Montagu Beach lies east of downtown Nassau, and is the site of the historic Fort Montagu - Nassau's oldest fort, circa 1741. It is a popular beach and generally busy, though not quite to the extent of Cable, Junkanoo and Cabbage beaches. Locals come here to picnic, take their lunch break, walk the narrow sands along Montagu Bay and hang out in the shade. The park, which runs right along busy Bay Street, has a good view of Paradise Island and the Atlantis resort. There is a lot of boat traffic through the bay between Paradise Island and Nassau, so this beach is not particularly conducive to swimming.
Recommended for Beaches because: Close to downtown Nassau and Paradise Island, Fort Montagu is a great place for a picnic.
Chelle's expert tip: Fort Montagu is currently closed, but makes a scenic centerpiece for photographs.
Situated on the north shore of New Providence Island, this beach lies west of Cable Beach and is therefore considerably less crowded. It is an appealing little beach with a narrow spread of white sand that does not get a lot of tourist traffic, so it is ideal if you need some space away from the throngs of vacationers at the other beaches closer to town. It gets its name from the limestone caverns that loom alongside the beach. Sculpted by waves, the caves are said to have provided shelter for early Indians - handy for beach goers who need to escape the sun or rain.
Recommended for Beaches because: Close to the airport, it is one of the most easily accessible beaches outside of downtown Nassau.
Chelle's expert tip: This is the closest beach to the airport.
Junkanoo Beach, also known as "Spring Break Beach" for obvious reasons, is not as sprawling as some of the other Bahamas beaches. Nor is it as pretty as the postcard beaches. Its proximity to Nassau's lively downtown and the cruise ship docks makes it an easy option for vacationers who want to find a beach on foot. One of the few beaches that has public toilets and changing facilities, it is popular among locals and vacationers alike. A cluster of stands sell cocktails, food and trinkets. Some offer free Wi-Fi connection.
Recommended for Beaches because: This is the most convenient beach to downtown and has the best facilities.
Chelle's expert tip: If you prefer a less rowdy scene, buy a day pass to use the nearby beach at the British Colonial Hilton.
Adelaide Beach is not on most tourists' radar, which is either a bonus or a drawback, depending on your point of view. On the south side of New Providence Island within the small village of Adelaide, the beach here is long and virtually empty during the week. On weekends it is popular with local residents, who hang out under the shade trees to play dominoes, listen to music, drink Kalik beers and swim in the clear, warm waters. Adelaide feels much more like the Out Islands than Nassau, so a visit to this beach, although a bit of a travel from downtown, is worth the trip.
Recommended for Beaches because: For beachers looking for Nassau's secret, local beaches - this is it!
Chelle's expert tip: Check out the local food in one of Adelaide's unpretentious cafes.
Do not be put off by the name. You probably will never see a shark here, but it was the filming site for the final installment in the "Jaws" movie series. As part of the Clifton Heritage Park acreage, the beach is protected above and below the water. This is a completely isolated beach, usually practically deserted, with white sand and rocky protrusions. Trees provide shade and the water is shallow, making it a good choice for families with kids. Be sure to pack drinks and snacks as it is far from any sort of such facilities. Exhibits interpret the marine habitat, and trails lead to historic sites.
Recommended for Beaches because: This is New Providence Island's most natural, undeveloped beach, protected as a national park.
Chelle's expert tip: Combine a trip to the beach with a visit to the ruins and other interesting sights at Clifton Heritage Park.
On the north shore past Gambier Village, Love Beach is the site of the famous Compass Point resort owned by the man who made Bob Marley a household word - recording mogul Chris Blackwell. It also happens to be a prime destination for snorkeling, boasting a 40-acre coral reef a mile offsore. Most folks fail to make the nine-mile trip from downtown Nassau to this part of the island, so expect isolation. Don't expect a sign or parking lot to mark your arrival. Just look for a place to pull over west of Compass Point and head to the sea.
Recommended for Beaches because: Compass Point resort has put this off-the-beaten-path beach on the map.
Chelle's expert tip: Plan to have breakfast or lunch at the Compass Point restaurant.
Widely considered one of the best beaches in the Bahamas, Cable Beach is Nassau's sexy, playful resort strip holding hotels from all-inclusive chains to boutique properties. In December 2014, Baha Mar, one of the largest ever resort developments in the Bahamas, will open, having transformed the beach with a new water park and remastered golf course and casino. Cable Beach lies about three miles west of downtown Nassau and is notable for its calm waters and fine white sand. The vast majority of tourists end up here, so space is often at a premium. Vendors hawking t-shirts, seashell jewelry and sunscreen meander through the crowds.
Recommended for Beaches because: Cable Beach is Nassau's most famous beach, home to its major resorts.
Chelle's expert tip: Access to resort beaches is often restricted to guests.
Sheltered by Coral Island, the water off Saunders Beach near Goodman's Bay is calm and ideal for family swimming. Restroom facilities and a playground further its popularity with families. Just east of Cable Beach, Saunders Beach sees its share of beach-goers, especially on the weekends and during public holidays, when locals come to swim and play on the beach. A handful of food and beverage vendors usually stake out some territory here, and the white sand and clear blue water make this a lovely destination for locals and tourists alike.
Recommended for Beaches because: This is one of Nassau's most popular beaches for families.
Chelle's expert tip: Food and beverage vendors are hit or miss, so bring some drinks and snacks of your own.
On the southern shore of New Providence Island in a quiet, unpretentious development called Coral Harbour, you will find access to the beach at the Coral Harbour resort. You are most welcome if you buy a Kalik or Bahama Mama or lunch from the beach bar. It is a lovely stretch of soft, talcum sand edged by Australian pines and palm trees. Take a long walk, have a dip in the clear and gently lapping sea, then climb into the hammock for a sea breeze cooled snooze. This is where a local stables conducts its beach horse back riding tour, so that is another way you can experience this stretch of undiscovered sands.
Recommended for Beaches because: Away from Nassau crowds, this is something of a local secret.
Chelle's expert tip: Station your visit at the Sand Bar Beach Restaurant at Coral Harbour resort.
Named one of the best in the world, Paradise Island's Cabbage Beach fronts several of the big hotels including Atlantis, Hotel Riu Palace and One&Only Ocean Club. Public access is on Casino Drive next to Riu Palace. The beach itself is a beautiful, wide stretch of soft white sand spanning about two miles of coastline. Palms, sea grapes and Australian pines line the stretch along tame, clear, aquamarine waters. Small tiki structures provide shade. There are several places to rent water sports equipment, from jet skis to floats. Not surprisingly, it tends to be crowded and busy, more so at the western end.
Recommended for Beaches because: This is the destination's most beautiful and popular beach.
Chelle's expert tip: Several resorts face the beach, providing places to stop for a beverage or meal along the way.