Exploring Nassau’s Forts

We tried cruising for the first (and last) time back in 2004: a 3 day, 2 night Disney Cruise that made only one port of call, in Nassau. Our cruise was scheduled to stop twice, but because we sailed just a few days after Hurricane Charley walloped Disney’s Castaway Cay, our itinerary changed to include a lot more time at sea. We had just enough time to walk through Parliament Square and visit the Queen’s Staircase before getting on a tender to return to our ship.

Traveling solo this trip, Mrs. GeoK had two entire days to explore the city before flying back to Calgary. She planned a photo walking route for Day 1 that included visits to Fort Fincastle and Fort Charlotte, two of the four forts that once defended New Providence Island, the other two being Fort Nassau (demolished in 1897 and now the site of the British Colonial Hilton) and Fort Montagu (at the east end of town and the smallest of the three remaining forts).

Fort Fincastle

Arriving via the Queen’s Staircase at around 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, Mrs. GeoK had to wait for a bit until the site supervisor arrived with the key to open the gate. Admission was $1.08 (one dollar plus VAT). A sign near the gate states: “Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 by Lord Dunmore, a Royal Governor (1787-1796), whose second title was Viscount Fincastle. This fort, shaped like an old paddle wheel steamer, was built to protect the city from invasion but saw little action. It served as a lighthouse until 1816 and was subsequently used as a signal tower.”


There are two cannons outside the fort and three more installed in the fort. A wooden viewing platform has been constructed to allow for easy viewing of the nearby Water Tower.

Because Fort Fincastle is in close proximity to the Queen’s Staircase and the (now permanently closed) Water Tower, it is a frequent destination for day visitors arriving by cruise ship. Mrs. GeoK spent about 30 minutes here, but half of that was exploring the exterior of the Fort waiting for it to open. If the visitors who came and left while she was there are a representative sample, most visitors spend less than 10 minutes here – just long enough to get a few selfies or some GoPro footage!

Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte is a 10 or 15 minute walk from Prince George Wharf (where the cruise ships dock). Be sure to cross to the south side of West Bay Street somewhere along Junkanoo Beach, as there are no street crossings further west. Also note that the last stretch of the walk is up hill, with no sidewalks, so walk on the right hand side to face oncoming traffic.

As at Fort Fincastle, admission is $1.08 (one dollar plus VAT). Mrs. GeoK took her time exploring the place and was there for just over an hour. Because Fort Charlotte is a little bit off the beaten track, she encountered only three other visitors during that entire time.

For Charlotte is much larger than Fort Fincastle. In fact, it’s actually a mash-up of three forts: Fort Charlotte (the eastern section), Fort Stanley (the middle section) and Fort D’Arcy (the western section). There is a lot of great information posted on signs throughout the site. They explain, for example, how the forts were hewn out of solid rock. Construction started in 1787 and was finally completed in 1819. A dry moat surrounds Fort Charlotte, spanned by a wooden bridge on the north side. Soldiers posted at these forts never fired a gun in battle, so one way they passed the time was by carving their names and other details into the fort walls. Many of these carvings are still entirely legible, while others are almost impossible to make out.


In case you’re more into shopping than history, there are small markets at each of these forts, with 8 or 10 vendors offering t-shirts, shells, jewelry, dresses, straw goods and other souvenir type stuff.

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