. Cruises typically spend about eight hours here, which means you have plenty of time to explore beyond the Nassau cruise port. To help you make the most of your day, we have put together a list of our 11 favorite Nassau excursions. Read on to learn more about all there is to do in and around Nassau from your cruise ship.

Nassau, Bahamas Excursions Under Two Hours: Boat Tours and British Heritage

The Graycliff Chocolate Company (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)
The Graycliff Chocolate Company (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)

With so many stunning beaches in Nassau to choose from, peeling away from the sand and the sea can be difficult. The good news is that there is a wide array of Nassau, Bahamas excursions you can try if you want to combine some beach time with other activities, all within the handful of hours your cruise ship will be docked in town.

1. Glass-Bottom Boat Tour with Live Commentary and Free Water

Duration: Two hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: No age restrictions

Glass-bottom boat excursions are great for those traveling with family. Cruisers of all ages can spot the island’s rich marine life from the comfort of the hydrofoil boat while the crew shares information about underwater creatures and local history. It’s a fun, easy way to spend a couple of hours, and depending on the size of your group, you might even be given a private tour.

Excursions often start and end either at Paradise Island or Nassau’s Cable Beach, making them easy to combine with some beach time and even other short Nassau excursions and activities. If you are also looking to swim and explore the rich sea life, make sure your excursion includes snorkeling time.

2. Afternoon Tea Experience at the Historic Graycliff Hotel

Duration: Two hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: No age restrictions

If you need a break from the sun, make your way to the Graycliff Hotel for a decadent afternoon tea experience. The service is served in one of the covered porches overlooking the tropical gardens of this historic colonial mansion and includes a selection of imported and local teas, coffee, sandwiches, scones and petit fours.

You will also be offered chocolates made in the hotel’s own chocolate factory, which can also be toured as a separate excursion and is a fun activity for the whole family.

While the afternoon tea experience is suitable for small children, there is no price difference between adults and kids, and it might not be ideal for the youngest family members or picky eaters.

3. Nassau Highlights Boat Tour: Historic Sites, Beaches, and Mansions

Duration: 1.5 hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: No age restrictions

If you don’t have much time to spare but want to get a nice overview of the city’s highlights, book one of the many boat tours that sail past some of Nassau’s attractions. Most will offer views of Potter’s Cay Dock, Fort Montagu, The Cloisters, the area’s stunning mansions and the local sailing club. You will also see many of the island’s popular beaches, such as Junkanoo Beach and Arawak Cay.

These excursions in Nassau, Bahamas don’t make any stops during the tour, but they are great for passengers on a tight schedule and those who simply want to get a quick glimpse of the city and surrounding areas.

Nassau Excursions Under Four Hours: Rum and Food Tastings, and Island Highlight Tours

Rum (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)
Rum (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)

Most Nassau excursions for cruisers will take anywhere between three and four hours. While this means you’ll have fewer opportunities to combine multiple in a single day, these activities allow visitors to take a deeper dive into the history and culture of The Bahamas.

4. Rum Tastings and Culinary Tour of Downtown Nassau

Duration: 3-4 hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: Adults only (18+)

These food and drink walking tours are the perfect way to get a good sense of the local culture and history. A local guide walks a group of up to 10 adults through the Bahamas’ rich heritage, its icons and some of the products that make the archipelago famous.

Most tours will hit many of the same spots, including a chocolate factory, a cigar workshop, a rum distillery and a winery. Each, however, will have its own unique surprises, such as a stop at a local eatery for free conch and lobster fritters, or a short visit to Bob Marley’s home. It’s worth comparing different options to see which one is a better fit for you or your group.

Bear in mind that visitors under 18 will not be allowed to take part in rum, wine and cigar tastings. In some cases, they will not even be allowed to join the tour.

5. Guided ATV Tour with Lunch and Drink

Duration: 3.5 hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: 10 years old; drivers must be 21 or older and have a valid driver’s license

ATV tours are a fun, comfortable way to explore Nassau’s attractions. The guide will meet you at the cruise port for a half-day of driving around and exploring the island. Lunch is typically included in these tours, as are bottled water, a helmet and live commentary from the guide.

Most of these excursions in Nassau, Bahamas hit all the highlights, including the Queen’s Staircase, Fort Charlotte, the Government House, Fort Montagu, Fort Fincastle, local rum distilleries, and one or two beaches. You’ll also have the chance to swim and snorkel, but you’ll have to bring your own gear.

6. Cultural Walking Tour of Downtown Nassau Attractions

Duration: 2.5 to 3.5 hours

Activity level: Medium

Minimum age: No age restrictions

First-time visitors looking to get an overview of the island should join one of these Nassau, Bahamas excursions. Most of them offer great value for money, as they are cheaper than those that include use of a vehicle, lunch and drinks. Guides are generally quite savvy of the local culture and history.

These tours hit many of the top attractions in town but are not overly strenuous, as there are many stops and you’ll be able to sit down every now and then during the excursion. You’ll be stopping at rum distilleries, a famous chocolate factory, a winery and landmarks such as Queen’s Staircase and Atlantis Resort (at the latter, don’t expect to tour the grounds -- you will only be taken to the lobby).

If you are on a tight schedule, make sure your tour offers the option to be dropped off at the cruise port. We recommend starting the day with this tour so that you can explore the local beaches before going back to your cruise ship in the afternoon.

7. Historic Downtown Nassau Bike or E-Scooter Tour

Duration: Four hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: 12 years old for e-scooter tours

Another fun way to explore downtown Nassau is by joining an e-scooter or bike tour. These excursions are typically longer than walking tours, and since you’ll be on a vehicle rather than on foot, you will get the chance to see not only the highlights in the city center but also other attractions a little bit farther out.

During these tours, local guides share information about the landmarks visited, which include Queen’s Staircase, Fort Fincastle, Water Tower, Government House, the National Art Gallery, and historic squares such as Rawson and Parliament. Most of these tours also include stops at a chocolate factory and a rum distillery for a taste of island products.

Excursions in Nassau, Bahamas Under Five Hours: Private Cabanas and Buggy Rentals

Nassau's beaches offer plenty of fun in the sun (Photo: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism)
Nassau's beaches offer plenty of fun in the sun (Photo: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism)

Booking excursions in Nassau, Bahamas that last up to five hours will give you the opportunity to venture farther away, avoid the crowds and spend more time at each location. While shorter tours typically allocate between five and 30 minutes per attraction, five-hour excursions have a more relaxed pace.

8. Pearl Beach: Private Cabana, Water Activities and Lunch

Duration: Five hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: No age restrictions

This shore excursion offers three of the Caribbean classics: relaxation, snorkeling and good food. While what is included in the excursion varies by operator, most include use of a private cabana for the duration of the excursion, drinks (the most expensive tours offer unlimited drink packages), a Bahamian barbecue lunch and roundtrip ferry rides to Pearl Island.

Visitors of all ages are welcome -- and kids ages 3 and under are generally free -- but some operators have a minimum age requirement of 8 years old to join snorkeling and other water activities such as kayaking. As for what to bring, don’t forget your sunscreen and snorkeling gear.

9. Buggy Rental in Nassau for Exploring on your Own

Duration: 4+ hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: Drivers must be 25 years of age or older; infant seats available

Cruisers who prefer the freedom of exploring independently can rent a beach buggy to drive around the island. These four- to six-seater automatic vehicles give visitors the chance to pick their itineraries and spend as much time in each place as they wish. Rentals are for a minimum of four hours and can go for as long as you wish.

Most of these tours offer free pickups and drop-offs at the cruise port. However, the vehicles are often in a different location -- remember to plan accordingly so you don’t miss your ship.

Best Excursions in Nassau Over Five Hours: Swimming with Pigs and Snorkeling

Swimming with pigs shore excursion in the Bahamas (Photo: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock)
Swimming with pigs shore excursion in the Bahamas (Photo: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock)

The best excursions in Nassau are those that allow visitors to truly immerse themselves in the experience. While a quick stop at the beach or a short walking tour is a nice way to spend a few hours between other activities, longer tours will allow you to do more of the things you like without the need to keep an eye on the watch.

10. Sun Cay Boat Trip, Lunch, and Swimming with Pigs

Duration: 5+ hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: 6 years old

If a unique experience is what you’re after, this is one of the best excursions in Nassau. This tour gives you the chance to splash alongside the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas, a rarity not found in many other places. While there are pigs in several of the archipelago’s islands, Pig Beach is the most popular one due to its proximity to Nassau.

After a short boat ride from the cruise port to Sun Cay (a.k.a. Pearl Island) you’ll have about a half-hour to interact with the animals before being served a traditional Bahamian lunch of fish, chicken and plantains. These excursions typically include rental loungers on the beach. Upgrades such as snorkeling gear and kayaks are available for an additional fee.

Those who would rather combine swimming with the pigs with other activities can book a boat tour to Rose Island, which are generally shorter.

11. Nassau Reef, Shipwrecks and Movie Site Snorkel Excursion by Boat

Duration: 5.5 hours

Activity level: Easy

Minimum age: 4 years old

This excursion takes you to a handful of great snorkel and diving spots around Nassau, including locations featured in movies, shipwrecks and coral reefs. The final itinerary varies depending on weather and sea conditions, but you can expect to visit at least one or two sites that you will recognize from movies such as "Flipper" and "Jaws" (including the sunken airplane).

A guide will accompany you throughout the tour, sharing fun facts about the marine life you’ll encounter. While some of the shipwrecks are quite deep, others are closer to the surface and are suitable for amateur snorkelers and divers.

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