New Providence is the most populous island in the Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population
It also houses the national capital city, Nassau. The island was originally under Spanish control following Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Nassau, the island’s largest city, was formally known as Charlestown. It was laid out and renamed Nassau in 1695. Its hotels and port account for more than two thirds of the four million-plus tourists who visit The Bahamas annually. Other settlements on New Providence include Grants Town, Bain Town, Fox Hill, Adelaide, Yamacraw, South Beach, Coral Harbour, Lyford Cay, Paradise Island, Sea Breeze, Centreville, The Grove (South) and The Grove (West Bay), Cable Beach, Delaporte, Gambier and Love Beach.
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. Because New Providence’s harbour was close to the Florida Strait, it became a nest for pirates preying on mainly Spanish shipping returning to Spain with gold, silver, and other wealth. The apex of pirate activity there was from 1715 to 1725, after which the British government established a formal colony and military headquarters centered on the small city of Nassau fronting the harbour. 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.
To See & Do
Parliament House – 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.
National Art Gallery of the Bahamas – West & West Hill Streets, Tu-Sat 10AM-4PM. Opened in 2003, this showcases Bahamian art from the precolonial era to the present. The renovated building — once the residence of the Chief Justice — is a sight in itself.
Pirates of the Caribbean • Locations & Activities