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Even with more than 700 islands and cays in the Bahamas, it is Nassau, the capital and business center, that attracts so many visitors to experience its easy-going Caribbean flavor. Whether you come by cruise ship, airline or your very own yacht, the people of the Bahamas will welcome you and help you experience their beautiful island nation.
Located so close to North America, the city still retains the best of its British colonial heritage while also displaying its own unique history and culture. And what a colorful history it has had! After the original settlement, Charles Town, was burned during one of the sporadic wars between Great Britain and Spain, it was rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695. Since then, it has been a pirate haven (Edward Teach, the notorious Blackbeard, once made Nassau his headquarters); a new home for Loyalists fleeing the British colonies after the American Revolution; and a settlement for Africans freed by the Royal Navy from slave ships, during the suppression of the Transatlantic slave trade in the early 19th century. Explore the town on foot, by taxi and the efficient bus service, or rent a car, jeep or scooter. Take the opportunity to visit such landmarks as Parliament Square, The Cloisters, Christ Church Cathedral and Fort Charlotte. Absorb the past with visits to the Pirates of Nassau Museum, the Bahamas Historical Society, the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation and many other institutions.
Of course, what's a visit to Nassau without shopping? Bay Street, which runs through the downtown area, is home to many shops and boutiques. Be sure to visit the Straw Market to find finely made baskets and other woven crafts, while other shops, such as Bahama Hand Prints, offer beautiful local products. When it's time to eat, the only problem is deciding from among the many restaurants, bars and fish fry venues. To try the local cuisine, you need only go to the Fish Fry district in Arawak Cay: Goldie's Conch House, Bahamian Cookin', Conchie Joe's and many other little spots offer fresh-caught fish dishes as well as conch in its many, delicious forms. Fine world-class dining, including celebrity chef restaurants, abounds; choose from such names as Nobu, Café Martinique and the Bahamian Club.
Where Nassau really shines, however, is in its many beaches. The fine white sand meets the clear turquoise water at Cabbage Beach, Cable Beach, Love Beach and Jaws Beach (don't worry: it got its name from a movie that was filmed there) are just a few of your choices. Lounge and absorb the relaxing rays while you enjoy a frosty drink and perhaps a snack, or take a boat tour offshore - there are many services that offer charters for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing or just partying. There are also opportunities to rent kayaks, sailboards, jet ski, banana boat or even try a water jet-pack. Whatever you choose to do in Nassau, you'll take home the best souvenir of all: memories of a wonderful experience.