Just 75 miles from Palm Beach, New Providence Island is home to capital city Nassau, a magnet for cruise ship passengers and other visitors who want to eat well and shop even better. Like Aruba, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas, also in this section, Nassau is one of the shopping meccas of the Caribbean, if not the entire Western Hemisphere. Moreover, the new International Arrivals Terminal at Lynden Pindling International Airport makes all those deals on electronic gear, handbags, perfumes and designer dresses seem even closer than ever. There is history aplenty here, including the Queen’s Staircase and nearby Fort Charlotte, built almost three centuries ago, but perhaps the most interesting site is Graycliff, an intimate hotel and restaurant on a hill overlooking downtown Nassau and the beach. Built in the 1740s by a pirate with unusually good taste, the stone walls of the main building encase a lounge and restaurant with splendid antique breakfronts, tables, and photos of enough lords and ladies to silence the queen. The Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino, Wyndham Nassau and Crystal Palace Casino Resort, and smaller hotels offer plenty of options (and slot machines) in the Cable Beach strip along New Providence Island’s north-facing coastline. What’s more, a short ride over a bridge brings you to Atlantis Paradise Island, with its five separate hotel complexes (3,400 rooms and suites!), extraordinary water park, immense and imaginative aquarium, fantastical architecture, nightclubs, children’s programs, and star-chef restaurants. Not surprisingly, its casino, replete with original Chihuly art, is the largest in the entire Caribbean region.
The big non-secret in these parts is that guests of the more moderately priced Comfort Suites Paradise Island, which recently underwent substantial renovations, get to use Atlantis’s facilities. Speaking of renovations, Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island also just completed an extensive upgrade. One thing never changes, though: photos of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who used to hang out here when they weren’t at Graycliff, still adorn the walls.