Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Atlantis Paradise Island Trip Report Part 2

This is part 2 of our honeymoon trip review to Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas.  You can find part 1 here where I detailed our stay at the resort.

There is so much to do at Atlantis Paradise Island and surrounding areas: shopping, dining, swimming, playing, exploring.  I don’t want to bore you with all the places we went to and all the food we ate, so here are a few highlights.  

Atlantis Marine Habitat
The Atlantis Resort is like one giant aquarium.  Everywhere we went, we found ourselves surrounded by underwater ruins, lagoons, caves, and tunnels full of amazing underwater marine life including sharks, stingrays, fish, lobsters, shrimp, sea turtles, dolphins, sea lions, piranhas, barracuda, and more.  

Atlantis Paradise Island has 8 million gallons of saltwater, 14 lagoons, over 50,000 aquatic animals representing over 250 marine species.  
It is the largest exhibit of its kind in the Caribbean.  See more details of the marine habitat at the Atlantis webpage.
Guests of the Atlantis resort have free access to all the marine habitats as well as the Aquaventure Waterpark.  Everyday we found sometime to walk through the aquariums, with the Dig being our favorite one.  This area was designed to mimic the lost city of Atlantis, with caves, streets, and tunnels.  
The main aquarium housed a pair of Manta rays, these huge rays that can reach up to 23 feet in width!  You can watch the video Atlantis has of the Dig here.

Walking with Sharks
My wife hasn’t got her scuba diving certification (yet), but the next best thing for her was getting to walk on the bottom of the Shark Exhibit at Atlantis.  No swimming or scuba experience was necessary when doing this activity.  There is a short movie you watch that goes over scuba basics such as how to equalize your ear pressure to prevent “the squeeze” of your eardrums, and how to use underwater hand signals.
These sharks were waiting for us to get in the water
After the short video, they fitted us with clear glass helmets that constantly pumped oxygen for us to breathe underwater.  The helmets prevented water from getting into our eyes and noses, with the water level kept just below our chin and above our collarbone.  
We're walking with sharks!
It was an interesting experience, to be inside the shark exhibit, surrounded by sharks swimming all around us.  
I took a picture of some outside observers from within the shark tank
My wife looking scared with the sharks surrounding us
The staff explained that the sharks were constantly fed, and for the most part, the sharks left us alone.  However, I kind of wish that they would have shown some more curiosity and approached us more closely, but not sure if the wife could have handled that!  We both enjoyed the experience very much.  Cost was $115 per person, not including tip. 

The water park at Atlantis Paradise Island is 141 acres in size and features over 20 million gallons of water.  There are many different slides, a long river ride with rapids, tube slides, and multiple swimming pools.  We went just before peak season, so there were no lines to any of the slides that we wanted to ride.  
The only slide that we did not go on was the Leap of Faith slide, the 60 ft almost-vertical drop from the Mayan Temple, that shoots you through the clear acrylic tunnel surrounded by the shark lagoon (where we did our Shark Walk).  We didn’t feel like getting water shot up our noses and/or super wedgies.

Stuart Cove’s Sub Bahamas
Another diving alternative that we tried was the Stuart Cove's Sub Bahamas adventure.  This company has no affiliation with Atlantis Resort, although your hotel concierge can help you book the trip.  A bus picks you up for a 1 hour ride to the Stuart Cove marina.  
Perfect weather and ultra clear waters
Then you take a 30 minute boat ride to the dive site.  No swimming or scuba experience was necessary for us to get into our own personalized mini submarines.  These subs maintained a depth of 15 feet below the ocean with buoyancy-controlled balloons.   
Riding these subs was like driving an underwater super slow (2 knots) motorcycle.  The concave bubble of the sub viewing window shrank everything in view and was quite funny to see fish and coral reefs “minified.”  
The ocean fish followed us everywhere we went, since our guide brought plenty of food to feed them.  
After the sub adventure, we had plenty of time to snorkel the coral reefs.  Cost was $124 per person, not including tip.

Atlantis Theatre
At the end of every day, we found the time to spend an hour or two at the Atlantis movie theatre.  Different movies played every few hours and access was free for guests.  They did sell concessions like candy, popcorn, snacks, and beverages.  
We ended up watching Brave, Hit and Run, Ted, ParaNorman, and Dredd.  The theatre was a nice cool place to relax and zone out.

Straw Market
This is a street market in Nassau where you find individual vendors selling all sorts of hand made souvenirs and goods.  We weren’t too impressed with the Straw Market and found that most of the vendors sold some variation of the same thing (crafts made out of aluminum cans, seashells, trinkets, etc).  We walked through the entire Straw market in 15 minutes.  You can see more reviews of the Straw market on Tripadvisor.     

Queen’s Staircase
Nassau’s most visited attraction is the Queen’s Staircase.  Made up of 65 steps, it was carved out of solid limestone’s by slaves between 1793 to 1794.   It was named after Queen Victoria, who helped abolish slavery in the Bahamas.

Fort Fincastle
Built in 1793 to protect Nassau from potential invaders, the cannons of this Fort were never used in battle.  The Queen’s Staircase leads right into this Fort, which sits at the highest point of Nassau.  You can get excellent views of the Cruise ship harbor and Nassau.

Bahamas Historical Society
This was a small museum where we got to learn a bit about the Bahamian culture and history.  See here for more information. 

Arawak Cay
This place is known by the locals as “The Fish Fry” and it is the place where the locals go to have Bahamian food.   We went here several times to have fresh snapper, plantains, rice and beans, lobster, and fried conch (a local favorite, but we didn’t like too much).  The local drink here is called “Sky Juice” which is a concoction of Gin, condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut water.  It’s pretty tasty.  
The food here was much cheaper than at the Atlantis Resort, but you have to factor in Taxi fare.  We ate at the Twin Brothers and Frankie Gone Bananas.  
We preferred the live music and entertainment of Frankie Gone Bananas, and came here to eat 2 times.  Also, we preferred the fact that Frankie Gone Bananas has its own bathroom.  Other restaurants have to share a mutual bathroom, that looked and smelled terrible.   The cracked lobster was delicious and I had it both times I came to Frankie Gone Bananas!

Mosaic Buffet
The Mosaic Buffet is located at the Cove, and was by far our favorite restaurant at the Atlantis Resort.  This is a buffet  but the chefs prepare the fresh food constantly at the various food stations.  
We found the selection to be very flavorful and scrumptious.   I filled my plate with tender cuts of meat and fresh seafood.  
The dessert station was awesome, and had these amazing “chocolate shots” which were just liquid shots of chocolate.  I would compare this buffet to the quality of Wynn Buffet in Las Vegas.  It was kind of pricey at $135 for 2 people, but we liked it so much we ate at this buffet 2 times on our trip. 
Marketplace Buffet
This buffet is marketed towards families and is priced at a more reasonable $112 for 2 people.  We found the food here to be very bland and mediocre and much preferred the food at the Mosaic Buffet.  I recommend NOT going to the Marketplace Buffet at the Royal Towers.

You can see a list of all the Atlantis dining options here, with some options much cheaper, and others much more pricey than what I've talked about.

We will be back!
The Bahamian people were incredibly nice.  They accepted the US dollar everywhere we went, as the conversion rate was 1 USD to 1 Bahamian dollar.  One warning that I heard before we arrived was that the people in Nassau run on “Bahamian time” or “island time” meaning that they are in no hurry to get you served.  It didn’t bother us, and we just got used to ordering as soon as we got someone’s attention, and asking for the bill much earlier in advance while we enjoyed our food and drinks.  

We had a fantastic time at Atlantis Paradise Island / surrounding area and definitely want to go back in the future.  There is still so much more to experience at Atlantis.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent trip review, looks like you two had a lot of fun!


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