After touching down in the tropical paradise of the Bahamas, visitors are invariably drawn to the immaculate white sand beaches and the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. With perfect summer weather all year round, the Bahamas are best enjoyed outdoors.
However, when the sun finally does dip beneath the horizon, it means that the party is just getting started.
The capital city of Nassau is where you’ll find the most late night action. It’s home to many of the most popular bars and nightclubs and, along with nearby Paradise Island – site of the iconic Atlantis Resort – you’ll find everything from local dives and glitzy tourist destinations to family-friendly restaurants and massive DJ-driven dance halls.
Here are some of our favourites to explore!
Bambu – Located on Woodes Rodgers Walk one block north of Bay Street in Downtown Nassau, the Bambu nightclub is just steps away from the island’s cruise ship terminal. So, when the huge cruisers enter the port and deposit travelers for a night of revelry, Bambu usually bumps harder than any other club in the area.
As an open-air dance hall overlooking the harbor below, Bambu blends Bahamian breezes with the best in modern house music to create that island atmosphere visitors crave. Locals love Bambu’s ability to replicate the metropolitan vibe of places like South Beach and Ibiza, while tourists simply appreciate the venue’s laid back energy.
Fair warning though: Bambu is especially strict about enforcing the dress code, so come prepared with your finest threads to ensure you make it through the door without a hassle. You don’t want to miss out.
Ibiza Bahama Beach Club – This spot is open throughout the day, with raucous pool parties echoing the best of Las Vegas and Miami. But, when night arrives, Ibiza Bahama Beach Club transforms into a swanky Euro-style dance hall. Boasting all black interiors lit with every shade of neon, the club’s striking visual appeal is enhanced by a back-and-forth mix of Mediterranean-inspired house music and local Caribbean tunes.
Ibiza Bahama Beach Club can be found about 10 minutes west of Downtown Nassau on West Bay Street, just south of famous Arawak Cay.
Da Balcony – Back in 2011 a fire swept through Nassau’s Downtown district, consuming beloved local late-night destination Da Balcony. The venue was shuttered for a few years afterward, but was rebuilt and now occupies twice as much space as before.
As the name suggests, Da Balcony takes both floors of an Old-World style Bahamian building. The quaintly traditional exterior can be deceptive, though, as Da Balcony includes an outdoor veranda with a dance floor and a full-fledged indoor nightclub where the island’s top DJs regularly spin the latest pop and house tracks.
Club Luna – Two minutes west of Ibiza Bahama Beach Club is a distinctive outdoor space created by the courtyard area of an old colonial style two-story building. By day, the whitewashed walls and tall columns resemble monuments in Washington D.C. more than anything else, but when the sun goes down, the place transforms into Club Luna, one of Nassau’s designated must-see nightlife destinations.
More than 5,000 partygoers can pack the outdoor concert space and dance hall and they do so on a regular basis. Club Luna hosts many of the region’s most sought after singers, rappers and DJs. With pink neon lights stretching across every architectural line in the building, Club Luna truly lives up to its name, becoming a new beast altogether when moonlight appears.
Blending in with the locals
Part of the appeal held by any exotic new location is blending in with the crowds and seeing how the locals live. The beats blaring through overhead speakers, the relationship between residents and tourists and even the local drinks help create an enjoyable atmosphere.
When you arrive in the Bahamas, one of the first things to take note of is the sound of distinctive regional music emanating from restaurants, bars and street performers. A fusion of African rhythms, the Caribbean’s signature Calypso sound, folk music inspired by English influence, and the Bahamas’ very own “goombay” form of drumming and dancing, the music of the islands is an extension of their diversity.
Inside the bars and clubs, DJs can be found spinning everything from American pop music to European house, techno and much more.
At the famed Compass Point Beachside Resort, Thursday nights are devoted to Bahamian music acts, as local favorite Ira Storr and the Spank Band cater to the crowd with a mix of hit songs. At Jacaranda House, an Old-World mansion in the downtown district, a full-fledged jazz concert takes place the first Sunday of each month.
On the streets of Downtown Nassau you can expect to mingle with a mixed crowd, although this tourist-centric district will have a healthy share of American visitors enjoying the endless opportunities for shopping, sightseeing and other adventures. A large majority of the five to six million tourists who touch down in the Bahamas every year are American, so throughout Atlantis Resort and Downtown Nassau at least, the crowds tend to be more westernized than you’ll find on the Out Islands.
The Bahamas on a budget
Depending on where you go, the Bahamas can be expensive or very affordable. If you’re a seafood lover who savors the chance to sample island fare like snapper, lobster or the local delicacy conch, the Arawak Cay area is the place to be for a fresh catch every day. Walking through Arawak Cay’s vendor stalls and pushcarts is the best way to enjoy a conch fritter or fried snapper, all for just a few U.S. dollars.
The money you save on seafood meals will quickly be snapped up if you like a cold beer to go with your fish. The regional favorite is Kalik, a product of the Nassau-based Commonwealth Brewery (which also produces Heineken and Guinness).
You can expect to pay a bit of a premium when compared to your basic Budweiser back home. Typically, a single bottle of Kalik will run $2 to $3 in a grocery store. The price climbs to $4 at bars for the locals and up to $6 at tourist traps. If you’re drinking poolside at the Atlantis Resort, a cold Kalik could set you back $10 or more.
These prices are still the best around though because imported beers coming in from the U.S. or abroad are taxed at an additional $9 per case. Those taxes are passed along to consumers, so when it comes to beer in the Bahamas, keeping it local is the best way to save some cash.
Clubbing in Atlantis
If you’ve already explored Downtown Nassau and prefer to stay closer to your Atlantis Resort room, Paradise Island’s signature property has you covered – and then some.
With no less than 13 bars, lounges and nightclubs sprinkled across Paradise Island’s nearly 700 acres, Atlantis Resort offers partygoers a true 24-hour experience.
By far the most popular nightclub on the property is Aura. Operated by the Hakkasan Group, Aura recreates the glitz and glamour of Hollywood hotspots like fellow Hakkasan-owned venue Bootsy Bellows. Dancers get down to the vibe created by local DJs and the whole room glitters with light shows and other in-house productions to supplement the music.
Complete with two distinct VIP areas and even a third ultra-VIP Parlour, Aura is a high-end nightclub that attracts the young and prosperous. Even entering Aura is an experience, as you clamber up a grand staircase to the club itself, which overlooks the casino floor below.
High rollers will also appreciate Dragon’s Ultra Lounge, a nightclub and bar situated directly on the casino floor. During the weekdays, Dragon’s is home to a more subdued atmosphere. By the time Friday night rolls around, it becomes a focal point for fun and entertainment.
If you’re looking for something different, Moon Club is a swanky nightclub designed around a functioning marine habitat. As you sip on a perfectly prepared martini, you can also gaze at brightly-colored blue jellyfish and other creatures wandering through the waters of the massive aquarium built directly into the bar.
Along with the exclusive nature of these three Atlantis Resort nightlife staples, the property is also littered with low-cost alternatives. Bimini Road is the classic Caribbean bar, slinging up signature Mojito cocktails and other local treats like the Bahama Mama and Sky Juice. The lobby lounges found in both the Coral and Beach Towers provide the perfect casual setting for an early drink before heading out for a night on the town.