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New Providence

NEW PROVIDENCE and PARADISE ISLAND are the undeniable heart of the Bahamian archipelago. Despite its tiny size - 21 miles long and 7 miles wide - New Providence has more than two-thirds of the country's population and is home to the capital Nassau , a thriving city of around 100,000 residents. Initially gaining renown for its sheltered harbour and strategic location on the shipping route from the New World to Spain, the island has during its nearly 230-year history been a refuge for pirates and privateers, site of illicit smuggling, haven for fishermen, and formidable centre of tourism, with nearly two million visitors now arriving annually.
Nassau Ship

Stretching east to west, New Providence offers a wealth of lovely, uncrowded beaches , while on its northeastern shore Nassau runs six blocks deep and features the shopping arcade Bay Street , located along Prince George Wharf . A lengthy toll bridge east of downtown Nassau connects to Paradise Island , a glitzy tourist enclave that includes the mega-resort Atlantis , as well as many other hotels, shops, restaurants and spas. The island's main highlight is Cabbage Beach , covering most of the north coast and featuring deep blue water and trade winds that cool even the hottest of afternoons.

Nassau  Tourist_Traps
Although much of eastern New Providence has been covered by urban sprawl, the areas west of Nassau include stunning stretches of beach, though the main draw of Cable Beach is increasingly peppered by exclusive resorts, private estates, condominiums and time-shares. More worthwhile, the western shores , twelve miles of sand from Cable Beach to the western point , are the most dazzling parts of the island, with isolated Love Beach near Compass Point a particularly appealing spot.

Beyond the western point is exclusive Lyford Cay , where celebrities like Sean Connery live in hermetically sealed luxury. New Providence's south shore has few notable beaches, and even fewer hotels, though diving and snorkelling draw many enthusiasts to the shore's outer reef and reef walls.

Although the central interior of New Providence is marshy scrub, several local eco-tourism operators offer kayaking on Lake Killarney and combination biking-kayaking tours as well.

Getting There

Nassau International Airport (tel 242/377-7281), the hub of Bahamian air transport, is located on the west-central part of New Providence, a fifteen-minute taxi ride from downtown Nassau and only ten minutes from Cable Beach. While there are no buses from the airport, there are plenty of taxis , with the average fare to Nassau around US$18 for two people, and many hotels provide limousines for arriving guests. Both taxis and limos congregate just outside the arrival area, adjacent to customs and immigration. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism operates a small information booth at the airport.

Nassau Cruise Ships
In downtown Nassau, there are two information booths that provide useful maps and brochures. The smaller one can be found near the Straw Market on Bay Street (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; tel 242/356-7591), while the larger office is located in Rawson Square, about two blocks east of the market (Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat 8.30am-4pm, Sun 8.30am-2pm; tel 242/326-9781).

Getting around New Providence and Paradise island is rather easy, considering that both islands are fairly compact and centralized, and few destinations are ever more than fifteen or twenty minutes apart. Taxis are ubiquitous, with almost all hotels and resorts having taxi stands, and are typically owned by independent operators, most of whom are experienced and friendly (dispatchers reached at 242/322-5111 and 323-4555). If you're travelling early in the morning, make a taxi reservation the night before.

Nassau Bahamas Fort Water Tower
Bahamian buses are known as jitneys and serve all parts of Nassau and Cable Beach for 75 cents. Downtown Nassau's central bus stop is near the corner of Frederick and Bay streets, across from the British Colonial Hotel , and the popular #10 line runs west from downtown to Cable Beach and Compass Point. The major car rental agencies are all located in Nassau, though there are also a number of locally owned - and cheaper - agencies throughout the city. You can rent motor scooters and bicycles at local outlets as well.


Nassau Bahamas


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