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Nassau Review: Blue Lagoon vs. Junkanoo Beach

Wondering what to do when your Bahamian cruise stops in Nassau? Have other cruisers told you to stay on the ship? I recently went on a 3-night cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas that stopped in Nassau. I tried the two most popular recommended activities: visiting the free Junkanoo Public Beach and the Blue Lagoon Island excursion. 

On my first cruise to Nassau, I stayed onboard the ship. Once I started venturing out and doing excursions, I realized I was missing out on so many beautiful places and memorable experiences. My favorite excursion to date was with Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas! You can read about that here.

On this recent cruise, I decided to try the Blue Lagoon Island Deluxe Beach Break. This was a beautiful island paradise. It was a short 30 minute boat ride from the pier, with views of Atlantis and celebrity homes along the way. We saw mansions belonging to Oprah, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, to name a few. On the other side we saw local fishermen on their boats.

The tiny island welcomes cruise passengers only, and has no road access. There was a small, safe lagoon with sugary white sand, lined with plenty of loungers and umbrellas. The adults only section was separated by a walking bridge. The family beach was not that crowded and I had no problem finding a place to sit. The beach closest to the dock had inflatable water toys and an obstacle course. Many hammocks and beach games are available for free use. The restrooms with clean and well stocked. There are kayaks to rent as well.

A less crowded beach, further away from the family beach, is where I stayed. The water is crystal clear and the sand was very soft. There were occasional chunks of coral and rocks, so water shoes will save you from stubbing your toes. I didn't bring those, and I was fine. The opposite side of the water has some trees and vegetation and this is where all the beautiful fish hang out!

I usually bring my own snorkel equipment, but this time I purchased it there. It was $30 for the set from the gift shop. The child sets were cheaper. There were sets for rent, but were sold out. The cost was worth it though! I saw many tropical fish including yellow snapper, baby barracuda, angel fish, grunts, needlefish, and royal grama (the half purple-half yellow fish from Finding Nemo) plus many other species.

Blue Lagoon offers animal excursions too, such as swimming with dolphins, petting and feeding dolphins, stingrays and sea lions. You can visit the animals without booking an excursion. The staff were very friendly and loved talking about the animals. I could tell that they loved their jobs and really cared for the animals. The dolphins were so playful, even for us spectators. They were interested and curious about us. 
Lunch was included on this excursion. I had a veggie burger (actual veggie burger, not Beyond Meat or an imitation). They also had barbecue chicken, burgers and hot dogs. The sides were french fries, rice and beans, salad, fruit and some other things. It was all very good. The complimentary drink options were fruit punch, lemonade, tea or water. Each guest had a meal ticket and a drink ticket.

We left the island at 1:15 and our "all aboard" time for the ship was 4:30, so we walked along the road parallel to the ships and looked in some local shops. When we got to SeƱor Frogs we took a left and walked around the block past McDonalds, and then down to Margaritaville (it's a huge resort on the beach, you can't miss it.) Stop by the lobby for a coffee or a drink. It's beautiful inside! There are restrooms and an ATM too. We got some cash out for a taxi, for the ride back. The fee was $9 to withdraw US dollars.

Once you pass Margaritaville, you'll arrive at Junkanoo, the public beach. I recommend walking as far as you can on the sidewalk before entering the beach. The first few stretches of sand were crowded, and littered with beer bottles and trash.

Once you pass the hoardes of people, you'll see some open pieces of sand. Look for the last stone piers. Although there weren't any fish to be seen, the water was crystal clear and the views of the ships and Lighthouse were very pretty. 

Since this is a public beach, locals may attempt to "rent" a beach chair to you, although they do not own them. They may also offer things to you such as jewelry, cigars, and other things. This isn't to deter visitors from enjoying this gorgeous island, but a slight word of caution. That being said, in my opinion, I would be cautious to bring children to Junkanoo.

We caught a cab from the cab stand near the beach and they took us back to the main road, not all the way to the pier though, for $5 per person. It saved us about a 15 minute walk. Be sure to have your cruise room card ready to present to the pier security as you enter and always return to the ship 30 minutes before you need to. Long security lines and multiple ships in port can make returns longer than expected.

There are other local beaches to visit in Nassau, and it's home to the beautiful Atlantis Resort, another popular vacation destination and excursion! Atlantis offers waterpark passes, dolphin swims and it has a casino.

I highly recommend Blue Lagoon Island and can't wait to return in a few months! 

If you'd like to visit the Bahamas or have questions about cruising, just ask!

Happy cruising!

Summer Squires
You can find Summer cruising the Caribbean when she's not at Walt Disney World. She specializes in cruises and Bahamas Tourism. Email her at Summer@kingdomkonsultant.com.

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