If you’re planning a Bahamas cruise, you might be looking for a budget-friendly shore excursion in Nassau. We did a DIY excursion from the Nassau cruise port to Nirvana at Love Beach and saved tons of money compared to the cruise line’s offerings.
As an added bonus, gorgeous Love Beach was far less crowded than the beaches any of our new cruise friends visited during our port day in Nassau.
The small complex at Nirvana is a frugal alternative to the resorts on the island that offer expensive day passes to cruise passengers. If you’re looking to save money on a Nassau shore excursion, I’ll tell you exactly how we did it.
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How to get to Love Beach from Nassau cruise port
Love Beach is located off of West Bay Street, on the northern coast of the island (Nassau is on New Providence Island). You could take a 30-minute taxi ride, but a much cheaper option is to take a jitney, an independently-operated bus that you can hop on just a short walk from the port.
Jitneys only cost $1.50 per person each way, but they will make many stops along the route to pick up and drop off passengers. Jitney drivers only accept cash (US or Bahamian dollars), and they don’t give change.
To take a jitney to Love Beach, head over to Frederick Street (if you’re lost, just ask for directions to Burger King). You’ll see lots of colorful buses lining both sides of the street.
#10 and #12 buses could be going to Love Beach. Just pop your head in the bus and ask the driver if they’re going there. Your journey will take about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how many stops the driver makes.
Along the way, you’ll pass by many of the beaches I review in 7 Best Beaches in Nassau Bahamas for Cruisers. After you pass the busiest strip of West Bay Street along Cable Beach, you’ll notice far fewer resorts. Start to keep an eye out on your right for the large Nirvana Love Beach sign on an arched gateway.
The gate marks the old entrance to Nirvana, but the new entrance is just a few steps away and down the hill.
Tip: Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time on the way back. Not all of the jitneys go as far as Love Beach, so you may have to wait a while before one comes by.
Amenities offered by Nirvana at Love Beach
Nirvana is about as far from a luxury beach resort as you can get. But for frugal cruise travelers, you’ll be glad to know you can access Love Beach from Nirvana’s entrance free of charge. Best of all, they do offer quite a few free and paid amenities that you might want access to during your day at the beach.
Although you don’t need to pay to get in, there are many inexpensive options that you may want to take advantage of during your day at the beach. If you’d like to rent loungers or an umbrella for the day, just ask at the bar. Prices are very reasonable compared to other beaches in Nassau. We rented two loungers and an umbrella for $17.
Other daily rentals available include floats, other non-motorized water sports equipment and snorkel gear. We always bring our own full-face snorkel mask and fins when we travel because even small rental fees can really add up over time.
The Nirvana Beach Bar building features an indoor/outdoor bar with a small food and drink menu. Rustic table seating, as well as bar seating, is available both inside and outside.
Restrooms are available on site. The restrooms aren’t the most well-maintained, but it was nice to have toilet facilities available close to our spot on the beach.
Nirvana also offers free WiFi (the password is on a sign at the bar), but the signal only works right near the building and not on the beach.
Spending a day at Love Beach Nassau
Arriving on the beach in the morning, the sand in front of the entrance was nearly empty, with just a few beachgoers enjoying the sun.
Although there were lots of cruise ships in port, it didn’t look like many passengers decided to venture all the way out to Love Beach. Even by the afternoon, the beach wasn’t crowded. Most of the visitors were locals and tourists staying at nearby hotels, though I did spot a couple of cruise line towels that I recognized.
Many beaches in the Caribbean are notorious for their roving vendors that will try to sell you their wares – everything from crafts to food to drugs. That thankfully isn’t a problem on Love Beach! Even the vendors at the small souvenir stand and the massage and hair braiding technicians near the beach bar didn’t call out as we passed by. The whole atmosphere here is very low-key.
Snorkeling at Love Beach
Love Beach is one of the best snorkeling spots on New Providence Island. With the reef just offshore, the beach offers easy access at low tide to get up close to beautiful marine life. The best location to snorkel from Nirvana is on the far side of the reef that runs parallel to the shoreline.
However, I must warn you that at high tide, the currents can become very dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend snorkeling or even swimming when the tide is in. If you’re planning to snorkel, check the Love Beach tide times before your visit.
Airplanes fly low over Love Beach
If you’re an avid plane-spotter, you’ll love that Nirvana’s beach area is directly under the flight path for airplanes landing at the nearby airport.
It’s nothing like the famous Maho Beach in St. Maarten, where planes often fly less than 100 ft (30 m) above the sand. The planes over Love Beach are far higher, but still low enough that you’ll notice (and hear) each one, often spaced only minutes apart.
If you can’t stand the planes overhead, move down the beach to the right where it’s much quieter. The planes only seem to follow the one route right over Nirvana.
Explore the rest of Love Beach
If you want to see more of Love Beach, there’s plenty more gorgeous sand and surf you can explore. The entire beach is about a mile long! Whether you want to get away from the airplanes or just take a walk, I recommend that you head east along the shore (to your right if you’re facing the water).
You could also go west, but there’s a sign at the end of the property asking Nirvana Beach guests not to go past that point. All of Love Beach is free to the public to the high-tide mark, but I didn’t want to cause trouble with the neighboring resort by walking on “their” part of the beach.
The section of Love Beach east of Nirvana is absolutely lovely, and during my stroll there was almost no one on it other than a few friendly people walking their dogs.
The landscape varies if you continue to walk. You’ll find reef close to the shore, creating protected tidepools that would be ideal for small kids to splash in.
In some spots, the reef extends right up on the shore, but you’ll also see plenty of sections with just sand, perfect for swimming.
Lunch at Nirvana Beach Bar
The Nirvana Beach Bar was busy, but not too crowded when we decided to have lunch in the early afternoon. We found seats at the outdoor part of the bar where lively Caribbean music played on the TV.
Perusing the small drink menu, we ordered a cocktail for me and a beer for Mr. SBC.
He tried a bottle of the local Kalik beer, which he described as “kind of like Corona, but better”. They have a small selection of bottled beers focusing on Bahamian brews like Sands Pink Radler. All beers are $5-6 per bottle.
I decided on a rum punch. I usually don’t like rum punch, but I’ve only ever tried it on those shore excursions that offer “free cocktails” and it’s always terrible. Since it was the only cocktail featured on the menu (you can also order basic cocktails from the limited bar) I figured I’d give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted pretty good!
The menu at Nirvana Beach Bar
The menu at Nirvana Beach Bar offers lots of beach food staples, including hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, and fried chicken. Veggie burgers and salads are also available.
Nirvana also has a selection of Caribbean food, including conch and red snapper dishes and the Bennie Cake, a Bahamian orange-flavored sesame seed candy.
Prices are very reasonable for the area, from $7.50 for a hot dog to $17 for a large order of cracked conch. Desserts are in the $2-$3 range.
If you’re a seafood lover, definitely try the cracked conch ($14-17). A favorite in the Bahamas, cracked conch is pounded thin, battered and deep-fried. I don’t really love fried food, but this was fantastic.
The dish has a similar texture to clam strips (fried clams without the bellies), along with a slightly stronger, sweeter flavor. Nirvana Beach Bar serves their cracked conch with tartar sauce, fries, and a teeny salad.
Even if you’ve had conch fritters before and thought they were just okay, cracked conch is prepared very differently and is a must-try dish for visitors to the Bahamas who like seafood.
Is it worth going to Love Beach from Nassau’s cruise port?
Although it took us a while to travel from the cruise port in downtown Nassau to Love Beach and back, I felt that the journey was worth it. We didn’t have to pay an entrance fee or buy a day pass, but we still had access to restrooms and WiFi.
We chose to rent chairs and an umbrella and buy our lunch, but we didn’t have to. Plus, the amount we paid was much less than we would have spent at one of the busier beaches in Nassau.
Best of all, we enjoyed a relaxing day at a beautiful, uncrowded beach. Not a single vendor bothered us at our chairs or when we walked around, as you’ll often find at other Nassau beaches.
I was a little worried about getting back to the ship on time with the limited jitney service from this location. But we made it back with plenty of time to spare even in heavy traffic. I knew I could always ask the staff at Nirvana to call us a taxi if a jitney didn’t come by.
Have you ever cruised to Nassau, Bahamas? Did you visit Love Beach? I’d love to hear about your experience. Let me know in the comments!
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