There's a lot to see in Nassau. Many tour options can be customized to suit your taste and take you through the colorful historic city and outlying sights of interest.
Walking tours, arranged by the Ministry of Tourism, leave from the tourist information booth at Festival Place every day intermittently and, depending on demand, at 10am. Tours last an hour and include descriptions of some of the city's most venerable buildings, with commentaries on Nassau's history, customs, and traditions. The cost is $10 per person for all ages. Call tel. 242/395-8382 to confirm that tours are running. Reservations are helpful but not essential.
Majestic Tours, Hillside Manor, Cumberland Street (tel. 242/322-2606; http://majestictoursbahamas.com), offers a number of trips, both night and day. A 2 1/2-hour city-and-country tour leaves daily at 2pm, visiting major points of interest, including forts, the Queen's Staircase, the water tower, and the former site of the Straw Market (passing but not entering it). The cost is $45 per person. An extended city-and-country tour also leaves daily at 2pm and includes the Ardastra Gardens; the cost is $55 per person, half-price for children 12 and under. Combination tours depart Tuesday to Thursday at 10am and include all the sights listed on the first tour above, plus the Retreat Gardens and lunch. These cost $70 per person, $48 for children 12 and under. Many hotels have a Majestic Tours Hospitality Desk in the lobby, where you can get information and make reservations for these tours. Other hotels have brochures and can tell you where to sign up.
Journey into the Wild
Take a day off from the beach and join one of the wildlife tours offered by Bahamas Outdoors (tel. 242/362-1574 or 242/457-0329; www.bahamasoutdoors.com). We highly recommend speaking to Carolyn Wardle, president of Bahamas Outdoors, for insight into the best of the island's remaining wildlife habitats. Born in Surrey, England, and a resident of New Providence for decades, Ms. Wardle, a passionate conservationist (she's a director of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds), is well known to residents of New Providence's more isolated regions. Armed with sturdy shoes, a Bahamas Outdoors T-shirt, sunglasses, a hat, and binoculars, she knows the island's wildlife habitats (forest, seashore, and freshwater ponds) better than anyone on the island. Consider signing on for a half-day tour, priced at $69 per person, or a full-day tour, at $109 per person. Tours rarely include more than a half-dozen participants and can be conducted either in a vehicle (with frequent stops along the way for closer observation) or on an all-terrain bike. Depending on your stated preferences, the focus of your island tour could include birds, native flora and fauna, butterflies, national parks, historic sites, or -- best of all -- a combination of all of them. Access to binoculars and a battered collection of field guides is included. The full-day tours also include a picnic lunch.
It's advisable to make reservations at least a day in advance. Most tours begin in front of the participants' hotel at a prearranged time. Bird-watching tours tend to begin earlier (around 7am) than biking and/or historic and nature tours, which start just a bit later.