Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, has long been seen as a bustling cruise port with mega-resort Atlantis, Paradise Island serving as the crown jewel of this Caribbean escape. Now, Nassau is giving other capitals in the Caribbean a run for their money as a bevy of new hotels and eateries debut on the island’s shores, offering couples plenty of stylish choices when it comes to saying "I do" in The Bahamas. From ceremonies on the sand to tropical garden receptions in the same place legendary artist Bob Marley once called home, here are just nine of the many reasons Nassau makes for a sweet island escape for a destination wedding in the Caribbean.
It’s Easy to Reach
Whether your guests are coming from the East Coast or somewhere in the Midwest, there’s a number of nonstop flights on carriers like American and Delta, as well as more budget-friendly options like JetBlue and Silver Airways. From nearby locales like Miami, New Providence Island lies less than an hour’s flight away. And once guests arrive, it’s a quick drive from the airport into town. Even better, Nassau offers pre-clearance entry into the U.S., meaning that when guests are ready to head back home after all the festivities wrap up, they can speed through customs and immigration in the Bahamas instead of when they land back in the States.
From sunset ceremonies on secluded beaches to poolside parties and patios looking out across the lagoon, the number of venues in Nassau continues to multiply. Say “I do” with only a sole palm tree swaying on a sandy beach or take the ceremony to old Nassau, exchanging vows in the chic Graycliff, an 18th-century mansion surrounded by tropical gardens with plenty of picture-perfect locales made for parties from two to 300. Can’t decide whether you’d rather a wedding on the sand or in the city? Luckily, spots like the British Colonial Hilton Nassau offer both. As the only beachfront hotel downtown, you’ll not only find grand ballrooms teeming with beauty, but you can also opt for garden parties or waterfront ceremonies all in the heart of the historic city.
New Hotels for All Budgets and Styles
While some couples may want to stay at an adults-only all-inclusive hotel like Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas, others may prefer to spread out at a resort like The Ocean Club. The beauty in a destination like Nassau is that guests can opt for a stay somewhere that meets their taste (and price point) all just a quick drive away from your wedding venue. In April 2017, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, the first of three new hotels at the Baha Mar complex, opened its doors featuring everything from an on-site chapel overlooking fountain pools (which can perform a Dubai-style show with projected images) to a wedding pavilion perfect for sunset ceremonies. Also part of the complex, the new SLS Baha Mar (whose sister spots sit in Miami and Beverly Hills) is a stylish option for guests looking for a boutique hotel experience with restaurants by the likes of Michael Schwartz and Chef Katsuya. You’ll also find the South Beach-chic Bungalow Pool Bar & Grill sitting steps away from the sea with a pool concierge taking care of guests’ every command. If you want to throw a bachelorette party pre-wedding, you’re in luck. With over 40 bars and restaurants—including the lavish Bond nightclub and New Providence Island’s only rooftop lounge, Skybar—you can spend an entire evening at Baha Mar hopping from one bar to the next, retiring to your room when you’re ready to call it a night.
This should be an easy sell for any of your northern friends looking for a warm winter escape. As for a summer wedding, no need to worry about sweating off your picture-perfect makeup. Thanks to the Gulf Stream currents and trade winds, temperatures in the Bahamas hover between 70 and 80 degrees (with an average of 82 in summer) and you can almost count on a sunny day since the islands boast more than 300 days of sunshine per year. Keep in mind, however, that peak hurricane season runs from August to October, and while chances of a storm ruining your wedding plans are quite slim, hurricanes typically pass near the Bahamas every two years.
Plenty of Pre- and Post-Wedding Activities
No need to worry about guests staying busy in between wedding festivities. At spots like Baha Mar, everyone—kids included—will find plenty of options without ever having to leave the property. While your guests can play a round of golf at the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, you nearlyweds can spend the day getting pampered at the Caribbean’s first and only ESPA spa. We recommend indulging in one of the signature services like the Seashore Serenity massage, which incorporates heated tiger clam shells in a similar fashion as a hot stone massage to help any lingering tension drift away, leaving you stress-free for the big day ahead.
Kids Can Tag Along
Some all-inclusive hotels are strictly adults-only, but you’ll also find age-specific kids clubs at spots like Atlantis, where children ages six to 10 can act as dolphin trainers for the day and even toddlers are attended to. Baha Mar also boasts its own Explorer’s Club with a daily program that mixes eco-exploration with animal interactions and activities, meaning all guardians can prep for the wedding knowing the kids will be occupied all day long.
Celeb Chef Restaurants
From rehearsal dinners to send-off brunches, couples have their fill of top-notch international cuisine from chefs who are household names. Take your pick of sushi and seafood-driven spots from Fish by José Andrés, debuting in early 2018, to the recently opened Katsuya by Starck Baha Mar. If you’re after fine dining, Michelin-starred French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s DUNE is your place. Start with cocktails at The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort’s martini bar and lounge, which may look familiar since it was a backdrop in the 2006 James Bond flick Casino Royale. Then take a seat on the white-sand bluff overlooking the Atlantic at DUNE, where the chef weaves his signature French style into Bahamian-inspired cuisine. Not only will your guests have picture-perfect views of the water, but they’ll also be snapping away when the stylish plates are presented at the table.
Hold court in a real-life version of underwater Atlantis at the Paradise Island resort’s restaurant, Fathoms, where you can dine while admiring views of the lost city’s “ruins” from the floor-to-ceiling windows that double as an aquarium.
Easy Transition to the Honeymoon
After all the pressure of getting everything ready for the big day, why throw in additional stress figuring out travel plans for your honeymoon? The best part about a destination wedding (besides giving your guests a mini-vacay) is that when the festivities wrap up, you can head back to your wedding suite and wake up as newlyweds, relaxed and ready to embark on your honeymoon. Music lovers can hide away in the 16-room Marley Resort & Spa, once the private vacation home of Bob and Rita Marley, where the honeymoon suite is cleverly titled “One Love” after the artist’s infamous song. Other options include the 1940s-style Sandals Royal Bahamian, an all-inclusive resort with swim-up suites and its own offshore island, or Rosewood Baha Mar, which offers day trips to another private island, Long Cay. Here, newlyweds are treated to tented picnics at sunset, which are sure to make for an Instagram-worthy setting that’ll assure everyone back home you’re truly basking in honeymoon bliss.