Christopher Columbus's first landing point in the New World was the Bahamas, so why not follow his lead and set off on your first adventure as husband and wife to the very same spot, settling down in the capital city of Nassau for your honeymoon. Sitting on the 11th largest island in the Bahamas, the 21-mile-long New Providence, Nassau really is a couples' paradise, with its sweeping white-sand shores, pristine beaches, shipwreck-filled dive sites, and cuisine that has a flavor all of its own.
You may recognize some of these sandy stretches from scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean, but the island was also once home to a slew of real-life pirates of the Caribbean, including one of the most famous of them all — Captain John Howard Graysmith, who built the historic Graycliff Mansion in 1740. Nowadays Graycliff serves as a tucked-away, five-star hotel with just 20 rooms, making it an intimate outpost for honeymooners heading to the island. Inspired by this colonial gem, we've whipped up 10 other reasons why you should pack your bikini and book a flight to the Bahamas to cozy up in your very own mansion digs during the ultimate island honeymoon in Nassau.
1. Jaw-Dropping White-Sand Shores
This seems obvious heading to a beach locale, but these white-sand shores are so stunning, they're constantly featured as the backdrop of blockbusters, like James Bond's Casino Royale. Pair the sugary sand with 300 days of sunshine a year and temps that hover around 80 degrees and you have the recipe for the perfect island honeymoon escape with your humble (or not-so-humble) abode sitting just minutes away from the sand.
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__2. Spectacular Scuba Diving & Snorkeling __
Thanks to Nassau's prime location on the Tongue of the Ocean trench that's flanked by the Great Bahama Bank, you have all the ingredients for superb dive sites. Swim past shipwrecks while admiring the colorful coral reefs below, or set off and explore the 200-foot-wide Lost Blue Hole that dips down into the sea floor.
3. Toes-in-the-Sand Dining
One of the best things about an island-style honeymoon is going as casual as you want when it comes to cuisine. Sure, Nassau is home it its fair share of fine dining spots like the Bahamian-influenced Graycliff Restaurant, a gourmet eatery spread throughout the lavish rooms of the former family home. But you can also join the locals with street food-style fare served straight in the sand, noshing on seafood faves like fried snapper, grilled shrimp and conch served any way you'd like, best paired with a local brew like Sands.
4. Shark Diving Adventures
We're using the word adventure here because this is definitely what you'll be having as you and the new hubby set off for a swim amongst Caribbean reef sharks. There's nothing like a day spent with wild sharks to make your relationship heat up even more thanks to the mix of adrenaline and awe when you're surrounded by a bunch of these beauties, getting up close and personal for a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won't find anywhere else on the globe.
Photo: Courtesy of Bullion
5. Nonstop Nightlife
Just because you're in a beach destination doesn't mean your days need to be confined to basking on the shore (not that it's a bad option!). Nassau heats up come nightfall with attractions piquing any type of interest, whether you want to try your hand (and luck!) at the Caribbean's largest casino stocked with over 750 slot machines or would rather cozy up at the copper-coated colonial bar, Bullion, for a round of craft cocktails overlooking the harbor.
6. Beachfront Horseback Riding
Just 25 minutes from downtown you can head off on a picturesque horseback ride through the woods straight onto Nassau's stunning white-sand beaches. Happy Trails Stables' hour-and-a-half-long morning trail ride is perfect for couples of all levels (even if that means you haven't been on a horse since your childhood pony-riding days), trotting at a leisurely pace on trails around the beaches of Coral Harbour and Adelaide and along the Corrie Sound lake for a more romantic version of a typical sightseeing tour.
7. Old Town Vibes
Take a stroll through the revamped West Hill Street where you'll feel like you're stepping back to another time getting lost along the cobblestone streets. Part of the Graycliff Historical Village, the street's old convent, chapel and former Mountbatten home are getting spruced up as the area transforms into a pedestrian-friendly spot lined with charming cafes and artist studios where you can catch the masters at work and even purchase a piece or two to take back home as a honeymoon souvenir.
8. Chocolate-Crafting Courses
Nassau just so happens to sit in the land of cacao beans and you and the new hubby can take your love of chocolate beyond traditional truffles learning first-hand how to craft a bespoke bar at Graycliff Chocolatier Factory. Think of it as a very sweet version of a couples' cooking class — except you don't have to worry about burning or overcooking that night's dinner. Get creative with your chocolate-making, mixing and matching ingredients that range from local Bahamian fruit like lime and mango to those with an unexpected twist, like sweet tomato-basil.
Even better, you can discover just the right spirit to go alongside your sweets with a chocolate and spirits pairing course.
9. Pirate Tales
Thought the pirate Blackbeard was pure fiction? This legendary character was another pirate who called Nassau home in the 17th century. In fact, most of the city's population was made up of pirates (who were drawn to the island's harbor) until the first royal governor expelled many of them with his now-famous motto, "Pirates Expelled, Commerce Restored." You can see a replica of the well that once stood on Blackbeard's home, Old Fort Nassau, where the city's only downtown beachfront hotel, the British Colonial Hilton Nassau, now lies.
10. Island Hopping
You'll already be basking on one of the Bahamas' 700 islands, but that doesn't mean you can't explore a few of the others while you're there. Why not start with your own private one? Cruise by high-speed powerboat to Ship Channel Cay, set 38 nautical miles from Nassau, for a day of honeymoon bliss where all you have to decide is whether you'd rather feast on island specialties, feed the stingrays or sip wine while soaking up the sun from the porch of a gorgeous little fishing cottage.