Nassau has several historic forts worth exploring, one of which is Fort Charlotte. With impressive fortifications and a fantastic view of Nassau Harbour, it’s a location that lets you appreciate the island’s past and present.
If you’re looking for a Nassau location that offers insight into the past while making it easy to appreciate the present, consider visiting Fort Charlotte. With towering walls, cannons, and sweeping views of the surrounding area, it’s a worthwhile and accessible attraction to visit on your Bahamas vacation.
Nassau is home to three forts: Fort Fincastle, Fort Montagu, and Fort Charlotte, the last of which is the largest. While all three of the Nassau forts are worth visiting, Fort Charlotte’s scale makes it the one you’ll want to see if you’re on a tight schedule.
Built in 1789 by Lord Dunmore, governor of the Bahamas, the fort’s name pays homage to Charlotte, the wife of King George III. Stretching across 100 acres, the moat, drawbridge, ramparts, cannons, and dungeons all sought to deter a threat that plagued the Bahamas for years: pirates.
From the 1650s to the 1730s, the Caribbean region underwent the Golden Age of Piracy, a time when pirates like Blackbeard pillaged and raided throughout the area and across the world. While Lord Dunmore ordered the construction of the Nassau Old Fort decades later, its construction speaks to the severity of the piracy epidemic.
Given that it’s the largest fort in the Nassau area, Fort Charlotte Bahamas is a great attraction to visit offering up many things to see and do.
Fort Charlotte is so large, its site contains three different forts: Fort Charlotte in the east, Fort D’Arcy in the west, and Fort Stanley in the center. These massive stone structures feature cannons, moats, bridges, and other elements that make them fascinating to explore.
As you walk around, you’ll see many exhibits and information to help you better understand what you’re looking at.
While history is the main attraction at the Nassau Old Fort, the views are an added benefit. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be treated to views of Fish Fry, Paradise Island, massive cruise ships, and more.
As you walk around the fort, you’ll have the chance to learn a lot about Nassau’s history with piracy. While the fort does a good job at explaining all of this, other Nassau attractions do as well. Consider visiting the nearby Pirates of Nassau Museum to learn more.
Like many of the historic Nassau attractions, Fort Charlotte has a convenient location that makes it easy to reach. Located a mile west of Downtown Nassau, it’s possible to walk there from the city center. If you’re walking from the cruise port (or a nearby location), you can expect a journey of around 30 minutes. Make sure to apply sunscreen, and consider wearing a hat, as the afternoon sun gets hot.
If you’re looking to beat the heat or save energy for exploring the fort itself, taking a taxi is another option. Most drivers in the downtown area should be able to get you to the Nassau Old Fort in around 10 minutes.
Once you arrive, you can expect the following ticket prices (Prices correct as of 2023):
Fort hours are from 8 am to 4 pm, and at 11:30 am on Wednesday and Friday, travelers can see reenactments of 18th-century Nassau life. This culminates with reenactors firing a cannon at noon.
As with most older structures, navigation can be a bit tricky at Fort Charlotte. The layout is simple enough, but many of the stairs and pathways you come across are uneven. While the fort may not have seen battle, take care not to injure yourself as you explore.
Tour guides can help offer context and perspective – two things that self-guided tours often lack. To help breathe life into your visit to Fort Charlotte, consider signing up for a guided tour. While you can expect the guides to ask for tips at the end, it’ll be worth it for the historical insight they offer.
When you arrive, there should be several tour guides congregating across the wooden bridge that crosses over the waterless moat.
While Nassau may be most famous for its beaches, there’s a huge amount of history on the island. Fort Charlotte is one of these Bahamas forts that showcase the country’s past in a remarkable way. Constructed in the 18th century, all of the Nassau forts offer special glimpses into the country’s past.
After walking around Fort Charlotte, consider popping over for food at Arawak Cay. You’ll also be close to John Watling’s Distillery, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, and other Downtown Nassau attractions.
Nassau is full of historic and cultural sites that people often miss out on. To learn more about these sorts of destinations, check out some of our other travel guides and interactive map.Explore our Nassau Travel Guides