Picture a cruise to The Bahamas and one of the first images that will come to mind is a white sand beach with electric blue water. But if you’re visiting Nassau, which is one of the most visited cruise ports in the world, you might be surprised that you don’t see any beaches at all from the pier.
That’s because cruise ships dock in a spot that’s heavily developed with a waterfront that’s been built for commerce instead of a beach day.
Nevertheless, Nassau does sit on an island, and if you’re visiting on a cruise, then there are some beaches relatively close by. Just know that they can involve walking, a taxi ride, or a ferry to access. Still, if you want to visit a beach, these are your closest options…
Junkanoo Beach (0.6 Miles)
About two-thirds of a mile from the cruise ship (roughly a 15-minute walk) sits the closest beach to the cruise ports — Junkanoo. All you have to do to get there is hang a right outside of the port area and follow Bay Street until you pass the Margaritaville Report.
We consider Junkanoo Beach to be two parts. The first part you reach will be much more crowded with restaurants, bars, loungers, and chairs that you can rent. If you want to have some beers and have a good time, this is the spot for you.
Walk farther down the beach and you’ll notice that all that goes away and it’s largely an empty beach (except for other cruise passengers), some shady trees and a much calmer vibe.
One cool feature is that from here you can look back and see the cruise ships, and they make a great backdrop for a photo.
Esplanade Beach (1 Miles)
Walk about five more minutes down the path from Junkanoo and you’re at Esplanade Beach. This stretch of sand curves around, almost facing directly back at the cruise ships. During our visits here we’ve noticed it to be quieter, larger, and with hardly many people at all.
Note that there aren’t public facilities here like restrooms. There are some spots to eat and grab a drink, but they are far fewer than what’s found at nearby Junkanoo Beach.
As well, there are some spots with loungers and/or umbrellas that are available to rent. So if you’re wanting a beach that has some simple offerings but far fewer people… all while being within a healthy walk of the cruise ship, this may be ideal.
We will say that this beach is right near the Nassau Container Port, which means it doesn’t have the most beautiful view, although you can see the cruise ships in the distance.
Cabbage Beach (1.5 Miles)
If you want the most popular beach (when it comes to the amount of cruise passengers who visit), then head to Cabbage Beach. The beach is golden sand with gorgeous blue water, and lots of activity with everything from tourists to vendors.
You’ll find Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island. This is perhaps better known as the island where the bustling Atlantis Resort sits. To get there you can either grab a taxi at the stand in the cruise port area (the easy way) or take a $7 ferry across the channel and then walk over to the beach (the more fun way, though not the easiest).
Once you arrive you’ll find a busy beach that stretches for seemingly forever. Anything you could want to rent is available here as well. Want smaller crowds? Walk down the beach and you’ll find a spot that’s all your own.
Saunders Beach (2.5 Miles)
If you want a local’s beach that’s likely to have only a few visitors to relax and spend the day, Saunders Beach will fit the bill.
At about two miles from the cruise port, we think this would be too far of a distance to walk for most people. Instead, you’ll want to catch a cab at the cruise port for a quick ride over to the spot.
Saunders Beach features a number of coves stretching over a half-mile distance so there will always be plenty of space. There aren’t a lot of bars/restaurants here but there is a kid’s playground, public restrooms at the west end of the beach, and a convenience store across the road where you can grab something to drink or a snack.
Goodman’s Bay (3.5 Miles)
Ok, if you’re thinking of a classic Bahamian beach, this might be what you have in mind. It’s a sweeping and wide beach that circles the bay for more than a mile. In fact, some of the biggest and nicest hotels on the island (including the massive Baha Mar resort) call this spot home.
In between these hotels is Goodman’s Bay Park, offering easy public access to the beach and the water. And while the beach might get more crowded in front of the resorts, this spot should have relatively fewer people.
Note that unless staying at a resort, there aren’t many facilities for you here for things like chairs or umbrellas. There are some trees at the edge of the beach if you want a little shade. As well, it will take about a 15-minute taxi ride to get here from the cruise port.
Map of Beaches Near the Nassau Port
More on Visiting Nassau:
- 12+ Fun Cheap (or FREE) Things to Do in Nassau
- 30 Fun Things for Cruise Passengers to Do in Nassau
- Everything About Riding the Ferry from Nassau to Paradise Island (Atlantis)