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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Atlantis, Paradise Island

After talking to a friend today about how great the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is, I decided it needs to have its own post!

The Atlantis Resort is located just outside of Nassau on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The resort first opened in 1998. Sometime around 2000 or 2001 I saw my first commercial on television for the resort and I immediately became obsessed with it! At the time, visiting this resort seemed like such a dream. I used to think maybe if I was lucky I would be able to go on my honeymoon there someday! Little did I know that about nine years later I would end up living on a neighbouring island!

When I was first offered the job in the Bahamas I couldn't help but immediately think about Atlantis! Finally, I would be able to visit this place I had dreamed about for nearly a decade. Although I wasn't moving to the same island, I figured I would be able to visit the resort at some point. I soon found out that I would be visiting it a lot earlier than expected!

In August of 2009 I was flown to Nassau for a teaching conference before I moved to Grand Bahama Island. Although I knew I would only be in Nassau for a night and would be spending the day at a conference, I hoped that I would somehow make it to the Atlantis grounds - if only for a peak! Luckily, that night along with two other Canadian teachers and some Bahamian friends of one of the Canadians, we drove to the resort and spent the evening walking around the grounds! I absolutely loved it!

During my time in the Bahamas I made two more trips to Atlantis - both for weekend stays at a neighbour hotel that was quite a bit cheaper in price, but allowed its guests full access to the Atlantis.

The Atlantis resort certainly isn't your typical resort. First of all, it's not all inclusive and it's not cheap! Most of the vacation packages offered to Atlantis are only for 3 or 4 nights rather than 7 nights like most resorts. The Comfort Suites is a nice enough hotel directly next door to Atlantis where I stayed during both of my trips. It is much cheaper and they provide a wrist band for Atlantis. If you decide to stay at another hotel, you have to purchase a day pass to Atlantis which last I heard were $110 each.

Although there are some relaxing quieter areas of the Atlantis grounds, it really is geared more towards fun than relaxation. The grounds offer something to see and do around each corner. Of course there are the typical casinos, restaurants and night clubs - but, it offers some very unique amenities that other resorts in the Caribbean definitely can not provide!

The Atlantis houses the world's largest open air marine habitat! Throughout the grounds are aquariums, pools, tunnels, and caves full of a variety of marine life. Whether you're dining indoors or on your way to a tanning chair, you are sure to come across a shark, turtle, stingray, lion fish, or some other species of marine life. Several of these aquariums are interactive. You can swim with dolphins or play with sea lions! You can take a ride down a water slide through shark infested waters, or visit an indoor area where you can handle starfish and sea urchins. You can walk across a bridge with hammerheads swimming below or take a diving trip first hand with some reef sharks!

If the excitement of being surrounded by beautiful marine animals isn't enough, then you can also get a thrill on one of the many water slides. The whole resort is like a water park! There is a lazy river that covers a fair amount of the grounds. It is one mile long and has waves and artificial tidal surges. It definitely beats any water park or amusement park lazy river that I have been to (including the Disney water parks!). The lazy river has several different routes you can take that bring you to various water slides. You know how normally at a water park you have to carry your tube up a bunch of stairs and wait in line in the hot sun? Well, not here! You never leave your tube! There are a series of conveyer belts that bring your tube with you in it up to the top of the slides! You don't have to worry about standing in a hot line... you never leave the water!

Aside from the many beautiful pools (there are over 20!!!) and the amazing lazy river and water slides, the beach is also incredibly pretty with white sand and turquoise waters. If the main beach isn't enough for you there is also a manmade beach which offers a protected environment for the water's inhabitants. Here you can participate in various water activities such as snorkeling or riding a water tricycle!

After a long day in the sun and water you may be ready for something a little more low key. The Atlantis has its own Marina Village with tons of little shops, restaurants and some pretty spectacular yachts to be seen! The resort also has some pretty extravagant nightclubs as well as a huge casino. Make sure to keep your eye out for celebrities as they often stay here! There is always live entertainment and quite often some big name concerts as well. Lady Antebellum was playing during one of my visits - unfortunately, I didn't get tickets!

The resort is like being in a massive interactive museum or aquarium. There is so much to see! However, if you decide to leave the resort there are some pretty neat places to go in Nassau as well. If you want the exercise you can walk across the bridge from Paradise Island to Nassau. It doesn't take that long! There is also a really short ferry ride that goes every so often. If you decide to do this make sure to visit the market. There are tons of stalls with souvenirs, purses, sun dresses, and so on that you can purchase. While at the market continue walking and you will come across Senor Frogs! This is a favourite of mine - great food and great fun! From here you can see many of the docked cruise ships.

Atlantis is certainly a great place to bring kids, but if you're like me and don't have any - then go anyway (it's probably even more fun without them! haha). Check out other things you can see and do at the Atlantis on their website:

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