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Explore These Incredible Forts Of Nassau For A Dose Of Bahamian History!

Island Life
August 9th 2022
Explore These Incredible Forts Of Nassau For A Dose Of Bahamian History!
Cover image credit: tokar/

There are many famous forts in the world, all of which have their own exciting histories. In Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, you’ll find three such historical landmarks which have helped shape the history of this territory. These most notable forts, which are still standing to this day, include Fort Charlotte, Fort Fincastle, and Fort Montagu.

Fort Charlotte Downtown Nassau Bahamas

Image credit: photravel_ru/

There was once another fort called Fort Nassau erected on the island of New Providence where Nassau is located. Also known as the Old Fort of Nassau, it was the first fort to be constructed in the city. Unfortunately, the fort was demolished in 1897, but the ruins of this structure can still be viewed on the site of the British Colonial Hilton Nassau. If you’re looking for tours though, it would be best to explore one of the forts that are still standing!

All the famous forts of Nassau were built to protect the island against pirate attacks or to prepare for battles. In this post, we'll detail some more history of these forts and where you can find them in Nassau.

The 3 historical forts of Nassau (still standing)

1. Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte is the largest fort on the island of New Providence. Constructed in the 18th century (1787), Fort Charlotte was built by Lord Dunmore, a British colonial governor. This fort was named after Queen Saharia Charlotte who was the wife of King George III.

Fort Charlotte Aerial Nassau Bahamas Aerial

Image credit: Wangkun Jia/

Fort Charlotte is located on West Bay Street in Nassau. It is set on a hill with gorgeous views of Nassau Harbor and Paradise Island. As the fort is located on 100 acres of land, there is a lot to see at this location. Though the fort was never used in battle (it was built at the end of the American Revolutionary War), there are 42 cannons.

At Fort Charlotte, you can see actors dressed up in 18th-century attire! This reenactment has a way of reeling you right into the history of the fort and The Bahamas at large. It’ll cost $5 USD for adults and $2 USD for children to explore Fort Charlotte. If you want a guided tour of the fort, you’ll have to pay for a tour guide as well. Guides at this location work for tips.

Good to know: There are underground tunnels, dungeons, and even a moat at Fort Charlotte. Don’t leave without checking out the amazing views from the top of the fort.

2. Fort Fincastle

Fort Fincastle, on the island of New Providence, is just a 30-minute walk from Fort Charlotte. Both of these historic attractions are located in downtown Nassau. Fort Fincastle was built a few years after Fort Charlotte and was also constructed by Lord Dunmore. It was intended to protect the island from Spanish invaders.

Fort Fincastle Nassau Bahamas

Image credit: tokar/

On the north shore of the island of New Providence, Fort Fincastle is a popular attraction, so it is usually fairly busy. Its lovely landscape and rich history are what appeal to visitors most. As Fort Fincastle is located at the highest point of the city, on top of Bennett’s Hill, it affords fantastic views of the city and Nassau Harbor.

While in Nassau, it will cost just a few dollars (USD) to get into Fort Fincastle. Guided tours are available daily between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm. Visiting this site is well worth it as you can see two major historic attractions in one — Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase (also known as the 66 steps), which are located on the same property.

3. Fort Montagu

Fort Montagu is the third must-visit fort in Nassau. This fort was constructed in 1741. It is the second oldest fort built on the island of New Providence, and the oldest Nassau fort that is still standing. Fort Montagu is on the eastern shore of the island of New Providence. This location can be included in your sightseeing list if you'll be spending a couple of hours in Nassau.

Montagu Fort Nassau Bahamas

Image credit: Ramunas Bruzas/

The construction of Fort Montagu was overseen by Peter Henry Bruce. The fort was built as a defense against Spanish invaders. Fort Montagu served an essential purpose during the American Revolutionary War during which Americans took over the site in the Battle of Nassau. Today, things are a lot more peaceful at the fort and the most action is seen when tours get underway.

Tours of Fort Montagu are available from Monday to Sunday between the hours of 8 am to 3 pm. It costs just $2 USD to get into the fort, after which you can do a guided walking tour or an audio tour. Fort Montagu is just a 10-minute drive from Fort Fincastle. It takes just under an hour (50 minutes) to walk between these two locations. Before leaving this attraction take in the amazing views of the Caribbean sea and the nearby Paradise Island from the top of the fort.

Expert tip: Want to see more historical and cultural points of interest in Nassau? Read our ultimate Nassau city guide to learn about more historic sights, restaurants, and places to stay.

Other must-sees in Nassau

Beach hop around the island of New Providence

Beach time is essential in The Bahamas. With some of the best beaches in the world, you’ll have a hard time resisting spending as many lazy vacation days as possible out in the sunshine on these islands. Fortunately, no resistance will be necessary during a New Providence getaway. On this Bahamian island, you’ll find some of the best beaches including Cable Beach, Love Beach, and Jaws Beach. Cable Beach is an especially amazing beach where you'll find lots of options for water sports including snorkeling, scuba diving, paddleboarding, kayaking, and more.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Cable Beach Bahamas

Love Beach and Jaws Beach have water sports offerings as well. Both of these beaches are more on the quiet end compared to Cable Beach, which is also near some of the best all-inclusive resorts in Nassau, restaurants, and beachside shops. Love Beach has some beach facilities, chair rentals, lots of shade, WiFi, and a bar. There are no restaurants or bars near Jaws Beach, so if you plan on spending the day there pack food and drinks. Jaws Beach is a protected beach that is part of the Clifton Heritage Park acreage on the island of New Providence.

From the island of New Providence, you can make your way to Paradise Island where there are even more beaches to explore. A short drive from downtown Nassau and a trip across a toll bridge (The Sidney Poitier Bridge) will get you to Paradise Island. Cabbage Beach and Arawak Beach are among the most spectacular beaches on that island. Both of these beaches have soft, white sand and clear waters, so they’re perfect for a day of snorkeling or scuba diving.

Expert Tip: Sandals' all-inclusive resort is located on one of the 12 best beaches in Nassau, Bahamas. This is a major plus for guests of this resort who have the advantage of getting there first to secure the best beachside spots!

Visit the Government House

The Bahamas is well known for its Georgian colonial architecture and one of the best places to see buildings in this style is downtown Nassau. The Government House, the official residence of the Governor-General of the Bahamas, is one of those buildings that stands out in that respect.

Nassau Bahamas Center Plaza

Image credit: Hendrickson Photography/

Located on top of a hill, the Bahamian Government House is a coral pink color. This national landmark is set on 10 acres of land and attracts visitors looking to learn more about the political history of The Bahamas (or just pose for photos!). As you walk around this site, you’ll notice that there’s lots of historical information posted up along the way. If you’re there at the right time you might be able to see the changing of the guard in front of the building, which can be cool to witness.

Enjoy a day trip to Rose Island

Rose Island is just a short boat ride away from Nassau, 25-minutes in fact. It is west of Paradise Island and definitely worth exploring on a day trip. The excitement will begin just as soon as you hop onto the boat and set off into mesmerizingly blue seas. The tropical breeze will keep you cool along the way as you take in some of the sights along the coast that you wouldn't have been able to see from any other vantage.

Rose Island

Image credit: Liz Miller/

Once you get to Rose Island, you can continue enjoying your day out in the sunshine with lots of things to see and do. Popular activities on Rose Island include snorkeling around the vibrant coral reefs, playing a few rounds of volleyball, or even meeting the island's wild pigs. Rose Island is one of those places in The Bahamas where you can swim with the pigs, and that for sure will be a memory worth cherishing.

Spend the day at Clifton Heritage National Park

Clifton Heritage Park is a protected national park in The Bahamas that includes ocean acreage as well. It is on the southwestern shore of the island of New Providence. At this nature reserve, you can do guided tours as well as hikes through the forest. There are a few different hiking trails to choose from, so no matter your level of hiking experience you’re likely to find a trail to suit you.

Clifton Heritage National Park Bahamas

Image credit: Liz Miller/

Aside from tours and hikes, Clifton Heritage Park is loved for its beautiful vistas and scenery. Birdwatching is possible here and you’ll see various species of exotic birds as you explore the park. Snorkeling and diving are top-rated within this protected site as well. There's even an underwater statue that you can view beneath the waves called the ‘Ocean Atlas’. If you just want to enjoy the beach, you can do so within the Clifton Heritage Park as well. Jaws Beach is located within this protected zone, and it is one of the best beaches in The Bahamas.

Most importantly, while at Clifton Heritage Park, you'll be able to dive right into the history of The Bahamas, particularly the lifestyles of the Lucayans, Loyalists, and Africans that populated the island in its early history. Adventure tours, eco-tours, and heritage tours are available at this Bahamian national park.

Take an ATV tour around the island

An ATV tour of Nassau is one of the most exciting ways to explore the island. You should definitely pencil in a guided tour on ATV of the island of New Providence if you’re looking for some excitement and even serenity.

atv tour bahamas

ATV excursions in The Bahamas can cost around $300 USD per person. These typically take you into the wooded areas, and even to the beautiful Nassau countryside. Along the way, you’ll get to admire the lush landscape and make stops at select locations, including some of the island's gorgeous beaches. To enjoy an ATV adventure in The Bahamas, you can go to your resort tour desk and book this as an excursion.

Expert Tip: There are lots of exciting things to do in Nassau including exploring the forts and monuments and learning about the pirate history of the island!

Nassau forts FAQs:

What are the four forts in Nassau?

There are three existing forts in Nassau, The Bahamas. That list includes Fort Charlotte, Fort Fincastle, and Fort Montagu. The first fort to ever be constructed on the island of New Providence, Fort Nassau, was demolished in 1897.

Which is the oldest fort in Nassau?

The oldest fort still standing in Nassau is Fort Montagu, which was built in 1741. Fort Montagu is close to Fort Fincastle in Nassau (about a 10-minute drive). Fort Nassau would have been the oldest fort in Nassau, but today only ruins of that structure remain.

How much does it cost to visit the forts of Nassau?

It won't cost more than a few dollars (USD) to get into the famous forts of Nassau. The prices range from $2 USD to $5 USD. Fort Charlotte has an entrance fee of $5 USD per person which is currently about the highest cost you can expect to pay to explore a fort in Nassau.

Expert tip: For the best historical or cultural tours in The Bahamas, definitely go for options that include tour guides. Doing so can help you make the most of your experience as guides can point out little details you might have missed and share other interesting tidbits along the way.

Explore the historic forts in Nassau during your dream Bahamian vacation

Exploring historical forts in The Bahamas can be quite an enlightening experience. You’ll learn some things about the history of The Bahamas that you likely would not have otherwise, and you’ll also be able to take in some amazing views of the island from atop these incredible forts while you’re at it.

Fort Fincastle Cannons New Providence Nassau Bahamas

Image credit: NAPA/

Before booking your tour or excursion in The Bahamas, you’ll need to decide where to stay. If you plan on exploring a few national attractions while in the islands, then it makes sense to stay at one of the all-inclusive resorts on New Providence, like Sandals Royal Bahamian. This resort is located near many of the best attractions in The Bahamas. All the time you save getting to the various attractions can instead be spent at one of the resort’s deluxe swim-up bars or on the beach, relaxing with a refreshing cocktail.

Sandals Resorts have lots of quality inclusions as well like multiple gourmet restaurants, day and night entertainment, and land and water sports. Adults-only and designed for couples, there are two Sandals Resorts in The Bahamas including Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, and Sandals Emerald Bay in the Exumas. These resorts are both set on the most amazing beaches, so whichever one you choose you're in for a simply phenomenal vacation!

Expert tip: When you’re done exploring the historical landmarks of Nassau, why not check out some of the best snorkeling spots in Nassau, The Bahamas.

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