Last week, I decided to take a break from Winter in the Midwest, so I drove down to Florida and boarded a Carnival cruise headed down to the beautiful, sunny Bahamas. To be honest, I didn't do much research and had very little idea of what to expect from our two port cities. To be fair, I only spent about a day in each, so I can't give a super in-depth guide. There's things I might have missed in my short time on these islands, but for anyone making a short stop in either of these cities, here's what I found.
I'd heard mixed reviews about Freeport, but I would definitely say that Freeport is a lot less developed than Nassau. It's the port that never got rebuilt after a hurricane and to be honest, there's not much to do besides go to the beach. Grab a taxi and hope that it's one of the nice ones (we heard horror stories about cabs that drove like crazy). We went to Taino beach, which is a beautiful, private beach, but be warned that between the cab ride and entrance to the beach, it's going to cost you about $20 per person.
Recommendations: If you feel like sitting on the beach and maybe paddle boarding or kayaking, then head to Taino Beach. If not, maybe try an excursion at this port and save the tourist stuff for Nassau.
This was definitely the nicer of the two islands. We started off the day with a snorkeling excursion. The weather was great- sailing by beautiful homes on a catamaran was awesome and the water was crystal clear and full of fish. I highly recommend taking a snorkeling trip because three hours is the perfect amount of time if you only have a day to visit and want to see some more of the city.
Queen's Staircase - If you're up for a bit of a walk, you can walk just under a mile from the port and reach the Queen's staircase, which is a long set of stairs carved into the rock with waterfalls next to it. It's like you walk into a shady, tropical oasis for a few minutes. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the significance of it is, but after being stuck on a boat for a few days, it was nice to stretch our legs a little. Just remember look right, left, right because that other side of the road driving got me.
Parliament - Another tourist destination we found on Pinterest that we decided to check out. It was a little hard to find seeing as there was a giant Christmas tree and bleachers right in front of it (hopefully not there year round) but after some wandering, we found it. Coming from the U.S., it's pretty funny to think about a court house being bubble gum, but I guess everything in the Bahamas is a little more colorful.
Unlike in Freeport, there were tons of shops all around this port area. Looking for a souvenir? They've got you covered. Want to get some of your high end shopping done? They've got tons of that too. There was pretty much a store for anything you could want (and probably any price point too).
If you've been keeping it cheap on the boat, and you're craving some of those fixed up drinks from Starbucks, here's your chance! This was the only Starbucks I saw along the way, so take this opportunity to fill up and enjoy.
Another must do if you're looking for a little party on the beach is heading towards Señor Frogs. We noticed that the boat was filled with a lot more families and older couples than young people, so this was our chance to hang out with other people our age for a little bit. The music is loud, the drinks are good and if you're feeling up for a lot of fun, the "party patrol" is walking around ready to pour shots down your throat.
If you're feeling like some authentic cuisine, you could try one of the many seafood dishes they offer along the island. You can literally find it almost anywhere - at restaurants, on the beach, by the side of the road and under a bridge.
If you want to relax on the beach, there's public access about a 10 minute walk from port. It's not a huge beach, but the water looks amazing, and it's so close to port that walking to it after shopping is so easy.
I didn't have a lot of expectations going into the Bahamas, but I'd say it definitely met them. The people were friendly (although beware of people trying to sell you things) and the islands were beautiful. Freeport was a little underwhelming, but Nassau was nice and the crystal clear water was everything I hoped for. If you're looking for a short trip to somewhere tropical, I'd highly recommend a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas - a year round paradise.