I basically threw this trip to the Bahamas together in about a month. Maybe I shouldn’t be bragging about that? We were just so indecisive on where we wanted to go for our big trip this summer and we were originally planning to go to Maui but it’s a lot farther for us (15 hour plane ride vs. 35 minutes) and the 6 hour jet lag when we got home from Oahu last year nearly killed me so we decided on the Bahamas. And of course I can’t be simple and just go to one place…I have to plan multiple stops along the way so this was just a stop on our way to Exuma. This was not our first time at Atlantis but the last time we were there the boys were little and we were just stopping for the day when we were on a Disney cruise so we thought they would enjoy the water park a lot more now that they are older.
I booked us an early flight from Miami so we could get in an extra day at the water park but Miami decided to keep my suitcase with ALL of my clothes so when we got there all I had were the clothes on my back and no swimsuit! We basically spent the entire first day trying to get our luggage back. The boys and Jonathan got their stuff, it was just my suitcase and all of our snorkeling gear. You can request an early check-in at Atlantis if you pay a small fee around $50 so that’s what we did so we could go to our room when we got there around 10:30 am instead of having to wait until the 3 pm check-in time. In spite of the luggage mishap, we still had a good day at the aquarium and watching the turtles until our luggage finally arrived around midnight. Honestly, I’m just really thankful we actually got our luggage…not everyone is that lucky! They have little guides you can pick up at the entrance to the aquarium that are fun for the kids to identify the different kinds of fish. Can you tell the turtles were my favorite thing at the resort? I had so many pics and videos of them by the end of our 3 days there. I could really watch them forever! They are so calm and peaceful and I love watching them swim. I think I have more pictures of the turtles than I do of us! We didn’t get many since we were mostly at the water park without our cameras or phones.
Day two we were pretty excited to finally go check out the awesome water park. We were heading for the lazy river first (there is nothing “lazy” about a lazy river when you’re with my kids) but the boys spotted an awesome kids area with slides, giant water buckets, and tons of other stuff so we spent the morning there instead, hit the speed slides on the way back for lunch, and spent the afternoon at the aquarium.
For food, we did breakfast at Starbucks, grabbed some quick sandwiches for lunch, and one night we did the huge hotel buffet for a million dollars (ok it was more like $250 for the 4 of us but my kids used their $50 wisely and got jello and chicken nuggets by choice instead of the vast array of other delicious choices) and the other night we went to Margarittaville across the street which was ok. None of the restaurants really wowed us but we didn’t eat at that many. Mostly just little bites here and there. The buffet was good and we really all just loved the giant cinnamon sugar pretzels and carrot cake cupcakes from Starbucks so definitely try those! The ice cream at the little cafe in the lobby Sun & Ice is really good too! Food is expensive in the Bahamas (everything is expensive actually not just food) so if you can cram some snacks in your suitcase or carry on definitely do that so you don’t have to spend $10 for a tiny bag of Chex Mix (yes….that happened but not until after we ran out of snacks that I packed and we were on our way back home at that point). Also, don’t forget to bring your sunblock unless you feel like paying $30 for some that would normally cost you $10. Just about everything has to be imported so that’s why things can be a little pricey so pack accordingly and try not to forget any of your essentials. Atlantis does provide you with a few bottled waters per day so that is nice and you can get them at any of the restaurants or shops there with the coupons they give you.
On our 3rd day, it was kind of rainy so we hit the water park in the morning before the rain hit and the boys had a blast on the “lazy” river. It was more of a river rapids than a lazy river so it was pretty intense but fun! They loved it so much we did it twice in a row and it takes a while to get to the end. Then they went to the kids area for a while and we went to the aquariums and walked around the rest of the day since we were all pretty exhausted. I would’ve liked to have gotten out to explore more of what the island has to offer but taxi rides are $35-$65 one way depending on where you are going and on trip adviser it said a lot of places are unsafe after dark so I didn’t want to take any chances with the kids. You can also rent a car but Nassau driving is a little crazy (and they also drive on the opposite side of the road from the US) so be careful if you decide to do that.
On our last day we were lucky enough to get a late checkout since our flight to Exuma didn’t leave until 6 pm so we spent the morning at the nearby Paradise Beach and the boys wanted to play at the kids water slide area for a while after (they really loved that kids area and so did I since they were having fun and I could sit and relax). We tried to do some snorkeling off the beach at Atlantis but we didn’t see much. The boys really wanted to do one of the Dolphin or Sea Lion encounters while we were there but we kind of ran out of time and they are pretty pricey. Plan on spending $800-$1200 for a family of 4 for one encounter. If your kiddos are over age 10 they don’t need an adult to go in with them so you could save some money there. We just decided we would do Discovery Cove at Sea World at some point instead since we live so close but if this is your only chance to swim with dolphins I say go for it! They have some really awesome programs at Atlantis.
If you are flying from island to island (we flew out of Nassau to Exuma), the domestic terminal of Nassau airport doesn’t really have a lot to offer so make sure you grab something to eat before you get there. Flights are almost always delayed between islands (and often back to the US too but there are A LOT more food and shopping options in the international terminal) at least an hour so call ahead to see if your flight is delayed so you don’t have to sit in the airport all day. Sometimes they will know ahead of time and sometimes you won’t find out until you have already gone through security and waited so make sure you bring some snacks and activities to keep the kids busy for a couple of hours. We also got to experience another hotel that we loved on this island on our way home from Exuma when our flight from George Town back home got delayed so we missed our connecting flight in Nassau and had to stay over an extra night at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. It was gorgeous so if you are looking for another hotel possibility I would highly recommend this one too. They don’t have the amazing water park that Atlantis does but the rooms were amazing and they had a great beach set up and lots of pools and cute shops. They also told us at the front desk that they are in the process of building a water park there that will be done soon.
One thing I learned on the first day of this trip is how to pack a carry on bag just in case your luggage gets lost or detained. I’m usually not one to carry anything extra on a plane if I can throw it in my suitcase but this trip I learned a valuable lesson. Pack at least one change of clothes for each family member in your carry on. I spilled hand sanitizer all over myself on the way to the airport and had to dig through my suitcase to get a pair of shorts before we checked our luggage. If I had already checked my bags I would’ve been stuck in my hand sanitizer jeans all day because my luggage never arrived until 12 am! Not to mention that it was way too hot to be wearing jeans outside of the airport. I would also suggest putting any essential make-up and personal care items that are regulation sized to make it through security into your carry on. There is a MAC store at Atlantis but you might not want to drop $200 + on new make-up when you get there if your luggage gets lost. Another lesson I learned is throw a swimsuit for everyone in your carry on too if you are traveling to the beach so you will have at least one to enjoy the beach, pool, water park etc if your luggage gets lost.
All of my outfits from the trip are linked below. I really loved that straw bag and I brought so many pairs of shoes but ended up wearing those sandals for the entire trip. They were so comfortable and go with everything! I am working on a travel post for Exuma that will be up soon! Have a great night! xo