Friday, 16 March 2018

BAHAMAS: Nassau High Crime Rate,Armed Robbery Is On The Rise And Tourists Are Often Targeted

Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas, a member of the British Commonwealth. It is the largest city in the Bahamas and its low-rise sprawl dominates the eastern half of New Providence Island.

Located on New Providence Island, Nassau has an attractive harbour, a colourful blend of old world and colonial architecture, and a busy port.

The tropical climate and natural beauty of the Bahamas have made Nassau a popular tourist destination.

Nassau developed directly behind the port area. New Providence provides 200 km² of relatively flat and low-lying land intersected by low ridges none of which restricted settlement.

In the centre of the island there are several shallow lakes that are tidally connected.

The city's proximity to the United States which is 290 km east-southeast of Miami, Florida has contributed to its popularity as a holiday resort, especially after the United States imposed a ban on travel to Cuba in 1963.

The Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property. The mega-resort employs over 6,000 Bahamians, and is the largest employer outside government.

Nassau is the capital and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has an estimated population of 274,400 as of 2016, or 70 percent of the entire population of the Bahamas.

Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for the Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of Nassau city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a business district. Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was considered historically to be a stronghold of pirates.

The city was named in honour of William III of England, Prince of Orange-Nassau, deriving its name from Nassau, Germany.

The climate is best described as subtropical. With a climate identical to South Florida, the area usually experiences very warm, humid weather throughout the year.

This with cool nights in the 40s during wintertime occasionally, and cold snaps sometimes hitting the region. Snow has been recorded once.

Founded around 1650 by the British as Charles Town, the town was renamed in 1695 after Fort Nassau. Due to the Bahamas' strategic location near trade routes and its multitude of islands.

Nassau soon became a popular pirates' den, and British rule was soon challenged by the self-proclaimed Privateers Republic under the leadership of the infamous Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.

However, the alarmed British soon tightened their grip, and by 1720 the pirates had been killed or driven out.

Today, with a population of 260,000, Nassau contains nearly 80% of the population of the Bahamas.

However, it's still quite low-rise and laid back, with the pretty pastel pink government buildings and the looming giant cruise ships that dock daily.

Orienting yourself in central Nassau is fairly easy. Bay Street, which runs parallel to the shore, is the main shopping street, filled with an odd mix of expensive jewelry boutiques and souvenir shops.

The hill that rises behind Bay St contains most of the Bahamas' government buildings and company headquarters, while the residential Over-the-Hill district starts on the other side.

As the population of Nassau grew, so did its populated areas. Today the city dominates the entire island and its satellite, Paradise Island.

However, until the post-Second World War era, the outer suburbs scarcely existed. Most of New Providence was uncultivated bush until Loyalists were resettled there following the American Revolutionary War.

They established several plantations, such as Clifton and Tusculum. Slaves were imported as labour.

The city centre is the hub for all activities in Nassau. Thousands of people visit daily, to shop, dine, sightsee and to enjoy the tropical climate of the city.

While the busiest part of central city is the Bay Street thoroughfare and the Woodes Rogers Walk, located across the street from the port and parallel to Bay, the area extends for several blocks in each direction.

It starts at West Bay, around the Junkanoo Beach area. A few hotels and restaurants are located on West Bay.

The next landmark is the British Colonial Hotel, which marks the beginning of Bay Street proper. Pirates of Nassau Museum is just across from the British Colonial Hilton.

The next few blocks of Bay Street are wall-to-wall boutiques, with a few restaurants and clubs interspersed throughout the retailers.

Historical landmarks are also in the vicinity, including Vendue House, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Nassau Public Library.

Although the tourist part of the city centre peters out after about seven blocks, smaller, more local stores are found all the way down Bay Street. At this point, Bay Street becomes East Bay.

The new Straw Market is also a very busy place. After a fire in 2001 it has been rebuilt with a new, more modern look.

It consists of four sections that lead to Nassau Harbour in the back. Also in that area are some jewellery shops and bars.

Cable Beach is recognised as the hotel district of Nassau. Five hotels—two of which are all-inclusive—are located on this strip. The area is also known for its dining, the Crystal Palace Casino, and the golden sands of Cable Beach.

Most of the area's restaurants are located either in the hotels or across the street. There is little to no nightlife. There is a bit of shopping, most of it located in the Wyndham.

The commercial future of Cable Beach is being re-imagined with the development of Baha Mar, a resort and casino project that will bring more than 2,000 hotel rooms and the largest gaming and convention facility in the Caribbean to this section of New Providence Island.

Nassau had a population of 128,420 females and 117,909 males and was home to 70,222 households with an average family size of 3.5 according to the 2010 census.

Nassau's large population in relation to the remainder of the Bahamas is the result of waves of immigration from the Family Islands to the capital.

Consequently, this has led to the decline in the population of the lesser developed islands and the rapid growth of Nassau.

In January 2018, the U.S. Department of State issued the latest in a series of travel advisories due to violent crime. Tourists are often targeted, and armed robbery has increased on all of New Providence.

Lynden Pindling International Airport is located on the eastern side of Nassau. New Providence Airport on Paradise Island was closed in 1999 with runway removed and integrated into the resort on the island.

The Lynden Pindling Airport was recently renovated with separate terminal for International travel and domestic travel. Passengers typically have to wait at least 30 minutes for their luggage and another 30 minutes to clear customs.
Nassau's Lynden Pindling International Airport is the largest airport in the Bahamas. Major U.S. airlines have flights to Nassau. Limited service from Toronto and London also exists.

The two most popular Fixed Based Operators (FBO) located at Lynden Pindling International Airport are Executive Flight Services and Odyssey Aviation.

Air taxi and air charter companies such as Jetset Charter', Mercury Jets fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstream's down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals into and out of Nassau.

For many years, travelers complained about LPIA's rundown and overcrowded passenger terminal. A new passenger terminal was finally completed and opened in 2011.

LPIA is one of the few airports with jetbridges that can connect to airplanes of nearly every size including smaller aircraft for which most airports use airstairs.

Visitors arriving on long-distance flights from colder climates don't have to worry about descending airstairs and crossing the tarmac in the tropical heat.

The free drinks occasionally served on arrival and the live band serenading the Immigration hall help set a lively tone for arriving travelers. There's a list of fixed taxi fares posted at the exit.

It's about US$25 and 10 mi (16 km) to most hotels in central Nassau. No public transportation goes into the airport, but if you really want to take the bus, you need to walk out of the airport onto the main road,John F Kennedy Dr.

Cross the road to catch the bus 12B that goes into the city center. There is no bus stop so just wait by the roadside and wave it down when it comes. Runs about every 30 min. Fare is $2.50.

On the way back, note that there are three terminal concourses: domestic and charter flights, flights to the US, and non-US international flights.

Nassau is one of the few airports that offers US immigration and customs preclearance. This means that US-bound passengers are always processed in Nassau before entering the secure terminal area.

US-bound flights are treated as domestic upon arrival with no additional formalities required, and US-bound baggage can be checked through directly to all US destination airports reachable on the same airline, codeshare alliance, or airline alliance.

Historically, preclearance was notoriously slow and it was widely recommended that U.S.-bound travelers show up at least two hours before their scheduled departure time or even three or four hours in advance on major U.S. holidays.

However, the new U.S. passenger concourse has multiple security lines and the U.S. immigration and customs process has sped up dramatically with the introduction of a kiosk-based system in 2014.

The main bottleneck is now the check-in counter for your airline and whether they have multiple full-size passenger jetliners with departure times scheduled too closely to each other on your departure date which means you need to check your airline's published schedule for LPIA.

It is now possible, even on the busiest holidays, to go from curb drop-off to entering the secure area for U.S. passengers within one hour, which means that arriving two hours in advance of your departure time should be more than sufficient.

Security for other destinations is considerably more laid back, and arriving an hour in advance of your scheduled departure should suffice.

Nassau is a favorite port of call for the many cruise ships plying the Bahamas. Up to seven cruise ships can dock at the Prince George Wharf Cruise Terminal adjacent to downtown Nassau.

Water taxi and yacht charter companies, such as Bahamas Boat, offer a variety of private crewed charters, in and around Nassau for small groups and families.

Ferries (boats) provide water travel around Nassau to the surrounding islands, namely Paradise Island. Prince George Wharf is the main port in the city that serves cruise ships with ports of call in Nassau.

Transportation and shipping around the Family Islands is primarily through mailboats based at Potters Cay. International shipping is done through the Arawak Port Department on Arawak Cay.

High speed excursions to Exuma, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island are available daily.

Public jitney buses and taxis provide transport in and around Nassau. Rental cars are also available in the city and at the airport.

Major roads in Nassau include:

- Bay Street

- Eastern Road

- Blue Hill Road

- East Street

- Adelaide Road

- Shirley Street

- Soldier Road

- Carmicheal Road

- Prince Charles Drive

- John F Kennedy Drive

- Fox Hill Road

- Wulff Road

- Robinson Road

The major road in Nassau is Bay Street for tourists. Bay Street runs the entire length of the Island from East to West.

Bay Street also provided beautiful beachfront views. The downtown area and the cruise ships are in walking proximity.

The Bahamas is a left-hand traffic country, but many cars are imported from the USA in left-hand drive.

A water taxi service is an available alternative to a taxi to get to Paradise Island from downtown. It is picked up under the bridge and costs $6 round trip. The water taxi stops operating at 6PM.

Minibuses locally called jitneys act as the bus system of Nassau city and New Providence island. Jitneys are found on and near Bay Street.

The famous #10 Jitney to Cable Beach loads passengers on George & Bay Streets in front of McDonalds, across from the British Colonial Hilton. Other jitneys are located on Charlotte & Bay Streets.

A bus will typically wait until it's full before departing. Understanding the various routes can be complex. Many have destinations painted on the bus, but there is no standard as they are run by multiple companies and individuals.

Ask around for your destination. Note that there is no jitney that goes to Paradise Island at Atlantis Resort.

Journeys cost $1.25 per person, per ride. A round trip, even if not getting off the bus for sightseeing, is counted as two rides.

Payment is received by the driver when disembarking. No change is given, and there is no transfer credit for changing busses.

The Jitney is definitely a very inexpensive way to enjoy the local culture. Be aware that the jitneys stop operating between 6 and 7 PM.

The only way back to downtown after 7 PM is by taxi which can be quite expensive. The buses also known as Jitneys are 32-seaters and travel to many parts of the Island.

They operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, except on Sundays when there is limited service. The basic fare is $1.25 per person and $2 for areas on the outskirts of town. Exact fare is required. The schedule is as follows:

From Bay Street opposite Parliament Street to the Eastern end of the Island including foot of the bridge to Paradise Island and return. Bus Numbers: 1, 9, 9A, 9B, 19, 21, 21A, 23

From Bay Street opposite Market Street to the Marathon Mall and return. Bus Numbers: 1, 1A, 3, 19, 21

From Frederick Street Bay Street to Town Center Mall and return. Bus Numbers: 4, 4A, 5, 5A, 6, 6A, 11A, 12, 15, 15A

From Bay Street or George Street to Cable Beach and return. Bus Numbers: 10, 10A

Taxis, often minivans and always identifiable by their yellow license plates and little Gothic blackletter "Taxi" lettering, roam the streets of Nassau.

They're equipped with meters but will usually refuse to use them, so agree on the fare in advance. Expect to pay $15-$20 for even the shortest of trips from downtown to Cable beach.

Here are some of the rates: $4 per person, $11 minimum, from Paradise Island to Downtown.

They will often try to change the rate in the car. They used this tactic twice on me while I was there before I learned.

You could also rent a car. All major U.S car rental shops are in Nassau. Worthy of note for travelers from the UK is the very British feel of the roads.

Unlike the nearby US, cars drive on the left side of the road, have UK road signs and even the odd roundabout.

Scooter or small motorcycle rental is also popular in Nassau.

Bicycle rental is not popular and not recommended as traffic is bad, there are many blind corners in the old streets of Nassau, and cars drive recklessly and on the left side of the road, which you may not be used to.

Within downtown Nassau, you could walk around. Distances are very short and a walking tour is a pleasant way of exploring downtown Nassau.

Nassau has been recognized as a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of Crafts and Folk Art. It is one of only three Caribbean cities to receive this honour.

Junkanoo Festival

The city's chief festival is Junkanoo, an energetic, colourful street parade of brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic accompaniment of cowbells, drums and whistles.

The word Junkanoo is named after the founder John Kanoo. The celebration occurs on December 26, July 10 and January 1, beginning in the early hours of the morning (1:00 a.m.) and ending around 10 a.m.

At the end of the Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes for the best music, costumes, and overall group presentation.

These Bahamians spend all year preparing their handmade costumes by using colored crepe paper and cardboard.

Nassau was the main location however, the filming locations were based around South Africa for the Starz Network show Black Sails (2014-2017).

Several other late 20th and 21st century movies have been set here, including After the Sunset, Into the Blue (2005), and Flipper (1996).

It hosted the Miss Universe 2009 pageant.

Nassau was featured as a primary location in the 2013 video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013).

In 2005, a book about the 20th century's most famous murder, which happened in Nassau, was published to critical acclaim.

Blood and Fire: The Duke of Windsor and the Strange Murder of Sir Harry Oakes by John Marquis, was praised in the Wall Street Journal as being in the top five books in its genre.

Marquis was managing editor of the Bahamas' leading daily, The Tribune, for ten years from 1999 to 2009.

Another book by Marquis - Papa Doc: Portrait of a Haitian Tyrant - was based on a spy trial in Haiti in 1968 in which the Bahamas Director of Information, David Knox, was sentenced to death,

Take a walk around Old Town, an interesting mixture of abandoned buildings and bright Caribbean structures. It doesn't take long to get away from the over-scrubbed tourist areas in the very center.

Walk ten minutes uphill to the pink Parliament Building, which has a statue of an enthroned Queen Victoria out front.

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center. 9AM-5PM. Visit the Bahamas' only zoo. See the marching flamingo shows. Let the parakeets land on you as you feed them. $15.

National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, West & West Hill Streets. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. Opened in 2003, this showcases Bahamian art from the precolonial era to the present.

The quality of art is rather uneven to say the least, but the renovated building — once the residence of the Chief Justice — is a sight in itself. Adults $5, Students/seniors $3.

Pirate Museum. M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 9AM-noon. Recreations of a pirate town, a pirate ship and a pirate battle, with a few real artifacts mixed in. Cheesy, but fun. Try to catch a guided tour. $12.

Fort Fincastle. A small fort built in 1793 which overlooks the city of Nassau from a small hill south of town. Several cannons are on display. Tours are conducted Monday through Sunday, 8am to 3pm.

The bus tours are pretty interesting. They'll drive you around, and tell you about the local government, tell you about different points of interest, and take you to old forts, and to Paradise Island, to see the famous Atlantis hotel resort and its stunning aquarium.

Straw Market, Bay St. Originally a locals' market, this is now devoted to touristy bric-a-brac. If you are in the market for some souvenirs, this is the place to come.

Don't be discouraged by the initial price of things, as this is the only place you can haggle for a better one.

Americans don't have to worry about exchanging any money either, as US currency is accepted universally.

Potters' Cay, under the Paradise Island bridge. Best known for its fish market, and there are plenty of stalls that prepare fresh conch salad, conch fritters and other Bahamian seafood delicacies, but there's plenty of other exotic tropical produce available too.

Get out of the hotel and try real Bahamaian fare. You can get greasy fish, sides and desserts at one of the holes-in-the-wall in downtown Nassau for around $8.

On the upscale side, there's no shortage of waterside seafood restaurants where it would be easy to part with $50 for an excellent piece of lobster.

Sbarros, McDonalds and Chinese restaurants are mixed in to satisfy the budget diner or someone who has had enough conch.

The Shoal Restaurant and Lounge, Nassau Street. Sa-Th 7:30AM-11PM, Fri 7AM-7PM. If the tourist crowds are getting you down, take a taxi out to where the locals eat.

Enjoy fish that falls off the bone, friendly service, and a dessert of guava duff. $10-$20.

Cafe Matisse, Bank Lane behind Parliament Sq, off Bay St. Tue-Sat noon-11 PM. Tucked away on a quiet lane, Matisse serves excellent Italian food with fresh local ingredients.

Reservations recommended; try to get a seat in the delightful garden courtyard, which is shady by day and lit up at night. Proper dress no shorts or sandals required for dinner. $50-70.

The club scene is nightly and rowdy. Some popular spots:

Senor Frogs. 11AM-3AM. right next to the cruise dock. Situated next a stinky sewer pipe, check which way the wind is blowing before you order. Doesn't serve Kalik.

Club Waterloo, East Bay Street. 8PM-4AM. on the north side of the island, about two miles from the dock.

Cocktails and Dreams, West Bay Street. draws a sketchier crowd, although it is on the beach. Come here in a group.

Cover charges average $20, although all major hotels sell passes for $5. With a pass, cover charge is only $5, so you actually pay $10.

Cover charges on weekends can climb up to $45, so it's a good idea to get a pass from your local taxi driver/hotel desk.

You can also opt for an all-inclusive entertainment pass, which will include a schedule. Expect to follow this itinerary with at least 5,000 other co-eds.

It might be a good idea to pick up this schedule even if you don't plan on participating. It will give you a good idea of places to avoid on certain nights.

Drinks in clubs can get expensive, depending on the club and its location. Most locals drink up before going out, to defray this cost.

That or they can be found in the parking lots with a cooler, Expect to pay at least $4 for a beer and $5 for a cocktail. The one exception is rum, which is cheap and plentiful. Cocktails with rum at a club, will be strong.

John Watling's Distillery, 17 Delancy Street, Within walking distance from the cruise ship port in Downtown Nassau, John Watling’s Distillery is located on Delancy Street.

JOHN WATLING’S rum, the Spirit of The Bahamas offers complimentary tours at its home, the Buena Vista Estate, in Downtown Nassau.

The historic Estate, founded in 1789 and overlooking the harbor, is the site where Bahamians hand-craft JOHN WATLING’S small-batch Pale, Amber and Buena Vista rums.

At the Estate, John Watling’s features a museum-like tour, shopping and signature Bahamian cocktails at its Red Turtle Tavern. Free Tour.

Many of Nassau's hotels are located outside the city core on Paradise Island or Cable Beach.

British Colonial Hilton Nassau, One Bay Street. A hotel catering more to business travelers than package tourists.

Occupies the site of a historical landmark (Fort Nassau), and has its own private beach, from which you get a fantastic view of the cruise ships going into, going out of, and berthed at the docks.

Step out of the hotel and you're right downtown on Bay Street's shopping attractions.

Quality Inn Nassau Bahamas, West Bay & Nassau Street. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Located across the street from Junkanoo Beach, this hotel offers stunning views of white sandy beaches and the crystal-clear blue water of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunrise Oceanfront Cottage, Eastern Point, Nassau, Bahamas Eastern Road travelling East, pass Prince Charles Drive T-junction on your right, beach on the left, after the 3rd house on your left, turn left, straight ahead yellow cottage on the ocean.

Another option for lodging is to to bid on hotels in the area of cable beach. The Sheraton that normally charges around $232.00 a night or more can sometimes be had for $100.00 a night by bidding on rooms.

The Over-the-Hill area south of downtown is the poorest part of Nassau, and tourists might want to be wary. It is, however, much nicer than slums in the Third World and, indeed, parts of the United States.

Some criminals target restaurants and nightclubs frequented by tourists. The most common approach is to offer victims a ride, either as a personal favor or by claiming to be a taxi, and then robbing and/or assaulting the passenger once in the car.

Take care to ride only in licensed taxis, identifiable by their yellow license plates.

Be wary of the natives offering goods and services. They will tell you anything to get you jet-skiing, on booze cruises, etc.

Locals may solicit tourists with offers of marijuana, hairbraiding services, or a taxi ride. It gets monotonous but a friendly no, thank you and moving on will keep both you and the local happy.

Most Cuban cigars for sale in Nassau are counterfeit. Buy only from reputable dedicated tobacconists. See warning on main Bahamas page.

There is a high crime rate in Nassau at the moment. US Dept of State has labelled New Providence "Critical" and Grand Bahama "High".

Crime previously among drug-related groups has now moved toward armed robberies of tourists.

You always hear about the murders on the Paradise Island Bridge; it doesn't look very safe and who walks there at night anyway?

If you happen to be there just don't go out walking late at night and you'll be ok. If you do want to go somewhere late at night just use a reliable taxi company.

Be careful when crossing the roads as well, as Bahamian people drive like crazy. Watch out especially for the pick-up truck drivers.

Paradise Island Located just across a bridge from Nassau, it is home to the lavish Atlantis hotel and resort.

Tourism Observer

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