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N A S S AU • • H i s t o r y 63

National Parks

New Providence
Most visitors to New Providence stay within the heady triangle of charming, colonial downtown Nassau, Cable Beach’s fun-filled beachside resorts, and the all-pervasive excitement of
the Atlantis water and casino complex on adjoining Paradise Island. Nassau is so geared to
the tourist that the ‘real’ island takes some seeking out. Yet it lies close at hand.
The narrow streets of downtown Nassau spill over with busy residents, hedonistic holidaymakers and shopping cruise-ship passengers. By strolling down to Potter’s Cay when fishing
boats return laden with glistening fish, you can experience an aspect of Bahamian life that
hasn't changed much since the 1800s. Or to enjoy a real Bahamian community experience,
attend an exuberant church service or wander amid the goombay dancers and the bustle
of Arawak Cay, where multicolored shacks sell beer and hot, crispy pieces of fried fish. Quiet
communities and fishing villages dot the coastline, where friendly artists display their vivid
wares and Bahamians chat while children play on undisturbed beaches after school.
Most of the interior of the island is marshy, with large lakes and dense scrub forest, but it
is enjoyed by bird-watchers. Here, serene Lake Nancy is edged by grandiose homes that are
only outshone by billionaires’ dwellings in the secured settlements on the western coast.
Two-thirds of the nation’s population live on this 21 mile-long isle, mostly within Nassau.
Although the turquoise seas and white, sugar-soft sands of Cable and Cabbage Beaches are
renowned, other idyllic spots include uninhabited cays, perfect for day trips. Locals relish the
pretty western and southern beaches, where the snorkeling and diving are superb.

Harrold and Wilson Ponds are perfect for a
spot of hiking or bird-watching, with over
a hundred listed bird species including
herons, egrets and cormorants to be viewed
The Retreat (p74) is tucked away in the
center of Nassau, and has a vast collection of
palms and tropical plants plus the Bahamas
National Trust (BNT; p74). Enjoy a stroll
through the garden’s 11 acres and collect
some detailed information on regional sites
of interest.
Bird-watchers should head for the reserves of Paradise Island, Cable Beach Golf
Course, the caves, Lakeview, Red Sound,
Twin Lakes, Westward Villas, Lake Cunningham, Waterloo, Adelaide Creek, Goulding ...
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