Sunscreen and Straw Hats Required: A Guide To Discovering Nassau’s Best Public Beaches
Argue as you might over which Nassau attractions you’d like to experience during your visit, there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on: heading over to one of our breathtaking, powdery, white sand beaches is a must! Once there, you can lounge, bask, swim, snorkel and enjoy taking in the most turquoise waters in the world (verified by orbiting NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly, no less!). What’s more- these public beaches in Nassau are all free. Although only 21 miles long, the island of New Providence is home to quite an array of public beaches worth discovering, though some are more well-hidden and secluded than others. Whether you’re cruising to Nassau and only have a few precious hours or have multiple days planned to explore the island, we heartily suggest that you break out your swimsuits and sun-hats as you prepare to discover some The Bahamas’ most breathtaking natural assets…
Fort Montagu Beach On Nassau Harbor
Credit: Out Island Life
Montagu Beach faces out towards Nassau Harbor, allowing you to watch boaters coming and going (a vantage point for special sailing regattas) and gaze across at Paradise Island. At the western end of the beach you’ll find Fort Montagu– the oldest standing historic fortification in New Providence, originally built in 1741 to defend Nassau, then a British colony, from Spanish invaders. For more on piracy and Nassau forts, follow this adventurous itinerary: A Day In Nassau Designed For Pirate Lovers!
Local Bahamian Fare:
More common on the weekends are a selection of stalls selling Bahamian fried fare like conch fritters and whole fish dinners along Montagu Foreshore. Be sure to try our local drink- Sky Juice, a hearty cocktail of gin and fresh coconut water, deliciously sweetened up with a dose of condensed milk.
To the east is the Montagu Fish Ramp, a busy outdoor seafood market where fishermen bring all manner of fresh Bahamian local catch, including lobster (known locally as crawfish), conch, and more to offer for sale- should you be daring enough to prepare it at home!
Parking and Restrooms:
Conveniently, this beach has benefitted in recent years from a restoration project which has left it cleaner, fuller and more inviting. The beautification project involved adding new amenities to the Montagu area for ease of access and use, including more parking and generally well-kept public restrooms.
If you’re located on Paradise Island or near the downtown area, a taxi or scooter are options to reach this site. From the Paradise Island bridge, the beach is located 1 mile away, along East Bay Street, making it possible to walk to in about 30 minutes. From downtown, Montagu Beach is around 2 miles away.
The beach area itself is not well-shaded, dotted only with a few palm trees, but there’s plentiful seating and shade in the park behind it if you need to take a break from the heat. For those with children, nearby Montagu Park offers a small playground area, featuring a slide and swings.
Yamacraw Hill Beach In Eastern New Providence
This is a pleasant spot mostly frequented by locals who enjoy its shallow waters, quiet beach, and the views over the shorefront in which it is nestled. Shade is available under some nearbyCasuarina trees, whose needle-like leaves produce a soothing and relaxing sound as the wind whisks through. This area, as well as the nearby eastern bend, are commonly frequented by family, friends, and lovers looking for some peace and quiet, a place to sit and talk while overlooking over the shimmering sea, or to watch an early sunrise. Come this way and it’s quite likely you might be the only tourist in sight.
A scooter ride is a scenic and popular way to find this beach and it offers a real island feel during the ride along the coast. Nearby Eastern Road, which East Bay Street turns into once past the Harbour Bay Plaza, is easy to find from Downtown Nassau – just keep heading east on the main road. A rental car is another option, or a taxi, though be aware that this beach is located at the farthest eastern side of New Providence, around 7 miles from Downtown Nassau.
At extreme low tide, expect to be able to find some spectacular souvenirs in the form of shells to take home. Walking out for hundreds of yards offshore is possible, as is kayaking through prearranged sessions with Wolf’s Kayaking Lessons. Notice beautiful Bahamian architecture including wraparound balconies that capture cool breezes and ocean views framed in large bay windows in this well-to-do residential area.
Junkanoo Beach Perfect For Cruisers In Downtown Nassau
Named after the annual Bahamian parade known as Junkanoo, a colorful, somewhat raucous cultural event in the local calendar, this beach overlooking the entrance to Nassau Harbor could be said to live up to its moniker. Though beach-spoiled locals may argue this area (also known locally as the Western Esplanade) has nothing on Paradise Island’s beaches when it comes to tranquility, Junkanoo Beach is the most convenient beach to access for any cruise visitors coming into Nassau and offers a host of amenities to help visitors spend a few hours in the sun.
Bar Snacks, Restrooms, and WiFi:
Located right on the beach, The Tiki Bikini Hut, known for its party atmosphere, fun-loving staff, and tempting drinks specials, is a hit with Nassau cruise visitors. Food options include: burgers, BBQ, and Bahamian lunch favorites. Free WiFi access and nearby bathroom facilities are also part of the deal.
If arriving by cruise ship, walk up to Nassau’s main shopping thoroughfare, Bay Street, and head to your right. You’ll pass The British Colonial Hilton Hotel and turn a corner before arriving around three minutes later at Junkanoo Beach at the western end of Downtown Nassau.
Massages are available if you want to take your relaxation to the next level. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a filling meal, walk less than a mile to the west of Junkanoo Beach and there is the strip known as the Arawak Cay Fish Fry. This area started its life as one or two shacks selling local fare such as fried fish and crab and rice. Today it has expanded in both size and notoriety to become a Nassau institution, replete with around 20 colorful restaurants of various sizes.
Paradise Island’s Magnificent Cabbage Beach
Credit: Bahamas Air Tours
As Paradise Island’s longest beach (at around 2 miles), this stretch of soft, sun-kissed sand can still take away the breath of even the most avid local beachgoer. On a calm day, the waters compare favorably to the surface of a swimming pool. Coconut trees sway beyond the sand, creating a picturesque Bahamian scene. Peek through the foliage and you may see some of the homes of Paradise Island’s most elite residents (Oprah Winfrey) located along the beachfront within theOcean Club Estates.
The western end of the beach is typically busy with guests of the Atlantis Resort and The Riu Hotel. Saunter down towards the eastern end and you’ll often find you practically have the beach to yourself- perfect your preference of solitude or romance.
Restaurants and Respite:
If you feel like splashing out in other ways, the nearby One and Only Ocean Club – a favorite of Brad and Angelina for vacation time – has an elegant beachside restaurant and bar, Dune, which offers a chance to savor the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
A more budget-friendly option includes the small convenience store selling drinks and snacks which is located in the Paradise Island Beach Club, at the top of the wooden stairs which allow for public access to the eastern end of the beach. Of course, a slew of restaurants specializing in both Bahamian and international food await you at Atlantis’ Marina Village in the center of Paradise Island.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for hire, though beware of the cheeky practice of people trying to rent out beach property that does not belong to them.
If you’re on Paradise Island, these beaches are within walking distance from the major hotels, just ask a member of staff. If coming from Downtown Nassau, Paradise Island is accessible by a short taxi ride or a 45 minute walk. The Nassau Water Taxi, a small ferry intended to leave every half an hour, is another option costing $4 each way (keep in mind that “island time” often applies here).Cable Beach vacationers can opt to catch the Number 10 bus service (known locally as a “Jitney”) into Downtown Nassau first at $1.50 each way.
If you awake from a sun-induced slumber to the sounds of exhilarated screams, never fear: more so than at any other beach, this is a place where adrenaline junkies can partake in the thrill of a variety of watersports, like jet ski rentals, parasailing, and banana boating.
Cove Beach At Atlantis Paradise Island
A continuation of Cabbage Beach (although a bit more secluded), the idyllic Cove Beach is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the ultra exclusive Cove tower of the Atlantis Resort. As the name would suggest, the beach is located inside a beautiful, protected cove. Though the beach is public, be aware that some of the amenities nearby, such as the rental cabanas and deck chairs, are only available to Atlantis/Cove guests- if you’re a guest of the hotel, we envy you!
World Class Dining Options:
Dust off your sandy toes and treat yourself to Atlantis’ celebrity-chef offerings like Chef Matsuhisa’s Nobu; Cafe Martinique by Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten; Todd English’s Olives; and the newly opened South American-Caribbean fusion restaurant 77 West (one of Nassau’s five newest dining spots to try in 2016). Of course, if you’re feeling a little sunburnt and into something more low key, family favorite Murray’s Deli serves a selection of hearty sandwiches, soups, steaks, and more.
Continue to walk along the shoreline of Cabbage Beach to the west or through the Atlantis resort(only if you are a guest of the hotel) to gain access to the beach.
Keep walking beyond the cove and another long stretch of beach awaits you to the west. Tucked into the trees is the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, a world-renowned centre of yoga and meditation popular for those seeking solace and serenity. Morning and afternoon classes on the beach are also available for drop-ins. Make a point to stay after class for delicious vegetarian food and communal meals- yogic camaraderie with visitors from around the world comes free.
Saunders Beach Outside Of Downtown Nassau, Heading West
Come on a weekend or public holiday and you’ll discover this beach is more commonly frequented by locals than tourists, making it a perfect opportunity to interact with Bahamians in a laid back setting. Saunders Beach is especially popular as a location for local “cook-outs”- fundraising events where Bahamian foodie favorites are often served up for sale. The spot was upgraded several years ago to include ample parking, a children’s playground, restrooms and showers.
Food and Amenities Nearby:
Directly across from the beach is a shopping plaza which includes a pizzeria, pharmacy, bookstore, and liquor store, among other things, making it easy to pick up a few picnic items once you arrive if necessary. Though it’s hardly a Bahamian specialty, local legend has it that Bahamian KFC (you’ll find a restaurant located opposite the beach) tastes better than it does anywhere else in the world. We won’t pass judgment on this, though it might go someway to explaining how The Bahamas became one of the fast-food chain’s most lucrative locations and why, for many Bahamians, a trip to the beach wouldn’t be complete without a bucket of the Colonel’s best.
Located along West Bay Street, the beach can be best accessed by catching the number 10 bus from downtown, at a cost of $1.25 per person, or by renting a car, or scooter and parking in the designated lot.
Take a stroll to the west past the beach and you’ll come to a spectacular vantage point known locally as ‘Go Slow Bend’, from where you can get a panoramic view of Cable Beach and beyond. On calm days, Paddle Boarding lessons with Papa Surf Bahamas are available here once arranged in advance.
Love Beach Tucked Away In West New Providence
Credit: Cheap Caribbean
It’s not clear who gave Love Beach its name, but this hidden gem could certainly inspire some romance. Even if it doesn’t, we certainly expect you’ll love the beach itself. Some say a stop here is a bit like being in what we Bahamians call the Family Islands – less inhabited islands dotted throughout the archipelago, known for their laid-back lifestyle, natural beauty, and, almost always empty beaches.
Al Fresco Dining & Snorkeling:
The nearby Nirvana Beach Bar, located on the beachfront, is known for its friendly service, impressive array of cocktails, and splendid view of the sea. It also offers kayaks for hire and snorkeling gear- for $5 a piece – handy, since the beach is one of Nassau’s most accessible for finding dazzling reefs, with coral and tropical fish in abundance nearby.
If you work up a hunger or thirst after a day of swimming, make your way back to the main road above and take a left. Soon you’ll find Compass Point – a quaint, multi-colored, island chic resort. Also in the vicinity- Aquafire Grill and Studio Cafe– both of which are open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunches.
Situated parallel to West Bay Street, Love beach is located quite a distance from Paradise Island and Downtown Nassau, with a taxi from Atlantis known to cost around $50, or from Cable Beach, $25. Fortunately, the beach does lie on the number 10 bus route, which stops just east of the Compass Point Resort, and whose often chatty drivers can be approached to let passengers off directly outside the Nirvana Beach Resort with a special request. Other options are to visit by scooter or rental car.
If you or your beach-going group is into aviation, Love Beach happens to be in the path of all flights landing at Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (recently awarded with the best airport website design in the world!) so prepare to wave ‘Hello’ to some new incoming visitors and see who can spot the airline carrier first.