With its pink exterior and unusual octagonal shape, the Nassau Public Library is a well-loved local landmark. Although you might not think to visit a public library while on vacation, a detour to see this building is well worth the effort. The library once served as the town’s jail, and the books are housed inside the former jail cells.
The library has been in operation since 1837, making it one of the oldest public libraries in the Caribbean (although it didn’t move to its current home until 1873). The Old Powder Magazine building in Williamsburg, Virginia, inspired its 8-sided shape. The library was the first building to be erected on what is now Parliament Square.
The library also doubles as the city’s museum, with interesting artifacts from the Bahamas’ indigenous Arawak Indians, plus information about the islands’ colonial history. Many people make a stop at the library on a historical walking tour of Nassau or as part of a fun fact-finding adventure tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entry to the library is free.
- Wi-Fi available at the library, as well as computers that visitors can use.
- The library’s basement was once used as a dungeon.
- Don’t miss the veranda on the top floor, which offers great views over Nassau.
How to Get There
The Nassau Public Library and Museum is located at Shirley Street and Parliament Square, in Downtown Nassau on the island of New Providence, part of the Bahamas island chain. The library is walkable from most places downtown and is about five blocks from the cruise port terminal.
When to Get There
The library is open Monday–Thursday from 10am–8pm, Friday from 10am–5pm, and Saturday from 10am–2pm. It is closed Sundays and holidays.
Thrills and Spills on Paradise Island
Just across the water from Nassau, you’ll find Paradise Island, home to two casinos, several large resorts, and the legendary Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis hotel, where daring thrill seekers can catch a clear-sided waterslide that travels through a shark-filled lagoon. The island is also a popular destination for jet-skiing and other water sports.