Just a short drive from Nassau cruise port sits a crescent-shaped slice of sand that doesn’t get much tourist traffic. Visiting Caves Beach is a far different experience than spending the day at one of Nassau’s more famous beaches—and not only because there are ancient caves across the street that may have once held pirate treasure!

I recently spent the day exploring Caves Beach and The Caves of New Providence with my family, and we enjoyed our time there. However, like many destinations, the beach and the caves have their pros and cons. Here’s everything you’ll need to know before planning a visit to Caves Beach and The Caves.

Be sure to pose for a photo sitting in the shell-covered throne at the entrance to The Caves

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Visiting The Caves of New Providence

We decided to check out the caves before heading over to the beach. I had read up a little on the fascinating history of New Providence Island’s oldest attraction, so I was super-excited to see The Caves for myself.

A quick history of The Caves of New Providence

Nassau’s caves were created by the sea, millions of years ago. The area that is now the caves was originally at sea level, and ocean waves gradually wore away the softer parts of the sedimentary rock, leaving what are now large hollows.

The Lucayans, the original inhabitants of The Bahamas, used the caves for various purposes, including food storage and to protect themselves during hurricanes.

It’s also believed that The Caves were used by pirates in the 16th and 17th centuries. The passages would have been used to hide weaponry or treasure, as well as a hiding spot for the pirates themselves to prevent attacks from rival pirates or various European navies.

On December 5th, 1861, His Royal Highness Prince Alfred the Duke of Edinburgh (Queen Victoria’s fourth child and second son) visited The Caves. Seventeen-year-old Alfred, a midshipman in the royal navy, was the first royal to ever visit the Bahamas. The Bahamian people were so proud of the visit that they helped him carve his name and the date into the stone.

Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred visited The Caves on his visit to Nassau in 1861

Currently, The Caves are under private ownership but are open to the public.

You may also like: Climbing The Queen’s Staircase in Nassau Bahamas

Entering The Caves of New Providence

You can only access the central cavern at The Caves via a few steps carved into the stone floor. You’ll enter through a narrow hole that leads into the cave. I chose to crouch down and sit on the steps for a moment before entering the cave completely, so my eyes could adjust to the darkness from the bright sunshine outside.

The entrance to the central cavern is pretty narrow

Once inside, dozens of tiny fruit bats came into view (their bodies are about the size of mice), dotting the curved ceiling of the cave.

The bats didn’t move much while I was in there, except for a few who flew in or out of the holes that connected this central spot to other parts of the cave. Bats are nocturnal and generally rest during the day, and these particular bats are definitely used to human visitors to their home.

Thankfully most of the bats napped on the ceiling when I entered their cave

Regardless of the bats’ nonchalant attitude toward me, I decided not to go any further to explore this cave. Do you remember that scene in The Goonies where the kids are swarmed by bats? Yeah, that’s all I could think of, so I made my visit short but sweet.

Is it safe to visit The Caves in Nassau?

The New Providence Caves don’t have any guards, employees, or official tour guides that can assist you or give recommendations about how to safely explore the caves.

The central entrance to the cave is dark, doesn’t have handrails, and can be slippery, especially after a rain. But if you’re the adventurous type, you’ll probably be fine with this.

Entering The Caves of New Providence without a guide may be dangerous, so enter at your own risk

I was more concerned with disturbing the bats that live in the caves. Although I love bats (mainly because I hate bugs, and many bats eat them), I really didn’t want to get bitten by one!

Although the most common source of human rabies in the United States is from bats, according to a 2015 Florida Museum of Natural History bulletin, there have been no reported cases of rabies transmitted from bats (or any other wildlife) to humans in the Bahamas.

But I wasn’t taking any chances—peering at the bats from across the cave was close enough for me.

Those dark spots on the ceiling of the cave are fruit bats

Tips for visiting The Caves safely

  • Only visit The Caves during daylight hours
  • Use the buddy system
  • Wear non-slip, closed-toe shoes when entering the caves
  • Bring a flashlight (your cell phone flashlight might not be bright enough)
  • Don’t touch or disturb the bats or other wildlife you may encounter

Be sure to check out the other cave

You might miss it if you don’t know it’s there, but to the left of the central cave is another cave with a much larger opening. I didn’t see any bats in there (just a lot of beer bottles), but it’s much easier to peek into for anyone who doesn’t want to (or can’t) go into the central cave.

To the left of the main cave is another cave with a larger opening
This cave is more accessible, as the floor is on ground level

How much does it cost to visit The Caves of New Providence?

Visiting The Caves in Nassau is free. However, unless you visit with a tour guide, you’re on your own during your time here.

Although he wasn’t there when we explored The Caves, many visitors have mentioned that a local man named Shawn often hangs around the cave entrance. A self-proclaimed Caves historian, Shawn is said to give impromptu tours of The Caves in exchange for tips.

I usually can’t stand when people waste my time with an unsolicited “tour” and then demand a tip, but I was actually looking forward to meeting Shawn and finding out what he knows about the caves. Lots of visitors over the years have mentioned that he was visibly drunk—and some say he’s creepy—but he probably knows more about The Caves than anyone, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get to talk to him.

So fair warning—like at several other tourist attractions around Nassau, you may encounter people who are determined to shake you down for a tip. If you’d rather keep your visit to The Caves free of charge, politely (but firmly) tell them you’re not interested.

How to get to The Caves and Caves Beach from downtown Nassau

If you’re coming from the cruise port or another location in downtown Nassau, you can get to Caves Beach by taxi in about 25 minutes, depending on traffic.

Or, to save quite a bit of money, you can take a #10 jitney from downtown right to the beach. You’ll see the jitneys, independent buses, parked near the cruise port on Frederick Street by the Burger King. Just ask the driver if they’re going by Caves Beach, and hop on. The fare is $1.50 each way, payable in US or Bahamian dollars. Drivers don’t give change back, so make sure you have some small bills.

You’ll drive west on West Bay Street, which is a gorgeous scenic route along the northern coast of New Providence Island. If you take a jitney, expect the drive to take about 15 minutes longer than in a taxi because the bus makes many stops along the way.

It’s a good idea to pre-arrange your return trip with your taxi driver, because flagging down a taxi this far west on the island won’t be an easy feat. If you’re planning to return via jitney, give yourself plenty of time to get back (especially if you’re re-boarding your cruise ship). Jitneys don’t pass by this location as often as in the more touristy areas of Nassau.

Just wait for an eastbound jitney to come along, and give a big wave for the driver to stop. Jitneys are often purple, so they’re easy to spot.

If you’re staying in the Nassau area and have a rental car, there’s lots of free parking both in the lot in front of the caves, as well as on the street in front of the beach.

There’s plenty of free parking for The Caves and Caves Beach

Nassau guided tours that visit The Caves of New Providence

If you’re more interested in seeing the caves than visiting the beach, there are several shore excursions you can book that include a short stop (usually about 15 minutes) to visit the caves and take photos, along with other stops at points of interest around the island.

All of these day tours make a stop at The Caves of New Providence—just click on the links for details and current prices.

Exploring Caves Beach

After our cave adventure, it was time to head over to beautiful Caves Beach. Although it was a perfect beach day, the beach was almost deserted. We only encountered a handful of other beachgoers during our entire time there!

Getting to Caves Beach from The Caves

Caves Beach is super-easy to get to from The Caves—it’s directly across the street! You can get right onto the beach via a short flight of steps down from the sidewalk. (There’s no ramp, so access to Caves Beach is not accessible for mobility devices.)

Public access to Caves Beach is just a few steps down from the sidewalk

If you’re not too steady on your feet, I’d recommend using the stairs to the right side of the beachfront parking (as you face the water). When we visited, the stairs on the left side were damaged, with the bottom step missing and some rough ground below. The right-side stairs, although not as close to The Caves, are in much better condition.

Avoid taking the damaged stairs on the left unless you don’t mind jumping onto uneven ground at the bottom
Walk a little way down the sidewalk to reach a set of stairs in better condition

Another cave on Caves Beach

At the west end of the beach you’ll see a very old-looking retaining wall constructed around some craggy rocks.

At the far end of the retaining wall, there’s a rock cave with a small circular opening. I grabbed my water shoes to cross the sharp rocks in front, flashlight in hand to see what was in this cave.

This smaller cave is right on Caves Beach

Expecting to maybe see some more fruit bats, I ventured closer to the opening, only to hear a very loud and very angry chittering noise coming from the cave as I approached.

I have no idea what kind of creature was living in this cave, but it didn’t want me coming near it. I booked it back across the rocks to give this very upset animal its space!

Some creature who makes its home in this little cave was angry with me!

As long as you don’t get too close to the cave entrance, this end of the beach is very pretty, with its rugged-looking rock formations carved by the sea. This little corner of Caves Beach actually reminded me of one of my favorite beaches in the world, Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda, which features similar rocks at its far end.

In addition to providing great photo ops, the western end of Caves Beach is a great place to swim or enter the water for snorkeling. As you venture east along the beach, there are more sharp rocks just past the water line that you’ll have to contend with.

But this part of the beach has smooth sand as you enter the water, and also has a roped-off area for swimming, (perfect to give kids a limit on how far they can venture out) as well as to provide a safety zone for snorkelers (like me) who worry about reckless boaters and jet-skiiers.

As always, we brought along our full-face snorkel masks and fins for our visit to Caves Beach, and found that this was the perfect spot to get in the water.

Read more: Why You Need a Full Face Snorkel Mask for Your Next Cruise

The best place on Caves Beach to swim or start snorkeling is here on the west end of the beach
Looking toward the eastern part of Caves Beach, you’ll notice more rocky terrain just offshore as you walk down the sand

Is Caves Beach clean?

As public beaches go, Caves Beach was fairly clean. I didn’t notice much trash left behind from litterbugs, but there were tons of small shells along with a surprising amount of beautiful sea glass.

We found lots of multi-colored sea glass on this visit to Caves Beach

However, along with the smooth sea glass, there were also some jagged bits of newly-broken glass littering the sand.

Because of this, I’d recommend wearing water shoes or active rubber-soled sandals as you walk along the beach and wade in the water. This probably isn’t the best beach for very young children to play on—if you have little ones I’d recommend Goodman’s Bay at the east end of Cable Beach, or Saunders Beach closer to downtown Nassau. Both feature playgrounds, restroom facilities (bring some toilet paper because they’re not always restocked), and cleaner sand.

The sand on Caves Beach looks super-clean, but we noticed shards of broken glass on our beach walk

Or visit the world-famous Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island—yes, there’s public access!—for pristine, powder-soft sand.

Read more: 7 Best Beaches in Nassau Bahamas for Cruisers

Exploring the tidepools on Caves Beach

Growing up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, I spent a lot of time on the beach and out on the water with my family. As a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was exploring tidepools—pockets of seawater close to the shore that are formed and reformed each day as the tides ebb and flow.

As the ocean works to form and reform the shoreline, you’ll sometimes see shallow pools bounded by rocks or mounds of sand. These tidepools often temporarily trap small fish, tiny sea stars, urchins, crabs, and other marine creatures.

As you walk east on Caves Beach, more rocky areas are visible near the shore

Walking eastbound on Caves Beach as the tide was coming in, I felt that little pang of happy anticipation in my heart—would we find tidepools?

Beautiful and rugged, but not the best place to get into the water for a swim

Oh yes we did, and I was so glad that I’d packed the right footwear to go exploring. This isn’t the place for tender bare feet!

Tidepool lovers will have a field day on this part of Caves Beach

Tucked amidst the limestone crags were lots of tiny pools. Many were empty, with just a bed of soft sand at the bottom. But others held treasure—small colorful fish waiting for the tide to sweep them back out to sea.

Get up close to the sandy tidepools formed by the rocks and the incoming tide – you’ll spot shells, cool rocks, seaglass, and marine life

And the sea did its job—as the waves continued in their steady pace, I witnessed tiny fish (no doubt flummoxed by their temporary prisons) be washed back into the Caribbean.

When the tide comes in, the waves will wash the little fish back out into the ocean

If you have kids who love marine life (or maybe you’re an adult like me who’s always fascinated by tiny sea creatures), Caves Beach is the place to go on New Providence Island.

Are there any amenities or facilities at Caves Beach?

Unlike many of the beaches closer to downtown, Caves Beach is pretty no-frills. There are no restrooms, showers, or changing facilities. You also won’t find lifeguards—and though most public Nassau beaches don’t have them, it can be more of a concern at a beach like this that’s usually not very crowded.

Also unlike the area beaches that are more popular with tourists, you won’t find vendors selling food, drinks, and souvenirs, or renting beach umbrellas and loungers. There are no watersport rentals available here either.

So if you’re planning to spend a few hours or the day at Caves Beach, plan to bring everything that you need. There’s no shade on the beach at all, so packing a collapsible sun shelter tent is a great idea to give you some respite from the bright Bahamian sun.

Tip: If you want to see The Caves but would really prefer a beach with more amenities available, Love Beach is just a five-minute drive west on West Bay Street. Read my full writeup of how to spend a day at Love Beach for more info.

You may also want to grab a lunch downtown to enjoy later on at the beach. Many takeout restaurants in the Bahamas will take what feels like forever to make your food (if you haven’t yet experienced “island time”, it’s a real thing!). However, I’ve found that Subway sandwich shops in Nassau are super-quick. There’s one downtown on Charlotte Street, just by the cruise port.

Or, you could eat at one of the restaurants near Caves Beach. Caves Village Shopping Centre is a quick walk west of the beach, and offers La Caverna for Italian specialties. Or walk in the other direction and take your first right to find Plantation Bar and Grill.

Have you visited Caves Beach and The Caves in Nassau? Or are you planning a trip soon? Let me know in the comments below!

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Visiting Caves Beach and The Caves Nassau Bahamas

About the Author

Carrie Ann is the founder of Should Be Cruising and a lifelong travel fanatic. A former flight attendant, she now prefers cruise ships over airplanes and spends several months each year cruising and exploring cruise ports. Facebook | Instagram

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45 Comments

    1. Hi Heather, I really enjoyed our visit to The Caves and Caves Beach. A bit more adventurous than a typical beach day! But yeah, bat-filled caves aren’t everyone’s idea of a fun time 😀

    1. It was cool to be able to go in the caves without a tour guide (but maybe a guide would have given me the confidence to explore more!) Thanks so much for reading!

    1. Hi Kuntala, Nassau is so beautiful! It’s the perfect place to go for beach hopping, and each beach has its own character and flavor. Hope you’re able to visit one day!

    1. Hi Cinny, isn’t the Caves area lovely? If you go back to Nassau, it’s worth the short ride out there. And you can just peek in the caves without climbing right in with the bats 🙂

  1. Spending time soaking up the natural areas around Caves Beach and the Caves sounds like a fabulous way to spend a day. I would far rather do this than be at more popular and crowded tourist places. This feels more genuine and I can certainly appreciate your decision to play it safe where exploring the caves were concerned. A guide is definitely a far smarter idea if/when there is one available. Would love to visit and check out this area one day.

    1. Hi Nicole, it really was a fabulous day at Caves Beach! I really enjoy getting away from the more crowded and touristy areas. Hope you’re able to check it out – I have links in my post to some of the guided tours that stop at The Caves.

  2. Oh yes please Carrie Ann, I would love to visit the Bahamas for a week or two. I am guessing that you should make it into two weeks to be able to see it all 🙂

    1. Hi Ann! I hope you get to visit the Bahamas! Yeah, if you’re planning to island-hop, you’d need at least a couple of weeks. But if you just stay on New Providence Island/Paradise Island, you’ll be able to see all of the major sites and have plenty of time to relax on the beautiful beaches if you plan for a week. I hope you’re able to go!

  3. It would be a dream to have a vacation in Bahamas. The beaches are so pristine. I would also love to see the marker commemorating the visit of Prince Alfred! I would leave exploring the caves for the more adventurous. 🙂

    1. Hi Eileen, yeah, The Caves aren’t everyone’s cup of tea 🙂 But the beaches around Nassau are really gorgeous. I hope you’re able to get there one day!

  4. Ooo I am loving all your beautiful photos! You are giving me some serious travel inspiration here for sure xx

  5. While I do find caves to be interesting to explore, I can only think of one instance when I have been into one. On the other hand, I do love small marine animals so, yeah, this place is perfect for me.

    1. Hi Ivan, I also love tiny marine creatures, so I bet you’d really enjoy a visit to Caves Beach, too! The Caves are a neat experience as well, and I really enjoyed how easy it was to visit both in one trip.

    1. Hi Marysa! We had so much fun checking out the caves and then exploring the beautiful beach. One of my favorite things about travel is trying to see places that most tourists don’t get to (while still being a tourist, of course!)

    1. Hey Emman, the caves of Nassau were such a neat experience! I was so glad we were all able to experience them after my entire family was fully vaccinated. Although the Bahamas were only at a 6% vaccination rate when we traveled (they don’t have enough vaccine doses available), as a group the population were SO committed to keeping everyone safe. Every resident I chatted with (and I’m chatty) was so thrilled that we chose to return to the Bahamas as our first post-vaccine trip. Such an idyllic location, and all of the outdoor attractions make it perfect for 2021 travel.

  6. I remember my trip to Indonesia. Me and a friend visited one cave and found a beautiful stalactite inside and a small lake. It’s really really beautiful. I wish I can visit Nassau Bahamas and enter the cave one day.

    1. Hi Yudith, I’ve always wanted to visit Indonesia, but your story about visiting that beautiful cave is making me want to go even more! I wonder what the cave is called—I’d love to put it on my bucket list 😀 A couple of years ago, we swam in a small lake in a hidden cave in Bermuda. There were gorgeous dripping stalactites above us and huge stalagmites below us in the clear water. I’ll never forget that memory!

    1. Hi Autumn, I bet most travelers haven’t either—but I’m fascinated by caves! I will say that this was the first one I’ve been in with so many bats so close up. Definitely a unique experience!

  7. I’m fascinated by the fact that these were created by the ocean and had so many different uses for different groups of people in history! Love visiting these off-the-beaten-path places when I travel, especially when there’s so much history involved, too!

    1. Hi Chloe, isn’t that so amazing? I couldn’t help but try to picture the people who used these caves over the centuries while I was in there. Especially how the space must look essentially the same today (without pirate booty of course)!

    1. Hi Nyxie, I totally understand the fear and anxiety many people have around enclosed spaces, and know that many people struggle with similar issues. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend visiting The Caves of New Providence to anyone who has a fear of caves, bats, enclosed spaces, or especially any combination of those things.

      But! Caves Beach is simply gorgeous. Just put on your water shoes and explore 😀
      .

    1. Hey Katrina, our day at Caves Beach and The Caves of Nassau really was amazing! Hope you’re able to experience them for yourself one day. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. I have been to Nassau dozens of times and have not yet visited Caves Beach. A great new spot for us when we finally get back there. I like the idea of visiting a spot that really is not on the tourist radar – yet! The bats might make me turn back but I am sure hubby would get some great pics for me! I would enjoy just lounging on the beach. And remember my water shoes for exploring.

    1. Hi Linda, I’m so happy that I could showcase a new spot you’d like to see as a seasoned Nassau visitor! I think you’re right – once more tourists know about all the amazing beaches Nassau has to offer, they’ll flock to the lesser-known ones. But for now, those of us in the know are safe 😉 On your next trip to Nassau, I’d also recommend Love Beach if you haven’t been there yet. They’re just minutes apart by car/taxi/jitney so you can do both in one beach day!

  9. Wow. I’ve been to Nassau but just the basic tourist cruise ship stuff. I would love to go back and visit these caves since the Bahamas aren’t that far from me.

    1. Hi Donna, Nassau is really a gorgeous place, especially if you venture away from the downtown shops and bars. So many cruisers assume that’s all there is! I hope you’re able to go back and see more of the area – I have a bunch of Nassau posts on the blog with more ideas 🙂

  10. What a fun experience exploring the perhaps lesser known Caves Beach and The Caves of New Providence or at least less touristy. I don’t know if I could have sold Darcee on the idea of going down into the caves with the potential of bats flying, even with a local guide like the infamous Shawn helping. But I am sure she would love finding the sea glass and the different ocean sprays along the beach. Very cool indeed.

  11. Caves Beach looks like a great place to visit. I love that it is so close to the beach and the history of the caves. Those water views are amazing and I would love searching for sea glass. I would probably feel the same way about the bats in the caves, but it would be cool to see them from a distance. Perhaps if I had a tour guide like Shawn I would be more apt to enter the caves. But it looks like a great experience all around.

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