…Island, The Bahamas!
My parents planned a surprise family vacation and the mystery destination was badabadabadabada (that’s a drum roll) ATLANTIS in THE BAHAMAS!
This is a pretty big trip for a family who is used to weekends in Buffalo and shopping trips to Michigan. Perhaps my parents have become island junkies. Their last two vacations were to Hawaii (Jade and I were left at home) and Jamaica (Jade made the cut for that one, I did not). Anyway, we were all psyched for The Bahamas. It was supposed to be a surprise for everyone but I think I was the only one in the dark.
We took a flight out of Buffalo to Charlotte, NC and then from there to Nassau, Bahamas. We stayed at Harborside Resort, an apartment-style hotel across from Atlantis. We had full access to all of the amenities at Atlantis (water parks, beaches, casino, etc.) but had the luxury of a full-kitchen and living space.
Atlantis is absolutely breathtaking! Apart from how huge the whole complex is (there are shuttles to get from the different buildings), we were stunned by all the detail. Mirrors covered in seashells and leaf imprints on the concrete steps.
Our first day we explored the property (or the quarter of it we were able to get through). We walked through the most impressive aquarium exhibit I’ve ever seen and checked out the pools and water slides.
The next day we decided to do Atlantis right – swimming in the pools! There were lots of pools to choose from and a bunch of cool water slides to try. My favourite (and the only one we ended up going on) was an inner-tube slide that spits you out into a shark pool! Granted, you’re still in the tube, which is in a tunnel, but technically I was swimming with the sharks!
We also went on the Rapid River (think Lazy River on steroids) which Jade and I enjoyed. Ali and Lee didn’t have as great a time. They got tossed out of their tube a few times and Ali actually ended up hitting her head. Silver lining: while alerting management to the hazardous elements of the ride, Ali was offered a free dolphin excursion that Jade and I got to enjoy!
On our third day we decided to take the ferry into Nassau. We passed a bunch of cool beachside properties (apparently one was Mick Jagger’s) and some very impressive cruise ships. Once in town, we hit up the liquor store because nothing says family vacay like drinking beer out of paper bags! We visited the very touristy Straw Market where Lee picked out necklaces for Jade and me. After that we headed over to the Fish Fry for some “authentic” (or so our cabbie said so) Bahamian cuisine. It was pretty yummy but everything was fried. I guess I could have deduced that from the name of the area…
After a day in town we spent the night exploring the Marina Village. We got ice cream and then Jade and I went to watch 21 Jump Street (hilarious, btw) at the movie theatre in Atlantis.
Day 4 had us back at the pools at Atlantis. We visited one pool that had windows at the back where you could see right into an aquarium. We visited the beach and walked through lots of the marine life exhibits to see sea turtles, sharks and sting rays! That night we cooked fish in our own kitchen that Ali had bought from the seafood market in town. Delish!
Our 5th day was definitely a lazy one. Jade and I took Lee to the pool at our resort and then met our parents back in the room. Everyone napped, watched TV and lounged around. I think the intense heat was finally getting to us. That night we enjoyed home cooked lobster (also from the market). Bahamian lobsters look a lot more ferocious than the ones I enjoy in Chinatown.
Thursday, Jade and I headed off to the dolphin excursion. The whole family had already been swimming with dolphins in Jamaica so now it was my turn. We had to wear a wetsuit…worst thing I’ve ever put on! It was hot and uncomfortable and not remotely flattering. Once in the water, we were introduced to Cosmo, the biggest dolphin at Atlantis. We gave him pats and high fives. And then Bimini, one of the younger dolphins, came by for hugs, kisses and more pats. Her dad, Echo, came to join her so we got more dolphin time! After taking some photos and getting splashed, all of the dolphins came together to put on a little show of flips for us. Dolphins are such beautiful creatures and so friendly. It was definitely a memorable experience.
After the dolphins, we met up with the rest of the fam and spent the day swimming at Atlantis. That night we went out for dinner at Dune, a fancy beach-side restaurant within Atlantis. It was very delicious, expensive and one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. We also found a hermit crab and a kitten came by to visit! When we got home, the family surprised me with a belated birthday cake and presents. Definitely one of the most amazing days!
On Friday we boarded the Flying Cloud and set off for a morning of snorkelling! The boat ride was really fun and bonus: I didn’t get seasick! Snorkelling was…an experience! I had snorkelled before, the last time I was in the Bahamas, but forgot how gross salt water really was. Every time I swallowed a mouthful or got some in my eyes I wanted to vomit. But it was really cool swimming with the fish! Ali brought food to feed them so tons of fish were swimming all around us. My dad even got hit in the goggles by one! Back on the boat, we enjoyed complementary snacks and rum punch!
Our last day, Saturday, came way too fast. After packing up and checking out, we went back to the Royal Towers to walk through the aquarium again. Even though we had seen it before, we were all still enthralled by the creatures behind the glass. We got to touch starfish and watch gigantic manta rays do flips in the water. We hurried back to get our stuff and headed to the airport.
Our first flight got us to Atlanta where we hung out for 5 hours! We snacked on cake and watched Harry Potter 🙂 And then boarded the next flight into Buffalo. From Buffalo we drove across the border and crashed in Niagara Falls. We ended up staying in a pretty sketchy motel, which was quite the shock after a week in paradise. The next morning we grabbed breakfast at a local diner and drove home!
Overall, amazing vacation and a chance to relax and experience some incredible stuff with my family! It’s hard to get all our schedules to coordinate so I’m really glad we took advantage of this time to get away together. Looking forward to the next trip!