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More Than the Beach: Explore Nassau Paradise Island’s Bahamian Culture
Photo courtesy of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board
WHY IT RATES: It’s great to balance out time lounging on the beach with active exploration of the area, and there’s plenty to see throughout Nassau Paradise Island. -Michael Isenbek, TravelPulse Senior Editor
With its sugar-white beaches and crystal clear waters, Nassau Paradise Island is well-known as a relaxing tropical getaway, but the island offers more than just sun, sand and sea. Nassau Paradise Island has a rich history with Spanish, West African and British influences that have created a unique blend of island culture. From dining like a local to celebrating the Junkanoo festival, visitors can experience a variety of cultural offerings that provide insight into the island’s deep-rooted history.
Explore Island History
Long before it was a vacation destination, Nassau Paradise Island was a playground for pirates, explorers and entrepreneurs whose cultures mixed with those of the native Bahamian people.
One of Nassau’s most visited historical attractions is the Queen’s Staircase, made of 65 steps that were hand carved from limestone by slaves in the 18th century. One of the oldest structures on the island is Christ Church Cathedral, which was built in 1754 after three previous church buildings were destroyed and replaced, and continues to hold services today. Christ Church Cathedral is made of locally sourced limestone blocks, which are held together primarily by their size and the force of gravity.
History buffs can also visit the Bahamas Historical Museum, Fort Charlotte, the largest of three forts on the island, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, or Balcony House, the oldest wooden residence still standing in Nassau.
Party in the Streets
Similar to Mardi Gras and Carnival, Junkanoo is a massive celebration that features brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic music of cowbells, drums, horns and whistles. Junkanoo is a highly spirited parade that traditionally takes place in the early morning hours of Boxing Day, celebrated on December 26, and New Year’s Day. Though the celebration is carefree and fun, the festivities are also competitive, with awards going out for best performance, costume, dancing and music.
Find a Bargain
Nassau’s famous Straw Market is designed to accommodate approximately 400 vendors selling everything from straw craft souvenirs to hand carved goods. Just a short walk from the high-end shops on Bay Street, it is the largest straw market in the world, and is the perfect place to bargain with vendors for authentic handmade Bahamian crafts.
Taste Native Cuisine
Tru Bahamian Food Tours, led by knowledgeable and entertaining Bahamian guides, gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the destination through local food and culture. A great introduction to Nassau, the food tour will leave travelers with an appreciation for Bahamian culinary tradition and history.
Where to Stay
• Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
• Graycliff Hotel
• British Colonial Hilton Nassau
• Marley Resort and Spa
• Melia Nassau Beach All Inclusive
In Paradise Island:
• Atlantis, Paradise Island
• Comfort Suites Paradise Island
• One&Only Ocean Club
• Bay View Suites Paradise Island
• Harborside Resort at Atlantis
• Paradise Harbour Club & Marina
• Paradise Island Beach Club
• Sunrise Beach Club & Villas
• The Cove Atlantis
• The Reef Atlantis
• Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas
For more information on local sites, guided or walking tours, solo excursions and properties, visit NassauParadiseIsland.com.
SOURCE: A Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board press release
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