How to Experience Colonial and Pirate Life in Nassau

Bluegreen Resorts offers luxurious and unique vacation destinations across the United States, as well as in Aruba and the Bahamas. In the Bahamas’ capital of Nassau, Bluegreen Resorts will help you discover relaxation and adventure while staying at the Blue Water Resort at Cable Beach. You can relax surrounded by the sparkling blue waters and white sand beaches of Cable Beach, or venture away from the resort to explore the other delights Nassau has to offer, including food tasting tours and duty-free shopping.

As a town that dates back to the 1600s, Nassau also boasts a number of historical landmarks and attractions that illustrate the city’s past as a colonial settlement and haven for pirates. Here are some of the top historical and pirate-related sites to visit in Nassau:

Pirates of Nassau Museum

sailboatIf you’re fascinated by pirate history, the Pirates of Nassau Museum is the perfect place to learn more about the pirates who gathered in Nassau during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy” between 1690 and 1720. Nassau was a prime operating base for pirates because the waters were too shallow for large war vessels, giving the pirates a tactical advantage in their speedy and shallow draft vessels. Pirates in Nassau also enjoyed easy access to the merchant ships using nearby trade routes. As such, Nassau assembled the largest concentration of pirates of any site in the New World and supported a thriving community that grew up around the market for pirated goods.

At the Pirates of Nassau Museum in downtown Nassau, you will embark on an interactive pirate experience that starts with the sounds of the ocean, a moonlit dock, and pirates reveling in a tavern. You’ll also get to climb aboard a replica pirate ship to discover the life of a Nassau pirate.

Fort Fincastle

Named after the British captain who commissioned the structure, Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 to defend Nassau Harbor from pirates and Spanish and French forces interested in controlling the Caribbean. The fort was constructed on New Providence Island’s highest point, Bennet’s Hill, to provide expansive views of Paradise Island, the city of Nassau, and the open seas. With its strategic location, the fort primarily served as a watch tower, and its cannons were never fired. Fort Fincastle is open seven days a week for tours so you can further discover its role in Nassau history.

Queen’s Staircase

queen's staircase

Image courtesy Henk van Kampen | Flickr

To reach Fort Fincastle, you need to climb the 102-foot Queen’s Staircase, which is one of Nassau’s most popular attractions. The staircase was hand-carved by hundreds of slaves over the course of 16 years. Using hand tools and pick axes, they dug out the solid limestone and used the excavated stone for Fort Fincastle.

The staircase was named the Queen’s Staircase decades later in honor of Queen Victoria. It continues to serve as the shorter route to Bennet’s Hill and as the pathway to Fort Fincastle.

Fort Charlotte

As the most sizeable of the three forts built in Nassau, Fort Charlotte features a drawbridge, waterless moat, dungeons, and ramparts. The fort was built by the commanding British captain, Lord Dunmore, in 1789 and named after the wife of King George III. Just a short walk from downtown Nassau, Fort Charlotte offers beautiful views of the harbor and daily tours that highlight the fort’s historical context.

Parliament Square

Located in the heart of downtown Nassau, Parliament Square is a collection of distinctive pink-painted buildings where the government of the Bahamas conducts matters of state. Parliament Square exemplifies Nassau’s colonial history, as the buildings were originally constructed by Loyalists from North Carolina in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

In Parliament Square, you’ll find the Senate Building, the House of Assembly, and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas. You can watch lawmakers at work in the House of Assembly, or check out the marble statue of Queen Victoria that was erected in 1905 outside the Senate Building. At the rear of the Senate Building, Bahamian judges and lawyers with the Supreme Court wear traditional British robes and wigs in a nod to the country’s colonial past.

Blackbeard’s Tower

Blackbeard's Tower

Image courtesy Bard Heird | Flickr

On an island renowned for its pirate lore, Blackbeard’s Tower is one of the more legendary—albeit disputed—pirate sites. Local lore says that the crumbling stone tower was the lookout point for the infamous Edward Teach, who became known as the pirate Blackbeard while stealing goods and gold in the early 1700s. However, historians point out that the tower was most likely built long after Blackbeard’s death in 1718 during a failed conquest. Either way, it’s worth visiting the site that has become a symbol of piracy in Nassau.

Balcony House

Believed to be one of the oldest residential structures in Nassau, Balcony House was built around 1788 and restored in 1994 for public tours. The historic house features a detached stone kitchen, a front balcony partially braced by wooden knee brackets, and a mahogany staircase that may have been recovered from a ship. Located on Market Street, the house is open to the public between Monday and Friday each week.