Q. I'm interested in what information you might have about Key
West and Nassau/Paradise Island, Bahamas. I will be traveling by
air and would appreciate your advice on rates, hotels and so on.
A. Both Key West and Nassau/Paradise Island are touristy
places with plenty of good hotels, motels, restaurants and shops.
Both are on islands, but they are more different than alike.
Nassau, the British-flavored Bahamas capital, is on New
Providence Island, linked by a toll bridge with Paradise Island.
Summer through fall is low season, with hotels offering the year's
Gambling is a big attraction, with casinos on Paradise Island
and in the Cable Beach area of Nassau. The Paradise operation has
three hotels and offers packages that include airfare.
On Cable Beach, Carnival Corp.'s Crystal Palace Hotel and
Casino offers packages with charter flights on its own airline
which flies to Nassau from many northeastern cities as well as from
Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Radisson also offers gambling in its
Cable Beach Casino and Golf Resort. Travel agents have details on
Nassau/Paradise has more elaborate nightlife than Key West,
with Vegas-style revues at the casinos and a number of
Bahamian-style clubs with goombay music and limbo dancing.
Instead of flying to Nassau, many visitors take three- or
four-day cruises out of South Florida that dock in Nassau and
sometimes call at Grand Bahama island or at Out Island. The
downtown docks are near Nassau's outdoor straw market (souvenir
carvings, straw bags and hats) and the Bay Street shops. Travel
agents have details on the cruises, which generally sail on Fridays
and Mondays from Port of Miami or Port Everglades.
Beaches are nice, although many of the good ones are reserved
for hotel guests. And cruises around the area, including one in a
glass-bottom boat, are available.
Nassau/Paradise Island is not a bargain place. Prices are
generally higher than anywhere in the United States, and taxi
drivers make out like bandits. The Bahamian dollar is pegged to the
U.S. dollar (in fact, most places accept U.S. dollars). Americans
need no passport or visa for a visit, but proof of citizenship is
For literature, contact the Bahamas Tourist Office, 255
Alhambra Circle, Suite 414, Coral Gables, Fla. 33134; (305)
Key West is at the end of the Overseas Highway, which starts
south of Miami and island hops across bridges, down the string of
Keys. It is closer to Havana (90 miles) than to Miami (150).
Besides lolling on the beaches and gathering at Mallory Square
to see the sunset, visitors spend time at the Hemingway House,
where Ernest lived; the Audubon House, where the
painter-ornithologist worked; and the Mel Fisher museum full of
doubloons, gold and silver bars, jewelry and other loot that
Fisher's expeditions brought up from 17th century Spanish treasure
galleons that sank off the Keys. Also, look for the recently
restored Little White House, where Harry Truman spent vacations
when he was president; an aquarium; restored lighthouse; and