Fort Montagu is one of the Nassau Forts that visitors to the island will want to visit. As the oldest fort on the island, Fort Montagu showcases the rich and extensive history of the Bahamas.
Today, the island of New Providence is home to three Nassau Forts. While it may not be the largest or the most impressive, Fort Montagu is the oldest, and its impact on the island has arguably been the greatest. With walls, cannons, and seaside views, it remains a destination worth visiting hundreds of years after its construction.
Originally populated by the Arawak people, the Bahamas came under European control in the 15th century – first by the Spanish, and subsequently by the British. As superpowers like Great Britain, France, and Spain fought in Europe, their conflicts spread across the world, including to the Caribbean.
Constructed between 1741 and 1742 by Peter Henry Bruce, Fort Montagu protected the eastern entrance to Nassau Harbour. Across the harbor from the new fort was Hog Island (today known as Paradise Island), which contained a small battery. The combination of defenses and weaponry made invading the harbor a risky business for anyone who tried.
In 1776, the fort saw actual combat when American revolutionaries ventured south and seized it. Seeking to increase the gunpowder supply of the newly-formed United States, the soldiers successfully occupied the fort before returning to continental North America.
Centuries later, Nassau Forts like Fort Montagu continue to stand, testaments to the country’s colorful and extensive history.
Fort Montagu may be the smallest of the Bahamas Forts, but it remains impressive centuries after its construction. Its historical significance further makes it a site worth visiting.
A tour of the fort shouldn’t take you more than an hour, even with a guide expanding upon the history around you. That said, the towering walls and protruding cannons remain impressive even today.
As you explore the fort, you can get a sense of some of the threats the soldiers inhabiting it would’ve feared seeing, like enemy soldiers, rival ships, and pirates.
With its waterfront location, Fort Montagu offers some of the prettiest vistas in the Nassau area. While you might have to imagine what the fort and Nassau Harbour looked like centuries ago, the views of the seascape itself remain as beautiful as ever.
At the fort, you’ll see the clear and turquoise waters that make the Bahamas famous. At nearby Montagu Beach, you can find palm trees swaying in the wind, as well as locals picnicking and swimming in the water.
Fort Montagu is on East Bay Street and is at the easternmost point of Nassau Harbour. While the fort is a bit more out of the way than the other Nassau Forts, that means fewer tourists once you do arrive.
If you’re interested in walking from the cruise port or a nearby Downtown Nassau site, you can expect a journey of around 45 minutes. That can be a bit long, especially when the afternoon sun is beating down, so taking a taxi might be an easier and more efficient option. Rental scooters and local buses are also convenient ways to reach the attraction.
Fort tours are available to visitors Monday through Sunday, from 8 am to 3 pm. Ticket prices cost $2 (Correct as of 2023) plus tips for the guides.
As mentioned, Fort Montagu is much smaller than the other Nassau forts, so it won’t take you long to see the entirety of the site. Local tour guides can help contextualize everything and share fascinating tidbits of information that you otherwise wouldn’t know.
Nearby the fort, the waterfront area serves up fresh food and refreshing drinks at local prices. Make sure to check out this area before you head back to where you arrived!
Make the tour part of a Nassau historic tour: While Fort Montagu isn’t huge, it contains some of the most interesting history on the island. Consider supplementing what there is to see at the site with visits to other historical sites, like the two other Bahamas forts on the island. Likewise, you can also learn more about pirate history at the Pirates of Nassau Museum.
While you can find a couple of Bahamas Forts scattered around the Nassau area, Fort Montagu is one you’ll want to visit. Constructed hundreds of years ago, the fort has stood through everything from the Golden Age of Piracy to a raid by American soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
After touring the fort, consider taking a walk at the Retreat Garden or sampling delicious food at Potter’s Cay. If you have time, you can also hop across the Nassau Harbour to explore some of the different Paradise Island attractions, like Atlantis.
Looking for more Nassau destinations? Check out our other articles for more travel tips, and don’t forget to browse our interactive travel map.Explore our Nassau Travel Guides