Nassau - Where Luxury and Poverty Meet

Being only 290 km / 180 miles away from Miami, Florida, Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas is a popular vacation destination for Americans....

Being only 290 km / 180 miles away from Miami, Florida, Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas is a popular vacation destination for Americans. Beautiful beaches with turquoise blue water, a pleasant tropical weather, a large variety of entertainment options such as a mega-resort and casino Atlantis or a shopping row with luxury brands along Bay Street make Nassau very appealing and attractive for tourists. People call it a paradise, and there is even an island with the same name across the harbour from Nassau. However, there is another side of Nassau - the one with a deep poverty, squalor and safety concerns should you walk a few blocks away from popular tourist traps.

The third and the last stop of our cruise was Nassau, the capital and the largest city on the Bahamas. The first two stops were Half Moon Cay and Freeport in case you missed the blog articles about them.
Nassau invites cruise ship passengers to the city.
With only 6-7 hours in the port, there are not many options regular tourists are left with. Probably the easiest and the most popular one is to go shopping along Bay Street - from cheap 'Made in China' souvenirs that look exactly the same everywhere in the world to local hand-made stuff.
The best place to buy a hand-made souvenir or a sea shell is Straw Market. A couple of dozens artisans sell their work, mostly from wood, for a pretty affordable price (after little bit of bargaining, of course). 
Another popular option to spend a day in Nassau is to go to Atlantis and enjoy its aquarium or casino. For a few years now, Atlantis's famous waterpark is for overnight visitors only.
Bars and restaurants are also abundant in Nassau, and everyone suggests you try a single most popular food on the Bahamas - a conch meat, usually in a form of a salad. Conch is an edible mollusk with a spiral shell. Grown-up conch can be the size of an adult palm. 
There are also a few museums if the city. One of them, mostly targeted for small kids, commemorates those old days of Nassau when it was the pirate capital of the world.
Nassau used to be a colony of the British Empire for almost 300 years and preserved quite a few examples of the British colonial architecture.
This post office box is identical to the ones in the United Kingdom.
Many buildings are in the Victorian style painted in pastel colours - usually pink or yellow.
Small buildings also look bright and authentic.
Some of the buildings are old and need urgent repairing, especially the ones made of wood.
There are many beautiful and photogenic places in Nassau.
My favourite one is the Queen's Staircase.
It's an impressive piece of work over 200 years old with 66 steps carved from solid limestone. 
That was the only easy yet protected way to get to Fort Fincastle, the highest point on the island.
If you're looking for the best panoramic views of Nassau, make sure you make it to Fort Fincastle. 
However, as I walked farther and farther from the touristy area, I felt less and less safe: tall fences, barbed wires, window grilles, warnings about angry dogs and dirty looks of some passerbys -  made me think to come back to the cruise ship.
There is lots of garbage here and there in Nassau, even in public places like parks.
We even saw people cleaning and watering a lawn at one of the historical buildings, but unless everyone realizes the issue and stops trashing, it's not going to work. Unfortunately, garbage is a pervasive problem for people in the Bahamas, even in national parks.
So if you asked me if Nassau is worth visiting or not, I would say that it definitely is. There are obviously things to improve upon, but in all fairness, Newark or Jersey City in the US are much worse when it comes to garbage or even safety. I've also heard many positive things about Atlantis on Paradise Island, so you should check it out if you have time and budget. 

My other posts from the trip to Florida and the Bahamas

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