Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas in Paradise - Atlantis, Bahamas

We're back from a 5-day trip to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas.  This year, instead of gifts, we decided to take a dream vacation with our best friends.  We had a total of 2 adult couples and 4 kids, and we all had a blast.  The kids had so much fun, they were absolutely fine with only a few small presents under the tree.  It was great to have family time, friend time, meet new friends, and commune with nature via all the beautiful aquariums at the resort. 

The three hotels surrounding the main water park area are (in order from least expensive to most) The Beach Towers, The Coral Towers, and The Royal Towers (pictured).   

Along the grounds and inside and outside the Towers are various aquariums.  The most amazing one is outside the Royal Towers (of course) and is called The Ruins.  One whole wall of the lowest level of the tower is glass for viewing.  I believe this is a nurse shark hanging out on the sandy bottom.  Believe it or not, you can sign up to snorkel in the enormous tank, with the sharks (harmless), colorful schools of fish, and manta rays (too large to even imagine, see below - that one was about 14 feet long!).  They are all swimming in an undersea world featuring remnants of a lost civilization.  We were not able to do The Ruins snorkel adventure because we did not sign up ahead of time...all slots were filled.  So first piece of advice if you go: sign up for all the activities you are interested in ASAP!  The same applies to reservations at the restaurants.

 



There are beaches too of course, the one below is the ocean right outside the water park.  The kids had fun in the waves but it was too cold for us!  We took walks instead (we went all the way out to the little tip at the end of the curve!), searching for shells and sea glass.  There's also a man-made beach within the Atlantis complex with a roped-off area for swimming.  In addition, the Dolphin Cay complex has activities you can schedule such as dolphin and sea lion encounters.




Just walking through the water park is an adventure.  There are 11 slides, 11 swimming areas, 2 lazy rivers, and plenty of waterfalls and wildlife along the way.  One of our favorites was the rope bridge over the hammerhead shark pool (no swimming there!)









Plenty of things to keep kids busy during the day, and nighttime brings movies, teen and tween clubs, and shopping.  Extravagant yachts are tied up along the walk to the marina, parades go by regularly, steel drum bands play, and the casino beckons if you're feeling lucky.  We had a little cocktail hour of our own each evening on the balcony and watched the sunset.  Below is a pic my son took of me and my hubby, heading back from the pool the last evening.

 
 
Probably the best additional tips I can give for trying to save money at this very expensive resort relate to food and beverages (a case of water at the local grocery store--off the resort property--is still $32!).  Pack as much food as you can in your suitcase.  Crackers, raisins, nuts, cereal, etc.  We had a 1-bedroom suite and that did not have a kitchen, but we reserved a fridge for $15 a day.  Then we went to that infamous grocery store (walking distance from resort) and bought soda, juice, coffee creamer, and wine.  An even better idea would be to have a taxi stop on the way from the airport and buy these things before crossing the bridge to Paradise Island.  We'll know for next time.  Despite the sticker shock, it was an amazing vacation that created memories for a lifetime.

3 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a great time!!!Happy New Year's!

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