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BAHAMAS BEYOND THE BEACH: Nassau’s best excursions

The Bahamas is perhaps best known as a beach destination, famed for soft white sands, sparkling turquoise waters, and abundant sunshine – more than 300 sunny days each year. But beyond the beach visitors will discover a destination brimming with vibrant culture, natural beauty, and fascinating history, where Spanish, West African, and British influences come together with a uniquely Caribbean twist.

Here, we’ve rounded up just a few of our favourite Bahamas excursions – from rum tastings to historical tours to sunset ocean cruises.

Historic forts

Take a step back in time on a tour through the towering ramparts, spooky dungeons, and hidden passageways of Nassau Paradise Island’s local forts. The journey begins at Fort Charlotte, the largest of Nassau’s three forts at a sprawling 40 hectares and boasting breathtaking hilltop views of the harbour and sparkling turquoise waters below. Guided tours impart the fascinating history of the 18th-century fortification. For a truly immersive blast from the past, visit on a Wednesday or Friday to encounter a colourful cast of characters dressed in period-correct costumes, along with a thrilling midday cannon firing.

For dedicated history buffs, Fort Charlotte is only the beginning. Perched atop Bennet’s Hill, imposing Fort Fincastle represents the highest point on New Providence Island. The limestone stronghold was erected in 1793 with an unconventional layout resembling a paddle-wheel steamer. Enjoy sweeping views from atop the fort’s 38-metre-high walls, then snap a photo or two on the adjacent Queen’s Staircase — one of Nassau’s most recognisable landmarks.

Finally, no tour of the forts of Nassau Paradise Island would be complete without a stop at Fort Montagu. Located on the eastern shore, Fort Montagu dates back to 1725, making it the oldest of the three forts in Nassau. Don’t be fooled by its relatively small size: this military stronghold was once the site of the United States Marine Corps’ first military action in 1776, when American ships were sent to capture a large supply of British gunpowder stored there. Immerse yourself in this fascinating history on a guided tour, then take a short stroll along neighbouring East Bay Street, where a charming array of local restaurants, watering holes, and shops await you.

Cigar Rolling

Cigar aficionados can take a deep dive into the art, science, and history of cigars on an intimate, small-group Cigar & Rum Tasting experience at the iconic Graycliff Hotel, Nassau’s oldest hotel. This 18th-century colonial mansion boasts lush tropical gardens, sparkling swimming pools, and the Caribbean’s first five-star restaurant. It’s also home to the widely acclaimed Graycliff Cigar Company, whose master rollers have been crafting their own array of unique blends for more than 25 years.

Visitors will learn about the history of tobacco in The Bahamas, including where the best leaves are found and how Graycliff’s master rollers decide what goes into their award-winning cigars. Get expert guidance on how to sort, clean, and store a cigar, or channel your inner torcedor and try your hand at rolling a few of your own.

Retreat Garden

The Bahamas is a place of boundless natural beauty, and nowhere is that more apparent than with a visit to the Retreat Garden. Nestled within the grounds of historic Government House, this hidden urban oasis is a haven for horticulturalists, bird watchers, and nature lovers alike. The 11-acre grounds boast a dizzying array of blooming florals, exotic birds, and rare tropical plants, along with tranquil lily ponds and more than 90 species of palm trees from far-flung destinations like Mexico, Madagascar, and Indonesia.

Savour an hour or two of solitude as you wander the garden’s shady boardwalks and meandering pathways. The park features on-site restroom facilities, as well as a helpful visitor’s centre where you can find information on the plants and wildlife you can discover during your visit.

Rum-runner’s passage

Are you captivated by tales of pirates, plunder, and prohibition? Then let Islandz Tours’ Rum Runner’s Passage transport you back to a bygone Bahamian era on a guided walking tour through the heart of historic downtown Nassau.

Sample a few favourite local dishes while learning all about the distilling process and how the rum trade shaped our history here. Notable stops along the way include Pirate’s Pub, the Graycliff Hotel, Hillside House, and John Watling’s Distillery, where you can taste your way through a curated selection of Caribbean rum, along with crafted cocktails, rum-infused chocolates, and an irresistible rum punch. Bottoms up!

Sunset dinner cruise

When it comes to sunsets, it’s better in the Bahamas, so it should come as no surprise that a Nassau Sunset Dinner Cruise is one of our go-to recommendations for the perfect end to an unforgettable day in Paradise – sailing through Paradise Island Harbour with a glass of rum punch and dining on an island-inspired feast of Bahamian favourites like BBQ ribs and lemon pepper chicken, all while taking panoramic views of the iconic Atlantis Paradise Island, and watching the Caribbean sky transforms into a mesmerising canvas of vibrant purple, pink, red, and gold.

Endless options

Of course, these excursions only scratch the surface. Click here to Explore the many things to see, do, and experience in the Bahamas.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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