New Providence and Paradise Islands Travel Guide
When to Go
With the warm Gulf Stream currents swirling and balmy trade winds blowing, New Providence is an appealing year-round destination. Temperatures usually hover in the 70s and 80s and rarely get above 90°F on a midsummer's day or below 60°F on a winter's night. June to October tend to be the hottest and wettest months, although rain is often limited to periodic afternoon showers.
The best time to visit the island is December to May, especially if you're escaping the cold. Don't mind the locals, who'll likely tell you it's too chilly to hit the beach in winter, but you may want to pack a light sweater if you plan on dining outdoors. Visitors from colder climates may find the humid summer days and nights a bit stifling. Be aware that tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes are a possibility in New Providence during the Atlantic hurricane season from early June to late November. Expect to pay between 15% and 30% less off-season at most resorts.
Bahamas International Film Festival. In early December, the Bahamas International Film Festival in Nassau celebrates cinema in paradise, with screenings, receptions, and movie-industry panels.
Authentically Bahamian Christmas Trade Show. The Authentically Bahamian Christmas Trade Show on Cable Beach showcases conch-shell jewelry, straw handbags, batiks, and other island-made crafts the first weekend of December.
Christmas Jollification. This ongoing arts-and-crafts fair with Bahamian Christmas crafts, food, and music is held at the Retreat in Nassau.
Junior Junkanoo Parade. The island's schoolchildren compete for bragging rights in the Junior Junkanoo Parade in mid-December. The parade starts at 6 pm and kids in preschool through high school rush down Bay Street, putting on an exciting show.
Junkanoo. Once Christmas dinner is over, the focus shifts to Junkanoo. The first major parade of the season starts just after midnight in downtown Nassau. There's a second parade on New Year's Day.
International Dog Show & Obedience Trials. In Nassau, watch dogs of all classes compete at the International Dog Show & Obedience Trials, held mid-March. Check www.bahamaskennelclub.org for location.
Goombay Summer. Woodes Rodgers Walk is transformed during the annual Goombay Summer festival held weekends during July or August. Listen to Rake 'n' Scrape bands, watch a Junkanoo rush-out, and sample local foods.
Fox Hill Festival. The Nassau Fox Hill Festival in early August pays tribute to Emancipation with church services, Junkanoo parades, music, cookouts, games, and other festivities.
International Cultural Weekend. Eat and drink your way around the world at the International Cultural Weekend, hosted at the Botanic Gardens the third weekend of October.
If You Have 3 Days
We're guessing you came to the Bahamas to get some sun, so don't waste any time. Decide whether you'd prefer a secluded stretch of sand or a beach right in the middle of the action, such as Cable Beach —New Providence has both. After relaxing on the beach, check out the downtown bar-and-club scene. Spend Day 2 taking in the markets, gardens, and historic sites of Nassau. A good starting point is Rawson Square, in the heart of the commercial area. Do your shopping in the morning, hitting Bay Street, the capital's main street, and Festival Place at Prince George Wharf. To avoid the afternoon heat, visit the National Art Gallery, checking out the colonial architecture along the way. Head to Arawak Cay (the Fish Fry to locals) for dinner; pick a shack and order an authentic Bahamian meal of grilled snapper (served whole) washed down with a cold Kalik or Sands beer. On your third day, tour Paradise Island. Try your luck at the Atlantis casino or explore the giant aquariums (non–resort guests will have to pay a hefty $39 for adults or $29 for kids under 12). For your final night, book reservations at one of Atlantis's fancier restaurants; Nobu, Mesa Grill, or Café Martinique will serve up a last supper to remember.
If You Have 5 Days
On Day 4, consider a day trip to one of the Out Islands. Quaint Harbour Island is just two hours away on the Bohengy ferry (242/323–2166 www.bahamasferries.com), or book seats on one of the large speedboats that will take you to a private island in the Exumas. For your final day, rent a car or scooters and head to Western New Providence, stopping for lunch at Goodfellow Farms on your way to the Clifton Heritage Park.