Posted Jun 20, 2021
Growing up, I was lucky enough to travel extensively with my family. My parents, now in their late 70s, are still jet-setting across the world, barely letting the pandemic slow them down. I’ve inherited that sense of wanderlust from them, so when a last-minute opportunity came along for my 7-year-old daughter Hannah and me to visit and review the Atlantis Bahamas, I jumped at the opportunity. I couldn’t believe it! Everyone knows Atlantis Paradise Island. The majestic skyline, iconic pink towers, marine habitats, and death-defying waterslides are legendary. It’s a vacation spot that’s on every family’s “bucket list”.
I mean, they must call it PARADISE ISLAND for a reason, right?
Hannah was so excited for this adventure she almost slept in our suitcase:
Once it came time to actually book the flights, I remembered what else I’d inherited from my parents – an obsession with health concerns, and an absolute disdain for large crowds. I started to dwell on two major concerns that made me seriously reconsider the trip:
1. Isn’t it unsafe and irresponsible to be traveling out of the country right now with a 7-year-old?
2. Isn’t that place ALWAYS crowded? Won’t it be mobbed with end-of-school vacations and graduation trips?
Spoiler Alert: It turns out I had NOTHING to be concerned about. Instead, it ended up being one of the easiest and most amazing trips ever! My two biggest concerns leading up to the trip actually turned out to be the biggest two reasons why you have to visit Atlantis Bahamas NOW:
1. Travel to the Bahamas is safe and easy
Documents/COVID testing: You DO need a valid passport to enter the Bahamas, and if you’re fully vaccinated (or under 10 years old), you DO NOT need to provide a negative test result, as of June 2021. All other requirements are easily spelled out on the Bahamas Health Travel Website, including how to obtain a Health Visa. For entry back to the U.S., you must show a negative result from a test taken within 72 hours of your flight. Rapid COVID testing on-site was included in the room rate, simple to book, and available at multiple locations throughout the resort. Results were texted and e-mailed within 30 minutes. Everything was so easy!
Safety/Cleanliness: The grounds of Atlantis are sprawling (both inside and outside), immaculate, and constantly sanitized. Capacity limits were in place for smaller areas (like elevators), and all staff were masked both indoors and outdoors as well. Guests are required to mask indoors and outdoors except when swimming, laying out or at the beach.
2. There are no crowds ... but only if you go now!
I repeat: THERE. WERE. NO. CROWDS ... at least as of June! Since Atlantis is a major destination for cruise excursions, there's usually visitors coming in from multiple ships every day. But since cruises aren’t operating right now, and day passes are sold but are limited, those crowds are nowhere to be found! I don’t think we waited more than 3 or 4 minutes to get on any water attraction, and never had issues finding a prime spot at the pool or beach. At times it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves!
And if that’s not reason enough, Atlantis is running a Summer of AHH! 5th Night FREE promotion for travel through August 13th – check out all the details on our CertifiKID page! You’ll definitely want that fifth night, as there’s SO much to experience on the property. Even if you only go a few nights though, you’ll still have an amazing experience. Here are some highlights from our 4-night stay, along with tips for when you visit:
Where we stayed
We stayed in The Royal, the iconic pink towers most centrally located to all the resort attractions. The Royal houses a breathtaking grand lobby, The Dig marine exhibit, Atlantis Casino, and both casual and fine dining options. Our room was newly renovated and spacious, with a GORGEOUS view (worth the waterview upgrade!). There are six total hotels within the resort, each providing different vibes and amenity levels.
Here’s Hannah giving a tour of our room:
Pools and beaches
There are honestly so many amazing pools and stretches of beach to discover on the property, I think you could be there a month and not fully experience them all! The Cove Beach was our favorite – protected from the surf and with tranquility and colors only found in your dreams. The Royal Baths and The Baths Colonnade were our favorite pools.
Aquaventure Water Park
This is the crown jewel of the resort, and a total dream come true for kids (and adults!) of any age. There are 8 high-intensity waterslides, as well as multiple kids’ slides/splash areas, and two River Rides.
We rode them all, including the famous Leap-Of-Faith, a 60-foot slide with a near-vertical drop from the top of the Mayan Temple. The slide propels you through a clear, acrylic tunnel submerged into a lagoon full of SHARKS! I was so proud of Hannah for conquering this, even though she adamantly refused to go down a second time.
Our two favorites were by far the Serpent Slide (a much slower, winding tube slide that ends submerged in the same shark lagoon, but allows plenty of time at the bottom to float along and marvel at the sharks swimming above and around you), and The Current – a mile-long, not-so-Lazy River complete with rapids and rolling waves.
Atlantis Kids Adventures (AKA)
AKA is the Kid’s Club of Atlantis, where kids ages 3 to 12 can be dropped off for some action-packed activities and experiences (for an additional fee) with their highly trained and engaging staff of counselors. Some of the indoor activities are limited or have been moved outside due to COVID, but that hasn’t stopped the fun AT ALL. One of AKA’s most popular activities is the Poolside Mermaid Experience, which includes mermaid crafts, mermaid surprises, and SWIMMING WITH A REAL MERMAID!
Hannah was lucky enough to have a private session with Mermaid Sarah, who made all her mermaid dreams come true.
Hannah loved the AKA staff so much, that she asked to stay the rest of the night for games, a talent show, pizza party, and movie night. She loved it!
As if swimming with a mermaid wasn’t enough of a dream come true, the next day we headed to Dolphin Cay for their Dip ‘N Discover experience where we got to SWIM WITH DOLPHINS! Located right on the Atlantis property, Dolphin Cay is one of the largest and most sophisticated marine-mammal habitats in the world, and also the Caribbean’s premier marine animal rehabilitation facility. We learned so much about dolphins and made an incredible connection with our dolphin, Missi. This was by far the most memorable and meaningful experience of the whole trip, and seeing that wonder and amazement in Hannah’s eyes is something I’ll cherish forever.
There is literally marine life everywhere you turn at Atlantis. The bottom floor of The Royal lobby is an immersive underground aquarium experience, and as you stroll the resort grounds you pass multiple pools and lagoons full of unique and incredible marine life, including sea turtles, sharks, rays, jellyfish, enormous lobsters, and my new favorite creature, the sawfish (with a nose that’s the shape and size of a large chainsaw, teeth and all). I could’ve watched these fascinating creatures swim for hours!
Dining, drinking, and shopping
There are endless dining options at the resort. You can find everything from a slice of pizza on-the-go to a decadent lobster tail and filet overlooking the marina. For dinners, we were extremely fortunate enough to experience some of the fine dining restaurants, including Nobu (Asian/Sushi), Seafire Steakhouse, Olives (Mediterranean), and Carmine’s (Family-Style Italian). While not traditionally Bahamian, each restaurant added in some local flair, and of course the seafood options were fresh and delicious.
I’d have to say our favorite meal was at Seafire – the steaks were cooked to perfection, and we loved the ambiance and open kitchen. We usually grabbed something quick from Starbucks or the lobby bar (Plato’s) for breakfast, and ate lunch at one of the poolside cafes/concession stands. The conch fritters, chicken tenders, and fries were delicious (and reasonably priced!), and portions were generous everywhere… I ordered a “Kids Burger” for Hannah one day, and the thing must’ve been ¼ pound or more!
Food and drink can be expensive, and keep in mind that they add a 15% gratuity and 12% VAT to every bill. The best food bargain we found was the $5 soft pretzel at the Pisces bar/snack stand by Atlantis Beach. It was the BIGGEST and most delicious soft pretzel we’ve ever had (and I spent many years in Philly!).
Cocktails were strong and delicious (but expensive!). I found the best value was to buy a tumbler cocktail for around $30, then rinse it out and use it for free refills on soft drinks for the rest of the trip. That was huge! Also, the Moon Bar in the casino had Happy Hour from 5-7 p.m. each night, with a great selection of cocktails for $9 each (usually $14-$15).
The Marina Village is a cute, boardwalk-style shopping and dining area where you’ll find the more casual and affordable dining options like Murray’s Deli, Marina Pizzeria, Ben & Jerry’s, The Pirate Republic (sports/pirate bar), and tons of stores, ranging from souvenir stands to high-end jewelers. This is also where the MASSIVE yachts are docked, and strolling around the marina gawking at them never gets old. Hannah made some new friends at the pool while we were there, and they even ran into Guy Fieri, who was a guest on one of the yachts!
CertifiKID was founded by a mom with a passion for helping parents provide the best experiences for their children on a budget. From outings to adventures, classes to camps, theater to sporting events, amusement parks to getaways, CertifiKID provides the best family-friendly experiences at unbeatable prices. Sign up for family-friendly deals in your area and start saving!
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