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Forget lazing on a white-sand beach in a hammock – Nassau is something else entirely. That's not to say a pina colada and a coconut tree aren't within reach. (Nearby Paradise Island has all the powdery sands and azure seas you could ask for.) It's just to say that this rollicking, rambunctious capital still jigs like an old swashbuckler. It's packed with rum bars, shopping precincts, multicolored colonial buildings – you name it.
The heart of it all is the authentic Old Town district. Gilded with a flamingo-pink Parliament House that's fronted with a grand statue of Queen Victoria, it belies its grittier side at the fizzing Straw Market and the wharfs, where trinket hawkers meet fishing folk, and the scents of sizzling mahi mahi twists from the grills. Down by the shore, a huge cruise ship port brings thousands of sun seekers daily during the high season. From February to April, many will get caught up on the bouncing spring breaker bars that line the terminals; that tequila-slamming Senor Frogs leading the way.
Between the cocktails and the crab curries, try not to forget that there's history as well to unravel here. Fort Fincastle looms high on the hills, telling tales of pirates and their Jolly Roger gangs. There's also a Pirate Museum to get through, and distilleries where Nassau tour guides can wax lyrical about the production of Bahamian rum.